Reiko Goto-Collins’ dissertation “Ecology and Environmental Art in Public Place - Talking Tree: Won't you take a minute and listen to the plight of Nature?” includes the practice-led element which works with multimedia as a crucial and integral part of an experimental methodology. Her PhD study was focused on trees’ physiological response to atmospheric changes photosynthesis. She was thinking about the essential breath of all living things, and how trees contribute to the aesthetics of place while transforming carbon dioxide into the oxygen.
Goto-Collins set herself the question of how to create a different relationship between human beings and the natural environment. She explored trees as a context, creating access through multimedia to the transpiration and processes of photosynthesis working with the metaphor of 'breathing'. The premise was deceptively simple: breathing is what we share with nature. If we could experience how trees 'breathe', we would grasp in a direct and sensory way the interdependence between human beings and other living things in the environment.
Multimedia features significantly and appropriately at a number of stages and levels within this research, as data gathering and as giving form to experience through the representation of data as sound and sound/image. These are combined in ways that do not remove the research subject from its specific contexts e.g. an oak tree on a particular day in a particular place. This is an important quality of the work within an ecological discourse. The conventions of textual description and analysis of a conventional PhD could not have coped well with the intricate demands of this thesis to offer a sensory experience of the research subject founded in rigorous data gathering methodologies.
The doctoral thesis is openly available on the University’s institutional repository, OpenAir @ RGU at the URL: https://openair.rgu.ac.uk/handle/10059/788.
Dr. Goto-Collins has sustained a creative inquiry that is concerned with empathic relationship with living things and the environment for over twenty years. She is an artist, a researcher, a designer and author. She is a Principal in the COLLINS & GOTO STUDIO in Glasgow Scotland, where she is recognized for her approach to environmental art and research. In 2014 the studio effort was focused upon photography, video and mapping work related to the Blackwood of Rannoch.
To learn more about Goto-Collins’ work, visit her website: http://gotoandcollins.com