Passage : bodies rest in motion

Hertenstein, Sara Beth
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2011]
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Before reaching the tiny towns on the north shore of Kauai, electricity must make a journey up and over the rugged mountains of the interior. The Powerline Trail is the only access to this impressive infrastructure. The single muddy track follows the powerlines through messy jungles full of quick growing invasive plants up to the steep ridges of the interior where stubborn endemic plants maintain a foothold in their native habitat. I was standing on top of one of these ridges in the misting rain surrounded by metal structures that seemed to sprout out of the mountain as comfortably as the green plumes of native 'Ohia Lehua trees when I was struck by how the industrial structures of the powerline blended into the organic shapes of the landscape. It was with this scene in mind that I set out to design an installation specifically for the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Commons Gallery. My goal was to take viewers along a trail that traveled through an environment constructed with sculptures and prints inspired by my observations of the interaction, sometimes symbiotic and sometimes parasitic, between nature and infrastructure (Figure 1). My process of casting modules in clay and paper using plaster molds has many parallels to the process of screenprinting on a large scale. The entropic quality of my process both in screen-printing and casting produced one-of-a-kind objects through a process, which is usually used in mass-production. Hence the prints appeared to have been drawn and painted and the birds, pipes, and tunnel appeared to have been individually modeled and fabricated. Not only did the installation contain hybrids of nature and infrastructure, organic and industrial, but was also created through a process that was, itself, a hybrid of mass-production and individual manipulation. The integration of natural elements such as open-air plantings of bamboo within the architecture of the site reiterated and reflected the theme of the installation, which was, at its core, about the interaction of nature and infrastructure. The windows provided the perfect canvas and frame for the large screen-prints. These prints explored these ideas through two-dimensional images of plants and infrastructure in the Hawaiian mountains and provided the structure for a large landscape in the form of an elevation diagram. The prints effectively enclosed the installation letting in a filtered natural light intended to create an atmosphere similar to a forested trail. The entrance to the installation was a tall, plain white wall broken only by a large grey tunnel. The shape and color of the tunnel was intended to entice the viewer to enter the installation through the wall rather than around it. The tunnel led into an environment defined by ceramic birds with strange organic and industrial appendages bolted in space by long steel rods and standpipes made out of paper instead of iron. In this installation nature and infrastructure intersected and collided. At times, invasive species and humans were in opposition to nature. Other times, I was working with process as a metaphor for creating a new nature. Where nature and infrastructure combined, symbiotically, to form new species.
M.F.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Theses for the degree of Master of Fine Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Art.
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