Visualizing Data and the Environment

By Grace Bonner, April 13, 2021
A look at Stephanie Rothenberg's new media artwork

"Proof of Soil" Installation By Stephanie Rothenberg

A web of yellow lines forms a fan behind Stephanie Rothenberg’s head. Resembling a high-backed chair, she explains her background is a photo of Slime Mold, a eukaryotic organism.

Rothenberg is one of the five artists featured in FLEFF’s New Media exhibit, Entangled Infiltrations. Discussing her work with Claudia Costa Pederson on Tuesday evening, Rothenberg describes her art as connecting data to the environment. 

One of her recent pieces, Proof of Soil, explores non-human labor. Using computers and microbial fuel cells (MFC) as examples, she shows energy used by technology in comparison to a more sustainable option. 

As an installation, Proof of Soil displays a garden where an MFC creates energy by metabolizing toxins from the soil. Above, screens display a collection of Microbial Fuel Cells creating energy while simultaneously, dots display computers mining Ethereum, a form of crypto-currency. 

“I’m always very interested in the juxtapositions between real life and virtual life” Rothenberg explains. 

The Beauty Spot, her response to COVID-19 shown at FLEFF this year, continues the theme of visualizing the intangible. Exploring the “spiky blob” created by Alissa Eckert, Rothenberg explores how we visualize the Coronavirus. This gives us a face to the microscopic virus we’ve suffered with for over a year.  

Technology and virtual spheres have become such a big part of our lives in such a short amount of time and Rothenberg capitalizes on this within her art. 

With this virtual world, it’s very hard to imagine all the energy that one Zoom Call uses. Rothenberg’s art visualizes the intangible allowing for better understanding within an audience.  

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You can watch “The Beauty Spot”, Stephanie Rothenberg’s new media piece at FLEFF by clicking here