The diptych Manicured Field consists of two photographic montages of an initial and end state of the artist's work “Growth Pattern”. In “Growth Pattern”, a living natural system takes on the form of a manufactured pattern. Tobacco leaves are die-cut from a digital file into a bilaterally symmetrical pattern and suspended in tiling square petri dishes that contain the nutrients necessary to promote new leaf growth. Since the tiles are self-contained ecosystems, several precautions were taken to make sure that, when the leaves were placed into the tiles, they were thoroughly decontaminated and sterilized. However, as with any experiment, it is possible for contamination to occur. In some, the tissue dies; in others, parasites take over and grow faster than the new leaves. In some tiles, aseptic conditions are achieved and new shoots begin to sprout from the original pattern.
Over time, this work creates a generative image and in time-lapse creates an animation. However, it is a very "analogue" animation. Each “pixel” is a petri dish and the movement and change happening in each tile is occurring because of the algorithms in the cells of the tissue and surrounding micro-organisms rather than the simulative algorithms one might program onto a digital animation. The image it generates changes and though the range of possible states of each tile is abstractly known, the final outcome of the work is always open to indeterminate variability. The manipulation of the leaves causes potential for parasitic growth, the sterilization process can also kill the tissue, and in the end all of the tiles eventually decay as their nutrient supplies diminish.
In the digital photographic montages, we see a post-processed photograph of 64-tiles at beginning and end state of their life cycle. These montages were created from documentation of the living installation when it was presented at Laboral in Gijon, Spain for the show “When Process Becomes Paradigm” curated by Susanne Jaschko and Lucas Evers.
Allison Kudla is an American artist who is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. She holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2002. She is also a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). In her most recent projects, she has been exploring the combination of patterns, fabrication technologies and plant tissue culturing to make living installations. Her work The Search for Luminosity was published in “Art + Science Now” by Stephen Wilson. Most recently, she received an Honorary Mention in Hybrid Arts at Ars Electronica 2010 for her work capacity for (urban eden, human error). The same work also received an Honorary Mention in the Vida Competition for Art and Artificial Life. Her work Growth Pattern was included in the group shows ”Alter Nature: We Can” at Z33 in Belgium and “When Process Becomes Paradigm” at Laboral Centro de Arte y Creacion Industrial in Spain. She is showing at Kapelica Gallery in Slovenia in 2011, and actively shows her works at Gallery BMB in Mumbai, India.