Installation artists and 2015 Enviropreneur Institute alum Ethan Turpin creates multimedia exhibits, documentaries, and curated data visualizations dealing with ecological topics. Turpin’s immersive video exhibits focus on our relationship with nature and allow people to experience a place they would otherwise not access. His goal is to use wonder to open up conversations about important topics in our environment. A bee colony, wildfire, and changing stereoscopic landscapes are current examples of this, with many more projects in the works.
Turpin works as a creative consultant and exhibit designer to the SERI Fire Working Group at the Bren School for Environmental Science and Management. His role has been to learn about their research and help them to communicate it to other scientists and to the public through various forms of media. This ranges from diagrams to roomsized environments composed of video projections.
As pure science has become increasingly politicised it is important to bridge gaps between researchers and the public, and between institutions as well. We have plenty of research results, but what is needed are better ways to connect it with people’s values about the world we live in. Turpin finds ways to reveal art within the data and put people inside important stories. His focus is on the interactions of social and ecological networks. His innovations provide new ways of seeing natural wonder in complex systems so that we may be better stewards and students of The Earth.
The second piece in the Burn Cycle series, Entering Wildfire (featured in the video above) offers the public a point of view from within a wildfire using US Forest Service recordings from fireproof camera boxes, which give rare insights into an otherwise perilous situation. By pairing observations of fire ecology with fine art aesthetics, this immersive video environment attracts audiences to safely confront the elemental beauty, transformative power, and real world hazards of wildfire. The experience is designed to foster discussion within communities living in the Wildland Urban Interface.
As an E.L. Weigand Storyteller in Residence, Ethan returned to PERC in July 2016 with installation partner Jonathan Smith to provide the Bozeman community and summer visitors an immersive experience called Walk into Wildfire, specially designed for the gallery/studio space at The Foundry. The installation was part of a Wildfire Solutions summit featuring wildland fire scholars and practitioners from PERC, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.
Learn more about wildfire at PERC.org/wildfire.
Learn more about Ethan Turpin’s work.