“It’s plants. The future is plants. The new sculpture is plants.”

27/05/2011 § Leave a comment

mel chin, revival field (1990) – images via vulgare

when did the creativity of art and science become so intertwined as to almost become indistinguishable?  nearly 30 years after the dust kicked up by silent spring settled and 20 years since the swirling spiral jetty impacted our view of art and nature, mel chin cultivated revival field based on the reduction process.  in the reduction process, he didn’t carve out the negative of a piece of wood, in order to produce a positive image.  during the summer of 1990 he extracted the invisible and the detrimental from the pig’s eye landfill, in st. paul, minnesota, returning it to a pure landscape from the perspective of the environment.

given the most proximate can be the most difficult to decipher, like trying to figure out why justin bieber is so popular (digression: this video is oddly reminiscent to andy warhol’s), the concept of shifting aesthetics is a challenging one to tackle.  in a pbs interview, mel chin chose to frame the content of his work within past artistic constructs,

… put it this way: i say that it’s the traditional sculpture that i’m interested in.  michelangelo has his carrara marble, he has an idea, an image.  and he goes with his chisels and he creates ‘david’ and we all ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ over it, and whatever we do in front of it.  that’s it.  now i’m in a world where i open up the paper, i read these articles.  we live in a world of pollution with heavy metals saturating the soil, where there is no solution to that.  if that (pollution) could be carved away, and life could return to that soil, then a diverse and ecologically balanced life, then that is a wonderful sculpture.  i think there is a profound aesthetic in there and it’s really simple.

what mel considers really simple actually is quiet complex: when you carve stone, whats left is an image of change, when you extract metals from a field whats left is the same field, this time without metals.   when the industrial fences are removed, the plants from the surrounding field will over take the plantings and return revival field to its appearance before mels intervention.  the perceptually invisible metals will be gone but the field will remain perceptually the same.

the evolution of good science as good art is fascinating to explore and the discussion even manages to infiltrate the world of architecture.  prof. david heymann over at design observer has covered this issue over the course of several articles (namely here, here and here).  in architecture the question becomes: does leed accreditation make a building good?

it may be that science and art have long been connected, cormac mccarthy, werner herzog, and lawrence krauss recently discussed the topic of connecting science and art.  if you have the time (40ish minutes), i’d recommend sitting down for a listen.

enjoy your weekend.

cultivate your garden.

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