Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) Field Station / Micro-sampling site series (2013)
Micro-sampling sites 001, 002, 003, 005, 008, 009, 013 & 015, 2013 (”The Dig: Marissa Lee Benedict, Nina Barnett and Allison Rowe,“ Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL);18” x 24”; UV board photo print on plywood, sulfuric acid
A series of 10 photos printed onto plywood; the images are representations/re-presentations of 10 sites at ACRE (a residency in Steuben, Wisconsin) from which soil samples were excavated to construct a large-scale microbial fuel cell. The holes are re-dug into the plywood surface via sulfuric acid; the acid slowly continues to burrow the holes deeper into the plywood surface throughout the life of the work.
Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) Field Station, 2013 (”The Dig: Marissa Lee Benedict, Nina Barnett and Allison Rowe,“ Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL); 30 “ x 48 “ x 60 “; Microbial Fuel Cells (glass jars; dirt, sand, soil, wood chips, kitchen compost, deer and rabbit feces, mud, Mississipi river water, algae; carbon felt; graphite; agar; hookup wire), electricity, copper, clamps, supersaturated saltwater, collecting kit (bag, tape measure, hand shovel, glass jars, compass, notebook), wood, metal, casters
A large-scale battery, the station produces micro-volts of electricity from soil samples gathered in Steuben, Wisconsin, while at ACRE residency. The electrical potential of the station is presented via the slow electrolysis of copper in a salt water bath.
Excerpt from catalog essay by curator Pat Elifritz:
"...Contemporaneously, microbiologists, botanists, electrical engineers, and freelance researchers dig for the potential of gleaning usable energy from soil-based microbial fuel cells that are lighter than oil, as valuable as gold, and hidden along the surface of our natural landscape. As North American petroleum extraction develops to privilege surface mining over subterranean mining, and microbial fuel cell cultivation examines the soil just beneath our feet, the major sites of South African gold excavation have likewise relocated from deep, interwoven networks of underground mines to reprocessing gold tailings already present on the surface. The peculiar intersection of these methods of extraction constitute the foundation of Dig at Heaven Gallery, staging varying manifestations of what it means to excavate and unearth. In this exhibition, 2012 ACRE residents Nina Barnett, Marissa Lee Benedict, and Allison Rowe directly and indirectly employ sites of natural extraction- gold mining in Johannesburg, tar sands in Canada, and microbial fuel in Wishonsin, respectiviely - as means of investigating wider interests in the subterranean, verticality and depth, horizontality and distance, and the relationship between materiality and place."