Week 20. Signs of human disturbance

I’ve started this new project – mapping damage done to my soles walking the hills of Saint Paul – as part of an art and text library of winter sounds. I have a heavy, unbalanced, trampling tread; I walk fast and leggy; I don’t experience the world in a way compliant with how other people think experience should happen (headphones, taking photos with my phone, fast and leggy and strong – these are things I like). I absorb through movement, let it settle later, sift through patterns, things that won’t stay quiet.

The cell’s interactome – where everything comes together to communicate – depends on shared heritage, what genes we’ve all accumulated, how we or others gain or resist access. The interactome depends on topology, those characteristics of a system that bend so as not to break, stretch to not tear. But sometimes they break or tear. Most interactome networks have been mapped in the context of cancer-causing viruses – human papilloma, Epstein-Barr. They’re known because they’re disturbed significantly enough to cause harmful genetic changes. To gain entrance to the network, some viruses bring a protein translator; others speak nucleic acid fluently and translate themselves.

When I walk, I notice clusters, patterns, networks. Fallen lilacs, ice floes, salt stains. I think of interactomes, resistomes, microbiomes, blind spots – how all that work is occurring right before and inside us and we can’t grasp it.

We know everything’s connected, but we don’t know how or why. We’re gathering signs in the dark. I feel devoted to the signs and the darkness, an urge to absorb more, look closely, build my library of sounds and maps, feel the hint of knowledge at my sole.

Medium: watercolor, ink

The ocean levitates 270,000 tons of plastic.  To conceptualize mass I translate to animal – this is equivalent to 45,000 bobbing elephants. 

Each day Americans throw out 88,000 tons of plastic that begin an endless journey.  Plastic rambles. It goes on the road.  It won’t rot and it won’t go back into the soil like bones or cloth or wood. 

The ocean accepts this eerily translucent material, it accepts spills and shipwrecks, loads of shoes, shirts, toys, chemicals even.

I did fieldwork at Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana, it was 2004. I stayed along the coast traveling back to the capital to fly out.  The sound of singing carried across the water, up the cliff, in my window, to me. In the morning I followed the sound to the beach below. It was a road with women balancing loads of firewood and baskets on their head.  I walked along the sand and jagged rock, looked at the broken bits of shell and cloth – soggy blue, red, orange, green wads of cloth.  The waves heaved with color.  I came to a village with round clay smoking ovens 5-feet tall and 30-foot fishing canoes pulled up under the palms.

During our fieldwork we generated a lot of trash.  The lake villagers organized a wait list to receive our empty plastic containers. A way to carry water. Something that would be used over and over. Why didn’t the ocean village want the clothing washed up?  Were they already saturated?

Medium: Water color and pens

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