Live Generative Video Installation 2012
In collaboration with Deborah Aschheim & Daragh Byrne
Amazon.com campus, 207 Boren Ave. N., Seattle, WA 2012
Revenge of the Lawn is a durational installation that examines our culture’s estrangement from organic processes and pokes fun at our desire to master the natural world. Revenge of the Lawn presents a typical living room scene made out of furniture that has been reupholstered with soil and seeds. It is a fantasy environment designed to encourage ‘nature’ to reclaim ‘man-made’ objects and permeate the boundary between Indoor and Outdoor, calling attention to the arbitrariness of these binaries. As the tableau of tranquil domesticity is progressively threatened by overgrowth, it calls to mind apocalyptic or science-fiction scenarios. Although the title is campy and the piece’s overall effect is humorous, there is a darker edge that hints at an out-of-balance world in which humans are no longer present.
Revenge of the Lawn was originally created in 2003 but was completely redesigned for the 2008 version. The installation was presented on a public pathway in the heart of Lincoln Park, adjacent to the museum entrance, in a room-like stone courtyard surrounded by native prairie flora and fauna. The sculpture featured hand-sewn panels containing soil and seeds that were upholstered to the surfaces of the furniture. Several other items such as slippers, dishes, and a spoon were seeded as well and contributed to the domesticity and humor of the site. A drip/spray irrigation system was integrated into the installation site. A networked video camera, built into a custom weather- and theft-proof enclosure, took pictures of the growth every 15 minutes and uploaded the images to a remote server, where they were combined into time-lapse video. The resulting videos and live camera feed were viewable on my site revengeofthelawn.com. The whole system – watering, image capture, and video rendering – functioned autonomously with minimal human intervention.
I returned to plant sculpture, found materials, and environmental installation in a low-tech context as a participant in the 2007 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment. This unusual event, organized by the Berwick Research Institute, Island Alliance, and Studio Soto, took place over labor day weekend on a small island in the Boston Harbor.
Using the metaphor of homesteading as a point of departure, 40 artists in ten groups will embark on new artistic and geographic terrain. With only the materials they can carry on their backs and a short 5-day window of time, the artists will adapt ambitious projects to the challenges and opportunities of an island environment.
Part residency, part survivalist experiment, and fully impressionable, malleable, speculative and reflective, the Encampment allows artists to explore new possibilities, removed from the distractions and discourses of the mainland. Yet, like an explorer with a partially drawn map to be fully formed in expedition, the project presents itself as a microcosm of transparent, possible attributes and actions for a culture stripped bare and invented anew.
Our team built sculptures comprised entirely of materials we scavenged from around the island. Our creations – a giant twig chicken, a goat with internal organs made of garbage, and a rusty metal pig – embodied a Darwinesque fantasy of exotic, mutated, feral creatures on a remote island. The results of the project were documented in the Land Grab exhibition at APEXART in New York City, and featured online at the German art site wooloo.org.
Located in the backyard of Chicago’s 1926 Exhibition Studies Space/Roger Brown House during the summer of 2003, Revenge Of The Lawn was a living room scene made out of found furniture reupholstered with soil and seeds. It was an environment designed to encourage “nature” to reclaim “man-made” objects and permeate the boundary between Indoor and Outdoor.
During the course of the installation, viewers could visit www.revengeofthelawn.com for a live webcam and ongoing time-lapse video footage of the installation as it sprouted, grew, and ultimately withered and died.
Watch Time-lapse video