Mesocosm (Wink, Texas)

Mesocosm (Wink, Texas) (2012)
Software-driven animation, color, sound
Custom software, computer
Code design: Veronique Brossier
Animation assistance: Michelle Mayer
Occasional sound: Lem Jay Ignacio
Edition 1/5

Mesocosm (Wink, Texas)—the feature, large-scale video installation in Necrocracy—is part of an ongoing series of animated landscapes that develop and change over time in response to software-driven data inputs. The title is drawn from the field of environmental science and refers to experimental, simulated ecosystems, which allow for manipulation of the physical environment and are used for biological, community, and ecological research. They are drawn by hand, frame-by-frame, yet their choreographies are dynamic—not predetermined or canned—dictated by constraints in real-time. Each of the works in Mesocosm is long in duration and recombines perpetually as inputs determine order, density, and interrelationships. They are looped, and have no beginning or end. Because change happens slowly, but can be radical over time, the works are intended to be seen in public places where people gather or pass through frequently, or lived with like a painting—in living rooms and meeting spaces.

Wink, Texas is the most recent landscape to be animated as part of this Mesocosm series. In the animation, a large sinkhole— the “Wink Sink 2” located on private oil company property in the small Texas town of Wink—boils, gushes, flows and expels objects: plastic bags, oil and dark clouds that whirl out of the sinkhole’s vortex in ghostly choreography. Oil refineries burn off gases in plumes in the background as an occasional train or coyote lumbers past. This sinkhole has been widening steadily since it emerged in 2002; here, it appears as a natural geological event, complete with picnic rest stop furnishings. By day, the landscape is inhabited by a diversity of bird life, prairie dogs, insects, pronghorn antelope, HazMat workers and—depending on the season—by migrating monarch butterflies, snakes and sandhill cranes.

Click here for online version.

Photo: Mark Francis




The Thirsty Bird

The Thirsty Bird (2012)
Two-channel animation, black and white, silent
5 min,12 sec loop
Animation assistance: Lindsay Nordell
Edition 1/5

The movement of a pump jack (known colloquially as a “thirsty bird”), and a public water fountain are synchronized in a delicate dance. As the pump pulls oil upward, the water fountain spurts water. An array of archetypal individuals—cowboys and Indians, a father and his son, a county sheriff, a cow, a soldier, a girl with her dog—emerge in endless succession to drink from the fountain. The graphic treatment is based on Gerd Arntz’ ISOTYPE (International System Of Typographic Picture Education), developed with Viennese social scientist and philosopher Otto Neurath (1882-1945) as a method for visual statistics.


Photo: Mark Francis





Hydrocarbons (2012)
Single-channel animation, color, sound
2 min 32 sec loop
Edition 1/5

Extracting and manipulating a clip from The Inside Story of Modern Gasoline an industrial film (1949), endless chains of anthropomorphized hydrocarbon molecules dance until they blot out the screen. Hydrocarbon chains are the base material for all plastics. They know not what they become, they simply proliferate. Hydrocarbons are indeed dispassionately lively actors, taking an indiscriminate variety of forms: they may be rotting garbage, they may be gasoline, they may be corpses; all energy and potential.  


Photo: Mark Francis


NeoGeo I - IV

Photo: Mark Francis

NeoGeo I - IV (2012)
Marina Zurkow in collaboration with Daniel Shiffman
Processing development: Dan Shiffman
Single-channel animation, color, silent
Unique Qucktime renders of Processing sketches, custom computers, speedrail, mirror
12 minutes each
Technical Assistance: Paul Paradiso

NeoGeo I-IV is a series of unique12-minute Quicktime renders of algorithmic, moving image work created in Processing. They visually represent the work of an oil drill as it penetrates through an infinite series of geological layers, which auto-generate continually based on pre-programmed computerized parameters. These videos are mounted and hung from the ceiling, each with a mirrored shadowbox that creates the illusion that the video image is replicated an infinite number of times.

The environment is composed of tiny bits of hand-drawn rock, created in code, and activated by rules of physics and the formation of strata; rules affect the density and behaviors of the strata, as well as the possible location of hydrocarbon particles, all of which come into contact with a drill bit. Cap rock (salt and shale) form barriers under which hydrocarbon particles accumulate. An oil “gush” occurs if conditions are right. NeoGeo visualizes the density and graphical, mutating formations of rock, as well as the liquidity of the earth over unfathomably long periods of time.


Photo: Paul Hester


HazMat Suits for Children

Photos: Marina Zurkow

HazMat Suits for Children (2012)
Tychem® TK fabric, acrylic , Velcro, rubber, mannekin
Fabrication : Lara Grant
Tychem® TK fabric courtesy of DuPont(tm)
Approx 45” tall
Edition of 5 suits

Dupont’s patented Tychem hazardous materials clean-up suits are used in petroleum industry disaster response to mitigate ecological disasters. These suits have been re-scaled to outfit them for children. These suits are sealed to prevent humansfrom entering them, thus assuring that no children are harmed in the process.



The Petroleum Manga

Photos: Mark Francis

The Petroleum Manga (2012)
50 banners
Solvent ink on Tyvek
Dimensions variable
Research:  Miriam Simun
Drawings assistance: Ellen Anne Burtner
Printing: Vista CRC Lab, NY

Originally, manga was used in Japanese to refer to “whimsical drawings” or picture books. For The Petroleum Manga, the organization of this “picture book” on oil is drawn from Hokusai’s thirteen volume manga, depicting everything from trees to demons, from squirrels to shingles. Each Petroleum Manga banner represents items made out of a specific petrochemical: PET, PVC, HDPE, PMMA, polystyrene, polyurethane, ammonia, nylon, parrafin and more. These heroic banner-size drawings on Tyvek divide up the gallery space into a labrynthine maze, with their images of oil-derived products: garbage bags, water guns, plastic chickens, balloons, food containers, credit cards and more. 




In additon Diverseworks housed a collateral materials lab for Necrocracy, including a library, video interviews, movie clips, a blog, and a web survey to get visitors' views on petroleum, as a space for further engagement around issues of oil and landscape.


Photos: Mark Francis

Text by John Pluecker