[-empyre-] Residual Contamination

Catherine Grau catherine.grau at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 8 04:22:58 AEDT 2017

Dear Renate, and those out there thinking through contamination with us,

A bit more about residual contamination:
I just did a quick search:  There are about one billion tons of pesticides
used per year in the US; 5,6 billion tons in the world. That's two tons per
person in the US and almost one ton per person worldwide (not quite, we are
currently 7,6 billion people). And as we already know, everything that we
put out into the environment finds it's way back to us. There is no away.
Even though Monsanto declares that glyphosate gets decomposed in the soil
by microbes within 2 - 200 days, I doubt - because we continually spray,
the soil gets no breaks, and many new and old independent studies show that
the soil life and insect life is being decimated by the chemicals. With
dying microbes, who decomposes the chemicals?

Residual contamination to me is like looking at how weather happens,
everything is connected in a rhythm of cycles and transformations and
travel. When you tell me about high levels of phosphorous in the finger
lakes region, I immediately think of chemical fertilizers (due to soil
depletion). Chemicals travel, run-off into the ground water, downstream, in
the oceans (Last year a comprehensive study of residual contamination in
west coast waters made headlines, which tested positive for over 80
chemicals, mostly pharmaceutical - anti-depressants, birth control,
caffeine - and pesticides), in our tap water, in our food supply,
bio-accumulating in our bodies... Glyphosate is now found in the urine
samples of 93% of US Americans that get tested. Many mothers are now
sending in samples of their breastmilk - and testing positive for
glyphosate. When I began my search for glyphosate-free flour, I found out
that the two main organic flours available here (Bob's Red Mill and King
Arthur) both openly admit to their flours testing positive for glyphosate.
It's pretty much inescapable. And that is just one chemical.

Apologies for dumping on you this pile of really daunting information (and
I'm stopping myself from going on), but I just want to illustrate the
gravity or how deep residual contamination penetrates. Our bodies are
literally (chemically) part of the larger contaminated bodies of water and
soil and biological matter. That reality / concept, just like the scale and
impact of it's dimension and temporality, is an example of what Timothy
Morton calls "hyperobjects"... as scale of objects (the uses it mostly to
talk about climate change) we need to learn how to encounter.

Promise, I will scale back down into the tangible dimensions of the starter
dough in my next post.

In contaminated togetherness,

Catherine Grau
EPA - environmentalperformanceagency.com

On Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 11:48 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Catherine wrote:
> Snip
> " By way of the dominant western culture, many of us build and enforce
> these mental boundaries where places are labelled and confined as distant /
> separate from us.
> …As part of my art practice, I have spent many years (and a long way to
> go) exploring ways of unlearning my western (mis)education - and rooting
> that
> practice in re-weaving the deeper connections or belonging to an
> inter-dependent, living, breathing world.That path for me has been to work
> through the body and reclaiming somatic ways of knowing…Marisa and I would
> like to start off this discussion by honing in on the concept of *residual
> contamination* - as a place of linking back to our bodies and a way of
> disruption the narrative of static and confined notions of place.”
> Snip
> Dear Catherine,
> How exciting to hear about how you are  thinking about contamination
> related to somatic awareness.  I am looking forward to hearing more from
> both you and Marisa but I thought I would share one of my connections to
> contamination as it relates to water.  Those of you who know Tim Murray and
> I know
> that we live in the middle of upstate New York in a small hamlet.  We live
> on a fifteen acre lot, almost adjacent to the forest reserves of New York
> State. The delicate balance of our bodies and our environment are apparent
> to us everyday as we drink water from the deep wells within the earth’s
> aquifers below the rock strata via our well.
> All of the underground water in our surrounding Ithaca flows into the
> Finger Lakes. The five lakes appear like the five digits or fingers of the
> hand, but the lakes were formed by glacial slow freezes and thaws that
> gorged deep lakes. Ithaca NY sits at the base of one of the middle lakes
> called Cayuga, the same name as the American Indian tribe, part of the
> Iroquois Confederacy.  The history is as deep as is the 435 feet of deep
> green lake water.
> Just this past summer the entire lake was put on lock down literally.
> State Parks  and private swimming and boating areas were deemed unsafe for
> humans because of blue-green algae bloom contamination that caused skin
> irritation and sickness upon contact.  Environmentalists have been studying
> the effects of high phosphorous leaches into the water that have been known
> to cause the algae blooms.  High lake temperatures also have been proven to
> also cause the blooms.
> There is not a day that goes by that I don’t intentionally think about
> this bio/environmental network that is so directly relational to all of our
> health and safety. From our the health and environment of our bio-networks
> to language, communication, and relationships contamination slowly seeps
> without boundaries. Perhaps the starter dough may be a great place to talk
> about the interrelationship of those factors.  Looking forward to your
> sharing more experiences and resources. But perhaps I also might ask for
> both of you to talk a bit more about “residual contamination.”
> Thanks,
> Renate
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Associate Professor
> Director of Undergraduate Studies
> Department of Art
> Tjaden Hall 306
> rferro at cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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