Water flows in rivers, lakes, streams—and underground. Ann Tarantino will reveal the previously unseen trajectory of water through soil and vegetation growth at a Brazilian nature preserve, thanks to a Fulbright grant that will allow her to spend three months in Brumadinho in spring 2017.
“Water stands at the forefront of global conversations on natural resource and usage vulnerability,” said Tarantino. “In Brazil, the question of water—where it comes from, where it flows, how much there is, and who has access to it—is at the fore of public policy decisions.”
Tarantino, who holds a joint faculty appointment in the Department of Landscape Architecture and the School of Visual Arts, will track and visualize the flow of water through the 360-acre Private Reserve of Natural Heritage (PRNH) on the grounds of the Instituto Inhotim, a sprawling 5,000-acre complex of gardens and contemporary art galleries in southeastern Brazil. Her project will culminate with the production of a site-specific installation crafted from materials found locally at the site as well as LED lights and electroluminescent wire embedded directly within the landscape.
“Part hard data, part experiential record, the work will function as a map of both the site’s geography and how it is experienced,” Tarantino said. “From the water’s movement through the mountainous cerrado to its eventual, inevitable arrival in the lower areas of the PRNH, its path will be written in the landscape by a rich and luminous glow.”
Tarantino previously completed a large-scale, three-dimensional light “drawing,” using electroluminescent wire, at Millbrook Marsh in State College. Other recent, related projects include a site-specific installation at The Contemporary Austin (Austin, Texas), featuring digitally traced and laser-cut drawings of native flora and fauna, and an outdoor video installation, visualizing the trees of Pittsburgh’s prehistoric past, commissioned by the city’s zoo.
“My work sits at the intersection of art and design. In all of my work, I interpret, analyze, and make visible the hidden workings of the natural world and the multiple histories of the landscape,” said Tarantino.
Her installation at Inhotim will be among the first works of art there to be created not only on site, but about and embedded within the site. “Thus far there have been no significant initiatives to explore the ecological or visual relationships between the PRNH and the Instituto,” said Tarantino. “This project will fill a gap in the institution’s programming and translate hard data into a visual language that joins modes of inquiry from the design fields, natural sciences, and the visual arts.”
Photo by Alex Bush