[ISEA2022] Paper: Claudia Pederson — Merging Art, Media, and Ecology: Diego Rivera and Ariel Guzik at the Cárcamo de Dolores


Full Paper. Session: Humans and NonHumans / Ecology of Natural and Technical Systems

Keywords: Mexico, media art, ecology, water, enchantment

This paper examines two public art projects at Cárcamo de Dolores, in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City: Diego Rivera’s El Agua, Origen de la Vida en la Tierra [Water, Origin of Life on Earth] (1951) and Ariel Guzik’s Cámara Lambdona [Lambdona Chamber] (2010). Because these projects are new additions to existing literature on environmental themes in art history and media arts histories, the incipient focus is on addressing both their artistic and conceptual significance. Both conceived as creative engagements with water, Rivera’s El Agua, Origen de la Vida en la Tierra is highlighted as the first underwater mural in modern art, with Guzik’s Cámara Lambdona as a sonic installation created to restore the former’s work. To additionally shed light on the artists’ respective aims in merging ecology, art, science, and technology, this discussion then considers these projects’ divergent articulations of human and nonhuman relations, and as well their kindred aspirations, to function as catalysts of a possible, more sustainable world. In including these projects, this examination shares current concerns with broadening the geographical scope of existing environmentally-themed art historical and media arts histories. Expanding upon this focus, this paper not only emphasizes the ecological arts in the Global South, but as well their interdisciplinary basis and media forms. Hence, it combines a global perspective with an inter-disciplinary approach, which, echoing the projects considered, is moreover relevant for further developing the existing histories of the environmental arts.

  • Claudia Costa Pederson is Associate Professor of Art History, Wichita State University (USA); author of Gaming Utopia: Ludic Worlds in Art, Design, and Media (Indiana, 2021); and co-curator of FLEFF’s new media exhibitions at Ithaca College, NY, since 2017.