HYLAEA (a Video, Print and Rare Book Installation) (2010) is an interactive video, print and rare book installation that seeks to reanimate the residues, record and archives of lost ecological memory. Part ecological ghost story/part zoological bibliography, this project stems from a desire to partially awaken the resting memories of lost life forms from the extinct species cabinets of the museum and the rare book shelves of the library. My intention in seeding motion, sound, interaction and macroscopic detail across the three main floors, stairwell and stacks of Penrose Library is for viewers to recall that within less than a century of the publication of the first written and painted records of the astounding bird life of North America by John James Audubon , both common and mythological species became the icons of human-induced extinctions.
In this endeavor the installation borrows and curates from the library the original volumes of John James Audubon's Birds of America ( the first disseminated representations of North American Birds from the late 1700's) and Carl Lumholz' testimonial expedition volume on his first encounters with the birds of the Mexican Sierra. These volumes are juxtaposed with the last residues of North American lost/extinct species from digital specimen scans ( from the extinct bird collection of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science) represented as clusters of small and large scale prints, nteractive video/audio, video loops and DNA and protein sonifications. These reanimations are distributed across the library for immersive visual and media encounters by patrons.
The HYLAEA installation project at Penrose Library is one of a series of new media works that collectively explores the language, sites, mediation and possible restoration of lost ecological memory. The series title HYLAEA refers to the mythical and now lost forests of ancient Greece and to Alexander von Humboldt’s explorations of the virgin neotropical forests of the Americas. The intent of this project series is to collectively bring together disparate artifacts of lost ecological memory such as the deep colors and textures of extinct birds wings; sonic translations of the DNA and proteins of missing species; and passages from the pages of endangered books that were the original published record of the exquisite lifeforms of North America. The hope is that audience engagement with such immersive experiences may re-mediate the patterns of lost ecological memory as a means of facilitating a discourse into the state of ecological consciousness during our time of cascading extinctions.
Recent project venues for this work:
"HYLAEA (a video, print and rare book instalaltion)", Penrose Library, University of Denver, Denver, CO