Visualizing Biological Abstraction in Nature: An Investigation Into the Occurrence of Deformed Amphibians in Central Ohio
A project by Brandon Ballengée in collaboration with Dr. James Barron, Ohio University Lancaster, and Dr. Stanley Sessions, Hartwick College.
Since 1996, eco-artist Brandon Ballengée has been studying declining populations and deformities in amphibians. These investigations have involved collaborations with numerous researchers throughout the United States. A recent project involved investigating wetlands in central Ohio with Dr. James Barron, Biologist at Ohio University Lancaster. Dr. Barron and Ballengée are both field observers for the United States Geological Survey's North American Reporting Center for Amphibian Malformation (NARCAM). All aspects of the project have been documented and data obtained from their field work has been submitted to NARCAM. All deformed specimens were collected and sent to Dr. Stanley Sessions, Developmental Biologist at Hartwick College, for further examination. Dr. Sessions has conducted extensive research on amphibian limb development and the abnormalities that can occur from parasitic trematode infections. This project will be presented in installation format in the "ecovention" exhibition curated by Amy Lipton and Susan Spaid at the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati from June 21st through August 25th, 2002.
As a component to the "ecovention" exhibition, Dr. Sessions and Ballengée, will be conducting and web-casting an actual laboratory experiment involving mechanical disruption in developing amphibian limb buds. There is a significant amount of information not yet known about amphibian regeneration. Many of the malformations found in the wild can be induced through injuries caused by parasitic infestation. The intention of exhibiting their experiment is not to "shock" or "disgust" the viewer but instead hopefully it will help to inform viewers about the complex growth processes of other living organisms. Also they hope to demonstrate the type of experiments necessary in order to understand what is happening in the environment around us.
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