What do art and science have in common? For many scientists and academics such as Timothy Morton, they are looking to the art world to help communicate the reality of the threat of climate change. While scientific data appeals to the brain, art appeals to emotions. As a group, society hasn’t generally been motivated by facts to make the necessary adjustments. Perhaps artistic works can succeed in appealing to viewers where data has not.
For the first show of the season, the Kootenay Gallery of Art is welcoming two artists who have created work with scientific data. Regional audiences may remember Paul Walde for his opus Requiem for a Glacier, composed about and created on the Jumbo Glacier. Walde creates sound art when he translates scientific data or visual elements in a landscape into notes. He has followed up Requiem for a Glacier with a new body of work entitled Alaska Variations. Alaska Variations was conceived as an “album” of performative sound and music compositions responding to the Alaskan landscape and elements within it. The scores combine scientific experimentation and observation with experimental sound and music practices and are a combination of instructional texts, standard notation, and graphic notation. The performances of these scores were captured as a series of audio/video recordings which when shown in combination with each other form a larger portrait of the landscape around Anchorage, Alaska. The exhibition features large scale projection, video and sound.
Artist Jill Pelto also translates scientific data but into visual elements rather than sound. Pelto states “The key topic in my portfolio is Climate Change data: melting glaciers, rising sea level, threatened species. I hope to cover both positive and negative issues which depict the reality of our current ecosystem.” Jill Pelto is currently in post-graduate studies in Climate Science in Massachusetts but has a connection to the Kootenays. She has accompanied both her father and her brother on research trips to study the Columbia Basin glaciers on both sides of the border. Up to this point, Pelto’s focus has been more on the scientific research than her art but her artwork has been profiled in the US media, including articles in the Smithsonian on-line and NPR’s Science Friday.
To accompany this show, the Kootenay Gallery is hosting an all-ages evening event called Snow Longer – Keep the Powder on the Mountains on April 6. The main feature of the event will be a ski film, The Curve of Time that addresses how two professional skiers are making changes in their lives so that there will be good skiing in their future. The Gallery will release more information about the event as it draws nearer.
The two exhibitions open on March 2 at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend the openings and there is no admission charge. The two shows run from March 2 until April 14 during which time admission is by donation (free for KGA members).