Zone of Loss
Zone of Loss invites audiences to confront nonhuman agency through a phenomenological engagement with the subterranean. A solemn monument to the soil profile and its E horizon, or the zone where organic matter is lost, the installation redirects attention to the geological processes that occur independent of human action. Sound recordings of burrowing earthworms produce the experience of decelerating time, alluding to the decay and transformation slowly transpiring beneath the ground. Through its scale and sonic dimensions, it interrogates the dominant ideological conceptions of the land by forcing a shift away from unexamined perspective of ordinary experience. It places the human in a subordinate position to planetary physics while creating a space to mourn the loss of soil and possibility associated with our failed stewardship of the land.
Lauren Ruiz partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County for the research behind Zone of Loss. Between 2020 and 2021, she worked with Deborah Aller, PhD, an agricultural stewardship specialist whose expertise includes soil health and pedology on Long Island. Cornell Cooperative Extension develops relationships with local farmers and works with them to incorporate sustainable agricultural techniques that improve soil health while increasing crop productivity. In their collaboration, Aller introduced Ruiz to the agricultural dynamics on Long Island, including the contributions of earthworms to the local ecology and the toxic effects of human industry and waste on the local soil.
This project was made possible with funds from The Southampton Arts Center, The Puffin Foundation, and the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Huntington Arts Council, Inc.