Observation and Notation
Throughout history, both scientists and artists have used field journals to note their observations of the natural world and develop their ideas. Building on this history and my own experience, I have developed and taught a variety of classes and workshops on the art of observation and the field journal as it relates to scientific research and artistic practice. I teach these classes to students of all ages in conjunction with institutions that include Storm King Art Center, Black Rock Forest Research Consortium, and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Because the classes focus on developing observational skills through creative field notations, the form is flexible and may be transformed to fit a variety of times, age ranges, and locations. I believe that keen observational skills are fundamental building blocks in the development of resonant artistic and scientific work. Contact me if you would like me to come teach at your institution or create a tailored field workshop.
Storm King Art Center.
The Art of Scientific Observation
Throughout history, both scientists and artists have used field journals to note their observations of the natural world and develop their ideas. Effective visual and written notation requires keen observational skills, and the practice of creative recording in journals can engage and develop critical and lateral thinking capabilities. Weaving together science and art, The Art of Scientific Observation offers students a unique opportunity to combine field ecology and artistic practice. Focusing on daily explorations of plant and animal life, as well as the sculpture and landscape architecture of Storm King Art Center, students learn about observational and notational methods through creative journal making. We will engage with a variety of techniques including sketching, collaging, and writing. Each student finishes the week having created his or her own experimental field journal.
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.
Ecology and the Art of Scientific Observation
Weaving together science and art, this class offers students a unique opportunity to combine field ecology and artistic practice as they investigate the 2000 acres of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Through guided explorations of the Institute’s forests, fields, and wetlands, and in-depth engagement with artists and scientists and their research projects, the class introduces students to a variety of observational and notational methods that are applicable to inter-disciplinary thinking and innovation. The practice of recording and experimenting in journals engages and develops lateral thinking capabilities that serve students in a variety of academic capacities.
During the week, students will create visually layered experimental field journals, and engage in site-specific art creation based on scientific research. Students experiment with a number of techniques including data visualization, sketching, collaging, writing, and critical questioning that make the process of notation compelling, creative, and highly enjoyable.