Artist’s models

A graph of sea levels rising over 80 years in Brisbane (Church et al. 2007) with krill embryos and adults

A visualisation of cold bottom water circulating from Antarctica

Living Data Installation 01: An animated model of the global ecosystem:

A floating screen with satellite displays

A floating screen is illuminated by animations that combine stories, data and iconography shared by scientists and other artists since 2003. Like a scientific model, the installation has evolved to reflect current knowledge. The current story is that a healthy environment maintains homeostasis (balance) between its parts and that human actions are tipping the natural balance. Recent data are graphs that show sea levels rising and diagrams that show changing patterns of growth in some plants and animals. Iconography are circling, spiraling and crossing lines that dynamically connect parts to suggest the whole system. Unlike a scientific model, this model can be touched. You can move through it and feel part of it.

Satellite displays reflect different methods used by artists to advance knowledge of the effects of climate on humans and the environment:
Source (Sue Anderson)
Green Algae Happiness (Lisa Roberts)
Invisible forest (Andrea Juan)
Atmospheric chronicle (Lorraine Beaulieu)
Symbiogenesis (Evelin Kolijn)
The Awareness of Atlas (Philippe Boissonnet) and Mr Nasty (Justin James Clayden)
Dissolve (Melissa Smith)
Collertoral Atmospherics (Peter Charuk)

The floating screen is made with strong silk mesh that has trawled the Southern Ocean in a Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR). The mesh was supplied by Australian Antarctic Division scientist Graham Hosie. Layers of mesh are spaced to give depth to animated lines that describe systems that interact to shape our world: algae, diatoms, krill, pteropods, seals, humans, sea ice, bottom water circulation, and the circumpolar current that impacts on all oceans.

Circling, spiraling and crossing lines are used by scientists and artists to describe how natural systems work, and to express feelings of connection. The forms are primal and appeal to body memories of moving and drawing. Since ancient times these forms have been used to symbolize connection and growth, and to mark our ‘spot’ on earth.

Layers of mesh are hung to suggest the submerged body of an iceberg, a form that Freud regards as a symbol of an ‘oceanic’ unconscious mind. Like an iceberg, the marine ecosystem that sustains life on land is mostly unseen and unknown.

Testing optimal width for hanging plankton mesh

About Lisa Roberts

Project leader
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5 Responses to Artist’s models

  1. Lisa Roberts says:

    Today as I search for coccolithophorid forms I find Indistinct Boundaries: improvised animations projected over improvised dance. How exciting!

  2. Lisa Roberts says:

    What a good idea. It will continue to evolve and travel as The Sublime and Ridiculous Talking Iceberg.

  3. Sherryl Ryan says:

    Hi Lisa
    I love the work – absolutely fabulous. Would love you to bring it to Culture at Work for an evening public viewing!

  4. Sally Gillespie says:

    I found this powerful and poignant – the moving of the screens juxtaposed with the changing images illustrating scientific data reflect deeply the realities of what is occurring in the Antarctic. The closing sequence of changing Antractic footprint followed by our human footsteps is particularly effective. I look forward to seeing the installation in its entirety. Thank you Lisa!

  5. Lisa Roberts says:

    Completing the installation marks a change in my focus, from holistic to reductionist. Attention to both is essential for understanding. In other words, without clear descriptions of the parts, a whole picture cannot be drawn, and without a sense of a whole picture, the parts have no place.

    Deeper understanding of how artistic expressions can expand scientific understanding is needed. The focus now is to draw with scientists as a way of sharing and expanding understandings.