This week, instead of drawing plants right away, I decided to make what Ken calls a “mood board”. For those new to art lingo, a mood board is where artists put together a bunch of images they like without trying to classify them immediately (I admit I had to at least add the species names). You just put together images that you like and see what it brings out in your imagination. So I decided to put together a mood board of all the cool wind dispersed prairie species I could think of. Species I’ve seen in the past, and ones I really liked from my trip to the botanical gardens last week.
It is pretty neat to see what the pictures made me think of. I really like the diverse set of shapes that wind dispersed inflourescences (the whole set of seeding heads on a plant) can take. And also there are so many wavy seed plumes that remind me a lot of the wind patterns Ken likes and that we are thinking a lot about for our project.
Then after I made the seed board, while looking through my other images, I realized - you know what else is cool that doesn’t get enough cred? Stamens. So I then made another stamen mood board. Plants are pretty awesome and beautiful when you get past the petal part.
I’m not sure what this will inspire, but it’s been really fun to think about seeds and other underappreciated aspects of plants. I’m going to chat with Ken about these and see what we can brainstorm!
Blogged while listening to some Saun & Starr Sunshine.
We both thought it was a good idea to familiarize ourselves with the practice and methods of each other. This week Lauren gave me some homework. She shared a paper with me entitled
Plant spatial arrangement affects projected invasion speeds of two invasive thistles by Katherine M. Marchetto, Eelke Jongejans, Katriona Shea and Scott A. Isard. (I think she took it easy on me with a shorter paper!) Beyond the content being interesting and related to our project (densities of surrounding specimens affecting dispersal), what stood out to me was the thoroughly detailed approach to the research, down to the accounting of all choices made in setting up the experiment, specifics of site choice, averaging variables, concerns for containment, and the conclusions and possible applications for this information. Being aware of this helps me understand some issues that may arise as we push our project forward. Obviously this pertains to the unexpected opportunities/ challenges of making work that is a living system. Often in artmaking there is attention to object making (and certainly archival issues) content, historical references/ lineages, audience engagement, etc. To work with ecology and truly understand the interconnected quality of its existence is to acknowledge its sprawling, expansive, and blurred borders of concept and object. All these things are good. Seeing this as an artist medium brings it into the familiar realm of learning its chemistry, is predilections, its limitations, its responsiveness. I think this brings a unique understanding, or at least the beginnings of understanding, of engaging with a natural system.
These thoughts were in the back of my mind as we talked with Kate earlier for our check in. During the conversation we talked about our project with urban lots as land art with scientific opportunities and its unique challenges. Some of these challenges come in the form of stewardship (as the project would last a few years at minimum) maintenance, city collaboration, long term funding, etc. Lauren very astutely pointed out that students, both science and art, and community members could be brought in to help maintain the project. The project would have a layer of relational aesthetics –
The artwork creates a social environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity. Bourriaud claims "the role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever scale chosen by the artist." Wikipedia
In this case people of different disciplines would interact as they work to maintain and research the site. Both of us believe in the benefits of early introduction to cross disciplinary study (especially science and art) brings about innovative ways of thinking.
The art would not have solely defined physical borders, plant species migration or animations but would extend into the interactions/ experience of the people working the site, city officials, city regulations, and future management of the site. Maybe this sprawling interconnection is the true heart of the project.