The Multispecies Salon migrated from San Francisco to New Orleans in 2010, as oil from the Deepwater Horizon spread in the Gulf of Mexico. Freshly blasted by multiple disasters, the urban landscape of New Orleans became a place where a multitude of thinkers and tinkerers were bringing critical attention to the idea of hope.
David Sullivan, a local ecological artist, exhibited digital animations of oil refineries at the Salon. Bright clouds of green, orange and yellow bled into dripping tar balls and hazy dark smog in Sullivan’s “Sunset Refinery.” Frog calls, peeping in the background, fuse into noise of passing traffic and pumping pistons. This piece illustrates ambivalent hopes that have emerged with industrial capitalism.
The bright cascade of colors in the background invokes oil industry marketing images that portray refineries as aesthetic objects of beauty. At this slowly evolving lightshow illuminates toxic chemical reactions, it offers an opportunity to reflect on the ambivalent properties of the pharmakon—a poison that can double as remedy, an obstacle or an opportunity. Glowing forms of life growing on this digital sculpture, Spanish moss and fleshy tumors, are monstrous figures of hope.
Sunset Refinery excerpt by David Sullivan on Vimeo.
Three chapters in the book speak to the theme of BLASTED LANDSCAPES:
Chapter One: Hope in Blasted Landscapes
Chapter Two: R.A.W. Assmilk Soap
by Karin Bolender
Chapter Three: Blasted Landscapes (And the Gentle Arts of Mushroom Picking)
by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing for the Matsutake Worlds Research Group