Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 06th
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

 

Crop Circles

How the confusion over GMOs is undermining the organic movement

 

Week of Festivals: Full Moon, Lantern Festival, Purim, Holi

It is a week of many different festivals along with a full moon, all occurring simultaneously. Thursday Chinese New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival (at full moon). Thursday is also the Pisces Solar festival (full moon), Purim (Jewish Festival) and Holi (Hindu New Year Festival). Sunday, March 8, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. The festival of Purim celebrates the freedom of the Hebrew people from the cruel Haman (a magistrate) seeking to destroy them. Esther, the Queen of Persia, who was secretly Jewish, saved her people from death. The sweet cookie hamentaschen celebrates this festival. Friday, March 6, is Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival celebrated after the March full moon. Bonfires are lit the night before, warding off evil. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is the most colorful festival in the world. It is also the Festival of Love—of Radha for Krishna (the blue-colored God). It is a spring festival with singing, dancing, carnivals, food and bhang, a drink made of cannabis leaves. Holi signifies good over evil, ridding oneself of past errors, ending conflicts through rapprochement (returning to each other). It is a day of forgiveness, including debts. Holi also marks the beginning of New Year. At the Pisces Solar festival we recite the seed thought, “We leave the Father’s home and, turning back, we save.” Great Teachers remain on Earth until all of humanity is enlightened. The New Group of World Servers is called to this task and sacrifice. Sacrifice (from the heart) is the first Law of the Soul, the heart of which is Love. This sacrifice saves the world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of March 6

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Water Street Grill

YOLO gets reincarnated

 

What would make Santa Cruz better?

A lot more outdoor activities such as outdoor movies and concerts, food and art festivals, and more multicultural activites. Emmanuel Cole, Santa Cruz, Bicycle Industry Product Developer

 

Thomas Fogarty Winery

When looking for a bottle of something to have with dinner, Gewürztraminer 2012 is not the first wine to come to mind. Given the popularity of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir—to name but a few—Gewürztraminer sits low on the totem pole.

 

So Long, Louie’s

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar closes, plus Back Porch pop-up, and 2015 Outstanding in the Field tour