Aeriameter is an instrument specially designed for examining the visual and aural composition of airborne phenomena. Visitors can press the forward button, adjust tone and volume, and identify each slide in the accompanying guide.
Aeriameter was created during a residency at the Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago), with invaluable help from Alex Inglizian. It was also partially supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Memory (Pumpkin Seeds)
Paper, ink, gouache, pumpkin seeds
Memory (Pumpkin Seeds) is a series of approximately 40 copies of copies of a red bag of pumpkin seeds from the US, manufactured by a company titled “Indian”, with their logo printed of an unidentified Native American in a headdress. This work was created to give form to the phenomenon of how memory works. When we recall an event, we aren’t accessing information about the original event - we’re recalling the last time we remembered it.* So, depending on how often you remember, the memory is a copy of a copy of a copy, losing accuracy along the way. In making the piece, I copied the front and back of the original package, and then copied the copy, and then copied that copy, all the time hiding the original and subsequent versions from my line of vision. The majority of the copying was done with my left hand rather than my dominant right. The subject matter, a healthy snack branded by a company’s perception of an indigenous person, evokes the loss of information, as well as loss of empathy. On the whole, Americans encounter more representations of native peoples through advertising and sports, rather than actual people or news accounts. There is much decay and inaccuracy there, distance from truth, much like the tricks memory plays.
A series of six short, looped videos and animations, "Sykliä" (Finnish for “cycles”) is a collection of videos to be screened for certain elements in a landscape. Rather than background, landscape becomes foreground, foremost audience.
"Q+A for Tremulous Plants" is the fifth video in the "Sykliä" series. This video is for plants barraged with nature’s queries. It can be overwhelming to decide on your opinion of something, even as benign as whether you like the wind. So, let’s just take joy in the motions of response. No need to feel tethered to your answer. To be played for windblown vegetation.
For Cellule, I explored the concept of plant seed cells as not only building blocks of life, but also physical manifestations of time: individual increments that build to a larger whole, much like the pictures that compose an animation. This was prompted by the English homophone of “cell” and “cel” – short for “celluloid”, the clear plastic sheet which was drawn and painted on for the production of traditional cartoons prior to computer animation.
I focused on was the Arabidopsis thaliana, also known as Thale Cress, a tiny mustard green. Arabidopsis produces seeds consisting of approximately 5,500 cells each. Thus, I created an animation with 5,500 drawings, serving as a time-based portrait of the Arabidopsis seed.
Depending on who you talk to, Arabidopsis is a weed; a model organism of plant biology; or, among a scant few, an edible mustard green. It’s heavily researched in biology departments around the globe, and by the end of 2015 will be one of the first plants grown on the moon (…within a container). Despite its significant role in science, it has a very low profile. Perhaps because its flowers are small and “plain”, or because it’s not large and stoic like a tree, it does not draw much attention. Even many biologists studying Arabidopsis refer to it as a weed.
By calling a plant a “weed”, one immediately injects notions of good and bad, regardless of whether a plant is beneficial to the land on which it grows, or its nutritional offerings to humans. In fact, Arabidopsis is perfectly edible, making for a tasty salad. But because of the preferences (and lack of awareness, most likely) of many gardeners, and because of its presence in cement cracks and overgrown lots, it’s perceived as being a nuisance. Not beautiful, not beneficial. As with stereotypes among humans, the Arabidopsis’ identity is determined by others’ uninformed perception, not its inherent qualities.
Under the care of a human, the future life of an Arabidopsis seed is full of possibilities, ranging from the glory of touching the moon, to the degradation of being crushed on a sidewalk. Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that Arabidopsis seeds withhold a huge secret from humans, a deep mystery that continues to flummox biologists: dormancy.
Every plant seed experiences dormancy. It is a period of time when a seed is receiving the proper amount of light, water, and warmth for germination, but still does not grow. It is as if the seed is choosing the right moment, the right ray of sunlight, the right cooling breeze, before it sends its rootlet down into the soil. When beginning the animation, I worked next to dormant Arabidopsis seeds. The seeds were poised on the surface of nutritious soil, under tents of clear plastic to contain warmth and moisture. Perhaps trepidatious of how they would be received, the seed’s cells waited with heavy anticipation. This anticipation is what’s conveyed, through movement, in each cel of my animation.
Special thanks to Sylvan Loubéry & Michel Goldschmidt-Clermont at the Department of Botany and Plant Biology, Univeristy of Geneva, for providing the opportunity to count the number of cells in an Arabidopsis seed, and aiding in many other ways as well.
Cellule was made possible by a grant and residency from Utopiana, Geneva, Switzerland.
Some Sensations Felt At Various Locations
Drawn Animation & Performance
Visual representations of physical and emotional feelings, recorded through hand-drawn animation and presented on the same grounds my feelings were felt at.
Found objects, ink on paper
Touch Music is an installation-score which, through textual prompts, creates an internalized animation that reacts to and touches physical objects.
Text, from left to right:
Press fingernail hard against your hand. Imagine the pressure is the size and shape of this rock.
1. Caress this cotton affectionately, as if it is part of someone you intimately desire 2. Pinch it slowly without emotion 3. Repeat 1 – 2
A line connects your nostrils to inside these bottles You breathe, lines undulate and fold in on themselves
Press finger along line Consider how you benefit from other peoples’ oppression
Move edges of plastic dish along the edge of the circle and think about the last time you were in a tight space and liked it
Pick up this lightbulb Hold it in your hands Watch the filament
An invisible sheet is hovering 3 meters above It will fall slowly onto this brick, covering it entirely Hold this knowledge without talking about it
Look out this window Hold in your mind the shape of the impulse to check your phone
All images from its installation in Distance, FRISE, Hamburg, Germany.
Baltimore City - Station North A&E District
Gwyneth Anderson is an animator and sculptor exploring invisibility, perception, and the phenomena of movement.