Forest-Model of the Universe

Installation Overview

Mercer Union - Summer 1988


This was a complex installation that I conceived of in collaboration with Janis Bowley. It was shown at Toronto's Mercer Union Gallery in the summer of 1988 as an attempt to address some of the complex issues faced by the forest ecosystems surrounding the Great Lakes, such as acid rain, the loss of biodiversity and water pollution. The overall effect was that of a kind of science museum, where Janis and I modeled natural systems, using the media in which we each liked to work. Janis did this primarily through painting and drawing while I built little ecosystems whose nutrient flows and microclimates where electromechanically regulated. We collaborated on a series of 'exquisite corpse' type drawings where we each added a 'body' part depicting some aspect of the forest ecosystem, to what the other had already drawn.

Click here for a link to Mercer Union's archive and reviews of the show.


Slide Show:

Spruce and Cricket Ecological Module

This ecological module contained live crickets and young spruce trees, which were rythmically irrigated by water pumped from an earth-shaped bladder.

Choice of a New Generation

In this piece, rainwater dribbled from a Pepsi bottle onto some sugar maple (Acer saccharinum) seedlings. The drops passed by a sensor, causing the clapper of a fire alarm to strike its bell. The backdrop of a Great Lakes/St. Lawrence mixed forest scene was done by my collaborator, Janis Bowley.

fossils from construction sites

These were fossils of extinct marine life I found primarily at various Southern Ontario construction sites. They were displayed on little shelves made of recycled gypsum wall board, gypsum being a mineral that is mined in the region.

installation view with exquisite corpse drawings

This shows the electromechanic hydrological machinery and in the background and array of 'exquisite corpse' type drawings depicting species of the Great Lakes ecosystem.