Session #3 – Mapping environmental issues

Mapping 7 rivers in Cali, Colombia

Mariángela Aponte Núñez

Abstract: 7 rivers in 49 images is a collection of 49 photographs of the seven rivers (Aguacatal, Cali, Cañaveralejo, Cauca, Lili, Melendez and Pance) crossing the city of Cali, Colombia.

This project focuses on the relationship of Cali’s people with their water. Like most of colombian territory Cali is rich in clean water resources, but the environmental crisis of our globalized era can be seen here too: Cali’s waste has been reaching a point that today most of those rivers have no drinkable water after they pass through the city. The photographs explore the movement and color change of the water passing through the city of Cali.

The 49 images forms a sequence from the Pance river, the one with better conditions, to the Cauca river, the dirtiest and one of the major rivers in southwestern Colombia.

Bio: Mariángela Aponte Núñez, born in Cali, Colombia. With a Visual Arts degree obtained at the Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia in 2007, I am currently completing my Master in Aesthetics and Technology of the Electronic Arts at National University of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2005 I have been showing my artwork in solo and group exhibitions. Some of my works are: TACTOSCOPIO, that addresses issues related to art and blindness; SONOSCOPIO, an experimental sound installation; and the photographic exhibition 7 RIVERS IN 49 IMAGES that explores the color change of Cali’s rivers from their birth through its mouth. I am actively collaborating in Colombian publications, among them, with the ARTEFACTO section for the “Pandora’s Box” radio-cultural series in Javeriana Stereo Cali as well as several other transdisciplinary projects.


Oceans in Distress

Joseph Ingoldsby

Abstract: All life is interrelated; woven of the water, of the Earth, and of the air. We must listen to the story of Mother Earth told gently to her children. We must listen and cooperate as one people to survive for we live in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources, and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate. Artist’s can play an integral role in the raising of the public consciousness through advocacy. Art can be used to communicate complex ecological and scientific principles to an audience outside of the confines of the academy or science museum. Oceans in Distress documents the three main drivers which are sickening the global marine environment, and all are a direct consequence of human activity: global warming, acidification and a dwindling level oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Pollution and global warming are pushing the world’s oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years. These symptoms, moreover, could be the harbinger of wider disruptions in the interlocking web of biological and chemical interactions that scientists now call the Earth system. Oceans in Distress is a collaborative work that showcases the science behind the issues of chemical, biological, acoustic and industrial change that is affecting the world’s oceans and in turn ourselves.

Bio: Joseph Emmanuel Ingoldsby. I stand before you at a unique vantage point, which bridges art, science and technology. I research, collaborate, write, exhibit and install my work in the field. Joseph Emmanuel Ingoldsby initially trained in art and landscape architecture with Ian McHarg, who mentored me on Design with Nature at PENN. The focus and methodology involved a comprehensive analysis of the geology, hydrology, soils, vegetation, and the cultural overlays of both local and regional landscapes. An integral part of the work involved interviews with scientists and local experts. Projects included analytical overlays of the Schuylkill River based on the incremental industrialization of an urban river; and the Natural and Cultural Landscapes of the Pine Barrens, NJ in text, aerial patterning and photography. This methodology provided the foundation for current collaborative work, as I transitioned to exhibitions and installations, and to digital media and film. I combine art, science and technology to advocate for vanishing landscapes and endangered species and the role of the artist in the 21st century as a translator and communicator of science. My work is focused on the natural and cultural landscapes of America. I practice what I preach.


Ecosystem complexity and adaptative art practices

Perdita Phillips

Abstract: I propose to present a visual essay tackling the apparent lacuna between many artists’ ideas of ecology (and the balance of nature), and contemporary scientific ecology’s conception of the world as a network of dynamic ecological circumstances. The presentation will discuss ecological complexity, resilience and advances in adaptive management and counterpoint these with existing artworks and artists and with potential directions for critical future creative works. Starting with Taylor and Haila’s (2001, p. 521) identification of the challenge to conceptualize ecosystems as simultaneously encompassing ‘particularity, contingency, and structure, and for such structure to be internally differentiated, dynamically tied to its context, and subject to restructuring’ and concluding with the ethical implications of an unbalanced world, the paper will invite action in the face of the inevitable uncertainties inherent in an ecological world view.

Bio:  Perdita Phillips is a Western Australian artist whose work encompasses installation, walking, sound art, photography, book and digital art. Whilst materially diverse, underlying themes of ecological processes and a commitment to a resensitisation to the physical environment, are apparent in her work. She convened and curated the Unruly ecologies: biodiversity and art symposium for SymbioticA (2010) and curated the ArtSource Newsletter issue Resilience: on Art and Environments, which included her essay, The trouble with sustainability (2007). Recent publications include The case of the lengthening legs: cane toads in northern Australia (2011 in Jacob Bull’s Animal Movements • Moving Animals) and Clotted Life and Brittle Waters (2010, for the Landscapes journal). Her practice-based PhD thesis fieldwork/fieldwalking (2007) explored the relationship between art, science and the field. Phillips has undertaken a number of art and science residencies including Green, Grey or Dull Silver: art and the behavioural ecology of the Great Bowerbird, Chlamydera Nuchalis (2007-2008, SymbioticA) with notable exhibitions including Visceral: The Living Art Experiment (2011, Science Gallery, Dublin), The System of Nature (2007, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, The University of Western Australia), Chart (2006, John Curtin Art Gallery, Curtin University), fieldwork/fieldwalking (2006, Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery) and Zoo for the species (2003, National Review of Live Art). Phillips is currently working on The Sixth Shore, a spatial GPS-based soundscapes as part of SymbioticA’s Adaptation project. The project brings together the sounds and stories of different human and non-human stakeholders in the complex issues surrounding Lake Clifton in southwest Western Australia.


Mapping Meaning

Erin Smith

Abstract: As part of the workshop “Mapping environmental issues from above & from the ground,” I will offer an artist’s talk along with a group project. I will introduce a figurative concept of mapping, outlining a methodology for relating locally to an environmental crisis that often seems to be occurring elsewhere–in drought-ridden Africa, for instance, or on the polar ice caps. In literary analysis, “mapping” is defined as “a conceptual (mental) connection between elements” (Johanna Rubba, “Terms and concepts for metaphorical and metonymic analysis”). Aiming to forge this connection between elements in my visual practice, I adopt the literary trope of metonymy, which substitutes a part for the whole. My visual metonyms map the concrete to the abstract, the knowable tothe incomprehensible, the intimate to the estranged. Statistics and reports about global environmental threats can overwhelm and alienate. Incapacitated by the “big picture,” I seek intimate relationships with my local surroundings in order to connect more firmly to the global scale. For me, the crumbling edges of the city metonymically represent a peripheral knowledge of global entropy. A depiction of urban decay in Griffintown provides a figurative conduit to a phenomenon, like melting ice caps, which registers demise on a more portentous scale. Participants will document their own metonymic readings of sites around Concordia, responding in photography, writing, or another form of expression to convey what the sites mean to them (e.g. how it “maps” onto something weightier). We will compile the imagery and writing into a montage or a simple artist’s book tracing Montreal’s implication in a global network of environmental threat.

Bio: Erin Smith is a visual artist who uses book arts methodologies, intaglio printmaking, drawing, collage and installation techniques to construct poetic homages to the precarious state of human existence. She draws on the urban landscape, positing it as the existential backdrop of daily life. Born in New Hampshire, Erin received her B.A. in Studio Arts and English at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Her passions include running and biking, organic gardening, cooking, and reading, all of which in one way or another feed her written and visual artistic practice. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Print Media at Concordia University.