August 5, 2010 - August 29, 2010

Passengers

Featuring Lari R. Gibbons

Gallery 4

Created exclusively for Gallery 4 at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, this installation represents my continued investigation of the changing natural world. Entitled Passengers, it focuses on the migration of invasive species through maritime commerce, exploration and travel. Such encroachments have been described as “quiet disasters” because they often remain undetected in their early stages and are a primary source of ecological changes worldwide.

The transportation of species often happens unintentionally when ships take water and organic matter into their hulls and discharge it upon reaching their destinations. This process increases the stability of vessels but displaces thousands of life forms that are invisible to the unaided eye. The introduction of these species to new locations can have harmful effects, from the destruction of pristine habitats and decimation of existing wildlife to the importation of harmful diseases. Recent high-profile examples include the spread of human cholera to South America, turf grass to Antarctica, and fast-reproducing mussels to the Eastern half of the United States.

My installation at Blue Star considers a variety of invasive species and the means by which they travel. Shipping vessels from notable historic excursions hang alongside a large motif referencing portolan charts once used to navigate foreign waters. While it resembles cartographic artifacts, this diagram is based on contemporary maps generated by software that tracks security breaches and vulnerable areas of global data networks. On the periphery of this motif hang representations of various invasive species believed to have been imported by maritime travel. Their silhouettes are laid out on circular pieces of plexiglass, referencing the way in which
specimens are placed in petri dishes.

This exhibition is made possible in part by the Elm Fork Natural Heritage Museum, P.R.I.N.T Press, and a Research and Creativity Enhancement award from the University of North Texas.