Slow Rest Week

*Featured image is this sweet old cow named Barbara getting the kind of massage I want right now*

This week flew by! I have been sick and trying to take it easy as much as possible. As a result, I don’t feel like I have made a ton of progress on my thesis. My headspace for most of the week was focused on tentatively discussing the concept of materials with agency, culturally powerful/significant materials, or vibrant matter, with various people in my life and trying to get some feedback and collect a language for this. I am not sure how, but I know I want to connect this to my thesis. There is a good amount of very interesting scholarly work that references it under many different creative names and I think it ties in nicely with environmental symbolic acts. It has been interesting to write and share these posts about thoughts I haven’t thoroughly developed. I am used to sharing a finished project and don’t tend to give my process adequate consideration. It is nice to be able to reflect back on my week and deconstruct what I have been thinking about!

Updates on how my other classes are connecting to Envs 350 and my capstone:
I had a critique on Monday for a peice I struggled with and ended up being sort of unsatisfied with. In my art practice I have been thinking about the binary between inorganic urban spaces and organic beings and how they exist together. Obviously this ties into my interests in Envs, so my non-art classes have been helping me work through some of those half-formed thoughts.

Re-reading Latours Love Your Monsters (after all these years) in preparation for visiting the Envs 160 class ended up bringing some unexpected clarity to some of my questions for this week. In response to Latour’s suggestion that we create more symbiosis between urban, technological spaces and organic, natural spaces, I think it could be interesting to consider ways the line between urban inorganic and organic spaces can be confused and blurred in my art practice.

In Geology 170 we have been learning about aerosols, something I know very little about. I didn’t realize that aerosols were necessary for cloud formation (though this feels like something I should have learned at some point in my 15 years of school). From my understanding of the process, water droplets condense around the tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere. I knew that aerosols offset the warming from CO2 emission, but I didn’t know how much. What is most interesting to me about this on a conceptual level is that aerosols come from both anthropogenic pollution and from oxidized terpenes from pines and isoprene from oak. I was talking to my geology professor Jessica Kleiss about considering this through an artistic lens and she suggested that looking at how aerosols from both organic and inorganic sources offset the warming from climate change could be an interesting way to confuse the perceived goodness of urban vs. natural spaces and forces.

Questions of the week:
How can I acquire the right words to describe my thesis topics and develop a preliminary title?

How do inorganic structures and organic beings exist together and how/why/when do we place value judgements on them respectively?


  1. Sophie, yes!! These are beautiful formations. I love hearing from your artistic mind, and I trust that process will carry forward something conceptually beautiful. Just to provide an outside perspective, finding your questions at a convergence of inorganic/organic, aerosols, and novel thought beyond binaries (your art critique, and Latour) is super interesting to me…and my gut says there’s something there for you (with the inevitable changes/developments brought by time).

  2. To double on Georgia’s comment, this was really insightful to read! I appreciate how you said, “collect a language for this,” and it really rung true for trying to unify information into a concise outcome and I was so interested to read about your geology insights. Your topic reminds me of what we’ve learned in Global Environmental History as well- I’m sure at this point in your independent study you’ve come across this plenty – but some of the readings from “The Craft of Gardens” by Ji Cheng may be an interesting point of departure as studying Chinese gardens have a really interesting way of involving constructing organic and inorganic objects harmoniously to capture a specific sort of emotion.

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