Business as Usual
Business as Usual engages with research on urban runoff and the chemistry of our surrounding New York Harbor through electrolysis. In this chemically active installation, I was interested in referencing extractive economies, the process of calcification, and boring dystopias. A calcified brain coral waits at a banker’s table with a curious set of objects: Sand dollars stacked like coins and a ledger full of markings lit by an aquarium. Within, submerged in a water sample of the New York Harbor, symbolic representations of the city (Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower, and Empire State Building) function as the cathodes and anodes for electrolysis. As these symbols gradually calcify due to the chemical reaction, the water precipitates various ions like a sepia snow globe, making visible the complex chemistry of our Bay. These precipitates are collected in vials as pigments and turned into ink. Tucked within a bottom drawer is a secret escape into a tiny, lush landscape of mosses collected in the Hudson Valley.
My initial research for this project was centered around New York Harbor filtration by oyster remediation and innovative methods of encouraging oyster reef growth through an electrolytic process called biorock (or seacrete) formation. In this process, an electric field is generated through seawater to accrete calcium carbonate on metal cathodes. In my early experiments with this chemical process, I discovered that a byproduct of this electrolytic reaction was the continual formation of ion precipitates that rise into cloud-like forms and then slowly rain down over the course of the reaction. This ultimately became a new, more complex focus for the work. Contained within this utopian process of bioremediation through symbiotic interaction (oyster regrowth and filtration of our waters) was a visualization of our own dystopian reality.
Business as Usual was installed at Stand4 Gallery in Bay Ridge: Through an Ecological Lens in 2023 curated by Jennifer McGregor.