CLEAR aims to change scientific culture. And since art is a form of cultural expression and communication, it can play a role in that change. While there isn’t a prescribed or even centrally planned role of art in CLEAR, artists, filmmakers, photographers, documentarians, and curators have been part of CLEAR activities, and many of our instruments, samples, and pieces of scientific documentation have been curated in art exhibits.

CLEAR Artist in Residence (AIR) program

CLEAR has hosts an Artist in Residence program, which has been disrupted by COVID-19 and travel bans in its inaugural year. However, some artists are choosing to join us virtually.

Past and present CLEAR artists, filmmakers, and designers include:

  • Bojan Fürst was a photographer in residence at CLEAR long before the CLEAR AIR program was started. He created a photographic series entitled How we do science (2016) using participatory curation.
  • Taylor Hess and Noah Hutton of Couple3 Films created a short documentary about CLEAR called GUTS (2019) using a participatory film methodology with the lab. They are working with us again now on a series of protocol films on author order, value selection, and facilitating lab meetings funded by the MEOPAR Knowledge Mobilization Fund (2020-2021)
  • Mukhtara Yusuf is a former CLEAR AIR recipient (2020) who is now a full lab member. They are working on a project with the lab on decolonizing colour: “the histories of colour in Western art and design reveals a field of signification and meaning-making that is not only deeply racialized but has assigned ‘universal’ meaning to what are actually arbitrary signifiers powered by cultural reproduction and given dominance through the hegemony of Western science.”
  • Pam Hall is starting her 2021 residency next week. Stay tuned!

Other artists who have been invited to CLEAR as AIR but have not yet started their residencies include:

CLEAR samples make art

Dr. Max Liboiron has used samples from CLEAR encountered during her bench work to create photographic series, including:

  • Plastic Is Land, 2018, a photographic series of intimate plastic landscapes encountered during laboratory work looking for plastics in the gastrointestinal tracts of animals. 
  • Cod Objects (Ingestion Study), 2016 and Dinner Plates (Northern Fulmar)2015 are series of photos taken of items–plastic and not–found in gastrointestinal tracts showing how scientists have to hone their visual skills to identify pollution and that the difference between a natural and industrial object is not always as obvious as you may think.

Art, Design, and Museum Exhibits

BabyLegs, an piece of open source science hardware developed and used at CLEAR, is part of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s permanent collection after being part of their Nature Design Triennial exhibit in 2019-2020, which was also hosted at the Cube Design Museum, Kerkrade, Netherlands. It’s our fanciest foray into art.

Other exhibits that CLEAR objects have been in include:

  • Ocean Plastics Lab,” an international travelling exhibit that traveled to Lisbon, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and Washington DC, among other places, 2017-2020.
  • “Overflow,” Gallatin Galleries, New York City, NY, 2019.
  • “Plastic Soup,” (permanent exhibition), Canadian Museum of      Nature/ Musée Canadien de la Nature, Ottawa, ON, 2019.
  • “How we do science on permanent plastic pollution,” The Study, Philadelphia, PA, as part of the Anthropocene Campus, 2017.
  • From Outrage to Action,” curated by Keith Miller, Gallatin Galleries, New York City, NY, 2017.
  • Resistance After Nature,” curated by Kendra Sullivan and Dylan Gauthier. Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College, Haverford, PA, 2016.
  • “Emergent Ecologies,” curated by Eben Kirksey, Lissette Olivares, Grace Glovier, Cody Kohn, Kayli Marshall, Greg Umali, and Alexandra Palocz. Kilroy Metal Ceiling, New York City, NY, 2016.
  • “Ethnography in the Expanded Field,” organized by Barbara Adams, Scott Brown, and John Bruce. Curated by Xavier Acarin. Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought, New York City, NY, 2016.
  • “Plastic GYRE,” traveling exhibition of science and art on marine plastic pollution, including to the David J. Spencer Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Museum, Atlanta & the Anchorage Museum, Alaska, 2014-2015.