Observe, Research, Create: Case Studies in Natural History Illustration PhD Projects contributes to current discourse in practice-based research and the long-standing connections between art and science. Contributing researchers communicate the significance of observation, fieldwork and studio practice in contemporary Natural History Illustration (NHI) research through summaries of their PhD research projects.
NHI practice is defined by a working methodology that involves careful observation, interpretation and visual representation of natural world subjects, while employing trans-disciplinary fieldwork and diverse studio practices. While each of the themes and practices of contributors is unique, they each implement a fundamental methodology that is central to the creative outcomes of their research. The resulting visual imagery embodies scholarship, effectively communicates knowledge about the natural world and engages with the broader community. The emphasis placed on academic rigour, the contribution of new knowledge and excellence in illustration in each of these areas places the contributors as leaders in their field.
Immersive Theatre: Engaging the Audience is a collection of essays that look to catalogue the popularization of “immersive” theatre/performance throughout the world; focusing on reviews of works, investigations into specific companies and practices, and the scholarship behind the “role” an audience plays when they are no longer bystanders but integral participants within production. Given the success of companies like Punchdrunk, Dream Think Speak, and Third Rail Projects, as current examples, immersive theatre plays a vital role in defining the theatrical canon for the twenty-first century. Its relatively “modern” and new status makes a collection like this ripe for conversation, inquiry, and discovery in a variety of ways. These immersive experiences engage the academy of “the community” at large, going beyond showcasing prototypical theatre artists. They embrace the collaborative necessity of society and art–helping to define the “stories” we tell and the WAY in which we tell them.
The unique and mystifying camel hair tattoo art practiced in the remote desert of Cholistan, Pakistan is a distinctive blend of art, philosophy, and mysticism. The artists make beautiful motifs by cutting the hairy coat of the camels. This technique involves cutting rough and coarse hair of the camel with scissors in multiple stages to make patterns and symbols covering the entire body of the camel. Later, the hair-tattoo artists adorn the tattooed camels further by applying natural red and black henna dyes to these geometrical and vegetal motifs. The embellishment of these camels pays homage to their beloved Sufi, who stands as their symbol of the Divine mercy. Seeking spiritual enlightenment, the owners bring these beautiful camels with them when visiting the shrines of the Sufis.
This book also explores the roots of the symbols and motifs used in this unknown art. Some of the fascinating discoveries include striking similarities with the motifs of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and prehistoric rock art, pointing to the continuation of the art heritage since times immemorial. These desert pastoralists and nomads, living in isolation in the deprived and pitiable region of Cholistan, carry a rich and abounding heritage and tradition in the form of camel hair tattoo art which the world should know, understand, protect, and promote.
Transdisciplinary projects are messy, complicated, and exhilarating. They stretch collaborators, sometimes uncomfortably, beyond the predictable, expected, and routine. Making public the private tensions of “ordinary” cultural expectations associated with singlehood, marriage, and motherhood, the authors used a kinesthetic analysis of social-science qualitative data to create an evening-length professional dance concert.
Ordinary Wars: Doing Transdisciplinary Research is an exploration of the project, from its inception through its current state. It focuses on providing readers with an understanding of the ways in which working collaboratively on a transdisciplinary project is both incredibly challenging and unpredictably rewarding. Readers are invited “backstage” as we expose our discomfort, missteps, confusion, successes, and lessons learned. We argue that transdisciplinary research is a vehicle for affecting transformative, cultural change.
Art, for Richard Kamler, is active: it does something. What it does may be personal; it is also, in most of Kamler’s work, political, social, often collaborative, and always seeking to engage us as participants. If any statement could encapsulate Richard Kamler’s full and diverse body of work over four decades it would be the assertion that art acts as a corrective to that failure of imagination declared by Robert McNamara that caused the tragic wars of the 20th century. What art does is provide a vision, an opening, the potential for a real transformation—not just of consciousness, but in the words of Kamler’s early mentor Frederick Kiesler, “With art we can change the laws of the world.” And with steady conviction Richard Kamler’s art rouses us to see beyond our conditioned reactions—to challenge apparently unbendable realities with the possibility: imagine how it could be different. What if Picasso had painted Guernica before the bombs fell? The works in this retrospective volume span Richard Kamler’s productive career, ranging from Out of Holocaust (1976), a full-size reconstruction of a barracks from Auschwitz, to the Table of Voices (1996–2013), installed on Alcatraz Island and traveling throughout the United States, to Seeing Peace (2002–present), a continent-spanning collaboration with international artists and the United Nations, to The Tower of Babel (in progress), which explores the origins of language and proposes building a literal tower at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
"Conscience, vision, play. All collaborate in Richard Kamler's unique conceptual art. His goal is process; all his work is in process, a process that continues in the awakening observer and her life thereafter. His goal is community, engaging antagonistic groups in shared experiment. A Table of Voices invites visitors to take the seat of a prisoner and listen to the recorded voice of a victim, or to sit in the victim's seat to hear the perpetrator's story. A piece commissioned by a New Haven synagogue invites Muslim to break bread with Jew over a tablecloth which interweaves strips of Koranic and Talmudic texts. (The synagogue rejected the finished product.) Kamler's tables offer confrontation and fresh nourishment. He goes beyond tables, by inviting artists around the world to paint their vision of peace on billboards, for example, or by planting metal silhouettes of bison on the grounds of a San Francisco prison. His work is “an ongoing act of tikkun olam, the Hebrew phrase for the effort to heal the world,” as Mark Van Proyen, the editor of Seeking Engagement: The Art of Richard Kamler, puts it.
-Bell Gale Chevigny
[Editor, Doing Time, 25 Years of Prison Writing, A PEN American Center Anthology]"