Mesocosm (Wink, TX), 2012
Hand-drawn animation (color, silent), custom software, computer, screen or projector
Dimensions variable, landscape orientation
146-hour cycle (24-minute day, 146-hour year)
Edition of 5, 2 AP
Mesocosm (Wink, TX) is part of an ongoing series of animated landscapes that develop and change over time in response to probability equations that trigger narrative elements. Its title is drawn from the field of environmental science and refers to experimental, simulated ecosystems, which allow for manipulation of the physical environment and are used for biological, community, and ecological research. They are drawn by hand, frame-by-frame, yet its choreography is dynamic—not predetermined or linear—and runs in real-time. Each of the works in Mesocosm is long in duration and recombines perpetually as inputs determine order, density, and interrelationships. An ongoing cycle, they have no fixed beginning or end. Wink, Texas is the second landscape in Zurkow’s Mesocosm series. In the animation, a large sinkhole— the “Wink Sink 2” located on located on private oil company property in the small Texas town of Wink—boils, gushes, flows, and expels objects: plastic bags, oil, and dark clouds that whirl out of the sinkhole’s vortex in ghostly choreography. Oil refineries burn off gases in plumes in the background as an occasional train or coyote lumbers past. This sinkhole has been widening steadily since it emerged in 2002; here, it appears as a natural geological event, complete with picnic rest stop furnishings. By day, the landscape is inhabited by a diversity of bird life, prairie dogs, insects, pronghorn antelope, HazMat workers, and—depending on the season—by migrating monarch butterflies, snakes, and sandhill cranes.