[ISEA2016] Artist Talk: Lucy H.G. Solomon — Environmental Data: The Incredible Balancing Act

Artist Statement

HG Solomon discusses collaborative engineering and design projects focusing on human interaction with environmental data. These models playfully communicate ecological information, while relying on engineering and playful responsive media to convey streams of environmental data. The League of Imaginary Scientists’ projects span subjects from a balanced ecosystem to the survival status of near threatened jaguars.

Prosthetic tree limbs, human glaciers, and human sensory organs for perceiving data
Lucy HG Solomon from California State University, San Marcos and The League of Imaginary Scientists presents The Incredible Balancing Act, a series of art works that weigh the environmental balance of humanity through interactions with data and physical contraptions. In a world with compounded sets of information on complex environmental conditions, there is no common human
function for understanding that data. Evolution of human beings designed for adaptation to planetary conditions requires human sensory organs for the perception of that data. HG Solomon and her collaborators posit new approaches for perceiving ecological crises and the data that describes them.

How data melted my glacier…
In How Data Melted my Glacier, the League of Imaginary Scientists transforms global environmental loss with technological intermediaries and visual narrative. The collective investigates environmental and the concurrent data loss through mediation: a glacier’s data melts tangibly. The League of Imaginary Scientists anthropomorphizes data collected from global sea ice in
a memorial for lost ice in their work, Human Glacier, created with choreography collective, E.K.K.O, and Waterways project collaborators. With a human graph, the League makes glaciers relatable while linking a century of information on glacier loss to human bodies.

In another piece, Pianissimo 2.0, roly-polies play transitions in planetary surface temperatures over the last century on a miniature piano. The question remains: how do we perceive the vast amounts of environmental data that now constitutes the new information-based ecosystem of the Anthropocene? Environmental events small and large abound in the collective’s reflection on the need to develop a sensory organ for data perception. In a world in which a growing information ecology demands comprehension, the League of Imaginary Scientists maintains that, without the ability to perceive data, humanity itself is at a loss.

  • Lucy H.G. Solomon, California State University, San Marcos, USA. The League of Imaginary Scientists, imaginaryscience.org