Collaborations > Animation for A Great Green Desert

Sarah Ross and Ryan Griffis are Chicago artists exploring the relationships between landscape, agriculture, global trade, and environmental issues through video, sculpture, writing, and guided tours. I was honored to be asked to work on an animation for their video piece A Great Green Desert. For this work Ross and Griffis traveled between the industrial landscapes of Illinois to the Cerrado in Brazil capturing footage and interviews with farmers and ecologists to cover the topic of the soybean crop and it's impact on the landscape. I made two short animations. The first one focuses on soybeans growing in a field with a cropduster passing across the image as the plants mature. The second image starts with a landscape inspired by the cerrado that transforms into an underground view of the roots. The cerrado is the prairie land of Brazil and like the prairies of Illinois it is slowly being converted into farmland for growing soybeans. What I found most fascinating in the research provided by Griffis and Ross was the discussion of how so much of a prairie's lifeforce is underground in its' intricate root systems. It was described as being a kind of upside down forest. Because of the hidden quality of the prairie it has been hard for conservationists and researchers to protect the land and for many to see it's value. At the same time the soybean plant is used to fertilize the soil it grows in and this has given it great value as an industrial crop. For this animation I wanted the ground systems and roots to be a main focus. To view the videos and learn more about Ross and Griffis' project go here:

vimeo.com/album/3524838|vimeo|

gallery400.uic.edu/exhibitions/the-eart?|gallery400|