March 21, 2011

Regional Relationships

The collaborative artist team, Regional Relationships (RR), has just launched its first edition! Matthew Friday, the first artist commissioned by RR, has been working in southern Ohio with flooded mines. He writes of “interlocking networks of abandoned mines” that number about 12,000. A bacteria has colonized the flooded underground areas and, as part of their digestive process, they “free” the acidic sulfur in the leftover coal, thus leading to acid mine drainage. “[S]everal thousand gallons of toxic sulfur hydroxide every week” flow through the ecosystem. Together with an environmental engineer from Ohio University, Dr. Guy Riefler, Matthew produced a neutralized tube of paint from the mine runoff; it’s ochre-colored. He provided a brush, a pen, and a tube of pigment, plus a sheet of paper, and invited participants to diagram their own relationships with nature/culture, what Matthew describes as “entangled collectives that make up the world [and] cannot be separated into neat categories….” To spark creation of diagrams, Matthew posed these questions: “Where does your water come from? What systems contribute to its production? What histories are folded into current form? What futures are being produced by the way we make use of it?”

My graduate seminar in Architecture happened to be discussing R. Buckminster Fuller last week, and Bucky’s ideas about Spaceship Earth. It seemed like as good a time as any to create a diagram about water in central Illinois, riffing off of the Buckminster Fuller Institute‘s Challenge, “an annual international design Challenge awarding $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.” We listed various aspects of the water cycle and watched the video about Jennifer Monson’s Mahomet Aquifer project that is linked from the blog. Students Matthew Goyak, Deven Gibbs, Jieyoung Lee, Shellie Halkyard, and Todd Mackinson created this wonderful illustration on March 17, 2011. The brown tint is the pigment from Matthew Friday.

Living Water Cycle

Living Water Cycle

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