The Metabolic Landscape – Exhibition by Gina Glover and Jessica Rayner

The Metabolic Landscape – Exhibition by Gina Glover and Jessica Rayner

6th October 2014 - 24th October 2014

BCU Parkside Campus, Birmingham


That climate change would come as a consequence of the burning of fossil fuels was first predicted in the 1920s by Alfred Lotka, a chemist and biophysicist educated in Birmingham. The title of this exhibition draws from his analysis and from the science of biochemical processes found in living organisms and in the Earth’s energy and chemical flows.

Over the last 200 years society has massively increased its use of energy, bringing immense benefits to humankind but also interfering in the planet’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, now also identified as a major source of ecological damage. Just as a metabolic disease refers to an energy-related disorder of the body, so too, due to the burning of fossil fuels, the planet is itself revealing signs of metabolic distress.

Glover and Rayner’s artwork addresses energy extraction, energy transmission, energy use and energy substances, in the case of coal and oil, once living organisms. The exhibition poses questions about energy in the landscape, making the case that art must engage with the energy dynamics of the world about us.

An opening reception and talk will take place on Wednesday 8th October at the Parkside campus.

The Metabolic Landscape: A Meeting Place between Science and Art

A talk by Dr Geof Rayner, Gina Glover and Jessica Rayner – 5pm – 6.30pm followed by the launch from 6.30-8.30pm

The scientific understanding of metabolism developed over hundreds of years. Today metabolism is defined as the sum total of the chemical processes occurring in living organisms, determining their growth, production of energy or elimination of wastes. The Earth is itself a metabolic system with organic and chemical processes interacting either in a dynamic balance or towards instability. This talk, led by Dr Geof Rayner, with contributions by artists Gina Glover and Jessica Rayner (and based on their new book, The Metabolic Landscape: Perception, Practice and the Energy Transition, Black Dog, 2014) will address how the landscape is being altered by humankind’s increasing energy demands. Their locations range from the frozen tundras of the Arctic, the empty prairies of America through to the flat, sandy tracts of Germany’s Brandenburg forests and lakes. Their talk covers energy substances, habits and artefacts – all featured as artworks – ranging from a discussion of fossil or mineral energy sources to the place of the humble light bulb. The authors/artists argue that art provides ways for us to engage with issues of energy and its impact (social, aesthetic, climatic) in ways that science cannot.

The Metabolic Landscape blog is at

Gina Glover, Geof Rayner, Jessica Rayner’s book, released with the exhibition,The Metabolic Landscape: Perception, Practice and the Energy Transition (Black Dog Publishing, 2014), can be ordered via the artists’ websites &, along with pictures and posters from the exhibition, and through the University shop.

The Parkside Gallery, housed in the entrance of the University’s Parkside Building, showcases the work of both emerging talent and established artists and designers – with free admission to every exhibition.

Image credit: Gina Glover – Titan Crane, Longyearbyen, Norwegian mining town, Svalbard

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