archiving disappearing species

The discourse on sustainability is not only focusing on what can be done to turn our world into a livable environment, but it is also discussing the loss of animals, insects and plants which used to grace our lands and now are on their way to inevitable extinction. in particular, two issues where explored by Joseph Ingoldsby and an interdisciplinary group of visual artists, musicians and scientists based in toronto: the first examined the progressive disappearance of the flora and the transformations of  the coastal area near Cape Cod. the second studied the behavior and the pathogens of indigenous bees and bumble bees in Toronto.

Between 1951 and 1987 the atlantic salt marsh has experienced a dramatic shrinking of grass, the proliferation of invasive alien species, an increase of pollution and a general habitual change. Basically, the once rich of life liminal landscape that stands between the sea and the land is dying, or , as Ingoldsby maintains, slowly “drawing”. The artist has witnessed this change and has produced a set of works that not only documents a landscape that we might not admire a few years form now, but also offers a tribute, or a “requiem” to this disappearing beauty.Focusing his attention to a number of plant species (namely the “spartina ” species), fish (anadromous fish) and birds (cranes), he simultaneously recorded and evoked the progression of their disappearance using different media. The result is a powerful archive that portrays these landscapes by enhancing their color and by showing their fading away through progressive pixelation.  for more information see his publications

Sound artist Sarah Peebles , melittologist Laurence Packer, interdisciplinary artist Rob King, and other collaborators (Rob Cruickshank and Anne Barros) joined forces to produce “Resonating Bodies” a series of mixed media installations to featured toronto bees and bumble bees. pollutants, new pathogens as well as human ignorance are threatening this very diverse species. Bees are often mistaken for wasps and, thus, are often killed without a cause (Packer showed how the publishers  tried to use a fly rather than a bee for the cover of his latest book), while their diversity and life styles are often understated (not all bees pollinate the same  flowers and most bees are solitary pollinators).
Using ultraviolet video of flowering plants to record the bees activity and the building of a nest adjacent to a gallery site and facing a garden, the collective attempted to highlight distinct features of these insects. a series of trading cards were created to help the public recognize  a real bee and to educate about different subspecies bees.  a virtual garden was build using the data collected through the on-site observation of the bees. in addition to providing precious observations about the activity of these insects, the blog records the progression of the project.