Week 6 Response/Midterm: Human’s Role in Ecology

Here is a part of my essay:

A Bioartist from Ohio, Amy Youngs combines art and ecological science to create Digestive Table (2006) to raise questions about human’s roles in ecological systems. The work is exhibited in many museums and also featured on various articles and websites, in which she demonstrates through the form of a video. By using bacteria, worms, sow bugs and leftover food, Youngs creates an ecological system within a table which produces fertilizers from human’s food scraps. Through the use of mixed media, including living components and plants, to produce Digestive Table, Youngs suggests that human beings play an important role in ecological systems and that they are able to help to improve them.

Inspired by different people and projects from both art and science field, including soil ecology researchers from Ohio State University and N55, an ecological art and design collective from Denmark, Youngs creates Digestive Table on her own as a bioartist. She presents the work in two ways for people to enjoy it, interacting and observing. A person can interact with the work by directly placing his leftover food in a composting bag in the table. She made the composting bag which contains live red wiggler composting worms, sow bugs, shredded paper, landscaping fabric, polyethylene, security camera and infrared filters under a table made by Forest Stewardship Council Certified oaky plywood. In order to “reference the cycle of food reprocessing,” she dyes the wood with a mixture of boiled red cabbage and worm compost tea. After placing the food waste in the composting bag, the bacteria and the sow bugs begin to break down the food immediately. The worms later join to digest the waste, which eventually becomes a rich fertilizer that can be filtered from the bag. Furthermore, besides being interactive during the fertilization process, people are able to watch and appreciate the nature of the ecological system through the technology of filming, the LCD screen, that projects the movements of the worms and sow bugs from the camera.

-Annie Ho

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