3 Minute Single Channel Video


In the early 19th Century, the Panama Canal was forged through the jungles of Panama. This shipping channel became a major factor in the expansion of globalised trade. In many ways, Panama’s Canal Zone represents the epitome of the Anthropocene. Industrial progress rupturing unique ecosystems.

In this setting Betty Sargeant was inspired by broken nature. She collected introduced butterfly species and leaves that had been stripped to their skeleton by destructive fungus. She prepared these samples and photographed their finer qualities under microscope. Betty also collected a selection of field recordings using a hydrophone, two contact mics and a stereo atmospheric mic. Most audio recordings in Panama’s Canal Zone contain the sounds of engines. Sounds from passing ships, tug boats, dredging machines, cargo trains and light aircraft form the backdrop to birdsongs, monkey calls and frog choirs. The clash of nature and industry is palpable. Finally, Betty collected data relating to the temperature, light, movement and moisture of different ecosystems. This was done using an Arduino and a series of environmental sensors.

Betty presented the photo-microscopy images, audio and environmental data in an Open Studio showing at the Digital Naturalism Lab, Gamboa, Panama on 17 August 2019. The outcome of this residency has been captured in a 3 minute single channel video. This video work combines photo-microscopy and audio recordings from three 2019 PluginHUMAN environmental art residences – Digital Naturalism (Panama), LabVERDE (Amazon) and the EV Residency (Rio).