Monday, March 16, 2009

week 2

Hi All,

[“…ecology and environmental work transcends borders or cultural boundaries. Or does it? Is this practice really above the global issues of cultural hybridity? How do artists who are interested in the environment address their own cultural histories, roots, and biases -- and those of the people they encounter -- as they work globally?”]
-- Susan

Regarding whether ecology and environmental work transcends cultural boundaries I present the ecology of the much-maligned tick!

The tick’s “environment” is defined by its sensory perception of 3 and only 3 things (effectors) – heat, light and the scent o
f butyric acid, which is emitted by the tick's warm-blooded mammal prey. The tick lives life in relation to these sensory elements and often waits for long periods of time on a blade of grass for the perfect moment to jump and attach itself to its prey. Its environment is defined by these 3 effectors, for lack of a better word.

Thinking of the environment in this way, in terms of what affects us and what we affect, the environment is hardly universal. My environment as an urban North American is quite different from someone living in a rural jungle setting (for example). As such, I am proposing a totally relativistic idea of “environment” that necessitates that work on issues related to ecology and the environment consider boundaries both political and spatial between the body and the given environment. Perhaps more apt way to describe these boundaries could be our respective levels of insulation from the world that surrounds us.

Jamie & Elizabeth:

“…hybrid works create zones of contact between things that are usually kept apart (because of habits of thinking, seeing, or acting). They activate spaces betwee
n and make them available for making something else than the same old categories.”

I love the way you’ve articulated this and I’d like to add that those points of contact are where in our recent work we have been focused. For us the points of contact are where sparks occur. Our recent work is hybrid in that it combines or makes use of multiple normally segregated systems of knowledge in order to draw out or shine a light on ideas that don’t naturally emerge for those systems of knowledge in isolation.
In the exhibit we are currently installing, we combine geologic and ethnographic images to place human time in the context of geologic time.

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