Artists Statement Sylvan Essence…
Sylvan Essence is an interactive installation exploring the visual, auditory, and olfactory language of the Hoh Rainforest, a temperate rainforest situated on the ancestral lands of the Hoh and Quileute Tribes. Using images, sounds, and scents from the Hoh, Sylvan Essence employs photography, sculpture, sound, and olfactory elements, allowing the viewer to see, hear, and smell the entangled web of relationships and complex conversations that make up the arboreal universe. Drawing from scientific research on plant communication, plant sensing, and tree bioacoustics, this piece coaxes the imagination to think and breathe in attunement with the trees. In this space, the viewer sees images of the forest, smells the fragrance of the moss and the trees, and they hear the sounds of the Hoh.
Guests can walk around and move inside a tree-like photo sculpture, a moss-covered tree trunk on the outside, root structures, and the smell of earth on the inside. Situated here, the viewer can look up at the tree canopy and find a place to rest on a mycelial stool. The mycelia are the “internet” of the forest, a complex fungal network beneath the ground enabling both communication and resource-sharing between trees. While sitting, the viewer can “connect with the connectors.” Here they can be still and listen to the resonant, deep rumble of the tree roots, a unique underground language recorded from a giant mother tree. As a human being ensconced in this reconstructed forest cosmos, the viewer has the opportunity to “become with” a multi-species ecosystem that is non-hierarchical, nurturing, and healing. Here they can contemplate the present moment, but they can also use that moment to re-envision different possible futures using the beauty and logic of the forest.
From a post-anthropocentric viewpoint, the objectification of the non-human, including the plant world, has directly contributed to species devaluation, extraction, and extinction. This dynamic is also tied to intra-human exploitation, as the dehumanization of people of color and environmental destruction are interrelated. As a maker, I use this as an opportunity to reimagine more synergistic systems, proposing a world where multi-species intersectionalism is possible.
Shoshana Fink Biography
I am an interdisciplinary artist focusing on photography, video, sound, olfaction, and installation, whose work is situated at the intersection of visual culture, technology, and ecology. In this context, my work critically reflects on the relationship between living organisms and their environment. Currently, there are two competing human-centered paradigms that dictate how we interrelate: the first emphasizes cooperation, preservation, and stewardship while the second stresses competition, extraction, and exploitation. With the intensification of anthropogenic influences, the question of what and how we are “worlding” together has become an urgent quandary. As such, it is the goal of my practice to explore stories of sympoiesis, or “making-with,” both in human and other-than-human contexts. As art-making provides a transformative network for writing novel narratives, my practice utilizes multiple mediums to mirror not only what is, but also to imagine what can be.
Shoshana Fink grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She studied classical violin for 17 years and completed two years of study at the Manhattan School of Music. She also has a B.A. with honors in anthropology from the University of Chicago and a B.F.A. in media arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Shoshana has over 15 years of experience as a Los Angeles-based film producer and director. During her time in Southern California, she worked on six feature-length documentaries and narratives.
In addition to numerous international screenings, two films she produced, An Injury to One and Who Killed Cock Robin, went to the Sundance Film Festival. From 2012 to 2015, she also worked at Participant Media under Academy-Award-nominated executive producer Diane Weyerman. In 2016, she left Los Angeles, and after a few years of living in Montana, she returned to the Twin Cities in 2018. In 2022,
Shoshana graduated with an M.F.A. in Visual Studies from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a focus on photography, video, sound, olfaction, and installation. She has served as a Teaching Artist in Residence at the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain at the University of Minnesota and as an Art Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.
She is currently adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
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