Settling In | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Settling In

By Tami Spector
Early morning, 5:30am, cup of strong PG Tips in hand I step outside Middlebrook D and snap a picture of the landscape, writ-large, with my i-phone. The moon full, or almost full, up above the marine layer covering the pacific, pushing against the green-gold hills. But enough of that -- I start reading an interview between the nature artist Alfio Bonanno and John Grande (JG) for my project on the natural and synthetic in chemistry, underlining and jotting marginalia as I read: traces in the landscape, artifice, nostalgia, estrangement. Then I read: (JG) “You shot a series of photos of every leaf from an elm tree in the backyard of your home … it is a modest yet powerful expression of nature’s versatility and omnipresence”(1), and shift my purview, suddenly SEEING my local landscape: dirt, dandelions, rocks stacked on rocks, tall yellowing grass, scat, little brown spider, orange millipede, roly poly, hummingbirds, swallows, three bouncing rabbits, a squirrel clicking. Two helpless beetles on their backs, legs flailing, trying to right themselves. I turn them over. Late morning, after more black tea, eating and struggling with a paper jam in the Barn I come back to my private plastic chair to read. The weather is shifting, cooling. Later, when all my intellectual abilities are drained, a hike, but for now a puffed up, callisthenic, lizard keeps me company with notions of nature (2). Late afternoon, hiked with Allison, Deborah and Eleni to Stations of Light. I was afraid of the dark. Saw two snakes. Night, a bat in Studio A. 1) Alfio Bonanno and John K. Grande, “In Nature’s Eyes” in Art and Nature Dialogues: Interviews with Environmental Artists, State University of New York Press, 2004, 57. 2) Joachim Schummer, “The Notion of Nature in Chemistry”, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 34, 2003, 705-736.