STICKY INNOVATIONS

Reflection 1: 

IMG_2285.JPG
IMG_2284.JPG

 

These images are digital collages that I created using my photographs. The pictures of fruit were taken on film over the summer; With some further research I found that both papaya and grapefruits are reliant upon honeybees for pollination. I captured the photo of the bees in the second image digitally at the beginning of summer, as I was installing packages of bees. 

 

Both collages are a reflection of the importance of the honeybee in producing our food. Two thirds of our food supply would not exist without bees. 

 

I choose to reflect on this aspect of our relationship with bees as the first three weeks of class come to a close, as each learning experience has lead me to think about connectivity. The documentary discussed the complex interconnections between farmers, beekeepers, and bees, highlighting both the benefits and detriments of these relationships. Seeing a garden full of color containing a hive made me think of the ecological connections made by bees with or without our influence. The Livewell experience lead me to think of the consequences and the complexity of our interconnectedness with bees. The importance of the connection between honeybees and our food is something that can be understood widely; but it is only one example from many of the ways that bees are connected with the world around us. 

Reflection 2: Book Club presentations.

My book club presentation can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1MKegny0aiZjybjOgFrj286j6n-mf8HIx_eI3dYEf2tI/edit?usp=sharing

 

As I listened to my classmates present, I couldn’t help but realize that my largest takeaway is that this is an issue that is more complex an interconnected than we realize; Books presented from the perspective of the commercial beekeeper view the causes and solutions of colony collapse disorder entirely differently than the researcher; The farmer seeks an entirely different solution than the urban beekeeper, or the artist, or the ecologist.  The definition of a wicked problem is brought to mind; each solution has a cascade of effects with positive and negative aspects that cannot be predicted in full. 

    The complexity of this issue is present as ever as I reflect on the presentations of each of these books; Thankfully, though, I feel that Ive found some hope in the solutions and analysis presented in my book- Bees provide insight into the human condition, into the complexity of problem solving, and act as a symbol of hope. 

    In his book “Bee Time”, Mark L. Winston speaks on the ways that bee keeping reforms ways of seeing; To be within an apiary is to notice details of nature. Smells, sights, sounds, and colors are amplified. Motion is slow, careful, and intentional as you handle dozens of thousands of delicate creatures. The book speaks on the ways that we are connected to the honeybee, in our consumption of bee products, our ecological connections with them, our history of fascination and collaboration with them, our spiritual ideas about them, and in the ways that apian society can act as a reflection of humanity. 

 

    As I read I experienced a coincidence that was unfortunate, but perfectly timed to turn my grief into action and reflection. Id finished the chapter “1000 cuts” which spoke on the complex and connected issues causing colony collapse disorder the night before, and was headed to a field near my apiary to work on a digital photography assignment. There I discovered that one of my three hives had absconded. Statistically, I knew that I would have this experience at some point; Still, nothing prepares you to find bare comb and dead brood where your previously healthy hive was. I experienced the loss of my hive with a fresh understanding of the complexity of the issues faced by the honey bee.

    I sat with my thoughts on the loss of my own hive for a few days, and decided to use my photo assignment to reflect on the complexity of the issues faced by the honeybee. Largely inspired by “Bee Time”, my photo series is meant to capture the ways that humans are intertwined with local ecologies. It captures the complex relationship between the human and the honeybee.

_DSC2376 copy
_DSC2376 copy

press to zoom
_DSC2369 copy
_DSC2369 copy

press to zoom
_DSC1782 copy
_DSC1782 copy

press to zoom
_DSC2376 copy
_DSC2376 copy

press to zoom
1/9

Reflection 3: Ideal Bee

We were tasked with redesigning the bee through speculative design. My greatest takeaway from my research for this project is that most organisms already have so many great and complex adaptations to deal with complex problems. For this reason, our group chose to build on existing behaviors of the bee rather than redesigning the bee. 

Our modifications to the bee are tailored to fit within the lifespan of the individual worker bee, and within yearly hive activities.

IMG_3440.JPG

Low fidelity prototype

IMG_0482.JPG

Final Model

IMG_3442.jpg

Interview with an Innovator

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview artist Mrinalini Aggarwal, also known in her practice as Supermrin. 

Her work seeks to reconsider what our spaces have to offer through architecture, sculpture, landscape, and design. She is often focused on the ways that public spaces mediate human relationship, how these spaces can be reimagined, and how they can be related to reality, pleasure, and nature within Eastern practices. Her work often involves trans-disciplinary collaboration, as well as collaboration with institutions, city bodies, clients, urban planners, and architects in multi-year engagements. Her work is site specific, interacting with local ecology, culture, and infrastructure.

 

When this project was assigned, I hoped to speak to an artist whose work is innovation based, as I believe great innovation occurs at the intersection of art and science! 

I was first drawn to Mrin’s work after reading about her project “Field” in which she focuses on the impact of the manicured lawn in public space. In this project she speaks on what we can learn from the embedded ecologies of grasses, from mutualism and expanded ecology within public life, and from the history of the manicured lawn. 

The project involves working with local government to stop the management occurring on a portion of land in order to see how the space evolves, how it impacts the local ecology, and how the public interacts with the project. From the clippings of the grass within the space, she creates bioplastics. 

 

I found this project to be a great reflection of some of the questions that we have been discussing in class and in my readings! One of the wonderfully simple solutions to the bee issue is reduction of management of land. While this solution is simple, we must consider the implications and history of the managed lawn in order to understand how people will interact with the proposed solution. I was excited to discover that this is exactly what “Field” addressed. 

 

I was interested to ask Mrin about her use of subtractive solutions, as we live in a culture that is very focused on innovation that relies on the addition of a solution. Mrin’s work involves restoration of a space through taking away;

When asked how her proposition to do work that involves removing as a solution was received by her collaborators and by the public, she said that she initially received mixed reactions, but that she learned that people are interested in learning and understanding. Even when her idea to remove lawn management from a space for a period of time was first met with some confusion, she found that her collaborators were interested in learning more, which lead to understanding and support. 

This also lead her to consider ways that she could create a deliverable amongst her subtractive solution, resulting in the formulation of a way to create bioplastic, biodegradable sculptures from the grass clippings left at a site. 

 

This made me think of one of the really great functions of art, which is the facilitation of conversation and creation of awareness. The artist as an innovator has potential not only to facilitate scientific discovery, but to create connections, spark interest, and open the door for further innovation. 

Screen Shot 2021-10-31 at 1.59.16 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-10-31 at 2.00.17 PM.png

Aggarwal, Mrin. Field, Governor's Island, https://www.streetlight.space/streetlight-projects/field-governorsisland. Accessed 31 Oct. 2021.