Artist Writing: Revival Field



REVIVAL FIELD will be an experimental project to cleanse industrial contamination from affected soil with plants. These plants, which have evolved the capacity to selectively absorb and contain large amounts of metal or mineral, are known as “hyperaccumulators.” Historically utilized as a method of prospecting, the re-employment of these plants as “toxic sponges” has been tested and proven viable through the work of Dr. Rufus Chaney (USDA, Beltsville, Maryland) and R.R. Brooks (Massey College, New Zealand). This plausible method of leaching heavy metals out of tainted soil, safely trapping the toxins in the vascular structure of the plant and mining the ash (after proper incineration) provides a beneficial and economic potential.

REVIVAL FIELD will be introduced as an actual application on a designated site and calls for collaboration between the artist, the academic, and the environmentally-concerned community. The project is to be an ongoing operation until tests can verify significant improvement of a site’s quality. The formal configuration of the work will be two standard chainlinked fenced areas – one a square, containing the other, a circle. The circular area, planted with the detoxifying weeds, will serve as the test site, whereas the square, unplanted and of equal area, will serve as the control. Access to the site will be through paths that intersect in the center, forming a crosshair target when viewed from above. In this case, the plants, guided by a natural process, will be aiming at a malignant presence in the ground.

Conceptually, this work is envisioned as a sculpture involving the reduction process, a traditional method when carving wood or stone. Here the material being approached is unseen and the tools will be biochemistry and agriculture. The work, in its most complete incarnation (after the fences are removed and the toxic-laden weeds harvested) will offer minimal visual and formal effects. For a time, an intended invisible aesthetic will exist that can be measured scientifically by the quality of a revitalized earth. Eventually that aesthetic will be revealed in the return of growth to the soil.