Umwelten – eco-fields & other universes

14–31 August 2019
Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne

These works outline the profile of the human skull to encircle and contain what might be imagined as non-human worlds at either a micro or macro level. They are speculations on the possibilities for different modes of existence or intelligence, and other habitats or universes beyond our sensorium. For example, the collective thought processes of bees have long been studied in the context of relationships to human political and social organization.

In 1909, the biologist Jakob von Uexküll introduced the concept of the umwelt to describe the small subset of the world which an animal is able to detect; its particular sensed and perceived environment.

Umwelt expresses a simple but often overlooked observation: different animals in the same ecosystem tune in to different environmental signals which are fundamental to their communication and signification. While we accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented, so much goes undetected in our lives. Would a heightened awareness of this endow us with the humility to preserve planet Earth's biodiversity for all living things?

Referencing art history, biology, astronomy and philosophy, these speculative works suggest an interplay between the world of the senses, remote sensing and unseen signs, and networks of connections beyond the human sensorium. They map an eco-field of the imagination suggesting other possible universes.

Felicity Spear 2019

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