Marina Zurkow, ‘Mesocosm (Wink, TX)’, 2012, bitforms gallery

"Mesocosm (Wink, Texas)" —the feature, large-scale video installation in Necrocracy—is part of an ongoing series of animated landscapes that develop and change over time in response to software-driven data inputs. The title is drawn from the field of environmental science and refers to experimental, simulated ecosystems, which allow for manipulation of the physical environment and are used for biological, community, and ecological research. They are drawn by hand, frame-by-frame, yet their choreographies are dynamic—not predetermined or canned—dictated by constraints in real-time. Each of the works in Mesocosm is long in duration and recombines perpetually as inputs determine order, density, and interrelationships. They are looped, and have no beginning or end. Because change happens slowly, but can be radical over time, the works are intended to be seen in public places where people gather or pass through frequently, or lived with like a painting—in living rooms and meeting spaces.

Wink, Texas is the most recent landscape to be animated as part of this Mesocosm series. In the animation, a large sinkhole— the “Wink Sink 2” located on located on private oil company property in the small Texas town of Wink—boils, gushes, flows and expels objects: plastic bags, oil and dark clouds that whirl out of the sinkhole’s vortex in ghostly choreography. Oil refineries burn off gases in plumes in the background as an occasional train or coyote lumbers past. This sinkhole has been widening steadily since it emerged in 2002; here, it appears as a natural geological event, complete with picnic rest stop furnishings. By day, the landscape is inhabited by a diversity of bird life, prairie dogs, insects, pronghorn antelope, HazMat workers and—depending on the season—by migrating monarch butterflies, snakes and sandhill cranes.

Series: Mesocosm

Diverseworks Art Space, Houston, TX

About Marina Zurkow

New media artist Marina Zurkow creates research-based animated films that explore the subject of human relations with animals, plants, weather, and the media cultures that develop around these themes. “My work is about the networked stories we tell ourselves about our place in the larger world, the interwoven and often conflicted threads of this, and how these are represented in mediated form,” Zurkow says. In response to online viewing behaviors—particularly the short attention spans of online audiences—Zurkow makes layered psychological narratives that have neither continuous thread, nor beginning or end. Zurkow creates many of the images used in her films by hand, as in Mesocosm (Northumberland UK) (2011), a 146-hour film about a yearlong cycle of life in the moors of northern England, involving weather phenomena and a cast of 150 characters—an investigation of the nature of human relationships with changing landscapes.

American, b. 1962, New York, New York, based in Brooklyn, New York