Kathy Hinde

… of which we are part… : 2022

An installation created for East Quay in Watchet, Somerset, exploring the symbiotic nature of lichens and their use as bioindicators. Symbiosis is the biological interaction between two different organisms or species that mutually benefit from one another. Lichen, which have a staggering ability to withstand extreme conditions, are composed of fungi and algae species living together. I collaborated with local lichenologist, Pat Wolseley, to investigate lichens, including learning about how they can act as bio indicators to tell us about the conditions of the air around us.

Focusing on circular systems and the inevitable entanglement of organic and inorganic matter, the installation centres on a series of 16mm film loops created by exposing lichen directly onto film, developed with plant-based recipes and played back on customised projectors that respond to live air quality data.

In consultation with scientist Ana Castro-Castellon, I also explored the possibilities of phytoremediation, which is a process whereby plants are used to remove or reduce pollutants in soil or water systems. Marigolds have an ability to extract metallic compounds to neutralise harmful materials – and could remove silver residues from photo emulsion. Through a further collaboration with digital artist Matthew Olden, the film projections respond (as lichen do) to live air quality data by shifting in speed and intensity accompanied by a soundtrack generated by customised synthesisers responding to data gathered from the marigolds. The air quality sensor we installed is contributing to a global citizen science survey. The East Quay sensor can be monitored here.

With the prospect of an uncertain future due to climate change, I invite the viewers to consider new ways we might work together with other species to build resilient and symbiotic communities.

Commissioned by East Quay for group exhibition ‘Better Than This’ 2022

Synth sound design and programming by Matthew Olden