Crazy River Umwelt Series Part I

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Hovey Brock: Blackleg Tick, 2021, 24” x 36”, acrylic on panel

A central theme in my Crazy River project has been highlighting the emotional toll of the climate crisis by putting under a microscope, so to speak, my own feelings about not only the impacts of the crisis but the knowledge that humans’ actions are the cause. This series of three on-line essays, thought experiments if you like, expands that project to change the POV to non-human actors that are inextricably bound with the habitat in the Western Catskills: the black-legged or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), the white-tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica). All three have seen their habitat change dramatically through climate change and human interventions. Using my imagination and research, I try to enter the umwelt of all three species, an impossible task, as Thomas Nagel pointed out in “What Is It LIke to Be a Bat,” for which artistic license may give us the best chance to accomplish. My intentions in doing so fall along three axes: theoretical, aesthetic, and spiritual, dimensions all essential to my own art practice. What follows is a look at the umwelt of black-legged ticks from the perspective of theory.

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