Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Sep 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Welcome To The Jungle

ae1Watsonville native Scott Serrano turns back time, lets imagination run wild

Scott Serrano’s journey backwards in time began roughly 10 years ago, when he became interested in science travel writing as a source of artistic inspiration. “I read ‘The Malay Archipelago’ by Alfred Russell Wallace, and I basically fell in love with that book and the way it captured the feeling of being in dense tropical jungles, and somebody immersing themself in that kind of universe,” says Serrano.

“[Wallace] was like a sponge; he was absorbing everything around him,” he continues, “tribal people, plants, insects, the weather, geology… He spent most of that book celebrating how rich the diversity of life is—this from a sheltered young man from uptight Victorian England, raised in a small town in almost-poverty conditions, who had never been out of England until he began exploring.”

That encounter with Wallace’s work proved to be a formative experience, one that motivated Serrano to spend the last 10 years embarking on his own 19th century science expedition. Without access to a time machine, Serrano settled on the next best thing: his imagination. That imagined expedition is the basis for an elaborate art installation/faux exhibition, which opens at the Cabrillo Gallery on Feb. 15.

“Picturesque Flora Wallaceana: Botanical Ambulations In Greater Wallaceana” is described as “a fabricated 19th century science narrative of the tropical island of Wallaceana presented as an installation of images, text and artifacts.” While the project mostly defies any sort of brief summarization, Serrano explains that the idea sprung from the desire to create “an exhibition where people experienced reading about somebody who had gone through that sort of an exploration.”

And in so doing, the exhibition was conceived as something of a tribute to Wallace. “I wanted to invent a landscape named after him,” says Serrano. “So I named it Wallaceana, and I hid elements of his life and biography all over the exhibition.”

The expedition is documented through various mediums, including drawings, photographs, travel journals, artifacts and fabricated specimens. “For the images, I wanted to do an homage to ‘The Temple of Flora’ by Robert Thornton, which is arguably the best 19th century botanical work in terms of detail,” explains Serrano. “It’s very lush and romantic, with very exquisitely detailed mezzotint prints, and I wanted to try and capture the feeling of that.”

ae-2While the exhibition is an homage to 19th century traditions of botanical exploration, Serrano also taps into the zeitgeist of more recent history. “So I put contemporary social politics in that sphere,” he says. “Not to do it in a dogmatic way, but to do it in a funny way—and make plants that are named after political people, or people who had tragic lives, or characters from art and history. And have the plants go through the life cycles of the people, and reflect those lives.”

The exhibition is also described as “a critique of objective scientific representation,” which refers to the documentation of the history of science through the use of image, such as art, photographs, charts, etc. “All of these forms of communication are produced by humans who—often unknowingly—create them with preconceived prejudices,” explains Serrano. “The very language that each person uses to describe the world shapes each of us.”

Serrano describes this as a double-edged sword. “On the one hand, that means that scientists study science with a feeling of passionate engagement,” he says. “But they are describing the world using words which already have loaded social meanings, even when they are trying to describe things in a clinical fashion.”

That said, “I also happen to love the images, artifacts, and language of science,” he adds. “And I’m inspired by the extraordinary things the pioneers of science have done to shape our way of viewing the world.”

Perhaps he recognizes a bit of himself in Wallace—a Watsonville native, Serrano now lives with his wife and children in upstate New York, a vastly different environment. He spends his days growing his own food and—every once in a while—making an excursion to Wallaceana. The island may be fictional, but the passion is genuine, and like Wallace, Serrano’s a veritable adventurer. 


‘Picturesque Flora Wallaceana: Botanical Ambulations In Greater Wallaceana, 1854 to 1857’ runs Feb. 15-March 15, at the Cabrillo Gallery, Cabrillo College Library Room 1002, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, plus 7-9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Reception: 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14. Call 479-6308 or visit cabrillo.edu/services/artgallery Photos: Scott Serrano

Comments (1)Add Comment
As one who lives in the jungle...
written by kolla, February 13, 2013
....I commend this Artist and his imaginary vision of Wallaceana...

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.