A Meditation on the Exhibition, Wetland Wander
What Art-Science Does: Wetland Wonder
A wetland ecologist, a sound artist, a walking artist and a multimedia artist have together created a powerful new project for us; to remind us that wetlands are astounding: they are rich pluralities of interrelating, interpenetrating, organisms and cultures, both non-human and human: hyper-complex sympoietic systems: collectively evolving, free of self-defined boundaries of time or space, central controls or predictability. And so yes, wetlands go through extraordinary and often unexpected change: that can both delight, or horrify, especially when our actions are complicit within a collapse.
The team expertly leads us on their own disciplinary walks in science, sound, movement and image, crossing paths as often as they diverge, footprints and sound signatures melding as one - entangled, audio-visual worlds of art , writing, law, history, ecology, aesthetics, nature-cultures, performance and politics. Wetland Wonder asks us to open ourselves to the rich, hidden narratives, possibilities, and potentials of these often unknown places: together to wander and wonder, “How?”, “Why” and “Where to next”
Artists and scientists, in rich dialogue with each other and the custodians of the places they are invited to work within – here are powerful allegiances; especially when they wonder together about shared challenges, working just for a moment beyond their individual areas of specialisation and expertise. Not knowing exactly what they are doing or where they are going, even for a while, opens up a rich space for discovery through dialogue. Collaborations configured in these ways have the potential to render us sensitive to unexpected kinds phenomena, undetectable by the conventional instruments of science or art. Such creative fusions, free of conventional or habitual approaches, promise the possibility of renewed ways of thinking or seeing, about these deeply entangled bodies of earth.
In recent years dark global forces have worked effectively to raise suspicious about our once trusted models of science – skilfully manufacturing doubt around its predictive models. No longer should we pretend scientists are free of a political stake in the use and misuse of their data. The war is being lost before science maybe even understands it’s in a war. So is this where projects such as Wetland Wander can assist? Art has always understood and known its political stake - never afraid to draw its lines in the sand. And now here we are all as one: together more urgently than ever; because no longer can we afford to lose such raw battles for life.
Just maybe, data made tangible like this, made human, made non-human, can help build coalitions of the willing - staking all we can collectively muster; to nurture back into our lives, wetland wonders. Re-futuring together.
Keith Armstrong 1/08/18