David Robertson

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Trophic Subsidy and the Mesocosm

October 9th-November 1, 2001

For the last few years, photographer and writer David Robertson has combined his interests in borders, boundaries, ecotones and the things that cross them, into a project about the practice and philosophy of science in relation to art and religion. His installation includes photographs of “mesocosms” in the Davis area and sculptural works that relate to "mesocosms” and “trophic subsidies.” A “mesocosm” is a mid-sized ecosystem, whose boundaries are set by the needs of an experiment. A “trophic subsidy” is a nutrient that crosses boundaries. Robertson applies the ideas of mesocosms and trophic subsidies to humanity, concentrating on things that can cross social boundaries.

“Mesocosms are systems of all sorts that humans construct (like science, like religions, like universities). Trophic subsidies are nutrients that cross the boundaries of our systems and enrich our existence, while at the same time often posing threats to our habitual ways of thinking and doing. In my opinion no subsidy is more important to our diet than art. ”

Robertson is a Professor of English at University of California, Davis, he also teaches in the Ecology and the Nature and Culture Programs. He is a published author of three books (1984, 1997, and 2000). Robertson has exhibited his photographic work nationally in Chicago, UC Berkeley, Oregon, Helena, Montana, Columbus Ohio, Stanford University, and the Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite National Park where he has also been granted numerous Artist-in-Residence awards.