We are elated to share the news that Ian van Coller was just awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his ongoing series, Naturalists of the Long Now. Van Coller's work crosses disciplines and puts art into action. It speaks to the far reaches of time, collapses human history, and informs if not demands change and rethinking about the way our planet is evolving.
Naturalists of the Long Now breaks down barriers between art and science, and creates a dialogue between text and image. To create the work, van Coller collaborates with scientists who annotate images of their subject-sites. Since 2015, Van Coller has worked alongside researchers specializing in Geology, Geography, Earth Sciences, Archaeology, Native American Studies, and Entomology.
Besides inference in the title, the integration of art and science is a direct nod to the Victorian era, and the Naturalists drawings of the time. As with the Naturalists, this collaborative work is beautiful and informative. Though factual and descriptive, the scientists' scripts become decorative and integral components of the work. Visual and written language merge method and discipline to create unique prints that encourage reflection on the way humans are impacting global normalcy and causing climate change.
The choice to use scientists to annotate the prints not only interrupts and augments our viewership, it heightens a sense of urgency. These works are after all a testament to change—they document, trace, and mark it, as if the collaborative work between disparate fields could render a perfect document with a power to raise alarm.
I have seen the land change in front of my eyes. I can no longer grow vegetables without daily watering from mid-July through late August. The streams where I love to fish are closed, and the forests where I go hiking are choked with [wildfire] smoke. – Ian van Coller
Van Coller’s works turn a lens on subjects large, small, and historic. The work is as various as thoughtful. By encompassing different sets of study, van Coller threads together not only a more complete view of our epoch, but alludes to what came before our time, and of what may come after our time (as individuals and as a species).
My intention is that “Naturalists of the Long Now” will encourage people to think in terms of longer spans of time, and consider what humanity will look like in 100 or even 1,000 years—instead of just considering our personal and immediate desires. – Ian van Coller
“The 10,000 Year Clock” is a project by The Long Now Foundation to build a clock that will run for 10,000 years, inside a mountain in western Texas. As a concept, “Deep Time” encourages us to think bigger than human lifetimes, but rather to consider time as something far more infinite. The thought that our species may be complicit or even witness to such topics as are touched by the work (species migration or glacial extinction) should be remarkable if not alarming, and at the forefront of our minds.
View more of Ian's work + CV is on his Artist's Page.
All works ©Ian van Coller | Contact the Gallery for press images.
Ian van Coller with writing by Dr. Carsten Braun, Westfield University
Quelccaya Glacier, Peru
Ian van Coller with writing by Dr. Douglas Hardy, University of Massachusetts
Automated Weather Station, Quelccaya, Peru
Ian van Coller accompanied Dr. Carsten Braun, Dr. Douglas Hardy, and their group of researchers on an expedition to study the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru. At over 5,200m above sea-level this glacier is considered tropical. Tropical glaciers are among the earth’s rarest. Disappearance of glaciers today is not only one of the most visible and obvious consequences of human-induced climate change, and represents shifts in monumental ways, their disappearance also poses huge risks to (human) life in the areas. In a part of the world where precipitation is highly seasonal, these glaciers represent reliable “natural water towers” during dry periods.
Ian van Coller with writing by Jenny McCarty, Montana State University
Mayflies and Caddishflies on the Gallatin River
Jenny McCarty, Masters student in Ecology at Montana State University, is studying the change in life histories of mayflies and caddisflies due to climate change. She has established research collection sites all along the Gallatin River where larvae and adult specimens are collected. As the river is warming due to climate change, certain species may shift upriver to where the water remains cooler. This image depicts one of the sites McCarty has studied and includes “specimen windows” with images van Coller made in McCarty’s lab.
Ian van Coller with writing by Dr. Craig Lee, University of Colorado, Boulder
Bighorn Kill Site in Greater Yellowstone
Dr. Craig Lee is a Research Scientist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Dr. Lee specializes in environmental archaeology; human responses to climate change; archaeometry; and historical ecology. This site is an Ice Patch in the Eastern Greater Yellowstone Area of Montana. As the ice recedes, the remains of bighorn sheep have been revealed. Dr. Lee worked on the site, which has been identified as a kill site used by Native Americans over 6,000 years ago. At 10,000 feet elevation, the site is surprisingly high for a sustained hunting ground.