PATTERN ECOLOGY is a collaborative project with multi-instrumentalist/composer Kristina Dutton. Together we are exploring topics in the intersection of art and ecology through music composition, field recording, interviews with artists and scientists, and multimedia presentations and events.


In August 2019 we participated in the Dinacon Digital Naturalism conference in Gamboa, Panama. Organized by Andrew Quitmeyer, this month-long gathering of hackers, technologists, artists, biologists, and sound artists produced so much interesting work with, inside, or in response to the tropical forest and river environments that surrounded us in Gamboa. In 2018, Pattern Ecology composed a musical score to Rearing Anartia, a 1976 8mm documentary film produced by entomologists Robert Silberglied and Annette Aiello at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Barro Colorado Island research station in Panama. At Dinacon, we worked on material for a video-album in the spirit of Aiello and Silberglied’s efforts to share intimate details of field work and scientific processes with the public. The work we completed at Dinacon features Dutton's immersive binaural audio and video recording, Schonberg's research on hidden soundscapes using ultrasonic and substrate-borne techniques, and our interviews with artists and biologists in Gamboa. Below are two short films that we completed while in Gamboa. The first features members of a colony of Atta ant species moving across Pipeline Road in Gamboa, and includes sounds of locomotion and stridulation from the ants, and binaural ambient sounds from the trail environment. The second video was filmed while kayaking in the Rio Chagres one afternoon, and features ambient sound, underwater soundscapes, and video. These videos stand on their own as documents of our time in Gamboa, and will be combined with ecological insight from the field and components of interviews in our video-album.


REARING ANARTIA and COLIAS are two short 8 and 16mm films about the passion of three biologists to explore the biology of butterflies, resurrected from the Smithsonian archives and re-imagined with a soundtrack. Biologist Dr. Arnaud Martin (George Washington University) commissioned Pattern Ecology to compose scores for these spectacular films. COLIAS (the Sulfur Butterflies) will be screening at the Imagine Science film fest in October 2019 in New York City. The trailer for the films follows:

Video footage courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Archive.

Rearing Anartia features entomologists Annette Aiello and Robert Silberglied’s field research at the Barro Colorado Island field station in Panama. They were investigating the factors involved in maintaining two distinct species. Colias features Silberglied and Chip Taylor conducting research inalfalfa fields of southwest Arizona that were habitat to incredible densities of butterflies that enabled allowed them to study in depth how females recognize the males of their own species based on ultraviolet coloration. Silberglied's untimely death in a plane crash left behind an undiscovered body of work, including these two research films. Fifty years later, we digitized these two films held in the Smithsonian Institution's archives and added musical scores. These films are an early testimony of how creative scientists intended to communicate their passion for the study of nature to broad audiences. We composed the scores in 2018 as musicians-in-residence at Shotpouch Cabin, hosted by the Spring Creek program at Oregon State University in Corvallis. In April 2019 Spring Creek presented the premiere of the films at OSU. A New York City premiere will be held in the fall of 2019.

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