Nature in the Dark - Baltimore

Curated by Marnie Benney

View Marnie Benney's Biography

Marnie Benney is an independent curator working at the juncture of art, science and technology based in the Northeast region of the US.

Nature in the Dark - Baltimore

by Marnie Benney

Nature in the Dark - Baltimore presented the Nature in the Dark 1 and 2 videos in Baltimore, MD / USA, as well as an exhibition involving the artists Laure Drogoul, Rachel Guardiola and Benjamin Andrew.

Nature in the Dark (NITD) views environmental science data through an artistic lens and re-contextualizes it by merging seemingly disparate elements: art and science; urban and natural environments; education and play. Combining elements that are traditionally separated encourages novel exploration and creates new, sometimes unlikely, methods of comprehension.

NITD’s artworks encourage a deepened understanding of nature through sensory exploration while simultaneously providing firsthand knowledge of the environmental science of the respective region. In doing so, NITD fosters connections to the natural world that can often feel distant in urban settings.


26 Jan 2015: National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD, USA
23 - 25 April 2015: Ynot Lot / Station North, Baltimore, MD, USA
1- 29 May 2015: Chestertown in Chestertown, MD, USA

Art and Science

NITD Baltimore’s participating artists travelled to Chestertown, MD for a residency at Washington College, where they met with environmental science faculty and learned about ongoing research projects. This resulted in a deepened understanding of environmental issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay, which the artists used as inspiration for their artwork. Our hope is that such interdisciplinary collaborations will be a catalyst for ongoing conversations that yield new insights on topics of local and global importance.

Urban and Natural Environments

By bringing nature into an urban context, NITD Baltimore blurs the lines between natural and built environments. It also underscores the notion that our ecosystem is completely connected and that these environments profoundly affect one another. For example, Baltimore’s proximity to the water played an integral role in its industrial development as a port city and manufacturing hub. Despite this, local residents often overlook the Bay’s ongoing importance and long-standing connection to the vitality and health of the city. NITD Baltimore aims to bridge this gap by empowering residents with data about the Bay through this multi-sensory, experiential exhibition.

Education and Play

NITD Baltimore artists blur the line between education and play by re-contextualizing scientific data and presenting it in novel, intriguing, and accessible ways in order to reach an expanded audience. By utilizing different mediums appealing to a broad learning spectrum, NITD can teach and empower visitors in ways that are engaging, entertaining and educational.

Nature in the Dark - Baltimore artists

Laure Drogoul’s Teetering X Tottering (On the Brink) —an interactive see-saw made from recycled water bottles, water, lights, speakers and sensors—is a kinetic sculpture that invites the viewer to balance up or down, creating an experiential awareness of water as a shared resource and illustrates the hydrologic cycle in the earth’s atmosphere.

Benjamin Andrew’s digital comic, Zero Tide, is displayed on viewing stations strategically placed throughout the site. The comic playfully personifies turtles coping with threats to their species’ existence. Visitors can follow a route mirroring that of turtles in the Chestertown area and track their movements.

Rachel Guardiola’s 16 mm and digital video, Voyage Around a Room, explores the Chesapeake Bay Bolide Impact theory, which asserts that the bay’s formation may be the result of a comet crashing into the earth. Its impact split the land mass and led to the mixing of fresh and salt water that sustains bay organisms. Guardiola’s camera lens functions as a mediator between the body and our external field of vision. The film is captured through the first-person perspective to present the exploration of the earth at a time before or after human presence.


Nature in the Dark - Baltimore was Marnie Benney’s final MFA project in the Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) Curatorial Practice program.

NITD Baltimore acknowledges and gratefully thanks its partners: Washington College’s Program for Creativity and the Environment (aka Sandbox), Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, Station North Arts and Entertainment District, the Victoria National Park Association and MICA. 

NITD Baltimore also thanks the following for their incredible support and help with this project: George Ciscle, Marcus Civin, Jeffry Cudlin, Gerald Ross, Jose Ruiz, John Lewis, Emily Blumenthal, Jann Rosen-Queralt, Timothy Nohe, Kirsten Walsh, Sam Redles, Magali Hebert-Huot, Sutton Demlong, Cameron Klavsen, Emily Kohlenstein, Jen Gray, Kelly Johnson, Ashley DeHoyos, Julia Yerger, Chloe Felmer and Shelby Norton.