Collaboration mediated by nature

Cat is from Memphis, Tennessee and Rebecca is from Lansing, Michigan. For the last three years we have been experimenting, researching, and making as a way to explore remote collaboration that happens off the screen in the physical environment, mediated by technology. Up until meeting in person for the first time at this DI experience, we have worked and communicated solely through digital means.

While in West Bamfield we took advantage of being sequestered away in WILD_ _NESS without any access to wifi and explored collaboration that was mediated with and through natural objects and concepts. The inquiries that led our making activities were: How can we speculate on ways to collaborate without technology? and How can nature be a mediator in our collaborations? The results of these collaborative inquiries generated artifacts created with resources found on the island—a wind drawing machine, berry-based ink, a sad attempt at paper-making, natural making tools, analog sewn collages and digital beach compositions.


The leathery-leaved Salal shrubs are native to western North America. They produce plump berries that were most likely a common food and medicine resource for the original inhabitants of the island. We used the berries as a resource for making natural ink. Here is the natural ink recipe we used and one for making salal jam (which we did not make but should have).



After the salal ink was prepared, Cat and Nick did some drawing explorations using the ink. The thick dark purple ink turned into a rich indigo color when dried.



The visions of making a ton of natural paper during the week F A I L E D. Turns out that when the bright green foliage from moss and grasses is boiled down to nothing it turns into an unattractive brown mush. Despite this, the paper-making happened anyway and produced a good failure story along with a very brittle and almost archaic looking object. Perhaps we missed a step in the natural paper-making recipe we used.



Cat used fern leaves sewn to paper as a way to create analog compositions, exploring the possibilities of nature becoming the design element.



Rebecca found and photographed seaweed on the beach, each a designed composition in its own way. She layered several of these beach compositions onto each other creating a new abstracted form.



Finally, we created a wind machine on Brady Beach, constructed of multiple hanging mark-making tools above a fabric canvas. The installation was set up for a duration of two days, while the mediator, wind created the drawing. This collaboration was between Rebecca, Cat, and the wind.