Friday, May 27, 2011

Cool, windy, with a chance of Dreams

"In an object you can tell where the boundaries are, but in the weather it’s impossible to say when something begins or ends."—John Cage, 1981

May 27 conditions, (Weather station at Marriott City Center, Minneapolis)

What: Pierre Huyghe's Wind Chime (after "Dream") transforms the sound environment. Sample its enchanting effect using the player below.
Where: A stand of trees, just north of Spoonbridge and Cherry
Observers: Martha, Renner, Abbie
Date/Time: Installed in mid-May, this work remains on view over the summer months.
Conditions: Cool, windy, and overcast

Above: YouTube media by mostlymark (Recorded August 2009)

The 'dream' in Huyghe's work refers to John Cage's 1948 composition. Use the player below to listen to "Dream" performed by Stephen Drury.

Above: YouTube media by NewMusicXX

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Now you see it, now you don't!

Phenology makes a science of witnessing change. Open Phenology makes a practice of witnessing changes together. And through this practice, we may find ourselves reflecting on notions of ephemerality, locality, and interrelatedness.

My parents participated in the project last Friday. As we set off from FlatPak to survey the scene, I introduced Open Phenology as a project that borrows from science but does not purport to be science. 'Scientific truth' is just one of the project's foci. Other objectives include interaction with the public, awareness of our shared environment/ecology, and learning through sharing knowledge and skills.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, courtesy J Jongsma's Flickr photostream
Speaking of skills, having my parents as participants meant I could tap into their ornithological expertise. When I mentioned seeing Kinglets at Loring Park on May 3, my dad said they'd be gone by now, but we can look forward to their passing through again in the fall. (Click the image below to enlarge a graph representing Ruby-crowned Kinglet sightings in Hennepin County throughout the year.)

e-Bird histogram data for Ruby-crowned Kinglet observations in Hennepin County (2007-2011)
There's an intrinsic delight in noticing the ephemeral and being in the right place at the right time. I look forward to sharing this experience with members of the public this summer. If you're a person who hopes to find yourself in the right place at the right time, join Open Phenology by being at the FlatPak House on Fridays at 10 am.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cast-off catkins

Tree trunks, catkins (click to enlarge)
Catkins (click to enlarge)

What: The grass is littered with catkins, fuzzy flower clusters fallen from the trees. 
Where: South-eastern corner of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden 
Observers: Noticed by Open Phenology participant Martha and photographed by Abbie 
Date/Time: May 20, 2011 at about 10:25 am 
Conditions: Overcast with light rain

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lilacs: A bloom 'midst buds

What: Lilac shrubs just about to flower
Where: Landscaped exterior of 50 Groveland Terrace
Observer: Abbie
Date/Time: May 12, 2011 at 8:50 am
Conditions: Overcast (Raining at 10 am)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Welcome to Open Phenology

Get Involved!
  • How: Show up and be curious.
  • When: Fridays at 10 am, May 13September 2, 2011 (Duration ranges 10–45 minutes and depends on conditions.)
  • Where: Start at FlatPak House (in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden) and meander the area in free-form exploration. (Latecomers, catch-as-catch-can.)
  • What: Weekly wildlife surveys consist of looking, listening, hypothesizing, documenting, conversing, and surely more...
  • More: Optional tools (bring your own) include binoculars, sun screen, field guides, a notebook and pencil, and weather-appropriate attire.
  • Even More: Comment on this blog to ask questions and share observations.
What is Phenology? Phenology is the discipline of recording and studying life cycle events as they play out through seasonal and interannual variations. It is making a science of witnessing change.

What is Open Phenology? Open Phenology is an experiential and experimental project dedicated to observing (mostly) natural phenomena as they occur in the Walker Art Center's vicinity. Everyone is welcome to participate.

Project Intentions and Background
While Open Phenology borrows certain schema, methodology, and motivation from science, I am shaping it to be a creative pursuit. Expect an approach that is highly subjective, intentionally non-authoritative and at times whimsical, with built-in opportunities for public participation and spontaneity. Open Phenology's goals include:
  • Engaging the public in collaborative experiences through the fact of shared focus and pursuit
  • Increasing awareness of (and reverence for) wildlife in an urban setting
  • Empowering participants to develop the skills of a naturalist
Open Phenology's virtual domain is this blog, its physical home base is FlatPak House, and its geographic focus is the Walker Art Center's campus and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Open Phenology is an experience designed to inform my investigation into citizen science. This intellectual exercise exists under the auspices of Field Office, a summer endeavor coinciding with Walker Open Field that encourages the Walker's Education & Community Programs staff to conduct independent research.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Buds promise a shady future

Photo by Kristina
Photo by Kristina
What: New buds appear on locust trees' branches and trunks 
Where: The Grove (near the Walker's entrance at Vineland Place)
Observers: Abbie, Adrienne, Christina, and Kristina
Date/Time: May 10, 2011 at mid-day