Materials: plastics, red worms, shredded documents and coffee grounds.
A constructed ecosystem which facilitates the transformation of office waste (shredded office paper and coffee grounds) into living dirt. The resulting high grade fertilizer is then used to enrich the soil of a tabletop garden designed as a living salad bar for employees.
Documentation from installation at George Mason University School of Art Gallery and faculty staff lounge terrace.
A graphic by Mark Cooley and Ryan Griffis for Urban Forest, DC.
This piece is an attempt to visualize the necessity of positioning community and human relations (culture) within America’s traditionally rather alienated view of “nature”. It seems that the most progressive urban forest and gardening projects these days begin by rethinking the assumption that “culture” and “nature” are mutually exclusive things as they begin to reincorporate natural elements into urban space and build community bonds around them.
The Urban Forest Project is a unique public arts initiative of Worldstudio, which invited local artists and designers to employ the idea or form of the tree to make a powerful visual statement on street-banners that were then displayed in their community. The tree is a metaphor for sustainability and in that spirit, the banners at the close of each exhibition were recycled into totebags and auctioned off to raise money for a local environmental cause. The Urban Forest project was originally executed in New York’s Times Square in the fall of 2006 and has since travelled to several cities including: New York, San Francisco, Baltimore, Denver, Toledo, Washington, DC and Albuquerque.
The popular imagination is heavily invested in a deeply romanticized conception of the maternal. The laborious, messy and complex beauty of living with children is lost in countless sanitized and idealized images of a superficial, strictly gendered, privatized and heavily branded maternity. Popular culture gives a pre-packaged answer to the complex questions of parenting in a quickly changing world. For some, parenting is narrowed to a list of milestone purchases – graduating kids through a series of child development books, baby seats, bicycles, cell-phones, computers, cars, and so on into adulthood. Those who prefer a critical and active approach to parenting soon discover that information and disinformation abounds, and critically engaged parenting can quickly lead to significant research skills. Though the labor of caring for children is generally maligned in popular culture, if given attention, the daily rituals of child care-giving reveal a beauty based on a system of values radically different to those conjured by the media’s constant appeals to our well cultivated sense of alienation, self-interest and irrational fears.
“As philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers puts it, “an idea always exists as engaged in a matter, that is as ‘mattering.'”9
Inhabiting the space between detailed local care practices and the social frame- works enmeshed with them, beth Hall and Mark cooley’s Safe explores how ideas are engaged in matter and matters engaged in ideas. Safe juxtaposes the overwhelming medical data, advice, and rules that face parents in the information age with specific actions that invoke the maternal everyday: hand washing, hair brushing, flossing, etc… As accompaniment to these texts and images, a fetal heartbeat repeats and multiplies in the background, creating a soundscape of the periodic monitoring that punctuates modern pregnancy and stands as evidence that all is right and safe in the womb. At the same time, this soundscape insists on the anxiety of information, an anxiety that obstructs any ability to even entertain the fiction of unmediated experience, freighted as we are by the immensity of information and disinformation characteristic of contemporary motherhood.”
– Natalie Loveless – New Maternalisms exhibition publication.
Deadliest Animal Photomontage and design by Mark Cooley; research and text by Stephen F. Eisenman.
Produced for: TAMMS Y10 Solitary Confinement Photography Project.
TAMMS Y10 asked prisoners in solitary confinement at notorious Tamms C-MAX prison in Illinois, “If you could have one picture, what would it be?” Artists from across the country responded to the requests. The resulting images were distributed to the prisoners.
Tamms Year Ten is a coalition of prisoners, ex-prisoners, families, artists and other concerned citizens who have come together to protest the inhumane treatment of prisoners at Tamms C-MAX in Illinois. Tamms prisoners never leave their cells except to shower or exercise alone in a concrete pen. Meals are pushed through a slot in the cell door. There are no jobs, communal activities or contact visits. Suicide attempts, self-mutilation, psychosis and serious mental disorders are common at Tamms, and are an expected consequence of long-term isolation.
EcoCultures is an exhibition bringing together current cultural
productions at the intersections of the arts, sciences and the
practice of everyday life to explore the interdependence of our
social and biological systems.
Mason Hall Atrium Gallery | George Mason University, Fairfax VA
September 22 – October 6, 2011
“Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms.” – Oona King, former member of the British Parliament.
For over a decade, war has ravaged the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Fueled, in part, by an intense demand for natural resources, the war has claimed over 5 million lives. Coltan (Columbite-tantalite), a metallic ore from which the element tantalum is extracted, is one of the DRC’s most sought after resources. Tantalum is widely used in common electronic devices such as cell phones, computers and video game consoles.
Ps4 is an interactive video mash-up that juxtaposes documentary video footage with live video gameplay. Though initially conceptualized in response to reports of Sony’s large stake in the DRC’s bloody coltan trade during the production of its Playstation 2, Ps4’s playlist has since expanded to look at a variety of issues. On a general level, Ps4 explores the potentially alienating effects of gaming by derailing the seamless gameplay experience and offering a problematic and politicized view of so-called “immersive” leisure activities.