JUNE 29 – JULY 30, 2023
Opening Reception: June 29th, 7-9pm
Open Source Gallery is pleased to present PRECIPITATE, a project by SCOPE.
The tidal estuary named Gowanus Creek was engineered into a canal in 1853. Serving as a waterway to transport goods and materials, it also functioned as a dump site for waste generated by the industries that further developed alongside the canal, accumulating contaminated sediment. Over many decades of compounded manufacturing waste, the organisms in the sediment have evolved to remediate our toxic trace. Precipitate emerges from the remarkable microbiome living in the canal’s contaminated environment through multi-scaled media and live-growing sediment. The exhibition offers a space for contemplation of our microbial cohabitants, potentials of mutuality, and partnerships in collaborative survival across species and spatial divides.
Open Source Gallery will become a portal where human and microbial environments come into relative focus. Could collaboration with these unlikely organisms be the key to survival in capitalist ruins? How do we challenge the intrinsic hierarchy implied by differences in size between humans and microbes? What does reciprocity with an organism mean when the organism is invisible and instruments are therefore necessary to mediate the relationship? In response to these provocations, Precipitate acknowledges this ecosystem by enacting means of observation through slow growth and high-resolution documentation, including large-scale prints and timelapse photography of cultured sediment, which expose complex and dynamic growth patterns. Jars containing live, growing samples of the canal’s microenvironment will also be on view for the extent of the exhibition as a tangible embodiment of these persistent but fragile collaborators. A room-sized sculptural representation of the Canal divides the gallery space. Created from waste of the construction industry, these materials are metabolized for this exhibition as they go on to become something else. As governmental remediation plans move forward to cap the contaminated sediment with concrete, Precipitate does not intend to memorialize a static rendering for posterity, but rather recognizes that beyond this monumental moment for Gowanus Creek, the microorganisms will carry on.
Through the lens of human-microbe relationships, SCOPE’s work leans into questions of contamination, collaboration, culture, and exploitation. Their process includes environmental sampling, bioinformatic analysis, field recording, generative design, and waiting for things to grow. SCOPE aspires to construct spaces of close observation that challenge the incumbent hierarchical relationships of nature, culture, and more-than-human agents. SCOPE’s members currently include Heather Parrish, Léonard Roussel, Elizabeth Henaff, and Seth Wenger. Their collective work has been exhibited at the Detroit Science Gallery, Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, and the New York Academy of Sciences.