Urgent Nature 2019/21
Urgent Nature, is a high-definition stop motion film for projection or screening, duration approximately 18 minutes. Ganter's technique is complex and original, animating still photographs in response to music by David Rothenberg.
The project began with a series of documentary photographs of the wetland grasses that now inhabit the post-industrial banks of the River Carron, in Falkirk. The river once powered The Carron Company ironworks. The largest ironworks in Europe in 1814, it went into receivership in 1982 and now wetlands have been created to reclaim the land. A landscape once poisonous is now populated by birds, deer, and fish living in close proximity to areas still densely populated by humans. This hybrid, neither wild nor urban, has its own aesthetic. Trees are planted in grid formations. Traffic provides a backing track to ebullient birdsong.
Never has it been more urgent for humanity to negotiate with nature. The film does what art has often done: observes, and makes viewers observe, what we might often walk past without really seeing. The composer David Rothenberg lives by the River Hudson in New York, where West Point Foundry once stood. He worked with Ganter to produce a soundtrack that combines the ambient sounds of nature with the background hum of mankind as well as his own beautiful music. The colour and movement introduced by Ganter to the still images is closely synchronized with the sound as it traces the complex matrices created by individual stalks and leaves of grass, and creates gestures that follow the tangled, sweeping structures of dense shrubs.
Set in Scotland where the artist lives, this could have been a local project, but the urgency of the threat to nature is international, and Ganter crops the subject matter to allow no topographical detail. It is Rothenberg's soundtrack that evokes a wider environment: birdsong, wind, his own breath before long melodic notes on the clarinet, electronic intimations of jet engines. Together they have created a beautiful combination of sound, movement and colour, documentary objectivity and subjective response.
Urgent Nature will be on display in GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow) as part of the exhibition, Drink in the beauty, 4 June - 26 September 2021, commemorating the pioneering environmentalist, Rachel Louise Carson who wrote: "Drink in the beauty and wonder at the meaning of what you see". The exhibition is curated to include works that invoke a curiosity to delve deeper into the concerns and changing environment around us.
2 minute trailer for Urgent Nature
Glasgow's modern art gallery marks milestone anniversary with first new exhibition since reopening.
Artist Jo Ganter with her video installation 'Urgent Nature'. The film is accompanied by music by David Rothenberg. Photograph by Colin Mearns.