This multi-media work inspired by work being conducted by the Australian Tropical Herbarium imagines the adaptations required by flora to survive climate change.
Media: Sculpture: timber, acrylic, digital prints, brass, recycled components, magnifying glass and plinth
Dimensions: 155 x 40 x 40 cm
Media: Digital assemblage: Queensland State Archives Item ID1250578 (H275: Flindersia brayleyana, NQ., 1930) with images by artist of Flindersia oppositifolia sapling and digital mount. Digital print.
Dimensions: 76 x 50 x 2 cm
Media: Animation, Single-Channel Video
Duration: 40 sec (looped video)
TRANSplant [becoming Kin] is a three-part work that imagines adaptations that flora may require to survive the ecological upheavals wrought through climate change. The work tells the tale of ten flora refugee species whose tropical mountain home is under threat from rising temperatures. The plants are forced to leave home, travelling through varied landscapes as they search for a place and renewed sense of belonging. This speculative fiction work draws its inspiration from the ‘Tropical Mountain Plant Science Project’, a real-time environmental flora rescue mission led by the Australian Tropical Herbarium.
Atop a plinth sits a device echoing early 20th century archival tools, yet the content points to a future where analogue has been replaced by digital due to its stability and accessibility. The device contains a series of fictitious records: applications for citizenship submitted by specific plant species. Adjacent to the device sits a large digital print – an altered version of a photo originally taken in a North Queensland forest in 1930. It reflects the original; a man standing close to an ancient Flindersia genus tree. In the man’s hands is a young displaced sapling, seeking new roots, conjuring an alternate narrative about resource exploitation and interspecies relationships. The third element of this installation is a projected animation that reveals a mobile plant searching for its kin in the Queensland State Archives.
The work considers the plight of flora as plants uproot and navigate the anthropogenic landscape to find more favourable environments. What might a new paradigm look like where all species are considered as equal and valued life forms, perhaps even global citizens?
The survival strategy woven through TRANSplant [becoming Kin]’s three interconnected elements, references moves already afoot by environmental activists seeking to effect change within our anthropocentric Western legal systems. In 2017, New Zealand’s Whanganui River was granted the same legal status as its human citizens, consistent with other legislative changes in other jurisdictions such as the ACT government’s recognition of animals as sentient beings in 2019.
Artwork was created as part of Queensland State Archives Creative in Residence program 2019 with reference to the Tropical Mountain Plant Science Project; an art/science residency led by the Australian Tropical Herbarium at James Cook University, supported by the Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Proudly supported by the Australian Tropical Herbarium.
Donna Davis is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores intersections between art and science with a particular focus on natural and social ecosystems.