This video presents a glimpse into the process of the 'Remnant Emergency Artlab' - held in Sydney in November 2010. The outcome is called the Botanical Gardens Xtension.
This short film firstly lays out an seemingly intractable problem of managing flying foxes in a big city like Sydney. In Australia flying foxes are yet another threatened species - and yet one which is ecologically essential because of their critical pollination and seed spreading services. These flying foxes (predominantly the grey headed species) congregate in large numbers to sleep during the day in the Sydney Botanical Gardens. Through the inadvertent mechanical damage caused by large numbers of foxes, they are damaging the heritage trees there.
The video suggests that, instead of the current solution which is to remove them all using industrial noise, that the idea/concept of what a Botanical Gardens should be extended - removing the separations between current institutions and acknowledging the immense ecological services the gardens provide beyond the conservation of plants.
Our provocative idea is to extend the gardens throughout the city - and to focus key developments in areas adjacent to the gardens - in this case a harbour front site called 'Barangaroo' - South of the Sydney Harbour Bridge - a current a hot topic of conversation in Sydney. What is envisaged there at the site is the development of a new ecological park - in essence an Xtension of the idea of a botanical gardens into one one that actively attracts the flying fox colony to it - by creating favourable conditions for the bats through a mix of vegetation and temporary perching/hanging structures. By welcoming them as the extraordinary ecological and tourist asset that they are - the bat migration nightly from Barangaroo becomes one of Sydey's most important and cherished tourist attractions.
See also http://www.xtension.cc for the fuller artistic vision.
The video was shot and edited by filmmaker James Muller and features the input of the entire Sydney team: who are
Professor Tony Fry, Design Futures, Griffith University, Brisbane
Collaborating in Sydney with UTS academics Dr. Lian Loke and Dr. Lizzie Muller aided by Holly Williams and Tania Creighton of UTS Gallery - where this work is on show till December 10th 2010.
Other experts and participants who have contributed to this film and vision have included:
Leading Bat Ecologists Peggy Eby and Kerryn Parry Jones,
Professor Deborah Rose (Macquarie Uni),
Zoo Architect David Hancocks,
John Martin (Royal Botanical Gardens Trust) and
architects Tom Rivard, Allison Earl,
Sarah Waterson (UWS),
Caitlin McGee & Tania Leimbach (UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures)