Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rainforest Memories II

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Environment Art is defined as[1]: Any ordered arrangement or reconstruction of the natural and built environment. It includes such categories as the floral art of the natural environment, and/or art depicting gardens of a built environment.

Most of my MultiSpersed Dye Sublimation (MSDS) artwork is Environment Art. Moreover, it centers on the need to take into consideration climate change when viewing the preservation of pristine forests and the animal kingdom that is nurtured by them. See for example,
Wangi’s Djirang
Merge And Flow
Flames Unfurling
Selected Disperse Dye ArtCloths
Sequestration of CO2

It is no accident that animals - who are under human care - can adapt to climate change (e.g. polar bears do live in Sydney Zoo!) However, left to the wilds of nature, animals and plant species cannot tolerate significant habitat changes; if the Arctic melts no polar bears will exist in the wild etc.

Interesting Facts About Rainforests
* Rainforests are home to 50% of the world’s animals and plant life.
* Generally rainforests are being destroyed at a rate of 246000 square kilometers a year.
* The average rainfall of rainforests in general is around 2000 mm per year.
* The temperature of the rainforests is in the vicinity of 20-30oC.
* Rainforests are in North and South America, Islands such as Indonesia, Africa and Australia etc; that is, in tropical zones.
* There is increasing pressure - due to the spiralling world population - to clear land (for example, Brazil) for commercial uses, thereby placing the flora and fauna of rainforests on a trajectory toward extinction.

The artwork presented in this post is not intended to be decorative, although plants always yield a decorative appeal to all of us. Rather, it seeks to evoke the feelings of a memory – an ephemeral reflection of what was - but what may not be in the future.

Section View of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

"Rainforest Memories II" was exhibited at the “Never Static: ArtCloth at the Textile Centre” exhibition (Textile Centre, Joan Mondale Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA). It was an international exhibition of ArtCloth juried by Jane Dunnewold. The artwork now resides in a private collection in the USA.

Its context was born from the existence and preservation of the Daintree Rainforest in Australia. I hope you enjoy the basis on which this artwork rests and of course, the artwork itself.

The Context For “Rainforest Memories II” - The Daintree Rainforest (Australia)
The Daintree Rainforest is the largest rainforest in Australia and is situated north of Cairns in tropical North Queensland (Australia). It originated more than 135 million years ago when Gwondana land began to separate into Africa, South America, Antarctica and India.

Location Of The Daintree Rainforest In Australia.

Approximately 60 million years ago Australia was a separate island continent much of which was covered by rainforest. With time, the rainforest gradually receded and left only a remnant of its history on this continent. The wet tropics provided scientists with a living record of ecological and evolutionary processes that shaped the history of Australian plants and animals over millions of years. It is believed that the Daintree has exited in its current form for some 20000 years (i.e. end of the last ice age) and with the Australian Aborigines coming to Australia some 60000 years ago, they were present to witness how it morphed into its current state.

One Of The Beautiful Falls In The Daintree.

It is one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful rainforests that is approximately 1200 square kilometers in size. It supports over 3000 species of plants, over one third of Australia’s mammalian species - including 13 of which are found nowhere else in the world. It is also home to a quarter of Australia’s frogs, a third of the country’s freshwater fish and nearly half of Australia’s birds.

Red-Legged Pademelon and Joey.

The first modern documented history of the Daintree began in 1770 with Sir Joseph Banks, who described the area whilst traveling with Captain Cook. The Kuku Yalariji tribe (Australian Aboriginals) inhabited the area at that time. With the arrival of the British came the early European settlers in the 1800s, but the rainforest was too harsh an environment to colonize. By the early 1900s industrial development had led to the first colonization of the area. In the 1930s 160 acres of freehold land were sold to farmers.

The wet tropics were ideally suited for fruit crops as well as to provide timber. However, by the 1980s a conflict emerged between commercial operators and environmentalists - the latter demanding that the Daintree be restored to its former pristine state. In 1987 the Federal Government determined that the Daintree would be a World Listed Heritage Area. In 1988 the Queensland (State) and Federal governments battled in Australia’s High Court over this issue, with the Court decreeing that the Federal Government legislation and heritage listing was valid in law.

Diantree Frog Hops Onto The Boat.

Due to the high rainfall and diversity of terrain, the Daintree is a botanist’s delight. Over 3000 plant species from 210 families are found here, with 395 rare or threatened plant species protected in the World Heritage Listed Area.
 Complex mesophyll vine forests rest on the wet lowlands, while notophyll vine forests sit up on the wet highlands. On mountain ridges simple microphyll fern forests dominate. One could spend hours studying the range of ferns, conifers, cycads, palms, flowering plants, mangroves and carnivorous plants.

Daintree Ferns.

The wildlife of the Daintree is magnificent. It is home to mammals found nowhere else in the world including species of tree kangaroo, rat kangaroo, ring-tailed possum, melomys and ant echidnas. The bird life is even more remarkable such as the Cassowary, which is related to the emus, rheas, kiwis and ostrich. The Cassowary is now an endangered species. However, it can be found in the rainforest at Cooper Creek.

Cassowary In The Daintree.

Many other birds flourish including rifle birds, golden bower birds, wampoo pigeons, chowchillas and paradise kingfishers. 
Of over 1050 species of reptile and frog in the world, 131 occur specifically in the wet tropics. Of interest are the beautiful pythons and tree snakes that inhabit the area, which are not harmful to humans. It also contains such species as the Boyd’s Forest Dragon (with its dinosaur like appearance), the cute freshwater turtles, 54 species of frog and the most spectacular and iridescent of butterflies including the bright blue ‘Ulysses’.
 The estuaries of this coastline are home to one of Australia’s more dangerous reptiles - the saltwater crocodile.

Ulysses Butterfly In The Daintree.

The Daintree is still today a World Heritage Listed Area. 
The future of the Daintree is dependent on a symbiotic relationship between environmentalists, the eco-tourism industry (which is very vibrant with lodging in its midst - e.g. Tourist Network ) and the Federal Government in order to maintain and protect the importance and beauty of one of the last true wilderness reserves.

Rainforest Memories II
Artist Statement
Coal is a fossil fuel. It is the most abundant of the conventional hydrocarbon resources. There have been two major periods of coal formation: Carboniferous to early Triassic (345-200 million years ago) and late Jurassic to early Tertiary (150-50 million years ago). The fossilized plant remains of the Carboniferous and the younger Mesozoic coals suggests that they were formed in tropical swamps, with giant ferns, shrubs, vines, trees and algae that grew and then fell into decay. The resulting organic matter was accumulated in the layers at the bottom of swamps, where aerobic bacteria decomposed it. It takes about 10 meters of plant debris to produce 1 meter of coal.

The existence of tropically derived coals in the northern latitudes was due to continental drift, with the coals being produced when the host continents were close to the equator. They have subsequently drifted to their current latitudes, well north of the equator.

Darwin’s theory of natural selection suggests that each species will attempt to alter its environment to suit and promote its own existence. Rainforests are best suited in tropical environments and so they would prefer a world that was far hotter and wetter at all latitudes.

Today, 57% of all the electric power generated from fossil fuels comes from coal. Burning of hydrocarbons or coal is the reverse of photosynthesis. The major environmental concern is the emission of sulfur dioxide (which creates acid rain) and carbon dioxide, which is a green house gas that will promote global warming. The latter emissions will increase the average temperature of the world at all latitudes. Note: The irony here is that if we continued to burn fossil fuels at our current rate and moreover, if we did not clear land, rainforest would flourish due to the Earth's rise in temperature.

“Rainforest Memories II” underpins the concept that the descendants of the ghosts of past rainforests - that spawned and sustained a proliferation of life for over hundreds of million years - are now under threat because of the need to clear land in order to provide food for humans - whose population is spiraling out of control - and in doing so, rainforests of today may just become tomorrow's lingering memories.

The color palette of the ArtCloth was chosen to imply a vanishing experience, rather than an on-going experience of constant renewal.

Size: Three foot and four inches wide x 9 foot in length.

Technique and Medium: Multiple discharge, multiple silkscreen techniques (flour paste, wax, photo emulsion, improvisational) and stencils employing glazes, opaque, metallic and transparent paints on cotton.

View of “Rainforest Memories II” at the ‘Never Static: ArtCloth at the Textile Centre’, Textile Centre Joan Mondale Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Photograph Courtesy Jane Dunnewold.

Section View of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 1 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 2 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 3 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 4 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

[1] E.B. Feldman, Varieties of Visual Experience, 2nd Edition, Harry N. Abrams Inc., New York (1982).

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