Zea/Corvus/Homo 1, Phase 1
Holes in the Wall Collective organized a residency/group show of emergent outdoor installations on a retired corn field in New Jerusalem, PA. Artists arrive in consecutive order, living and working on the land for one week. Following the experimental format of the Exquisite Corpus, each artist is asked to reflect on the theme of "Corn," as well as the installations produced prior to their arrival.
The retired corn field has previously been used for monocrop cultivation for multiple years. How does this specific human/nonhuman (corn) relationship affect the soil, and vice versa?
Soil samples from seven sites on the corn field are tested for pH, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). The sites stretch across the field, and mirror the shape of the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) constellation. For many agricultural communities in the northern hemisphere, this constellation has marked the time for planting and harvesting corn. It becomes visible in the night sky in March, and disappears in November.
The sites have varying pH levels, medium - high amounts of P and K, and are all deficient in N. To bring N back to the land, I create feeder/readers to invite birds to perch, eat, and poop (bird feces is rich in N). The feeder/readers are PVC constructions, planted in the land and powered by the earth. A fiber optic tassle protrudes from the top, emitting a color that represents the nutrient quality of the soil of the specific site (white, green, blue). The LED is powered by earth batteries: natural salts in the soil produce a current when an anode and cathode are added. 3 earth battery cells, linked in series, provide enough voltage/amperage to light the LED.
In a corn plant, each strand of silk is attached to a kernel. Pollen fertilizes the individual kernels by traveling through the silk strand-- the sweet corn cob is the fruit produced with sunlight, water, nutrients from the soil, and fertilization through the silk. The feeder/readers pull energy from the earth to project light through the fiber optic silk. They provide N, project information about the soil, and become navigational tools at night.