I write to you today, after an embarrassingly extended absence (What can I say, I’ve been busy and creatively uninspired — by which I do not mean uninspired in a creative way, but just plain uninspired), to talk a bit about lawn care. And art. And artful lawn care.
I have a lawn that is varying shades of green, yellow and brown. I would prefer that my lawn be one vivid shade of grassy green, but my inability to pay attention to any lawn care activity for more than five minutes renders me completely incapable of producing anything vaguely reminiscent of that. I suspect this inability to focus and my profound respect for those who are less distracted by shiny objects has a lot to do with the art I’m attracted to. (Yes, I know that should say, “. . .the art to which I am attracted,” but can we agree that’s a bit too stuffy for a blog?)
Earlier I wrote about Cecilia Paredes and Alexa Meade, two artists whose lawns are probably the exactly perfect shade of green. And today, I would like to introduce you to Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, formally known as Ackroyd and Harvey (that name is a bit on the nose, wouldn’t you say). In addition to making art that demonstrates an attention span outstripping my own by several lightyears (OK, I’m not sure what unit of measure is appropriate for attention spans, but I’m fairly certain lightyears isn’t it given that it’s a unit of length, but I’m being lazy here, so just go with it), Ackroyd and Harvey (seriously, it’s a horribly boring name for an art duo) have a certain knack for lawn care that I find enviable.
Admittedly, at first blush this image is unremarkable until you realize that it was created using photosynthesis. Yes, the same photosynthesis you learned about in high school. Or was it grade school? (Sadly, the only thing that comes to mind when I think of photosynthesis is Adam Sandler bellowing, “Chlorophyll? More like borophyll!” in Billy Madison.) In the words of Ackroyd and Harvey, “We are exploring the capacity of grass to record complex photographic images through the production of chlorophyll. The equivalent of the tonal range in a black-and-white photograph is produced in the yellow and green shades of living grass. Although these organic “photographs” are exhibited in a fresh state for a short time, excessive light or lack of it eventually corrupts the visibility of the image.”
The artists created a technique that involves a custom negative, bright lights and specially engineered grass. Evidently, the yellow does not come from the over-zealous use of fertilizer as it does with my lawn. However, seeing what Ackroyd and Harvey have created leaves me with hope that my landscaping failures may somehow produce something worthwhile if not a nice, green lawn.
If any of you have seen any of Ackroyd and Harvey’s work in person, leave a comment. Something tells me these images are much cooler in person.