For me art is a way to say things you can’t with any other medium.
I fake science, both by mimicking how scientists work and appropriating the visual language with which scientific research is communicated to a non-expert public. I use methods copied from zoologists, microbiologists, botanists and scientific illustrators to create depictions of plants and creatures that look convincing but are actually fabrications. At times I have done this to subvert or question the authority these depictions are often unquestioningly given, other times in an attempt to borrow from said authority to give my work an aura of significance. One of the ways I have done this is by keeping a laboratory notebook, where I write lab reports for my projects: stating the hypothesis, collecting data and forming conclusions. The term “fabulatory epistemology”, coined by artist and zoologist Louis Bec, is another concept I have embraced to develop systems for creating my own imaginary biological organisms.
I have used a wide range of media in my various pseudo-science visualization, what connects them is that they are all media that are not often associated with “fine art” or used by professional artists. I use materials primarily marketed to children like Crayola Model Magic and Sun Art cyanotype kits to sculpting and making photographic images of my fabulatory creatures. I also use batik and embroidery, fiber techniques that are often marginalized within the Western art canon and given pejorative labels like “craft” or “decorative art”.
I find it interesting to imitate the style of high-tech visualizations like spectrographs and 3D printing through low-tech craft media. Technological advancements in scientific imaging techniques, while invaluable for research purposes, mean that the resulting images are far removed from the scientists’ hands, making them seem completely objective even though they are still being framed and presented by humans incapable of thinking without bias. Although my images may look similar at first glance, they are meticulously made by hand, a way of acknowledging not only my subjectivity as an artist but the inherent subjectivity of all research, even in the hard sciences.
Learn more about Heather Beardsley: http://www.heatherbeardsley.com