Article by Linda Weintraub

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My artwork Digestive Table, was included in Archetypes of Material Use and Disuse: An art and Ecology Primer, by Linda Weintraub. Published in Cogent Arts & Humanities Journal, Volume 3, 2016, Issue 1. This is an Open Access article that can be read in full online.

AbstractMaterialism is occupying the forefront of intellection discourse in fields as diverse as anthropology, architecture, social science, cultural theory, feminist studies, philosophy, psychology, and theology. These disciplines are both defining and redefining humanity’s interactions with the materials of the planet. Their shared impulse can be traced to mounting evidence that humanity’s unprecedented abilities to manipulate substances, from nanoparticles to global weather, are undermining Earth’s ability to support diverse forms of life. The following text contributes to this urgent discourse by applying these considerations to individual behaviors. In order to facilitate personal scrutiny of the environmental consequences of one’s material behaviors, it identifies seven archetypes of material interaction: pet, sacred object, hazard, merchandise, specimen, resource, and sensual stimulus. In this essay, each archetype is presented from three vantage points. First, patterns of human engagement with each archetype and their environmental consequences are examined. Second, patterns of disposing materials that are no longer desired or viable are explored. Third, artists’ interpretations of these material patterns are presented. Each artwork utilizes dirt as its medium and theme to facilitate comparing and contrasting archetypes. Artists not only manifest each archetype, they warn against objectionable human/material relationships and demonstrate beneficial alternatives.

Article excerpt: “Youngs then inserted a communication channel between these divergent territories by installing an infrared camera inside the worm bag. The images were then transmitted to an LCD screen that was inserted into the top of the table, enabling Youngs to observe the worms’ virtuoso waste-disposal performances as they ate together. A second repulsion-reducing strategy involved adding an active care-giving regimen to the diner’s passive viewing of images on an LCD screen. Youngs accomplished this by inserting a cavity into the top of the table that functioned as a waste-disposal receptacle for pizza crusts, apple cores, and used tea bags. All her leftovers immediately provided the menu for the worms’ next meal. This built-in receptacle converted a tedious chore of waste management into the pleasurable act of feeding a pet.”

read in full here.