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Amy Youngs

Associate Professor
Department of Art


Q & A

What makes more livable futures for you?   

Multispecies flourishings. And being a part of creative, supportive communities that recognize the agency of all members, including humans, insects, trees, water, diatoms, racoons, fungi, and phragmites. The Global Justice Movement, as described by Rebecca Solnit in Hope in the Dark: the Untold History of People Power is big enough to include non-human people. This, knowledge, combined with learning about the ways indigenous people maintain mutually-beneficial relationships with their local ecosystems, gives me hope for the ongoing co-creation of more socially-just, less-exploitive futures. Livability is solidarity with people in my species who are grappling with our messy, beautiful interdependence with the rest of the world, embracing this fact and finding joy in it. Together, we might be able to learn from a beetle or a plant about resilience and about how to co-create livable futures.. 

What are you reading, viewing, listening to right now?    

How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell. She is a new media artist whose work I have loved over the years and I feel sure that she wrote this book just for me. I’m also reading The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, and am enjoying learning this history of this early science explorer who was inspired by nature, poetry, and art and who was the first to conceive of the world as an integrated system. I do most of my reading when I can’t sleep at night and next to my bed is The Animal Internet, which is an encouraging look into how technological eyes can bring endangered animals into our everyday attention and care. Another one there is Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds. I can’t watch the news, but I have been listening to NPR and Democracy Now, and when I get too sad, I turn on a podcast from Emergence Magazine or Radio Lab. My TV soft spot is nature documentaries; I never get tired of watching the bears catching the salmon in the waterfalls.

What practices are sustaining you?  

Feeding worms, harvesting their compost, feeding it to the garden plants, watching them grow, eating tomatoes, weeding, petting rabbits, harvesting their waste, feeding worms, repeat. I’ve also been playing with technologies, plants, and people. And trying to figure out ways to co-create with them. While sometimes frustrating, technology is providing perspectives I can’t get otherwise and offering interfaces that help me play with others, learn about them and attempt to enter their worlds. I’ve been experimenting with augmented reality as an embodied storytelling tool for inhabiting non-human perspectives. My summer obsession is participating in the citizen science project and phone appiNaturalist, which uses computer vision in association with a human community to identify species of plants, animals, insects, or fungi based on photos uploaded into the app. Now that I can identify Tiger Bee Fly and Pale Jewelweed I have become more curious about their worlds and trying to imagine the threads that connect them to mine. 

Biography

I am an artist embracing multispecies entanglement. I’m working towards eco-centric practices that take seriously the animals, plants, worms, fungi, water, microbes, that we share our world with. My work often takes form as a participatory experience, such as, lying on a couch that amplifies the movements of living worms, using live feed webcams to enter into a museum designed for live insects, rocking in a chair to power an ecosystem, and walking in an urban park with an augmented reality app tour of non-human perspectives.

My work has been included in exhibitions around the world, including places like the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand, the Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre in Norway, the Biennale of Electronic Arts in Australia, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Spain and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. My work has been profiled in the media as well as in peer reviewed books such as, What’s Next? Eco Materialism & Contemporary Art. I occasionally contribute writing to interdisciplinary publications such as LeonardoAntennae, and in the book, Robots and Art.

My hometown is Chico, California. I moved to San Francisco to pursue a BA in Art from San Francisco State University. Working at the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco connected me to a community of scientists, artists, educators, and interactive exhibit builders that influenced me greatly and helped me develop my portfolio. I received a full fellowship to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and I earned an MFA in Art and Technology. In 2001, I joined the faculty at the Ohio State University where I work as an Associate Professor of Art, and enjoy teaching courses in digital media, eco art, and art/science.