Brandon Ballengée :: Monstres Sacrés

07 fév 2008
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SAT[residences] :: Brandon Ballengée :: Monstres Sacrés

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A Three-week research residency proposal by Brandon Ballengée for
The Société des Arts Technologiques, Montréal, Canada
Courtesy the Archibald Arts, New York City, and Arts Catalyst, London

Descrition of the residency at SAT

My proposed research residency will consist of using high-resolution scanners as a ‘camera’ to generate a new series of art and science photographs of environmentally sculpted amphibians. Additionally, I will use my time at SAT to explore the possibility of creating a Montreal based Bio-Art Laboratory and future full-scale exhibition “Monstres Sacrés” themed around the subject of Malformed frogs and toads in Quebec.

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Initially, as a researcher in residence at SAT, I will conduct a series of experimental high-resolution (both 2 and 3 dimensional) scans of chemically cleared and dyed preserved deformed frogs and toads, facilitated by a local University’s Imaging Department. The intention of this process is digitally capture the incredible finite detail of complex cellular walls inherent to malformation.

The specimens to be scanned were collected over the past 2 years of my research the United Kingdom commisioned by the Arts Catalyst and facilitated by Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK. These important specimens represent the first ever description of new types of abnormalities and the first documentation of highly occurring incidences of deformation in amphibians in the UK. They are a first to art and science.

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Each tiny specimen will need to be scanned at a minimum of 8000 dpi, enabling incredible magnification. This will allow for the future fabrication of ‘child’-scale highly detailed fine art prints and publication quality images for scientific journals. Conceptually, these experiments will explore a process that enables a new ‘hyper-form’ of realism through imaging- vastly expanding upon what we can see with our eyes or with traditional film techniques. I consider this practice an extension of artistic investigation that through technology allows us to view nature and biological phenomena in ways that historically were not possible.

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Philosophically, I believe the first step to environmental change is awareness of the issues and a better understanding of the species we share this planet with. Amphibians are a ‘sentinel’ species. About one-third of them are declining or already gone. A world that they cannot live in cannot support many other species. In Quebec thousands of frogs and toads have been found with strange malformations- These MALAMPS portray a rapidly changing world.

Outcomes of 3-week Residency at SAT

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• Experiments with scanners from local universities to see what types of imaging of preserved specimens are possible.

• Creation of a new series of scans of the UK deformed amphibians.

• Scans will be used in forth-coming international scientific publications written as a Candidate for PhD at University of Applied Sciences and Art, Hochschule für Gestaltung Zürich, Switzerland. (SAT will be acknowledged)

• Scans will be used in forth-coming artist monograph and documentary created by the Arts Catalyst, UK. Both to be included in forth-coming exhibitions at Exit Art and Archibald Arts in NYC.

• Scans will be used to generate fine art prints for forth-coming solo exhibition of the artist’s work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2008.

• A paper about the imaging experiments will be presented at July 2008 Meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists here in Montreal.

• Exploration into the creation of a Montreal Based Bio-Art Laboratory on site at SAT

• Exploration into the creation of a future full-scale exhibition “Monstres Sacrés” themed around the subject of Quebeque Malformed frogs and toads.

• Public discussion of residency at SAT in March.

Biography for Brandon Ballengée

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Exploring the boundaries between art, science and technology, Brandon Ballengée creates multidisciplinary works out of information generated from ecological field trips and laboratory research. Since 1996, Ballengée has collaborated with numerous scientists to conduct primary biological research and Ecological Artworks. These activities were outlined in “Ecoventions”, a book published in 2002 by the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati.

These projects have appeared internationally on ABC’s World News Tonight, BBC’s Today Show and in Audubon Magazine, GENEWATCH, ESPACE Sculpture The Guardian, MIT’s LEONARDO Journal, The Journal of Experimental Zoology, The New York Times, Newsday, The New Yorker, Orion, Sculpture Magazine, The Sciences, The Village Voice, and others. His work has been included in several books including the new Art in Action: Nature, Creativity and our Collective Future, published by Earth Aware Editions supported by the United Nations.

His Artworks have been exhibited in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Recent solo exhibitions of his work were held at The Arsenal Gallery in Central Park (NYC), The Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale University), Archibald Arts (NYC), and Kunstverein Ingolstadt in Ingolstadt, Germany. Upcoming solo exhibitions are planned for Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield, England) and Forma, Centro Internazionale di Fotografia (Milano, Italy). He participated in the 2004 Geumgang Nature Art Biennale in Kung Ju, South Korea the Waterways Project, which was installed at the 2005 Venice Biennale and Biennale for Electronic Arts Perth 07 in Australia.

Ballengée has been awarded several artist grants including funding from the Puffin Foundation, Maxwell Landau Foundation, Nature Conservancy, New York State Council on the Arts, and others. He also has attended several artist/ researcher in residency programs. In 2003, he was an artist in residence at the Natural History Museum in London, Gunpowder Park and [space] in London in 2007, and the Société des arts technologiques [SAT] in Montreal, Canada in 2008.

For over a decade, Ballengée has collected specimens for several scientific organizations, including the Peabody Museum at Yale University, The American Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at U.C. Berkeley and others. In 2001, He was nominated for membership into Sigma XI, the Scientific Research Society. His theoretical article, “The Origins and Application of Artificial Selection” is included in the 2004 anthology "Biomediale" published by the National Center for Contemporary Art in Kaliningrad, Russia. In January of 2002 and 2006, he co-taught an ecology art and neotropical evolution courses in Costa Rica for Hartwick College. In addition, he regularly conducts ecology/ field biology/ genetics and digital imaging workshops open to the general public at urban parks, zoos, petstores and fish markets.

He serves on the board of directors for the Peoples Museum of New York. He currently is a Candidate for a Ph.D. at the University of Applied Sciences and Art, Hochschule für Gestaltung in Zürich, Switzerland

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