Week 3/The Goodness of Biology and Ecology in Art

There are pros and cons to making art intersecting biology and ecology. Some artists produce this type of art because they want to raise issues regarding ecological problems that exist today and some do so because they are also scientists who want to discover more about nature. Whatever the reason may be, there is always a gray area where ethical issue is involved. Despite this gray area, there is still goodness in making art that intersects with biology and ecology.

In the book, Information Art, intersection of art, science and technology by Stephen Wilson, one of the chapter talks about several projects where artists utilize Ecology as a topic in making their artwork. One of the projects titled, Nine Mile Run by Tim Collins, Reiko Goto, and Bob Bingham, illustrated the idea of reclamation of a waste area to address environmental problems and also at the same time to identify and “experiment the application of sustainable alternative approaches to urban open space“ (Wilson 138).

Nine Mile Run by Bob Bingham, Tim Collins, and Reiko Goto

The artists argue against the process of reclamation and state that it will only make matter worse. As a result, they respond against this issue with their artwork that contains a photo of a space they created from an urban toxic area. Just like these artists, there are many others that help raise issues about environmental problems that society face today.

One famous land artist, Andy Goldsworthy produces art by recreating landscapes. In this video clip, the camera takes in a closer look in the process of how Goldsworthy create art. He can be seen staring at the waterfall for a really long time, possibly thinking about how he should create something based on the wood stick that is protruding out from the waterfall. At the end, he creates a ball that is made out of different shapes of wood stick by basing on that one wood stick in the beginning. Goldsworthy was able to change perspective of how nature works. That one wood stick that seems to be fighting against the force of the water fall became stronger than ever after Goldsworthy “manipulate” its form into a tight wooden ball.

“So the intention of work like this is…it’s about looking and learning and seeing and responding to the day of the material and trying to understand a little bit of that place, that material, that moment.”

-Andy Goldsworthy

Goldsworthy recreates nature without obstructing nature. In fact he was able to bring more of an aesthetic aspect of nature through his artwork. This is the goodness in art that intersects with biology and ecology. So let’s just appreciate how beautiful nature is through his artwork:


Making art through the incorporation of science can lead to issues where artists only care about the aesthetic aspect but forget about the ethics, and not just science, this applies to different types of artwork as well. With the two projects I mentioned above, I have not touched on the manipulation of gene in living organisms. So I am just going to talk about it briefly here. The class talks about the glowing rabbit from genetic modification. Despite its problem dealing with ethical issues, its intention is still aim for the good in studying about genetics. Not saying that I accept Eduardo Kac’s doing towards Alba, the glowing rabbit, (because there is definitely more to it about this issue that he posed as an art project) but rather the scientific findings that come after the experiment. As I said before, this is more of a gray area since this is a concern about ethics. However it is inevitable that we have to perform this type of experiment to animals because we want to look for the better, and sadly we choose animals as the subjects because this is how nature works as we are the top of the food chain.

-Kammy Yuan


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