NESL Study Guide – Newtown Creek

NESL Species Study list for Newtown Creek Plank Road

Walks on Saturday, 4pm and 5:30pm

Chance Ecologies

callery pear (ripening)
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curly dock
curly-dock-top

black locust
fruit

queen anne’s lace
queen-annes-lace-seeds

sweet clover
Yellow Sweet Clover Seed pods

wild garlic
wild-garlic_seed-head

buckthorn plantain
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downy brome
d-brome-seed-heads-nk

sticky bedstraw
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hedge bindweed
calystegia-sepium-3

horseweed
SI Exif

annual fleabane
annual-fleabane-3-1

cinquefoil
0361scinquepod

red clover
redcloverseed

St. John’s Wort
hypericum-punctatum-dotted-st-johns-wort

bittersweet nightshade
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Inspiration + Links for an Upcoming Project

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Nina Katchedourian – Geneology of the Supermarket

“The Genealogy of the Supermarket interrelates people who appear on common products in the grocery store and organizes them so that they appear to be members of one large family.”

“A “world view” of extreme and almost paranoid interconnectedness emerges. As with many of my map works and chart pieces, the project seems to suggest some underlying coherent research or guiding principal, but the piece ultimately speaks more about taxonomy itself.” — source

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Parallel Botany by Leo Leonni

“On the other side of the hedge, however, reality is ours. It is the absolute condition of all existence. The plants that grow there are real because we want them to be. If we find them intact in our memories, the same as when we saw them before, it is because we have invested them with the image that we have of them, with the opaque skin of our own confirmation… Motionless, imperishable, isolated in an imaginary void, they seem to throw out a challenge to the ecological vortex that surrounds them….

“There are plants, for instance, that appear clearly in photographs but are imperceptible to the naked eye. Some violate the normal rules of perspective, looking the same size however close or far they may be from us. Others are colorless, but under certain conditions reveal a profusion of colors of exceptional beauty. One of them has leaves with such a tangled maze of veins that it caused the extinction of a voracious insect that at one time had threatened the vegetation of an entire continent…

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Brandon Keim: Thoughts on Taxidermy, Fashion & Bighorn Sheep

“There are at least two distinct currents to this mainstreaming of naturalia. Label one the Nineteenth Century Explorer: Spiced with steampunk, evoking an age of mannered discovery, gentleman adventurers launching expeditions and returning with tales to delight drawing-room crowds. A spirit of mechanical marvels and curiosity cabinets, maps drawn well but incompletely, of biological ephemera and naturalists’ drawings…..

“…..A psychic escape from the pervasive sense that no space on our map remains blank, that civilization has filled its container and is pushing back inwards. A need for nature in denaturalized lives…..Or maybe the meaning is not so dark. Maybe naturalia frames emerging appreciations of urban and suburban ecologies, or a sense of new, as-yet-unfilled maps arising in digital and social space, freed from old topographies.”

“…..A sign, a signifier, a t-shirt drawing of a deer based on an image found in the first page of Google’s image search. And I can’t shake the feeling that naturalia debases nature, turns animals into objects, renders our beautiful, extraordinary living world and its inhabitants as aesthetic commodities with no more or less meaning than paisley or a bright colorway. It’s life as accessory.”

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From Celestial Empire of Benevolent Knowledge, an essay by Jorge Luis Borges:

“The oriental tome organises animals into categories thus: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.”

Terrarium

Percoco-ArtBloc

 

I’m going to be doing a public installation in ArtBloc in September. Here’s a description:

I am converting these windowed containers into a giant terrarium, to be filled with weeds collected from Hamilton Park with the help of the Greens Group volunteers. Throughout the two month period, the installation will be constantly changing and growing. It will act as a foil to the domesticated space of the park, a wild place within the city, encouraging viewers to look at the overlooked.

Here are some weeds we collected last Saturday. Stay tuned!

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Parallel Botany

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Long quote from this excellent book, recommended by Chiaozza, who breed their own fantastical parallel species.

Dulieu first asks himself the question: What is it that distinguishes the parallel plants from the supposedly real plants of normal botany?

For him there are clearly two levels, or perhaps even two types, of what is real, one on this side and one on the other side of the hedge. “On this side,” he writes, “in our everyday garden, grow the rosemary, juniper, ferns and plane trees, perfectly tangible and visible. For these plants that have an illusory relationship with us, which in no way alters their existentiality, we are merely an event, an accident, and our presence, which to us seems so solid, laden with gravity, is to them no more than a momentary void in motion through the air. Reality is a quality that belongs to them, and we can exercise no rights over it.

“On the other side of the hedge, however, reality is ours. It is the absolute condition of all existence. The plants that grow there are real because we want them to be. If we find them intact in our memories, the same as when we saw them before, it is because we have invested them with the image that we have of them, with the opaque skin of our own confirmation. The plants that grow in that garden are not more or less real than those others which bend and sway in the wind of reason. Their reality, given them by us, is quite simply another and different reality.”

That the parallel plants exist in the context of a reality that is certainly not that of “every day” is evident at first sight. Though from a distance their striking “plantness” may deceive us into imagining that we are concerned with one of the many freaks of our flora, we soon realize that the plants before our eyes must in fact belong to another realm entirely. Motionless, imperishable, isolated in an imaginary void, they seem to throw out a challenge to the ecological vortex tthat surrounds them. What chiefly strikes us about them is the absence of any tangible, familiar substance. This “matterlessness” of the parallel plants is a phenomenon peculiar to them, and is perhaps the thing which mainly distinguishes them from the ordinary plants around them.

The term “matterlessness,” coined by Koolemans and widely used by both Duluth and Furhaus, may not be a very happy one, suggesting as it does the idea of invisibility, which except for certain abnormal situations is not generally true of parallel botany. “Para-materiality” would perhaps be a more correct word to describe the corporeality of plants that are usually characterized by a fairly solid presence, sometimes almost brutally intrusive, which makes them objectively perceptible to the same degree as all the other things in nature, even if their substance eludes chemical analysis and flouts all known laws of physics.

But “matterlessness” does suggest that apparent absence of verifiable structure on a cellular and molecular level common to all the parallel plants. Each individual species has some special anomaly of its own, of course, and these are more difficult to define and often far more disconcerting, although they are always attributable to some abnormal substance that rejects the most basic gravitational restrictions. There are plants, for instance, that appear clearly in photographs but are imperceptible to the naked eye. Some violate the normal rules of perspective, looking the same size however close or far they may be from us. Others are colorless, but under certain conditions reveal a profusion of colors of exceptional beauty. One of them has leaves with such a tangled maze of veins that it caused the extinction of a voracious insect that at one time had threatened the vegetation of an entire continent.

Picture 4

IN-SITE Proposal

percoco1

As an artist, I am interested in the intersection of nature and culture, including the way that we humans represent plant-life in illustrations, advertisements and logos, as well as for decorative purposes. The many representations of nature are, in my estimation, about as numerous and varied as real plant species. They range from the most simple geometric shapes to detailed illustrations and photographs, sometimes referencing existing or even imaginary species. As we are increasingly separated from direct contact with wilderness, these representations can sometimes stand in for the real thing. I’ve been playing with this idea in projects such as the fabric sculpture Canopy (2010), my collage series Field Studies (2011), as well as my recent public sculpture on Randall’s Island, New Growth (2013).

I propose to create a conceptual project in which I collect and scan real leaves from downtown South Orange and the park area as well as representations of leaves also found in the downtown area, such as those printed on packaging in stores, signs, on clothing fabric, decorative fake plants, elements of logos, architectural elements reminiscent of plants, etc. I will organize these “specimens” into a digital herbarium in the form of a website with accompanying information about each leaf (photos of the leaves as they were found, along with information such as location, context, size, and species).

I will also enlarge several of these images to approximately 2 feet tall (quite possibly larger) and wheatpaste them onto walls in public space throughout the downtown area. A QR code symbol will accompany each leaf which will lead viewers to the project website. This will function as a dispersed “natural” history display.

Wheatpasting is a temporary way to adhere paper to an outdoor wall. It’s made of water, flour, and sugar. It can last for months in an outdoor location. Wheatpasted images can be removed with hot water.

QR Codes are square black and white bar codes which can be scanned using smart phones. These codes can have web addresses embedded in them. Scanning the code will take you to the website.

Images attached:

1. Examples of leaves and leaf imagery found in downtown South Orange.

2 & 3. Digital collage of wheatpaste installation for one leaf.

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Non-Human Neighbor

raccoon

Yesterday, a raccoon made himself comfortable on my fire escape and slept there for 6 hours. Mindy was pretty interested and seemed to be trying to get his attention, but he didn’t even notice her until it got dark. At that point, he was definitely interested. He watched as she walked in and out of the room, and when Mindy hopped onto the window sill to check him out, they were both pressed up against the glass, mirroring each other.

They are about the same size, and the raccoon groomed himself like a cat both before and after sleeping. Apparently raccoons make good pets.

Picture 2

I am very interested in Julian Montague’s work, specifically a project called Secondary Occupants, which documents animal-architecture interactions from the point of view of an imaginary author.

Picture 3 Picture 4