Artists statement: a ‘deep ecology’ of performance, landscape and scientific visualization in Carbon Song Cycle and related films



Since 2002 I’ve collaborated with marine biologists, botanists, geologists and micro-climatologists since in a search of this conceptual commons in mediated forms of life. Remote performances in the landscape, acts of documentation, montage/collage of these images of both landscape and the performance attempt to visually map the internal and external ecologies of our minds and spirits within a nature that exceeds the human. Carbon Song Cycle presents a montage of footage shot in 2007-2012  at energy-production sites in back country California– geothermal plants at the Salton Sea, century-old lime kilns in Big Sur,  oil fields in the Salinas Valley–together with photography of places where the earth’s energy production is obvious, such as Lassen National Volcanic Park and the great surfing beaches like Rincon south of Santa Barbara. Swathes of documentary footage shot on board the Pelican, a Louisiana-universities consortium research vessel, in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico six months after the BP oil spill in 2010 (in collaboration with marine algae specialist Dr. Suzanne Fredericq) and at the closed oil-debris beaches on the Gulf coast also appears. The dense editing process creates animations that fold in still images from the current issues of Nature: Climate Change– these are graphs, charts and other scientific visualizations on climate change culled from research around the world. And finally, live performance drawing is brought into the time-images. These  performances involve burning pomegranates from our garden to make charcoal; then using the charcoal to make drawings for animation in the film…distilling liquid carbon from axle grease and pouring it onto translucent muslin stretched canvas, to emulate oil spills as painting…raku-firing ceramic urns in garbage cans filled with newspaper…In the live performance of Carbon Song Cycle, I draw with the light of my mobile phone–making colored lines tracing animated scientific geodata on a back lit video screen: here, the Carbon Song Cycle chamber ensemble simulataneoulsy reads my drawing as a live score….To me the line is everything– it somehow is both the line of the time-image as a thread and a texture; it is the incomprehensible ‘infrathin’ edge of the inhuman touching on human… it’s the impossible topology that wayfinds even as it loses its place…



Christina McPhee 


performance / expanded cinema installation / Christina McPhee and Pamela Z
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