Juan Travieso, Extinction is Eternal, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013
Earth Day seems like the perfect moment to showcase the work of Juan Travieso, a Cuban-born painter based in Miami. Travieso’s oil and acrylic paintings feature endangered species, particularly a vast array of endangered birds, juxtaposed against design elements that suggest encroaching buildings, technology, and disease – in other words, some of the things that endanger them.
In a recent interview with the art blog Hi-Fructose, Travieso explained his inspiration. “As a part of nature, I am aware of the fact that we are trying so hard as a species to disconnect ourselves from what we are. I feel that it is my responsibility as an artist and as a citizen of the world to give voice to the powerless species on this earth. Therefore, I have been focusing on endangered species for the last six years. One of my goals is to paint all of the endangered birds in the world.”
The ambitious scale of that goal is part of the point. Travieso notes that after two years of painting endangered birds, he realized that the message of the paintings would be magnified by their sheer number. “The more different species I painted, the more the audience would understand the great value of their loss. One of my dreams is to have a retrospective with all of my bird paintings under the same roof. It would be a grand statement on the toll we have taken on nature.”
You can read the full interview here and see the full Endangered Birds series at Travieso’s website.
Lita Albuquerque’s installation Beekeeper (2006), now on view in Santa Fe, is a piece that is much more compelling than the artist’s own description of it would lead you to believe.
According to Albuquerque, “Beekeeper (created in collaboration with Chandler McWilliams and Jon Beasley) is a pair of video projections controlled by generative computer software. The individual pixels that make up the image of the beekeeper separate and move out into space, dissolving the solid form into its constituent parts, spread until the entire wall is covered in a sea of slowly moving pixels, then reverse direction, heading for their original position. The software allows each pixel to choose its own unique path every time, creating a work in a constant state of becoming.” (source)
The artist has said that her goal with this work was “to present the visual similarity between a beekeeper and an astronaut,” which she approached by “[creating] a narrative around which the beekeeper’s aim is to help maintain biological life on the planet and the astronaut became the starkeeper maintaining life in the cosmos.”
On that level, this piece doesn’t work for me. In fact, it makes very little sense. The main visual similarity between apiarists and astronauts is the fact that both wear protective suits. Beekeepers, at least until very recently, were more interested in producing honey than in “maintaining biological life on the planet”, and astronauts are “starkeepers”, protecting the stars and planets from intergalactic threats, only in the movies.
As art that explores how we see and comprehend the world, however, Beekeeper is sublime. Just thinking about how the pixels gather and disperse could keep your mind working for hours. And as a statement about what we human beings are – collections of particles in constant flux – Beekeeper approaches the profound.
You can see Beekeeper in the exhibition Inventory of Light at Peters Projects in Santa Fe until April 25th, and you can find more work by Lita Albuquerque on her website.
Anna Garforth, The Big Bang, 2012
I like art and I like science. Most of the time, I think that getting the science right makes the art stronger. In this case, well, what the hell? Anna Garforth’s The Big Bang is an installation assembled from hundreds of moss tufts collected from stone walls around Hackney, London. According to Garforth, “the installation depicts Mother Earth as a seed shattering explosion.” So what if plants didn’t show up on our planet until billions of years after the Big Bang? Sometimes, it’s the feeling that counts, and Garforth nails the idea of a sudden eruption that brought forth life on earth.
You can see this piece and lots more of her work on her website.
Dance, opera, digital art and particle physics unite in an intriguing new film, Symmetry, which was filmed partly inside CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider. The film, directed by Ruben van Leer, tells the story of CERN researcher Lukas (played by dancer and choreographer Lukas Timulak), who “is thrown off balance while working on the theory of everything and the smallest particle. Through Claron’s singing he rediscovers love.” In the “endless landscape” of Bolivia’s salt flats, Claron (played by soprano Claron McFadden) takes Lukas back “to the moment before the big bang, when time didn’t exist.”
The film will debut at the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam on March 14 as part of the Cinedans film festival and at the NewScientist CERN festival later that same week.
There’s much more information and a teaser for the film at The Creators Project and on the Symmetry website.
Rainbow Microbes by Michele Banks
The Grand Poobah’s of science art at the Symbiartic science art blog have declared 1-7 March to be the week of the science art tweetstrom using the hashtag #sciart.
Here at The Finch & Pea we currently have 181 “Art of Science” posts (well 182 now), or 30 per day for the the rest of the week. That should keep y’all busy.