Ecotechnofeminism is a categorical heading for the below works, inspired by and adapted from the text, Techno-Ecofeminism; Nonhuman Sensations in Technoplanetary Layers by Yvonne Volkart and translated by Rebecca van Dykes for the book, The Beautiful Warriors. Technofeminist Praxis in the Twenty-First Century (Cornelia Sollfrank, ed.), 2020: Minor Compositions/ Autonomedia (NY). "Ecotechnofeminism" is used here by the artist to identify artistic practice that supports the ideas presented by Volkart, including, "new materialist approaches that inquire into the role technologies play or do not play in the restructuring of our diverse relationships with nonhuman and human beings." (Volkart 113)
THE PHEROMONE TREES AND COYOTE, 2020
The Pheromone Tree and Coyote was an experiment in interspecies interaction through biochemical hacking. DIY estrogen extraction (pheromone production) protocols were taught by Mary Maggic during an online 'Hacking the Molecular' workshop hosted by Second Nature Lab (Frankfurt, DE). The artist, WhiteFeather, used her own extracted ovulation pheromones to attempt to attract wildlife, especially the Eastern coyote pack on whose territory she temporarily resided in McAlpines, New Brunswick, Canada. McAlpines is a strange woods: an Eastern white pine monoculture, sparse in some species of wildlife (like birds, who need hardwoods for nesting), while other species are thriving. The thriving species include coyotes and snowshoe hares (coyote food). The coyotes remained close by yet out of sight, their tracks found in the snow following the artist's footpaths around the property, howling nearby and eyes glowing blazing white from the edge of the woods at night. A short video was produced from infrared trail camera footage that captured some of the movements of coyotes around the residential property. The video segments show that while other wildlife, like white-tailed deer, were moderately interested in the artist's scent, the clever and curious coyote took special note of this new non-canid presence in its territory.
*Video is presented during lectures by the artist on themes related to Ecotechnofeminism.
(LAB)YRINTH was the collective project developed and presented in Paris, FR as part of the Useful Fictions Symposium, hosted at the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau in partnership with UC Davis. (LAB)YRINTH was the project of Lab 5: Making, Reflexivity and Engagement led by Maneulle Freire and Aniara Rodado, with Research Associate, Pedro Soler. Other participants included Stefan Laxness, Matt Ledwidge, Teresa Carlesimo, Ragnehild Ståhl-Nielsen and Alexander Rubeola. WhiteFeather participated as a Graduate Fellow supported by UC Davis and Chaire « arts & sciences » at École Polytechnique. The project was curated by David Familian for the Speed of Light Expedition at Galerie HUS in Montmarte, Paris and presented as part of the SLSA 2019 Conference exhibition, At The Margins--Experimental Engagements in Science, Literature, and the Arts curated by Jesse Colin Jackson and Antoinette LaFarge at Viewpoint Gallery, University of California, Irvine.
"Lab 5 mapped a foreign territory through the scientific and the human sensory apparatus, in ways that reinstate approaches and narratives that have been excluded from the modes of deriving knowledge that are currently privileged on this site [École Polytechnique]. We performed rituals to resensitize the body, recognition walks, potion making and explored DIY methods, alongside material and digital sampling of the soil in order to characterize 8 identified units of space... As a result, instead of acronyms and the names of donors and funders, each site regained identities, mythologies and names, drawn from their botanical and topological specificities..." (text by Manuelle Freire)
THE TROUBLE WITH JÄKÄLÄ, 2018
The Trouble with Jäkälä was a project created during a one-month residency (Ars Bioarctica) at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Research Station of the University of Helsinki, in Kilpisjärvi, Sápmi (Northern Finland). The residency was facilitated by the Finnish Bioart Society, and supported in part by the University of the Arts Helsinki (Kira O'Reilly) and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec. [13:07, digital video]
The Trouble with Jäkälä began as a project interested in Finnoscandic indigenous (Sámi) uses of lichen. The research-creation process uncovered a decade-long conflict between Sámi reindeer herders and station biologists at Kilpisjärvi responsible for research that informed government policy around land use and conservation. The project was refined to investigate the eco-political conflict zone of Kilpisjärvi, and sought to develop a concept of 'lichenological time' as observed through the tenacious lifespans of sensitive lichen species native to the region, in relationship with the cultural and human rights of the indigenous Sámi people who inhabit and traverse the landscape there.
Lichenological time is that of prolonged witness and of slow interchange. Lichen has an enzymatic quality of slowly digesting some of the longest standing members of the ecological landscape: rocks and stones and also artifacts of humanity. The hills, fells and fjords of the Kilpisjärvi region have long been subject to a series of conflicts, littered with artifacts of war: broken concrete structures bespeckled with lichen crusts, bones in the streams (supposedly), and territorial fences between nationalities that fragment reindeer migratory habitats and limit their food supply, which is exclusively lichen. The pressing conflict encountered was between Sámi reindeer herders and population biologists in Kilpisjärvi who sought to increase fencing in order to protect ecological pockets of landscape from the herds of reindeer adapting new migratory deviations around the obstacles that had been erected already. Biologists in Kilpisjärvi understand lichenological time in terms of sustainable growth rates for ecological preservation within compartmentalized spaces. Sámi understand lichenological time as vital to survival.
Embodied research as landscape performance with reindeer and lichen became performance video used as an art activist prompt, to present critique and provoke discussion around conservation science in conflict with indigenous lived knowledge systems. Jäkälä is the Finnish word for lichen.
*High resolution full video available for screening upon request.
PROSPECTIVE FUTURES: THE AURELIA PROJECT, 2018
PROSPECTIVE FUTURES: THE AURELIA PROJECT was developed as part of the BIOTA series, facilitated by IOTA Institute, Halifax and is the first Faculty of Science bio-art residency at Saint Mary’s University. WhiteFeather worked as visiting scholar and artist-in-residence, hosted by SMU Senior Research Fellow in Environmental Science, Dr. Linda Campbell.
The overall project concept centered around healing and recovery of highly contaminated legacy gold mine tailing sites in Nova Scotia, using both native plant species, Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod)/ Solidago gigantea (Giant goldenrod), and a mesophilic/ extremophilic bacterial species, Cupriavidus metallidurans. WhiteFeather specifically conducted solo laboratory experimentation towards microbial soil bioremediation with Cupriavidus metallidurans, which produces mercuric reductase and micro-particles of 24k gold in environments that contain toxic metals. She also mentored Environmental Studies BES Honours student, Brittany Hill, who co-developed and co-led a goldenrod ecotoxicology and in-situ remediation with Linda Campbell. The project consulted on Mi’kmaq lived experiences with ecology and the cultural landscape, with NS Museum's Curator of Ethnology, Roger Lewis. Saint Mary’s University and the various legacy gold mine tailings sites are in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki, the Ancestral Territory of the Mi’kmaq First Nation.
WhiteFeather's intention for the project outcome was to make a ritual offering of gold-producing microbes to a poisoned site where settler industry has rendered a landscape useless and dangerous. The ritual would include a small bundle of soil, wrapped in cloth and inoculated with live C. metallidurans, buried in the toxic soil as a potent gesture of several interrelated concepts: microbial bioremediation, decolonization of land through bacterial re-colonization and providing a critical space for dialogue around the acts of industrial mining, settler/indigenous relationships (to land and each other), language/culture/landscape and further human intervention. Unfortunately, this gesture was not supported by the university for a number of reasons and instead a mock gesture was performed with witnesses onsite. The project resulted in the production of an 8-minute video with audio interviews by WhiteFeather and archival audio from the NS Archives collections, as well as 3D SEM micrographs of C. metallidurans microbial landscapes produced by WhiteFeather.
Video screenings include at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University's Art Bar +Projects and at STEMfest 2018 at the Halifax Convention Centre. High res video available for screening upon request.
See the project website, here.
BLÓM + BLÓÐ, 2016
blóm + blóð (Icelandic for "flowers + blood") presents performance as embodied research, in the landscape as laboratory/ studio. [8:00, digital video] and resulting textile work.
The artist navigates the autumnal terrain of northern Iceland, collecting natural dye and fibre stuffs, using landscape elements as tools for making, and experimenting with flora and fauna in new ways, in the creation of a textile work. The end (textile) result is never shown in the video [textile work shown separately], the emphasis being on process as the creative work in focus, and the acquisition of new knowledge as one of the results. Utilizing the landscape as a laboratory means more than simply the outdoor acquisition of art/craft materials – it mobilizes human empathy (through experiential learning) in gaining an ecological awareness of the source of materials one works with, fostering a working relationship with the environment and its agents.
The video plays with notions of temporality and labour, but also with ideas of material agency, in terms of Jane Bennett’s, Vibrant Matter, where “efficacy or agency depends on the collaboration, cooperation, or interactive interference of many bodies and forces.” (p20). In the video, a deliberate romanticization of landscape (as within the landscape tradition in art, as well as touristic notions of place) is disrupted by the practical necessities of Icelandic life, such as the sheep slaughter. Likewise, engagement with the messiness of the body is embraced as necessary on the path towards aesthetic outcome. Additionally, the hegemonic notion of studio space, as isolated and hidden rooms where masterpieces are hatched, is subverted as the creative process is literally exposed.
Created in Blönduós, Iceland during a month-long artist residency at the Icelandic Textile Centre.
High quality video available for screening, upon request. This residency/ project was generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Textiles & Materiality Research Cluster of the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University.
View the research blog here.
FLOAT I & II, 2009
Float was an interactive performance that consisted of two parts: Float I and Float II.
Float was a property tour of the ponds at the site of the White Rabbit Open Air Art Festival in Red Clay, Nova Scotia. The tour began at the installation entitled, Float I, at the smallest pond on the property.
Tour participants were warned of the hazards of the ponds onsite, some of which were observable, and received (false) information about the pond ecosystem and its inhabitants. The textile piece, Hair Net (2005), was installed on site in one of the ponds, as part of the performance stage.
At the second and larger pond, the site of Float II, visitors were asked to perform a water safety routine to be authorized to swim in the pond. Willing participants were instructed to wear one of the safety flotation devices provided (constructed of buoyant wine works and crab apples) and to jump into the pond with it on, where they were led through a series of training exercises in water safety. The exercises and flotation devices both failed, as the gestures required caused the participants to sink, and the flotation devices to stay on the surface and drift away.