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Acoustic Performance Ecology

The above image is the BROOD X Cicada, 2004, Summer. The following are sound works based on hard to hear, out of human range, low or high frequencies found in locations that are often also overwhelmed by industrial and technological noise. The first track, Compost Song, is a recording of our compost pile from a few summers ago using a hydrophone. In postproduction (processing and sweating the audio track), I was able to expose more subtle and quiet sounds that would be inaudible from above the ground, outside in the noisy airspace. The sound of bio decomposition is very similar to the sounds of human digestion. The second track is a more recent approach that involves performing in the environment in real time with natural and unnatural sounds. By performing sound back into the environment I am strive to abate the noise, redirect our hearing, perhaps canceling out unwanted frequencies. […]


Microplastic biofilm portraits

The following images document the process of sampling microplastics collected from the shoreline of Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center (MCEEC) and culturing the trash for biofilm.  This project was inspired by Water’s Edge, Biome Tells, an interdisciplinary art & science project examines the complexity of microbial communities living on trash in the Chesapeake Bay. Garbage was collected from the shoreline of the MCEEC and micro-organisms from the debris were cultured in my studio laboratory. Initially, biofilm was imaged at the Keith Porter Imaging Facility (KPIF) with fluorescent microscopy, which revealed a diversity of micro-organisms flourishing on human-made products. Micrographs were incorporated into a three-dimensional art piece that displays the debris covered with thriving microbes, ultimately showing the resilience of life in emergent environments created by humans. This project came out of a collaboration with Dr. Tagide deCarvalho, director of the KPIF, UMBC. Confocal images and process can be viewed here.  

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Invasive Material

Water’s Edge, Biome Tells – Invasive Material (WEBT) focuses on the cultivation and identification of microorganisms found growing on debris collected within the littoral zone of the Patapsco River’s brackish Middle Branch at Masonville Cove in the Brooklyn community of Baltimore. For this interdisciplinary sci-art project, collaborators Stephen Bradley, media artist, and imaging scientist, Dr. Tagide deCarvalho, director, Keith Porter Imaging Facility, UMBC, use various tools of ecological research that inform sculptural and visualization references and renditions. Invasive Material informs the complex relationships between discarded material culture and the ecological system in the Inner Harbor.  Compounding elements from the scientific “lab” and the artist studio, Bradley and deCarvalho strive to find a middle space of inquiry shared by the parallel processes of art and science. The purpose of the project identifies and documents the living organisms that continue to survive and evolve within the compromised waters of Masonville Cove. Representations […]

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Microorganism Observational System

The following is a prototype container system for culturing biofilm sampled from fragments of trash found at the shoreline of Piscataway Park, managed by the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF), Accokeek, Maryland south of Washington, D.C. The image on the iPad models the potential viewing system that will have cameras trained onto each petri dish sample. The lower portion of the system demonstrates how the petri dish with the trash fragment sand growing broth create smaller projections onto the surface below. This opens up an opportunity to further magnification and time-based imaging/real time viewing of the biofilm’ life cycle. Ideally, the iPad or similar interactive device will control the multiple cameras embedded in the lower portion of the device. The six-sample bottle system contains dry samples from the AFF field near the shore.   The following are details of the petri dish with trash.

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Ecological sound objects

The following sculptures model our broken relationship with the landscape, due to many years of abuse and little respect for green space.   These works are embedded with speakers that broadcast sound compositions that reflect the imaginary context of these characters.  The chosen materials, structure and sound create play an important role in the psychological presence of the sonic objects.  These are the primary objects that will be integrated into a larger installation that is variable in scale depending on the venue or exhibition space it will be shown.  Each piece has a unique composition that embeds the sculpture within an acoustic halo that mimic’s its past history as living material. Split Cedar – (work in progress – destroyed, reworking) sound composition, cut chair, welded steel, cedar logs, speakers, bamboo, chair, pallet and hardware. Approximately 49” X 49” X 60” Sprout – Sound composition, welded steel, cedar logs, 2 speakers; mid-range and high-frequency, […]

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The Glass Knife

Slicing observation WORKSTATION.  Stereo pairs glass slides, close circuit TV, microscopic video, KP dust sample. Top image is from the live culture that was created from dust collected from the Porter’s biological archives cabinet that had not been opened for over 20 years. Media artists, Stephen Bradley and Kathy Marmor mined the UMBC archive of Keith Porter, the ‘Father  of Cell Biology’ to collaboratively produce The Glass Knife, an installation of sculptures that illuminated Porter’s groundbreaking research, and celebrated a revolutionary vision, mediated by technology, which extends our seeing. What is the glass knife? Background image is from the “Live Culture TV” component of the surface of a growing culture that samples the gallery air space for mold spores. More info: here.More information about the Glass Knife can be found here. Photographic documentation in this post represents one of Bradley’s contribution to the project.   Project supported by a generous grant from Special Collections, Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery […]

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Autofluorescence WEBT

Autofluorescence image captured through the Keith Porter Image Facility, UMBC.  WEBT is a collaborative project between Stephen Bradley & Dr. Tagide deCarvalho, UMBC. The process is called autofluorescence a natural emission of light by biological structures such as mitochondria and lysosomes when they have absorbed light, and is used to distinguish the light originating from artificially added fluorescent markers (fluorophores). The bug was sampled from Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center, next to Brooklyn & Curtis Bay, Maryland, August 2017.  The overall project is called Water’s Edge, Biome Tells, funded by a CIRCA UMBC summer research fund. Detail of the sampling tray with cultured micro-fragments of trash found at MCEEC shoreline. Macro view off the trash with biofilm on the edges.  Culture was initiated October 2017.  Date of above image is approximately January 2018.  As of June 2018 the culture has been maintained and has stabilized.  Cultures are currently housed at the Keith Porter Imaging Facility and my […]

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Past Acoustic Ecology

Ohr am Wattenmeer / Ear to the Sea was commissioned through the University of Oldenburg, Germany, a collaboration with scientists to listen/surveil from a remote scientific monitoring the rare and delicate environment of the Wattenmeer mudflats.  We embedded a hydrophone and interactive web camera on the Mess Station just off the island of Speikeroog one of several barrier islands off the coast of North Germany. The follow movie documents the interactive web cam and underwater microphone embedded within the measuring post, which users could remotely  observe approximately 250 degrees of the landscape and also listen to sounds below the surface of the North Sea 24/7 days a week.    This was a year long project. Sea Quiver, February 2010 sonified the North Sea high winds off the coast of Germany, commissioned by an arts and ecology collective from Oldenburg, Germany, to raise attention to the Wattemmeer mudflats.  The installation was up for […]

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Early trash & eco works

The following projects trace my early relationship to solid waste in America and how we seem to be drowning in our success is creating stuff, unable to figure out what to do with it except sweep it under the rug, deposited in a landfill. Inspired by the 1989 Mobro 4000 trash barge that traveled halfway around the globe trying to find a place to dump, I created Eco-Core Sampling Project that incorporates eight one mile walks in various areas of Tallahassee, Florida. I collected trash on eight walks, including public and private spaces where trash might be found then installed the collection into the window segmented into eight quadrants. LOCATION: Window on Gaines Street, Tallahassee, Florida, 1989  The trash was weighed and documented by photocopying each piece noting the source, company, a personal address, or other text information which might be pertinent to locating the place of origin.  The debris from our successful consumption […]

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Water’s Edge, Biome Tells

  “Everything now came before me in new and beautiful and remarkable forms.  I began to see and hear not only the outer forms, but also the inner content, the nature and the history of things.” Ernst Haeckel, describing the microscopic radiolarian forms he was drawing and researching around the 1860s.  Radiolarians are tiny protists that live inside the intricate silica shells found at the bottom of the ocean. Water’s Edge, Biome Tells (WEBT) is an interdisciplinary art-science research project that focuses on the microscopic life forms found within the littoral zone of the brackish shoreline of the Patapsco River’s Middle Branch at Masonville Cove in the Brooklyn community of Baltimore. For many years, micro fauna and flora that reside at the water’s edge of Masonville Cove have been subjected to high levels of pollution due in part to the dumping of dredged materials from the Baltimore harbor, compounded by […]