Communing with Glaciers at Matza Aletsch Residency in Swiss Alps


From August 29th to September 11th, I joined eight other artists for the Matza Aletsch expedition residency on the largest glaciers of Europe. We trekked up the great Aletsch Glacier, to Konkordiaplatz, where four glaciers meet up and give birth to the Aletsch Glacier. Konkoridaplatz means plaza of harmony, from the Latin concordia, or “with (one) heart,” a name that fits well with my mission to bond with the glacier and with the group. I went with the intention of communicating with the glacier, through a series of performances, and to examine and sing to microbial life on the glacier and in the air. See Explaining a Bosch Triptych to a Dying Glacier and Drachen of Aletsch for details on two of these performance projects.

IMG_20170830_112135Since the late 1800’s Aletsch has melted dramatically fast, due to climate change, dropping 200 meters and retreating 3 kilometers (Wikipedia), and without these glaciers important rivers in Europe would run dry, including the Rhone.


Here is my journal entry from the approach to the Aletsch Glacier, on August 31:

Two long days of hiking up the mountains and down the valleys, over giant swinging metal bridges, past braying goats and sheep, and cow bells clink in the alpine air. We witness the turquoise waters rush from the Glacier’s mouth, down the Glacier-carved valley, toward the Rhone. mick-lorusso-matza-aletsch_20170830_132340.jpg

Water, water is good, water is great, water is life. The Glacier appears from different vantages, reveals herself in all her splendid power, coiled, curving, and slowly moving downward, carving the rock. Fog and rain accompany us today. As we climb to the first cabin above Aletsch, we can only see the path in front of us and only sense the presence of the Glacier down to the left, breathing slowly, awaiting its next recharge from the winter snow. The fog parts now and shows us her ridged white, grey and brown scales, ice waves undulating at an imperceptible speed.


Plants! Green accompanies us. Before reaching the glacier, we hike up the mountain through a relatively untouched pine forest, with baby pines sprouting from old moss-coverd logs. Tiny succulents form miniature landscapes with moss of many forms. Flourishing blueberry bushes abound above Reideralp. We forage, worlding into the landscape by eating. Later, bogs with grass and methanogens dapple the landscape between giant stones. Up above, many lichens grow on every rock, bright light green splotches with black edges predominate along with large blue-grey circles.mick-lorusso-matza-aletsch_20170831_124950.jpg



Showing at ISEA 2017, Manizales, Colombia with collaborators Clarissa Ribeiro and Herbert Rocha

Interstellar: Cross-Scale Space Scapes at ISEA 2017 an augmented reality soundscape installation by Clarissa Ribeiro, Mick Lorusso and Herbert Rocha

This collaborative artwork with Clarissa Ribeiro and Herbert Rocha looks at stardust that flows through our solar system from other parts of the galaxy as we rapidly move through space. In connection with the ISEA theme, Bio-Creation and Peace, we reconsider the fact that all living and non-living presences on our planet come from the activities of stars. Organic molecules such as alcohols and carbon lattices such as nanodiamonds constantly enter our atmosphere from the cosmos.

Conceived as a peaceful and playful exploration of the interstellar space, the augmented reality soundscape installation invites the audience to access the experiential dimension of space. One enteres a space with  augmented reality trackers depicting places in space where interstellar dust forms and is found, especially nebulae.  Holding an ipad mini or cell phone with an augmented reality app, one will find him/herself immersed in a soundscape populated with 3D models derived from actual nanoscale stardust particles’ images.

Both the exercise of designing the 3D representations for the Augmented Reality application from original nano scale image samples of stardust particles and the sonification projects, are part of an interventionist creative practice where different strategies for editing and data visualization were explored, producing data-environments as informational sensorial experiences – somehow touching the untouchable space between the stars.

Exhibiting at Biocultura, Santa Fe, April 23

Presenting a Collaborative Cabinet work on Skin to Soil Microbiome,

April 23: 5-7:30PM

Earth Optimism Santa Fe at Biocultura

Earth Optimism Santa Fe connects globally and acts locally to feature the work of artists, students and scientists responding to environmental challenges and opportunities. We are a sister event of Earth Optimism, a global program coordinated by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and connected to the UNM Art & Ecology’s Decolonizing Nature Conference. Our aim is to celebrate the systems that keep our soil (and us) healthy.
Featuring electronics pioneer Leah Beuchley, bio artist Mick Lorusso in a collaboration with Joel Ong , artist and designer Catherine Page Harris, Marfa-based artist Elise Sibley Chandler, biologist Renee Bronwyn Johansen and bio art and design students Kaitlin Bryson and Sabrina Islam. The event will also mark the launch of a work by Navajo Nation-based photo muralist and member of the Justseeds collective Chip Thomas.

Mick Lorusso and Joel Ong have created windows into the microbial world, where dirt samples from the regions incubate and breed curated microbiomes. Interactive elements perturb the dust samples, further revealing narratives and metaphors of environmental disruptions at a global scale, providing the context for a uniquely microbial perspective of the world.


“Microbial Witness/Atlas” collaborative installation at ArtSci Salon, Toronto opens April 6th

A collaboration between Joel Ong, Mick Lorusso at the ArtSci Salon Cabinet Project, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Opening April 6th, 2017
Two cabinets at the entrance of Gerstein Library, at the University of Toronto, act as windows into the microbial world, where dirt samples from the region incubate and breed curated microbiomes. Overlaid with topographical representations of geologic features, the installation defines the site as an interconnected ecology, extending to sites on the human body that are known to host similar microbial populations.  Interactive elements perturb the dust samples, further revealing narratives and metaphors of environmental disruptions at a global scale, providing the context for a uniquely microbial perspective of the world.  The installation also features historical books from the library, diagrams and observational equipment.  The pages of this microbial atlas open before us, revealing microbes as witness to life on the other side of the looking glass.

Participant in Biohack Academy 4, through UNM, NM

The Biohack Academy 4 (BHA4) is a 10 week intensive international course on DIY biology techniques by the Waag Society. As a recent transplant to New Mexico, I have joined the Univeristy of New Mexico node of the Biohack Academy, through the Social Media Workgroup, run by Andrea Polli Ph.D.

You can see updates on the github page started for the course:

In connection to my current collaboration with Joel Ong on the correlations between the environmental microbiome and the body microbiome, I proposed the idea Microbial Utopia/Distopia – Soil to Skin as my midterm to the BHA4. Watch it on Vimeo here.

My final presentation, with the results of the first experiments is here: 

Soil to Skin – Mick Lorusso Final Presentation for Biohack Academy 4 from Mick Lorusso on Vimeo.

In “Fluid Systems” collaborative exhibition with Sci|Art Nanolab instructors

Lorusso participates in FLUID SYSTEMS, an exhibition at the UCLA Art|Sci Gallery featuring members of the Sci|Art Nanolab team and their creative approaches to systems in ecology, medicine, and life sciences.

FLUID SYSTEMS explores the myriad relationships between flows on the micro and macro level. David Prince introduces us to the art of making Kombucha. Rita Blaik reveals how dissolved particles in water scatter light in unique colors and patterns, through a phenomenon known as the Tyndall effect. Capillaries of zebrafish in Olivia Osborne’s research on nanotoxicology connect with the flow of blood in our bodies, videos by Mick Lorusso of rivers and estuaries, and the melting of their collaborative ice sculptures in the gallery. Dan Wilkinson shares jostling non-Newtonian fluids with us, and Amisha Gadani shows us her experiments with the flow of fabrics and objects through water.

A collective Water Canning stand—made by the Art|Sci Collective, including Mick Lorusso, Dawn Faelnar, Victoria Vesna and Judy Kim—allows participants to take a can of water home and participate in this flow of water on many levels, from the nano to the global.

Lead Instructor for UCLA Sci|Art Nanolab 2016

I had the pleasure of teaching as the lead instructor alongside a team of incredible creative thinkers for the UCLA Sci|Art Nanolab Summer Institute this year. Our theme was Systems Thinking and to get the students started off on the first day I conducted the workshop “Thinking Geometrically” based on the designs and philosophy of Buckminster Fuller, a master in systems thinking who introduced the concept of “Spaceship Earth,” instilling the awareness of the whole planet as our home that requires a whole-systems understanding to make sure that we maintain it in full life-supporting conditions. Building geometric forms helped us conceptualize systems and structures from the nano scale to the macro scale.

Throughout the course the instructors and I mentored the students in the development of prototypes and in imagining the impossible, using hands on knowledge and lectures as points of departure for their ideation processes.

Participant in “Rising Waters II” Rauschenberg Residency

The Rising Waters II Confab residency acted as a unique think tank for responding to the effects of climate change worldwide, especially on coastal areas and islands, which are threatened by a 3 to 6-foot sea level rise by the year 2100. The residency served as a microcosm of varying perspectives on how to approach climate change and the anthropocene, even amongst an incredible group of artists, thinkers, and scientists who agree that climate change is real and caused by human industrialization.
The relationship I formed with Captiva Island, the Gulf of Mexico, and Pine Island sound, from the micro-scale up influenced me deeply.  In conjunction with that direct experience, the knowledge about local ecosystems and history of storm response that local experts and residents shared guided me and enriched my understanding.

For example we learned that we must watch and follow the barnacles on pilings as an indicator of how the water level is changing. Although many of these sites will need to be abandoned as the waters rise, based on what I learned at the Rising Waters Confab, I believe that many of our solutions lay in the resilience and fragility of ecosystems such as the mangrove and coral.
I spent a great deal of time examining the micro-ecologies of the islands under a webcamera microscope, and found the water and soil around the mangroves to be especially rich in life. These examinations became part of an interactive media installation ‘Becoming Mangrove,’ which emphasizes the resilience of the mangrove ecosystems in the face of rising water and storm surges. In the artwork, participants VJ the found digital microscope footage by connecting to mangrove buds and conductive prints.