Gwenyth Chao, Artist – Vancouver
Gwenyth Chao’s practice invokes composting as a metaphor-process-material to reimagine bodies and worlds that may emerge in potential futures. Her experiments speculate that the next materials – for sustenance, building, and creative endeavors – will be made of reconstituted debris. Researching food-refuse-turned-biomaterial, the ingestibility of Chao’s sculptural installations gestures to her way of sense-making with a convalescing body in this time of ecological crises. Chao transplants thinking processes, misuses making techniques, and retrofits tools from gastronomy cooking, ceramic coil building, 3D printing, food science, pastry cake decorating, and polymer chemistry among others. Her transdisciplinary process explores the possibilities for a necessarily emergent practice to be informed by an ecological awareness.
- Tide pooling
I cannot help but be fascinated by the ecosystems the receding tide reveals and then conceals continuously. I can spend hours watching these pockets of water and the bodies within. Or until the tide chases me away.
I view bodies as interstitial processes, sites, and systems. Organized clumps of matter. Thinking through compost piles, these porous boundaries become more palpable as bodies emerge and decay, break down, and regenerate. I relate to this sense of impermanence as my biomaterial sculptures in the symbionts of capitalist ruin series are bodies in processes of becoming. Half-devoured by their ecologies, these bodies symbiotically entangle with what is within reach and bodies that are microworlds for other bodies.
- Electromyography (EMG)
I underwent this test for a nerve injury where needles are inserted and the EMG measures muscle response through electrical activity. I can’t stop thinking back to how a still and silent body (at rest) has active electrical activity that can be heard.
I didn’t truly understand how scale can change perspectives until Dr. James Scott and I played with putting some of my biomaterials under the microscope. Specks become worlds and lint becomes bodily. From entomopathogenic fungi to hyphae growth, thank you, James, for giving me so much to think about.
- Atlas of Entomopathogenic Fungi
It is uncanny how the scientific illustrations in this book and my drawings of non-existent bodies speak to each other. This book inspires my reworlding and feeds my curiosity for the symbiotic and body altering relationships that exist between mushrooms and insects IRL.