Archive for March, 2014

Travis Bedel’s Homo Plantae aesthetic

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Mixed media artist Travis Bedel, who creates stunning collages that merge anatomical imagery with illustrations from science guides and textbooks, was profiled recently over at This Is Colossal.

In my study of the work of American poet Ronald Johnson, I looked at the particular conceptual work Johnson was doing when he compared “the human body” to plants in his modernist verse. I put “the human body”  in quotes here because, as you might imagine, the universal human body that Johnson gorgeously, lyrically sings in its green seediness is a male body, unspokenly white — the model humanbody  of a certain kind of scientific vision.

Nearly 50 years later, Bedel’s aesthetic sits squarely in the same zone as Johnson (who was also a collagist). If my man RJ had worked in digital visual collage, he might well have made this. I wonder if, like Johnson, Bedel is also a concurrent practitioner of a more leather, motorcycle, Bear vibe. For me the two will forever go hand in hand.



“We could convert houseplants into power generators for charging phones”

2014 03 15 moss-09

Call it an instrument of moss conduction. It’s like the grown-up version of that potato battery you made in grade school. Not quite as efficient as regular photovoltaic solar cells, but more eco-friendly to manufacture. Putting plants to work …

Herb is the Verb a great success! (pics)

Last week, students from UBC Okanagan’s Theory of Creative Writing class (CRWR260) gave their audience and passers-by a unique digital literary experience. The event was a real-time, collaborative composition using Twitter as its medium, and VisibleTweets as its visual platform.

Verbage3 - Hartley quote

Writing students have been investigating how current research in plant science challenges traditionally-held concepts of organisms’ liveliness, cognition, feeling and sentience. They have worked in collaboration with students from BIOC301, the plant biochemistry class run by Dr. Susan Murch. In response to poetic texts and sound poems read live over a microphone by their professor (moi) and their peers, and using the hashtag #vherbage, students tweeted lines of text composed spontaneously and/or texts collaged from written conversations with the plant science students.  Tweets scrolled in real time across large screens set up in the public foyer of the Fipke Building, where members of the university community, some who came for the event, and others who were just passing by or waiting in line to get their cup of coffee, were able to read the poem as it was being created.

The tweets will be curated into one multi-authored online poem which will appear on the collaboratively created website (not live yet!) that is the class’s final project.

The event was a great way to showcase interdisciplinary work between our fine arts students and science students, and to introduce new pedagogies and forms of writing to a wider audience. To my students: way to go, guys. Looking forward to seeing what you write for our final digital project! 

Thanks to the Department of Creative Studies, to Dr. Susan Murch, Paul Marck, and the Celebrate Research Week team for their help.

Verbage5 - Hebert quote

#VHERBAGE !! tomorrow (tue) at 11 am PST

2014 03 03 Call Any Vegetable

Tomorrow at 11 am at #UBCO in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada: CRWR 260 students perform the real-time composition of the Twitter-poem #vherbage.

Our themes as always: art and science collaboration, plant consciousness as an idea that challenges accepted notions of learning and knowing, innovations in writing.

Join in – we would love input from the wider world into this publicly-written poem. Find us at #vherbage on Twitter or on the public screencast – tomorrow, 11 am for about 20-30 minutes. Or just watch the tweets roll in here.

Text generated during the performance will be the basis of the final poem that you will be able to find at the digital poetry website when it is launched in late April.

And to give you a taste of the soundtrack that will back the live event, here’s Frank Zappa reminding us to Call Any Vegetable.

See you at the Fipke foyer if you’re on campus, otherwise see you online tomorrow!