Requiem for a Drowning Landscape

Joseph Ingoldsby

The artist’s work involves research, scientific collaboration and examination, documentation, and analysis and synthesis using art, science, and technology for environmental advocacy. Trained in art and landscape architecture, the observation of nature and culture has been a central focus of Joseph Ingoldsby over the years.

Landscape Mosaics looks at the pattern of the landscape from satellite imagery to the ground plane, the study of the palette of plants within each ecosystem, the conflicts of development, and fragmentation. Drawings and color studies developed into site installations for highlighting concerns for sensitive landscapes and endangered species. Requiem for a Drowning Landscape traces the life and death of the salt marsh from dormancy, growth, maturation, reproduction, senescence, to death. The gallery space becomes a place for the remembrance, recollection, and retelling through portraits, projections, and narration that describe the life and slow death of the coastal landscape to the rising seas. Anadromous Awakening traces out the return of anadromous fish from the ocean to their natal freshwater streams to spawn in a cyclical celebration of life, death, and rebirth.

Bio: Joseph Ingoldsby is an environmental designer, ecologist, and artist whose work over the past thirty years has sought to understand the interrelationship of geology, hydrology, soils, vegetation, and wildlife within of the natural landscape. His Landscape Mosaic series began as a layered and temporal mapping of visible ecological patterns using satellite, aerial, land-based, and microphotography. A colorful visual ‘mosaic’ of vegetation, earth, and water, changing with the seasons and years, emerged as each geographical area was studied immersively. Colour palettes were explored as narratives of the changes occurring in the landscape with the ongoing impact of development and anthropogenic climate change. The work progressed beyond documentation to specific ‘kinetic colour installations’ set in salt marshes, along tidal rivers, and within sand plains and dunes. These highlighted the patterns of coloration shifting over time, indicating damage and deterioration of the natural ecosystems. The temporary artworks provided opportunities for ‘viewing stations’ along roadways, with on-site education panels, developing public interest and engagement with threatened landscapes and endangered species. Gallery installations linked to these sites included artistic/poetic works and technological installations, using the art/technology to explain the science. Ingoldsby’s art-science projects have been exhibited at major museums including MIT and NYSCI and published in Leonardo, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Orion, and other journals.

Ingoldsby’s artistic oeuvre illuminates how landscape color and pattern can be described in scientific terms to denote chemical composition, health, environmental factors, temperature, salinity, water levels, and stress. His aerial images and studies of the salt marsh along the New England coastline show what is termed ‘salt marsh dieback’, an ecological disaster compounded by rising seas. Ingoldsby’s work is an important and timely call for public participation, understanding, and focus on the anthropogenic impacts affecting vanishing landscapes and endangered species. The artist can play an integral role in the raising of the public consciousness through advocacy. Art can be used to communicate complex ecological and scientific principles to an audience outside of the confines of the academy.