Bethany Springer

I am an artist and researcher who monitors awareness in a constantly accelerating world. As an interdisciplinary artist rooted in sculpture and modern dance, I am drawn towards practices that resist easy classification and coexist rather as situational experiments that mine the past to see the present, envision the future, and reach a deeper understanding of representations that depict experience in space and time. I gravitate toward objects, places, individuals, and communities experiencing significant change—those on the threshold of metamorphosis, the precipice of the unknown, an end and beginning simultaneously. In my research, I attempt to examine how these larger phenomena affect regional identity and subsequently impact individual experience. Also compelling is how usage and function evolves, such as the peculiar metamorphosis of an object undergoing a resurgence in popularity yet fulfilling a different purpose than originally intended. My approach enables an immersion in the opportunities and challenges of the present while leaving abundant room for the unexpected to serve as guide.

Often, I use search engines as a tool to interpret and inhabit the world beyond my own heritage and environment, sensing how an object, place, or idea has changed over time and is perceived online. To counter a purely digital approach, I conduct site visits, gathering information from institutions and residents deeply rooted in their communities. What is gleaned from these exchanges is perpetually surprising and frequently reveals an unusual network bridging etymology, ecology, industrial economies, geographical history, science, folklore, and pop culture (to name a few). Pulling from this inquiry, my resulting installations are constellations of collected research, fusions of physical and digital information that visually manifest interconnected concepts—human ingenuity and peril, leisure and labor, consumption and regeneration, vulnerability and resilience.

My recent work continues this line of inquiry by focusing on environmental change and its wake. As icecaps melt and sea levels rise, displaced residents of sinking island communities migrate to the mainland. The Northwest Passage thaws, forever changing dependent ecosystems and reigniting fears concerning Arctic Cold War competition for non-renewable resources. Aquifers deplete and wildfires rage, yet the billionaire space race intensifies. As SpaceX deploys satellite constellations and Mars expeditions surge, asteroids are mined in the quest for precious resources. In response, my current research examines humanity’s complex history of territorial claim and the uncanny relationship between Arctic and Space exploration in the 21st century. The experience of sailing around Spitsbergen in the High Arctic while piloting a drone prompted this inquiry, which envisions a new world—a wellspring of uncertainty that offers the possibility for reinvention and transformation.

I hope my artwork reflects some degree of perpetual turbulence. To me, fluctuation is constant although not always detectable, and I design my projects accordingly to exhibit facets of growth and decay simultaneously. Is this current phenomenon coming or going? Or is it repeating itself as history often does? Who benefits and who suffers? How can we propel ourselves off this skipping record?