Sunday, September 3, 2017

'Floating Land' ephemeral installation @ Noosa Woods: 23 Sept - 2 Oct 2017

 I feel very honoured to have been selected as one of this year's 'Floating Land' festival artists to create my ephemeral work entitled 'Networked', see Floating Land 2017 Program for more information.
Concept image, courtesy of the artist.

Artwork statement: Networked by donna davis

Species loss is a reality; we are living in an age when large numbers of plants and animals are at risk of becoming extinct, with human intervention being the leading cause. Over consumption of natural resources, pollution, excess waste, habitat clearing and disregard for our footprint on the planet seems to be the legacy that humans will leave.

One estimate states that between 50 and 100 species around the world are going extinct each day’ (Edward O. Wilson, 1992).

Today we are living in a world of instant connections with information and virtual networks at our fingertips.   We are immersed in a realm of digital text and images to keep us globally connected and informed.  Statistics of climate change and extinction events is one which can make us feel overwhelmed; and whilst virtual connections are all around us, we often feel disconnected and overwhelmed with ecological issues.

We can sometimes forget that we are intrinsically connected to another network, the Biosphere: a dynamic living entity. For instance, whilst you are reading this statement, beneath you there are complex living networks of interconnected microorganisms, hyphae, roots, minerals and invertebrates all working together to create an ecological balance for life above the surface; in fact many species within these groups have yet to be described or even discovered.

'Networked' focuses on these two juxtaposed ideas; loss and discovery, mourning and hope. The installation features hand formed white clay to create text; taking ‘text’ off the screen and into the environment.  The text lists all the documented extinct flora, fungi and fauna species in Queensland and appears to grow out from the base of a tree to form a root like structure on the ground beneath the canopy.  Whilst the text acts to form a sense of loss and remembrance of ‘what once was’; the aesthetic of the root-like structure references the living networks beneath the surface that sustain life above ground, in order to evoke notions of hope and optimism.

By highlighting intricate and beautiful living ecological systems using loss and memory as a catalyst I hope to reveal a new sense of connectedness and understanding of our role within the biosphere; empowering the viewers to believe that they ‘can’ make a positive difference through both thought and action.

How work responds to the theme: Lost and Found

The work plays with the context of ‘text/ing’; here I am taking the ‘text’ out of the virtual realm (off screen) and placing it directly into the environment.  The ‘text’ acts as a familiar conduit to allow viewers to reconnect and engage both visually and intellectually with the environment and ecological issues; through duality of meaning. 

The work simultaneously references loss and discovery; mourning and hope.

Whilst a sense of loss is felt once the extinct species are revealed, the viewer is also made aware of the life beneath them and in front of them as a fluid and dynamic ecology of life – much of which is still to be discovered; which, in-turn gives hope and optimism for the future.  Changing our own negative interventions into positive ones is something we can all do to nurture our environment into the future. 

The current Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006, Queensland, 12 May 2017, includes listings of extinct and endangered flora and fauna for Queensland.  The report lists 33 extinct species for our state, these include: 22 plant species, 3 amphibian species, 1 bird species, and 7 mammal species.  The report also identifies 296 species as having endangered status, these include: 221 plant species, 13 amphibian species, 25 bird species, 6 invertebrate species, 4 fish species, 15 mammal species, and 12 reptile species.

Relatively little is known or understood about fungi, algae, insects and invertebrate animals; in fact many species within these groups have yet to be described or even discovered.  Interestingly, ‘These least understood minions are the foundation of the living world’ says Edward O. Wilson.[1]

[1] The Global Solution to Extinction’, The New York Times, online, 12 March 2016.

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