Closed System (2020)

sculpture/diorama with multichannel video loop

A collaboration with Ian Costello

Set in the confines of a reflective box, Closed System provides the stage for a meandering Ted Talk/lecture on the past and future of progress, tracing natural seed dispersal to 19th century global trade, European colonization, and space travel. Narrated by a nameless man—pale white and business casual—the lecture is delivered with the simultaneous optimism and recklessness of a Silicon Valley executive. His words are bolstered by a cheery soundtrack, but undercut by background footage prodding a more nuanced cynicism toward his flat enthusiasm for relentless expansion. Unfurling before him are a crop of Dwarf Cavendish banana trees, a subspecies of the most prominent banana monoculture today, disease vulnerable yet surviving through the heavy use of pesticides. This work was conceived in part following the launch of SpaceX's privatized Crew Dragon mission on May 30th, 2020, which marked a stark imbalance between events on the ground and the celebrations of those privileged to look skyward.