Ethics of Mattering

Ethics of Mattering. Exhibitions include ROYGBIV gallery in Columbus Ohio and the Kennedy Museum, Athens Ohio. 2009. Collaborations with Dr. Guy Riefler (water treatment prototype), Jason Nein (video), Jeff Lovett (construction), spurse (diagrams), Ohio University Graduate Art Students.

The industry and culture of the Midwest are deeply tied to geological processes that occur across a scale of time and causality that is anything but human. These processes occurred (and continue to occur) over millions of years and have a significant impact on present industry and culture. For example, the glacial sediment deposited within the relatively recent past of 1 million years makes farming possible, while the metamorphic rock formed from 250 million year old decaying vegetation has produced the conditions that allow coal mining to continue. This history is very much alive and active in our world, becoming entangled with the very fabric of our bodies, society and institutions. For the last 150 years, vast stretches of Southern Ohio have been mined, leaving interlocking networks of abandoned mines, the majority of which are now flooded. The National Forestry Service has located 4000 abandoned mines in Southeast Ohio and estimates another 8000 have yet to be found. These abandoned mines have been colonized by lithic extremophile bacteria that, as part of their digestion process, free the acidic sulfur found in iron pyrite, producing acid mine drainage.

An average flooded mine can produce several thousand gallons of toxic sulfur hydroxide every week. The complex entanglement of geology, geography, labor practices, energy policy and environmental engineering yielded by the coal mining industry have produced a wholly new and unique ecosystem, where questions about the separation between nature and culture or the preservation of a pristine environment become irrelevant and strategies of co-evolutionary emergence must be fore-grounded.

Ethics of Mattering includes documentation of a new water treatment prototype designed in collaboration with Dr. Guy Riefler, an environmental engineer from Ohio University. Water samples from variety of watersheds affected by acid mine drainage, historical coal mining tools and photographs as well as three systems theory diagrams developed by spurse make up a provisional archive that addresses the regional ecology as an entangled system that we must become accountable for. A brochure included with the exhibition instructed participants on a number of experiments designed to introduce new practices of thinking/living in the world.