Jasmine Targett’s interest in the environment and nature began when she first read about ozone holes while in primary school. It sparked a lifelong quest to try to understand how we as a species have allowed ourselves to take advantage of the environment to the extent that we have, and “why we don’t fully understand how we affect things,” she says.
Throughout her career Targett has worked with esteemed researchers and organisations, including NASA, and used their research and technology in her work. Science and art may seem like an unlikely alliance, but it may be one we need to call on more often if current environmental trends continue. All it takes to get started, she says, is finding like-minded people in the field and a simple conversation.
Super Ecology, an exhibition three years in the making, is a culmination of all of Targett’s research to date.
She says the idea of the super ecology hasn’t been discussed in the media here so much and describes it as the process of the natural and the artificial becoming a part of one natural system.
“We’ve influenced the environment so much with the things we create that there’s now this third figure, or entity, that we’ve created and we don’t understand what its by-products might be, and how this artificial thing will interact with the natural.” This idea became the starting point for Targett’s exhibition.
There are 13 works in Super Ecology, including several prints (on silk and aluminium), sculpture and mixed-media installations. The main work in the exhibition is a print on silk called Super Ecology, 2018, and it explores the influence of our species on the earth’s atmosphere. Unable to find an image of the earth’s atmosphere in her early research, Targett ended up collaborating with NASA to use their satellite imagery. “It’s the first 3D image of the atmosphere that I’ve been able to find,” she says.
Targett is an artist, first and foremost, but she also sees herself as a communicator on a mission to bridge the gap between art and science; an intermediary.
There is an abundance of climate research by scientists, researchers and organisations available, but often these important findings are inaccessible for the general public. Targett says that viewing art about environmental issues and climate change is more likely to elicit a more visceral reaction than studying data, research papers, or even reading the news.
We often can’t see, or choose to ignore, exactly how we’re affecting the environment, and Targett addresses this by creating something tangible as visual evidence of anthropogenics – our impact on the environment. For example, Targett has in the past cast everyday objects in resin, glass and other materials. This was a result of the realisation that most things, even when no longer functional, will outlive her – from clothes to coffee cups, and even her Nike shoes, as seen in the sculpture My Nike will Live Longer Than Me, 2017. Is this how future generations will recognise the Anthropocene age? Through archaeological findings of stratified, fossilised Nikes? It’s a sobering thought.
Targett thinks fear is a good motivator, and she hopes that her work will open up a dialogue about the current – and future – state of the environment. “We need to be better,” she says. “It’s not all one person’s responsibility, but rather a collective responsibility that we have.” Our challenge, she continues, is to question whywe’re not doing more or making better choices.