Amazonia: art meets science to celebrate Amazon's biodiversity

For environmentalists, scientists, and even celebrities, the Amazon rainforest has served as a vivid symbol of ecological and social degradation created by rapid global development. Artists Lucy and Jorge Orta traveled Peru in 2009 to see this environment for themselves in 2009, as well as to assist scientists in data collection. Their experience with the region’s biodiversity inspired them (of course); the Natural History Museum in London commissioned them to work with this inspiration, and is now has the resulting work on display.

Their exhibit, Amazonia, attempts to blend the aesthetic beauty of the region with scientific data about the plight of many plant and animal species of the rainforest. Among the multimedia works on display:

  • Amazonia Expedition Sketchbook – artists’ record of impressions from their journey, with graphics.
  • Madre de Dios – Fluvial Intervention Unit – 5m-long pirogue (flat-bottomed) boat sculpture with 100s of tiny creatures.
  • Perpetual Amazonia – interactive installation featuring plant and flower images each representing a designated area of the rainforest’s Manú Biosphere Reserve.
  • Bone Variations – large-scale aluminium sculptures modelled on fossil dinosaur bones from the Museum’s collections.
  • Amazonia – 2-screen video projection with images and sounds from the expedition, accompanied by a poem narrated by eco poet Mario Petrucci (selections shown above)

The Orta’s purpose goes beyond mere education: Lucy told The Ecologist “We’re concerned with how far the artwork can function, activate and be activist, and move important issues forward.” The exhibit doesn’t just display the work, but also presents opportunities for visitors to contribute towards the preservation of species illustrated.

The exhibit runs through December 12th; if you’ve not going to be in London to see it, check out the slideshow galley at The Ecologist. If you are going to get to see Amazonia (or already have), let us know what you think…