Title

Second Wind

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Graduation Date

2019

Document Type

Portfolio

Degree

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

School or Department

School of Art

Abstract

Second Wind is a kinetic, responsive art installation which examines invisible processes taking place in and around a Ponderosa pine tree. Wind speed data, measured at 20', 25', 30', 35', and 40' in the canopy of a Ponderosa on the University of Montana campus, is translated into the gallery in real time using two Raspberry Pi single-board computers. This data determines the velocity of five fans in the gallery. Each fan interacts with a suspended vellum paper structure which moves more or less depending on wind speed. The vellum is painted with an ink made of fermented pine needles from the tree, and imagery depicts changes in canopy density based on height.

This piece is one of a series of works exploring the often-hidden mechanics of plant physiology, aiming to transform these microscopic or invisible processes into analogues viewers can experience in a tangible way. Perhaps engaging with these interpretations of plants as entities in dynamic relationships with their surroundings can contribute to our ability to think more critically about our capacity to both fit within and radically change our ecosystems.

However, this understanding comes with a caveat. While translating wind data into the gallery makes that otherwise invisible and ephemeral force concrete, the viewer is only able to see the fabricated structures which signify the tree, not the tree itself. As the data comes into focus, the tree becomes more abstract. Second Wind aims to raise questions about the limits of perception and knowledge, limits which are especially important to investigate as our capacity to shape our ecosystems continues to grow. I hope to join an expanding critical dialogue questioning the role of object-making, scientific inquiry, and data materialization in how we conceptualize nature and our place within it.

Keywords

art-science, ponderosa, digital sensing, kinetic, installation, landscape

Subject Categories

Fine Arts

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