Bethany Springer

My research gravitates toward objects, places, and communities experiencing significant change – those on the threshold of metamorphosis, the precipice of the unknown, a liminality that posits an end and beginning simultaneously. I liken my practice to pulling onto an overlook to gain perspective and witness the present moment, facilitating a hyperawareness of time and collective existence. As an interdisciplinary artist employing two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and time-based media, I embrace approaches that resist binary logic and coexist rather as a multiplicity of complex experiences.

In an attempt to see the present, contemplate the future, and reach a deeper understanding of representations that depict experience in space and time, I mine the past. Often, I use search engines as a tool to interpret and inhabit the world beyond my own heritage and environment. The results are never congruent and frequently reveal a strange network of competing entities bridging etymology, economic and geographical history, science, folklore, utility, and popular sites. To counter a purely digital approach, I find it essential to travel to the most relevant places to gather information from institutions and residents deeply rooted in their communities. What is gleaned from these immersive experiences is perpetually surprising and humbling. The resulting installations are constellations of collected research, fusions of physical and digital information that visually manifest dualities of human ingenuity and peril, leisure and labor, consumption and regeneration, futility and resilience.

In this era of environmental collapse, our planet faces the ultimate unknown. As icecaps melt and sea levels rise, 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. Concurrently, SpaceX deploys satellite constellations, engineers posit extraterrestrial waste stream purge, and entrepreneurs mine asteroids in the search for raw materials. As aquifers deplete and wildfires rage, the billionaire space race intensifies.

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 frontier – a wellspring of uncertainty that offers the possibility for magic and transformation.