DISSONANCE

During the fall of 2017, the community of Woods Hole, Cape Cod, USA came together for a performance-based art intervention intended to embody some of the psychological barriers of addressing climate change and to acknowledge the emotions that many of us are experiencing, because of the overwhelming scale of the crisis.    

Film and photography shared here are inspired by that gathering.
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The Artists

In the fall of 2017, American visual artist Heather Theresa Clark presented DISSONANCE with The Yard, as a one-hour live performance-based art intervention off the coast of Cape Cod to an audience on shore.  To create DISSONANCE, Clark teamed up with The Yard’s resident dance collective, Dance the Yard, who choreographed this original piece; photographer & conceptual artist Gretjen Helene; musician Christen Lien; cinematographers Daniel Cojanu and Scott Jansson; and over 50 volunteers who desire action on climate change.  Clark originally conceived of the piece, while artist-in-residence at Woods Hole Research Center, which is ranked the world's leading climate change think tank.

Photography and film, produced in collaboration with Gretjen Helene, is a new body of work that has grown from this performance-based art intervention.  The photographs and film are a result of this collaboration to produce a stand-alone conceptual photographic piece that exists beyond the live event. They hope to stimulate conversation around the climate crisis, our struggles, our reliances and the greater possibilities that exist. 

Artist Heather Theresa Clark

Heather Theresa Clark utilizes art, architecture, and public interventions to catalyze built environments that power themselves, cleanse themselves, transform waste, provide wildlife habitat, produce food, and enhance the lives of people. Through her art, she demonstrates how present reality is not a given and can be crafted to make life more fulfilling. As founder of Biome Studio, art is her tool to shift the paradigm of everyday life.

The Yard & DanceTheYard

DanceTheYard (DTY) is Martha's Vineyard's award-winning dance center The Yard's resident dance collective. DTY is comprised of professionals living on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York City, and each member has become a part of The Yard’s greater service mission : working together to present performances for the public, participating in educational residencies and dance making programs for children and adults, along with other community based events around Martha’s Vineyard .

Gretjen Helene

Gretjen Helene is an American Visual Artist who primarily works in Photography and Integrated Media. Her work spans many visual based mediums as well as sculpture, new media, interactive installation, curation and fine art photography.  Her interest lies in increasing awareness of important issues that face our community and humanity today. While collaborating on Artistic interactive installations that ask viewers to contemplate alternative realities she also works as a Professional Photographer for non-profit organizations in order to generate marketing and promotional materials that will enhance the Rights, Skills and Enjoyments deserved by all, but underserved to many. www.gretjenhelene.com

Musician Christen Lien

Christen Lien’s provocative compositions, hypnotic performance style, and entrepreneurial business approach all reflect her passion for challenging the status quo. Through her art she seeks to support her fans to process the complex and oftentimes dark emotions that oppress individual potential and hold back collective power.

Team

Although orchestrated by Artist Heather Theresa Clark, DISSONANCE is a true a community effort, supported by over 50 volunteers, including all the artistic contributors, who desire immediate action on climate change.  Clark teamed up with The Yard’s resident dance collective, Dance the Yard, who choreographed this original piece; photographer & conceptual artist Gretjen Helene; musician Christen Lien; cinematographers Daniel Cojanu and Scott Jansson.  It is supported by the generous donations of design services and safety consulting by architect Chris Warner, engineer Ben Brungraber of Fire Tower Engineered Timber, Mike Collyer of Marine Safety Consultants, Inc., and Peter Bumpus.  Chip Shultz of WS Shultz generously donated use of his barge and Matthew Bumpus, an employee of WS Shultz, along with other crew members, provided assistance.  South Mountain has donated stage construction and NORDIC Structures, Bensonwood, and Specialty Builders Supply has donated green materials.  The Valle Group provided stage deconstruction and material re-purposing.  All materials used in the construction of this project have been reused for other projects.  Gretjen Helene is lead photographer and John Schade and Sarah Butler Peck are assistant photographers.  Daniel Cojanu of UnderCurrent Productions provided cinematography.  Scott Jansson provided cinematography and drone operation. Daniel Wyland provided video editing.  Marine Biological Laboratory provided access to Woods Hole Waterfront Park and A/V support.

Interpretation

DISSONANCE was originally conceived by visual artist Heather Theresa Clark, while artist-in-residence at Woods Hole Research Center, ranked the world’s leading climate change think tank.   The piece emerged from the unsettling emotion Clark experienced while interviewing over 20 climate scientists at WHRC and other leading science institutions on Cape Cod.  During the interviews, her world view shifted and she felt pained by the climate data that measures and forecasts our climate crisis - the effects on humans and nature are catastrophic.  However, in parallel to the interviews, she was enjoying an exquisite summer with family and friends on the beaches of Cape Cod.  With a team of collaborators, including photographer/conceptual artist  Gretjen Helene, she transferred the experience of cognitive dissonance into the work’s visual cues.  How could climate change be happening in a landscape that looks this pleasant? 

In DISSONANCE, dancers are confined to a platform that appears suspended from a marine crane.  Dwarfed by the crane and the scale of the barge at sea, identically clad dancers become small and anonymous.  DISSONANCE embodies the psychological barriers of addressing climate change and the emotions that many of us experience, because of the overwhelming scale of the crisis - troubled that our fossil fuel-based economy could be permanent, yet yearning for solutions.

Dancers are rowed to a barge at sea, where they are overshadowed by its industrial limitations (framed and staged by the marine construction barge, crane, platform, and cables). They move within a system they cannot control.  The actors have accepted the constraints of old industry and consented to its limitations, despite the broader possibilities that are available from their surrounding environment (wind, water, sun).  If we look closely, we see the dancers’ individuality, relationships, emotions, and humanity.  The dancers are vulnerable humans existing, interacting, and shifting balance according to the structure of industry that holds them up.  Dories that transport the dancers to and from the barge serve to remind us that the objects we use in daily life for entertainment and enjoyment are elsewhere being used in survival emergencies, as climate change takes effect on our world.

While the dancers are trapped within the confines of their situation, Clark hopes that we are not.  “DISSONANCE is meant to signal some answers to climate change – physicality, art, science, exploration, and the beauty of humanity and nature, which is worth preserving.”  While an artist-in-residence at WHRC, in addition to learning about the science, Clark also became aware of real solutions to stabilize the climate crisis.  Although not directly referenced in DISSONANCE, Clark says “There is opportunity to reinvent the places where we live to power themselves, cleanse themselves, transform waste, provide wildlife habitat, produce food, and enhance the lives of people.”

Since the original performance, the work has grown through a collaboration on photography and film with Gretjen Helene to produce a stand-alone conceptual photographic piece that exists beyond the live event. They hope to stimulate conversation around the climate crisis, our struggles, our reliances and the greater possibilities that exist. “These large-scale scenes can serve to stir the emotions around climate change on a visceral level by demonstrating the relationship between humans and the industries we depend on, and delivering a view of humanity struggling on a tipping, swinging, unbalanced structure,” says Helene.

Sponsors

This project is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors.

Special thanks to Woods Hole Research Center for hosting Heather Theresa Clark's artist's residency.

Special thanks to Chip Shultz and W.S. Shultz Co. for donating use of the barge and helping us realize this project.

Platinum

http://nordic.ca/

Nordic Structures is a company dedicated to engineered wood products for the construction industry. Our solutions are tailor made for tomorrow’s school, commercial, industrial, infrastructure, institutional, multiresidential, recreational, and residential projects.

www.southmountain.com

South Mountain Company is a fully integrated architecture, engineering, building, and renewable energy firm. South Mountain Company is committed to a Triple Bottom Line, which means that people, planet, and profit are all equally important to us – balancing profits with environmental restoration, social justice, and community engagement.
 

http://wsshultzco.com/

The W. S. Shultz Company in Woods Hole.  Supplying pier, seawall, dredging and underwater construction for commercial and private marine projects.

Gold

Chris Warner Architect

Chris Warner is an architect and sailor from Woods Hole, where he works from a home that he shares with his family. In the summer, they have a houseboat on Great Harbor, where, although not continuously, Chris has lived on a range of floating houses since 1980. A long term goal is to demonstrate the viability and need for a place in building codes for floating foundations in areas prone to flooding, so homes can be places of refuge that safely rise up when water levels surge, rather than create victims forced to evacuate and rebuild, or abandon.

http://www.ftet.biz/

Bringing a modern perspective to a time-honored craft, Fire Tower is an enterprising firm specializing in the engineering and design of timber structures, including light lumber, heavy and curved timber, timber frame and post & beam structures. Founded in 2006 by Ben Brungraber and Mack Magee, Fire Tower has successfully fostered the creation of new and refurbished projects across North America, in the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. 

http://bensonwood.com/

Bensonwood makes sustainable custom buildings and other structures throughout the country.  When approaching residential, commercial or public projects, their beauty, health, comfort, energy efficiency and “seventh generation” durability are the pillars upon which they build.

http://www.marine-safety.biz/

Marine Safety Consultants, Inc., with branch offices in the Northeast, specializes in hull, machinery and cargo surveying, P & I claims management, including personal injury and oil spills Maritime consulting and training.

http://vallegroup.com/

The Valle Group is a family-owned construction company built on a foundation of honesty, integrity and reliability. Our philosophy is to treat all of our clients, vendors, subcontractors and professional colleagues with respect and care. At The Valle Group, we have created a team of people who share our vision and strive every day to promote our core values.

http://www.sbscapecod.com/

Specialty Builders’ Supply is a full service lumber yard providing lumber and building supplies to independent contractors throughout the greater Cape Cod, MA area. Since 2001 our team has been selling quality products to builders looking for the right material at the right price.

https://www.undercurrent-productions.com/

UnderCurrent Productions is a Cape Cod-based creative media company serving scientific, non-profit, and editorial clients. We specialize in sub-surface storytelling: a full spectrum of media services that inspire viewers to look and listen. With decades of experience in video production, photography and journalism, we amplify our clients’ message through each stage of production and distribution. 

www.hamiltoniangallery.com

Dr. Paul So is a physics professor at George Mason University and the co-director of the Center for Neural Dynamics at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study.  So is also the founder of the Hamiltonian Artists in Washington DC, a non-profit art organization with a mission to build the next generation of innovative artists and effective visual art leaders by providing them with professional development opportunities and by advancing their entrepreneurial success. 

http://scottjansson.com/

 Scott Jansson is a freelance director of photography, photographer, and camera operator based in Manhattan, NY.  While his occupation dictates that his primary tool is a camera, at heart he is a storyteller, a philosopher, and a writer. His goal and focus is to capture images that clearly and effectively tell the story wanting to be told while achieving the highest possible cinematic quality.


Peter Bumpus is a marine consultant and ship builder.

Friends

Woods Hole & Climate Change

Woods Hole in Cape Cod, Massachusetts is an especially relevant location for climate change artwork. Woods Hole is home to the Woods Hole Research Center, an independent research institute where scientists investigate the causes and effects of climate change to identify and implement opportunities for conservation, restoration, and economic development around the world. The region is also home to many other top tier scientific institutions - Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, United States Geological Survey, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Woods Hole is situated on the coast, and like other coastal communities, is especially susceptible to sea level rise.  Many artists call Woods Hole home.

Contact

Media Inquiries
heather at biomestudio.com