Green Desert

Green Desert, 2018

MATTER(S) matter(s): Bridging Research in the Arts and Sciences, installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum

Text by Jens Hauser

Green Desert: Lake Erie
Developed by HeHe in collaboration with Associate Professor Yan "Susie" Liu of MSU's Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, re-creates satellite images of recent algae blooms in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair using fine colored plastic particles. The intent is to complicate the notion of "green" as a marker for clean energy, environmentally sound practices, healthy and abundant food sources, and use in experimental C02 sequestration setups. Expansive green algae blooms have plagued the Great Lakes, and other regions of the world, as a result of intensive industrial agriculture and over-fertilization, and can produce poisonous conditions that are harmful to plant and animal life.

Green Desert: Soylent Green
This sculptural work presents the landscape of Lake Erie, made of harvested and cultivated green algae in Petri dishes, playing with the dual connotations of algae as both faddish superfood and pollutant. It questions the symbolic value of "greenness;' and calls for greater eco-systemic and material scrutiny when considering environmental sustainability. The title refers to the apocalyptic 1973 science fiction thriller Soylent Green, in which a protein-rich food source supposedly produced from plankton is actually the product of necro-political industrial processes where humans are both the perpetrators of environmental crime and its victims.

BRIDGE Artist in Residency Program, Department of Art, Art History, and Design at Michigan State University

Photo credit: Eat Pomegranate Photography

NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Mike Carlowicz and Jeff Schmaltz.