Transect

 

Inkjet on Asuka, steel, etched clock bezels, video, audio

2011

 

This project was inspired by an opportunity I had to assist biologist Katrina Mangin with fieldwork in La Cholla, Mexico. In 1984 Katrina noticed that the barnacle-covered rocks along the rocky intertidal had circular clearings with a small black dot in the center of each one. Under the microscope she discovered that the black dot was actually a tiny invasively introduced hydroid that she named Samarai Hydroid Samuraia tabularasa—because while extended underwater it kills nearby barnacles with its stinging tentacles, creating a circular open area around itself. As we worked, I was mesmerized by the process of recording each and every minute creature and watching the pages fill up with their initials as we cataloged densities and position of hydroids and relevant neighbors—each one was recognized and compared against previous observations. The repetitive naming was invocative.

Each of the three elements in this installation echo the types of sampling Katrina used to monitor the hydroids and count densities of rock, hydroids, clearings and limpets:

1) Meter: May-September-March

is inspired by the meter tape or transect that she used. I borrowed her tape and photographed its 50 meter expanse during the lowest tide for three months, being careful to frame it in the same exact spot. The months show the seasonal changes that occur in the intertidal.

2) Field Lens

reflects the randomly thrown copper ring Katrina used to count the average of clearings or numbers of species. I used clock bezels, half of which depict her ring calculations and the other half show observations from her field journals.

3) Clearing Sequence

uses scans of maps that Katrina has been making for the last 25 years. These mark the placement and densities on Mylar sheets placed upon the same rock. There are six different long-term sites that I stitched together to create the sequence, a label on the bottom lists the date and name of each site. In the background, an audio recording features Katrina naming the species along a meter tape, and sets the tone for the meditative quality of enumerating and regarding such a rich minuscule world.