Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene is an investigation of the cultural meanings, representations, and values of soil in a time of planetary change. The book offers critical reflections on some of the most challenging environmental problems of our time, including land take, groundwater pollution, desertification, and biodiversity loss. At the same time, the book celebrates diverse forms of resilience in the face of such challenges, beginning with its title as a way of honoring locally controlled food production methods championed by "field to plate" movements worldwide. By focusing on concepts of soil functionality, the book weaves together different disciplinary perspectives in a collection of dialogue texts between artists and scientists, interviews by the editors and invited curators, essays and poems by earth scientists and humanities scholars, soil recipes, maps, and DIY experiments. With contributions from over 100 internationally renowned researchers and practitioners, Field to Palette presents a set of visual methodologies and worldviews that expand our understanding of soil and encourage readers to develop their own interpretations of the ground beneath our feet.
Table of Contents
I. SUSTENANCE 1. Urban Farming: The New Green Revolution? 2. Taste of Place: Terroir as Experience 3. A Root Stew from the Kitchen of Sarah Wiener 4. Artisanal Soil 5. Black Gold 6. Temple of Holy Shit: On Human-Soil Nutrient Cycles and the Future of Sustainable Sanitation 7. S.Oil 8. Murray River Punch: A Conversation on Changes Along the River 9. Yield 10. On Corn Mothers and Meal Culture: Ecofeminist Alternatives to Food Politics and Soil Security II. REPOSITORY 11. Soil Genesis: A Dialogue for Creation 12. A Kind of Soil Genesis on Canvas 13. Painting with Earth: Earth Pigments in North Devon a Guide for Teachers and Artists 14. Pedometrics, Pictures, and Poetry 15. From Earth 16. Correlation Drawing/Drawing Correlations 17. Mineral Traces: The Aesthetic and Environmental Transcendence of Soil Mineral Properties 18. A Snapshot in Time: The Dynamic and Ephemeral Structure of Peatland Soils 19. Carbon 20. Deep-Time Moles: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Geological Archiving III. INTERFACE 21. Honoring Soil Hydrology in Pictures 22. Waterviz at Hubbard Brook: The Confluence of Science, Art and Music at Long Term Ecological Research Sites 23. Aesthetic Engineering: Giving Visual Credence to Restoration Processes 24. Rocks, Radishes, and Restoration: On the Relationships Between Clean Water and Healthy Soil 25. Dirt Dialogue 26. WATERWASH for a Swimmable Bronx River 27. Backyard Portals: A Solutions-Oriented Approach to Valuing Soil 28. Don’t Worry, It’s Only Mud 29. The Art of Decay: Soil Decomposition Explored Through the Visual Arts IV. HOME 30. Exploring the Invisible: The Exemplary Life of Soil 31. SOILED. Reflecting A Natural Body Through Socio-Aesthetical and Bio-Political Viewpoints 32. Nematode State of Mind 33. On Colour Hunting 34. A Public Chemistry of the Detritusphere 35. Soil Macrocosms: Microbes, People, and Our Cumulative Effects 36. A Soil Procession and Seed Journey to Preserve Genetic Diversity 37. Future Worlds V. HERITAGE 38. Reframing Heritage: Cultural Soilscapes and Soil Memory 39. The Weapon is Sharing 40. Stories from the Hills: Tales of the Lowland 41. Sketches in the Sands of Time 42. A Visual Ethnography of Soils in Space and Time 43. Lessons from Emma Lake: A Metamorphosis of Science and Art in Landscape and Local Colour 44. Soil Connoisseurship 45. Underground Roots 46. Soil Lovers Unite! for a Down & Dirty Q & A VI. PLATFORM 47. Seeing the Soil Platform 48. Perpetual Architecture: Uranium Disposal Cells of the Southwest 49. Wastelands 50. The Earth Print Archive: A Forensic Documentation of Land Take 51. Soil in the City: The Socio-Environmental Substrate 52. The Soil Assembly and Dissemination Authority (SADA): A Thought Experiment in Building Tomorrow's Soils Today 53. Soil Chemistry and Urban Design in the Hybrid Landscapes of South China 54. The City as Forest: Cartographic Reflections on Land Use in Brazil 55. Island Urbanism: Rethinking the Land-Use Technology of the Watershed
Dr. Alexandra R. Toland is a visual artist and environmental planner
with research interests in ecosystem services, urban ecology, soil and
culture, and the Anthropocene. She is junior professor for arts and
research at the Bauhaus University of Weimar and has previously
lectured at the Technische Universität Berlin, University of Arts Berlin
(UDK), Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and Leuphana University. She
co-chaired the German Soil Science Society’s Commission on Soils in
Education and Society from 2011 to 2015 with Gerd Wessolek and
continues to write and make artwork about soil.
Dr. Jay Stratton Noller is professor of landscape pedology and
head of the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State
University. His research focuses on morphologistics and human
interactions with soils in modern and ancient agricultural and forest
landscapes of the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. His
experience crosses disciplines of soil science, geomorphology, art,
and archaeology and his work as an artist at Soilscape Studio LLC is
Dr. Gerd Wessolek is a soil physicist and painter who has pioneered
efforts at giving soils and soil science a broader exposure to wider
audiences through presentations, exhibitions, and soil art projects.
Information on his research on urban soils in the vadose zone and an
online gallery can be found at http://www.boden.tu-berlin.de. Since
1999 he has been chair of the Soil Protection Department at the
Technische Universität Berlin.
The ambition of the editors and contributors of the book Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene is to help society reconnect with soil. The chapters are either essays that explore some of the cultural articulations of soil or incredibly informative conversations between artists, activists and scientists who share their thoughts about the material properties, cultural histories, environmental functions and existential threats of soil.
Field to Palette is an amazing publication. Its almost 700 pages are packed with photos, surprising information and moving encounters. I wish i had the time to talk about everything i’ve learnt in the book. The unexpectedly sophisticated sensory abilities of nematodes or the method to turn plastic-free baby diapers into planters and nutrients for trees, for example. Since one of the greatest achievements of the book is the way it demonstrates the important role that artists can play in raising discussions with the public and in participating to the solution to the many challenges soil faces today, i’ll dedicate the rest of my review of the book to just a few of the artworks and stories i discovered in Field to Palette.