Invasive Ecologies

 
Invasive Ecologies (Spiraling Corn Production), 2015
Paper, ink, adhesive
15” x 9” diameter

Spiraling Corn Production stemmed from a desire to visualize the rampant upward spiral of both US corn production and population, representing exactly 150 years of data, plotted every two years.

Data is vertically extruded, spiraling counterclockwise around an invisible center point. The vertical walls of the spiral represent the United States’ population growth as documented for the years 1866 through 2014, and projected to 2016, marked in increments of 15 million per every vertical row. Population representation begins at approximately 36 million persons and ends at 318 million persons. Population values are indicated in the innermost spiral and on the very outer rim, and fluctuations account for the uneven top, as the growth of both population and agricultural production is visualized on a steady incline. Plotted at the top line upon this graph is the data for Annual Corn, Harvested Acres, in Millions, marked with red spacers and florescent yellow diamonds. Years are indicated on the bottom edge of the spiral. The horizontal length of the spiral is guided by the number of years for which data is gathered, from 1866 to 2014, and projected data to 2016, with the most recent years positioned centrally in the spiral.

Eco-visualization artwork is a political act, situated in context of ecopsychology, specifically solastalgia, and the charged climate of rising awareness regarding environmentalism and sustainability. The sculptural series draws on industrial corn production data, offering a response to the devastation of monoculture landscapes, and a vantage point for considering the politics, policy, and ecology of our food production system.

 
 
Invasive Ecologies (Spiraling Corn Production), detail
 
 
Invasive Ecologies (High-Fructose Towers), 2015
Paper, ink, adhesive
14” x 16” x 8”

High-Fructose Towers represent a very small slice of data from three non-consecutive years. Rather than representing a series of annualized datasets, the sculpture shows a comparative relationship amongst US population, corn sweetener production and individual consumption of said sweetener. Three towers stand vertically from the flat surface, with separate forms moving up the tower architecture like vines. Each of the impossibly high towers are stabilized with guy lines that cross over one another. The shifts within this piece are subtle but noticeable, from the varying heights of each tower, to the number of concentric rings moving upward, and finally to the amount of amassed corn seeds in front of each tower. The towers buckle and twist because of their architectural structure, a visual response to the broken structure of the US food economy.

Each triangular cutout was assigned a numeric value of 1 million in population, representing the total population of the United States for that given year - 1980, 1999, and 2012 -  and rises accordingly in height to account for changes. Positioned slightly in front of each tower, amassed individual corn seeds represent the planted acres of corn in millions. These seeds are characterized by a noticeable lack of order, more like shrubbery and not like organized, straight rows. Because of this organic composition they reject a simple visual comparison that could be reached by counting. Lifting out from each mass of corn seeds are concentric radiating rings, each equaling an individual’s annual consumption of corn sweetener.

 
 

Invasive Ecologies (Biotech Silo), 2015
Paper, ink, adhesive
16" tall x 5" diameter

Biotech Silo plots fifteen consecutive years of data pertaining to the pervasive use genetically modified corn seed for production. The sculpture is in the form of a raised agricultural grain storage silo, an element ubiquitous with large-scale agribusiness farming. Architectural complexity achieves a stratified interior and exterior cylinder. An annualized, comparative data representation represents the massive adoption of genetically engineered corn seed since 2000.

Annual data is visualized clockwise around the silo and vertically up the walls in two overlapping layers, which overlays harvested acreage with the percentage of biotech acreage. The interior cylinder plots the data for harvested acreage. The data is represented as thin curvilinear rows, growing upward and separated by year. Each vertical column indicates the number of harvested acres, in millions from 2000 - 2015. For example, in 2013 87.45 million acres of corn were harvested and in 2014, 83.13 million acres were harvested. The overall percentage of biotech hybrids is marked numerically upon the overlaid exterior grid, which also functions as an indicator for millions of acres. The vertical and horizontal grid lines are 1/16" in width and ⅜" x ⅞" increments. Each vertical increment denotes 50 million acres of corn harvest, moving vertically from bottom (at zero acres) to top (at 90 million acres). Numerical percentages associated with data Biotech corn planting is plotted upon the exterior cylinder.

 
Invasive Ecologies (Biotech Silo), detail
 
 
 
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