Nature Art Residency in India: Call for Applications

I came across an interesting opportunity for you biocreative types out there! A three-week long residency in India to create works of art using natural objects from the residency site near Mahagoan. Selected artists will visit from mid-November to the first week of December and will be provided with housing and meals, and some funding for travel. Applications are accepted until October 20, 2011.

“The purpose of the residency is to create a common platform for artists from different geographical and cultural backgrounds to converge and  create an art centric environment through these intercultural exchanges.”

For more information, please visit: ARTINNATURE: Call for Application- Nature Art Residency,Nov-Dec 2011.

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nature time-lapse

I really enjoyed reading about (and especially watching) Neil Bromhall‘s oak seed time-lapse featured yesterday on New Scientist’s Time-Lapse Tuesday.  How come I didn’t know about Time-Lapse Tuesday yet!? I mean, really, what kind of rock have I been living under? I have always been somewhat of a time-lapse junkie and am usually left in awe of even the most basic of time-lapse projects, which allow the often “slow” pace of nature to be visualized and appreciated by us humans.

I know I’ve got a long way to go before my work is quite as good as that, but time-lapse is very fun to try. Here is my first time-lapse title page that I made for the biocreativity blog, and I plan to have a new one each month which you can view on the biocreativity vimeo channel:

biocreativity | july 2011 title from h. gillespie on Vimeo.

Of course, technology is always evolving and allowing filmmakers to do some pretty amazing things. I mean, have you seen the incredible stuff the BBC Nature crew has been up to (covered a while back on Moving Image Source)? You can see some of their amazing footage on the BBC Nature Video Collections site. Unfortunately I can’t embed these because I’m not in the UK, but here are links to a couple of my favorites. The first is a six month panning time-lapse of a woodland, and there’s a great documentary about how this was done at the end of the Life episode in which it is featured. My other favorite is of the Antarctic marine invertebrate scavengers. The incredible thing about this one is that it can help inform us about behaviors of these animals that would be hard for us see if we just sat around McMurdo Sound freezing our butts off. Here is one I found that I could embed, about tropical plants climbing to the forest canopy to get sunlight. Amazing!

See why I put my humble little time-lapse before these? Incredible! You don’t even remember having watched mine after seeing those, now, do you? Hopefully, you can see why time-lapse is one of the most compelling media for educating others about biology. Time-lapse not only brings “slow” nature to life, but is also inherently impressive for the amount of time and energy it can take to produce a good one. You might also enjoy Wired Science’s Top 10 Time-Lapse Videos that Show Nature at Work or Mashable’s Nature in Time-Lapse: 10 Awe-Inspiring Videos. I hope you enjoy and share time-lapses that you’ve come across (leave a comment below with links to them!). Maybe you should also try making one yourself in whatever system you work on or enjoy. It’s very easy now with just a camera and either Mac or Windows movie software. A quick web search for “make time-lapse video” will result in plethora of tutorials and advice. Adventure Journal, for example, has a good article on making your own time-lapse videos. You can even use your iPhone! There’s a good tutorial on the iPhone app TimeLapse at Digital Urban. Go ahead…your video just might blow someone’s mind!

what is biocreativity?

I’ve always been passionate about two things: art + nature. It is through these two things that I best understand the world, and I am at my most content when my daily activities involve both of these things. I get antsy when I’m doing just one or the other. My passion for nature eventually lead me to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology, in which I used my noodle to help better understand endangered species. What I largely neglected during my seven years in graduate school was art. My last show was in 2003, the intensely biocreative semester i graduated from college. I recall a well-meaning faculty advisor attempting to dissuade me from pursuing an art minor in addition to my biological + environmental studies. “You can still do art, but can’t it just be your hobby?” Luckily he didn’t push very hard, and I won. For me, art is not procrastination. Art is not distraction. Art is not just a hobby.

Scientists often experience intense peer pressure to focus intently (nay, almost entirely) on their research. Graduate students receive this pressure abundantly, and I’ve witnessed too many students drop their creative activities at the behest of advisors. I’ve also heard the equivalent of, “If only so-and-so would use his/her creative skills for more scientific purposes it would be worth doing”. I think this is hindering science, because it gets in the way of our ability to creatively explain our work (and its relevance) to the world. The more creative we can be in doing so, and the more passionate we can become about presenting our work, the more effective we are. I wonder what pressures biocreatives trained primarily in the arts experience? Both those trained as “artists” + as “scientists” are trained to seek out novelty, to contribute to their fields in new and exciting ways. I think those biocreatives who can (seemingly) effortlessly blend the two are the most innovative, and have the best chance at improving art, science + social literacy around the world.

And so, you are wondering, what is biocreativity? I think it is any endeavor that combines art with biology or natural phenomena. A well-made graph or figure made by a scientist to visualize the results of her research. A nature documentary that is not only visually striking but documents novel animal behaviors. A musical piece composed entirely of the sounds of insects. An ephemeral outdoor sculpture made of natural objects. A school class project to construct miniature biomes in shoeboxes. A genetically-engineered glowing bunny. A photograph of El Capitan. An underwater sculpture that grows into a living coral reef. The entire field of natural history illustration. A portrait on a petri dish. A piece of jewelry made from a feather. A collage made of trash from a national park. A graphic tee with a bird on it. A carefully-sculpted bonsai tree. A piece of mimbres pottery depicting desert fauna. A cave painting of a buffalo. A youtube video of a honeybadger. I hope to explore all of these and more through this blog, and look forward to hearing your perspective from your place on the biocreativity continuum!

So that’s it. That’s why I’m starting this. I hope you will like it.