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Science's Impact

        All of my art is informed by a diverse set of sources and influences, but I want to focus on science’s impact on my work, as it is less noticeable than many of my other inspirations. As an ecologist, I have become slowly more aware of the cyclical processes affecting the world of nature, and thus our own lives. These cycles initiate the structure of my music, the form of my dance, the cadence of my writing, and the subject of most of my photography.

        When I start writing a song, I feel the landscape of both my surroundings and my inner world, coalescing my internal and external experiences into a unified whole. A forest is a very different sonic backdrop to a desert. We are subconsciously aware of these choices when we casually listen to music, though we rarely note them. These “essences” are informed by the number and intensity of the cycles within them. The desert has little rain, few creatures, and long-living plants: it’s sound is thus minimal throughout and sharp when changing. This is because the most important cycle is the rotation of the Earth (and thus the position of the Sun). A rainforest is the opposite to the desert. Each ecosystem has its own unique sound, its own unique combination of cycles.

         I also use a lot of reversed sounds within my music. Typically, these don’t sit alone. They are usually contiguous with the forwards version of that sound. This is to demonstrate transfers of energy and adherence to Newton’s properties of motion: equal and opposing forces are often present in my work, though sometimes in multiplicity. I also have based a few songs on the life cycles of certain rarely studied animals like the Ichneumonoid Wasp.

         My music uses acoustic sounds (aka: not MIDI) for most of my compositions. I have deviances, but most of my music is not programmed, it’s organic and free-flowing. My fingers dance on whatever instrument I’m playing, remembering the movement of squirrels or the wind in a tree. I often conceptualize natural forms while playing music, so as to create spaces of free experimentation. What does an opossum sound like? What is the sonic feeling of a bee taking flight? I purposefully don’t translate these ideas directly, as that would result in music that fails to be anything other than sound effects. Instead, I translate the physical, the kinesthetic, the visual, and the scent of the setting into an auditory format.

         Like my experimentation in thought while playing music, I similarly imagine myself as other forms while dancing. A person moving can be anything! Some of my proudest moments in dance come when I dance like my kinesthetic understanding of a concept, as I did for Spiritual : Circuitry. This is hard to translate to writing, as the entire process is a body-knowing; it is physical/mental/emotional/spiritual. I am, for a moment, the human reality of the idea. I exist as a conduit for the other within myself, channeling the motion of my body into the organic and inorganic alike. I relate equally to the animal and the rock, even if I’m not actually a rock. The organic is paramount to dance, as dance insists upon the realization of one’s own fragility and flesh before succeeding in the discipline. We must first be aware of the world of us, then we can become aware of the world around us and dance within it.

          I also use a lot of astronomy and physics in dance. When dancing with others, I understand distance and positional relation as functions of gravity and astronomy. Our mass is drawn to other mass, thus we swing around the other in its pull. Small physical properties become important when moving quickly: the friction of my foot on the floor and the density of air surrounding my body become important factors when trying to maintain balance while dancing. Our inertia can be used in a variety of ways to enhance a dance. Sometimes inertia enters the arms and they swing in an arc with the torso’s position. Other times inertia enters the hips, taking the body to the floor. The options are infinite with how my dancing body is affected by physics.

          In the realm of writing, I demonstrate the non-categorized natural world via a refusal to use just poetry or prose. This shows that our world is inherently changing and subject to forces outside itself. The text bends to the force of my will as I shift between poetry and prose. There are so many examples of change in science (i.e.: ecosystem succession, droughts, the moment iron is created in a star, the shifting polarity of the Earth, etc.). I also use the organic as a consistent theme. I don’t shy away from discussing the viscera and gore inherent to our world while also finding time to dwell on the beauty of a single flower. The organic has a vast reach of meaning that can be explored near infinitely.

           Finally, I come to my most glorious tribute to science: depicting it visually. The organic is once again an important theme. However, I choose to subvert it here, of all places, because it is most obvious here. Placing the view from a plateau next to a picture of a full dumpster unsettles the viewer. This juxtaposition forces the viewer to reckon with the organic nature of our own waste. Plastic was once organic, was it not? This shifts the subject of nature photography from the usual glorification of nature to a fuller image including the human as inherently organic and natural. Metal fences are seen in otherwise empty fields. A wooden gate leads to a mountain. A ruined bus sits in the desert. These images display the melding of the organic and inorganic into the reality beyond these binary definitions.

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