Melding Art and Science at Los Amigos

December 22, 2008

Melding Art and Science at Los AmigosScientists are from Mars and artists are from Venus—right? Not at Los Amigos! This year our flagship station, normally overrun by scientist types, threw open its doors to the right side of the brain via a new resident artist program. Frances Buerkens, a student at Berea College, was our first artist. She spent two months at Los Amigos taking photographs of Amazonian wildlife, people and landscapes. One of her photos, reproduced above in the article on mercury contamination, was published in New Scientist with an article on the devastating effects of mining in tropical forests.

Since then a resident illustrator, Susan Cousineau, and poet, Kelly Egan, have shared the trails with scientists at Los Amigos. One recent afternoon our sweaty researchers returned to camp to find this on the bulletin board: “Poetry reading tonight.” And so instead of hunching over laptops to enter data, that day at sunset we all gathered around a candle in the garden and were treated to the first reading of a poem about life at Los Amigos.

None of this means that we’re losing our lead in science—it means we’re spreading the magic of the Amazon to an ever larger audience. We need herpetologists to write dissertations about those frog calls in the night, but we also need artists to remind us that what we’re hearing out there is music.

(Speaking of music, check out Gordon Ulmer’s jungle sounds dance remix recorded during this researcher-turned-DJ’s stay at CICRA!)