Wild City

  • Project outcome in April 2018   / Commission through City of Melbourne Arts Grant EOI tender for Artplay

I will be exploring the idea of a ‘Wild City’ with children at ArtPlay. The project will involve a series of workshops that will culminate in an exhibition in the gallery. The project will explore how we can share territory with animals in urban spaces.
I will consult Melbourne architects and urban ecologists in the creation of this project, to get ideas on what challenges wild animals encounter in ever expanding human landscapes, and how these issues are currently being tackled. Recently I was able to explore some of the eco-corridors in the Netherlands, where animals are able to safely cross busy freeways, on bridges made into an extention of the forest. These green bridges link pocket habitats that are dotted throughout the densely populated country, and provide a great way of tackling the obsticles animals face in movement through urban spaces. I also came across bat homes where additions to roof structures are made for microbats to live in, they are built using the same tiles as the roof itself and became part of the house design. City councils are building possum tightropes, frog tunnels and bird nest boxes as part of urban design. I wonder what other things may be possible to make our urban areas wildlife friendly? Children’s imaginations are amazing, and I’m sure they will come up with ideas that adults couldn’t dream of.
In a series of workshops I will introduce children to ideas of animal architecture, wildlife corridors and possibilities for co-habitation. I will ask them to create an alternative urban utopia, where humans and animals share the landscape, and even buildings. We will think through these ideas using drawing, sculpture and discussion. Workshops will be open to children ages ranging from 5-12. The small model ‘Wild City’ made in collaboration with children will be open for all to see during the exhibition.


Synthesis – episode 1

  • 2016 / digital images   / Video shot at The Oostvardersplassen, Netherlands / video and sound installation exhibition at BAK, Utrecht, Netherlands   

In this work I have camouflaged a human/animal synthesis, upon a representative of the nature conservation establishment to examine the complexities of co-existence within an urban space. The transformation expresses sanctioned co-existence with the wild animal and challenges delusions of separation. I have worked through concepts of relationships to nature through the specifics of a site of re-wilding within the Oostvardersplassen Nature Reserve in The Netherlands.

I have blurred reality and storytelling… I have used the body of the Ranger as my site of imaginative intervention within the real world of institutionalised nature conservation while referencing deities and pagan costumed rituals from European history. Today our faith lies in ourselves, with appointed representatives as guardians, backed by science.

BAK – Gallery


Frequencies

  • 2015 / digital images / Installation: string, UV  / Fort Gagel, Utrecht, Netherlands / research conducted at MaHKU under Lara Almarcegui

Wild animals exist within our urban spaces, often unseen and unnoticed. They have their own borderlands and migrate within topographical maps made of animal habitats.

On a cold, snowy day in March 1985 an artificial bat “cave” was inaugurated by the town-mayor. A photograph records a group of school children dressed like bats at the official opening. The photograph was taken by Dr. Aldo M. Voute of the State University of Utrecht, a bat researcher that instigated artificial hibernation sites. Many monuments of the military, such as forts and bunkers, are now protected micro bat roosts having evolved into nature reserves. Bats are now dependent on these synthesised urban habitats.

The micro bat fulfills its role in ecological systems by eating its own body weight in insects. Their population in Europe is declining but they have received legal protection. Since then, bat researchers have been carefully constructing and recording the use of different artificial bat housing, to identify successful bat box designs and roost sites.

The nocturnal wanderings of these animals have created misplaced fears throughout cultural history.Their ability to see in the dark, at the time when we are most vulnerable, has placed these creatures of the night, into the category of horror in myth and story telling. It is scientifically acknowledged that humans share the ability to perceive objects in darkness through the same method as the bat. The blind, using echolocation, can experience images using sound waves that bounce off surfaces to convey spatial information, effectively seeing with their ears. It is a learned skill. A developed perception of the world. Philosopher Thomas Nagel posed the question “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”. He concluded that where consciousness occurs in animal life that the experience is fully comparable in richness of detail to our own, but in the example presents sensory apparatus so different from ours that the problem is impossible. It is a proposition not expressible in a human language. We can hardly imagine the subjective character of their experience. But perhaps we can imagine … for a moment, seeing with our ears.