Phytoplastic – TRT 3:32 mins
I am an interdisciplinary artist exploring the long tradition of the artist-naturalist in a contemporary, hybrid format. Working across mediums, I engage the interplay between humanity and ecology, investigating what it means to be alive in the advent of the Anthropocene. As an undergraduate, I studied environmental science and fell in love with biology field work. I began to integrate science and art, combining them into a practice drawing on the lab, the field, and the studio.
Wether creating a public project or a video piece, I strive to create work that reveals how humans are embedded in ecological systems rather than distinct from them. This leads me to a site-responsive practice through which I investigate my local habitat, be it suburban wasteland, urban waterway or old growth forest.
I use the tools at my disposal, from pencil to WIFI, to reconsider our long held notions of nature. Reframing nature as ecology, I locate humans in an all encompassing, inescapable network of melting ice, shifting populations and evolving technology. For me, this is a contemporary notion of the sublime that demands to be acknowledged and explored.
Phytoplastic tracks the deterioration of a microscopic aquatic ecosystem through physical and chemical pollution. A small puddle of water containing a healthy community of algae and other phytoplankton grown from a sample of Hudson River water are subject to a barrage of pollutants, from plastic particles to bleach, silt and dish soap, creating a succinct portrait of ecosystem collapse. The footage for this piece was shot through a Motic Compound Microscope at the SVA Nature and Technology Lab. Sound was recorded along the Hudson River piers and at Echo Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Ellie Irons is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work explores the interplay of humanity and ecology through drawings, environmental sculpture and new media. She has done workshops and exhibitions at Wave Hill, The Bronx Museum’s AIM Biennial, the Queens Botanical Garden and Trade School, NYC. Recently she has been an artist in residence at the Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University and the SVA Nature and Tech Lab. This summer she is cultivating an Invasive Pigments garden at the Center for Strategic Art and Agriculture at Silent Barn in Bushwick and presenting a solo project at Flora Arts and Nature in Bogotá, Columbia. Irons teaches part time at the City College of New York and at Brown University and is a member of the collaborative group Future Archaeology. She studied Environmental Science and Art at Scripps College in California and received her MFA from Hunter College in 2009.