Lurid Ecologies & A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge

July 28 – August 19
Opening Reception Friday, July 28, 5-8pm

Embark Gallery is pleased to present Tanja Geis and Christopher Nickel as the inaugural artists of R&D Projects, a series of research-intensive postgraduate fellowships and summer solo exhibitions. With this program, we are extending our support of emerging MFA artists to their postgraduate careers by offering graduated artists who have previously shown with Embark the opportunity to develop new scholarly and investigative projects in partnership with local nonprofits. Geis was paired with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Nickel responded to the Internet Archive.


Lurid Ecologies: Ways of Seeing the Bay

Tanja Geis | UC Berkeley 2015

Geis has partnered with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) to develop an exhibition responding to their work monitoring, conserving and restoring the San Francisco Bay. For Embark, Geis reimagines the substrates set in the bay for colonization by Ostrea lurida, the native oyster, for a series of phantasmagoric drawings made using mud pigment from the Bay. These drawings are shown alongside a 3-channel video installation, shot in research tanks at the Romberg Tiburon Center.

Ostrea lurida. Lurid oyster. The etymology of “lurid” is uncertain yet some of its earliest uses referred to the interplay of light and darkness, the aspect of things when the sky is overcast, the color of smoky flames, or perhaps the appearance of sunlight filtered through silty Bay waters. These works consider the vitally important, complex, and often turbid endeavor of SERC's research, and its techniques and apparatus, to address how scientific and aesthetic framing of complex ecologies inform how we look and what goes unseen. The restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay is part of the Living Shorelines Project which is funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Geis makes paintings, installations, videos and participatory events that explore liminal and mongrel spaces as zones for the transformation of ecological perception. She holds an MFA in Art Practice from UC Berkeley, an MRM in Marine Management from the University of Akureyri, Iceland, and a BA in Fine Art from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and venues in New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, the UK, Japan, and Iceland. She was born in Hong Kong and lives in Oakland, CA.


A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge: A Visual Archive

Christopher Nickel | Stanford 2015

For A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge: A Visual Archive, Nickel mines the image collection of the Internet Archive—an ever-expanding visual database of user generated digital (and digitized) media—for the raw materials to create large-scale scroll-like tableaus. These digital collages of seemingly unrelated images have been filtered through the eclectic categories employed by the Whole Earth Catalog—a publication that acted as compendium and how-to guide for the utopian visions enacted by the self-sufficient back-to-the-land communities of the 1960s and 70s. Visually drawing the two together acknowledges both the active role that the Whole Earth Catalog took in promoting digital networks as the emerging form for self-organizing communities, while also serving as a direct model for our current Internet-based aggregators, searches engines, and the non-hierarchical system the Internet Archive has applied to its multiple repositories as they seek to fulfill their mission of providing “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”

In his recent projects, Nickel has focused on the physical presence of the Internet, attempting to recast its virtual, disembodied appearance as a physical object— a single fantastically complex body with mass and material, with a long history of evolution, existing in specific geographic locations. He holds an MFA from Stanford University, a BFA from California College of the Arts, and lives and works in Oakland, CA.

Upcoming: I Am Maneuvering with Difficulty

August 25 – September 16
Angela Willetts | UC Davis 2016

Willetts, following conversations with National Park Service historians, has created a body of work addressing the history of the Fort Mason campus and the semiotics of naval and military infrastructures. Using open­-ended, experience-­based inquiry around physical materials to explore ideas of entanglement and interdependence, Willetts' work encompasses sculpture, performance, installation and video. Originally from the UK, she has lived and worked in the Bay Area for the last eighteen years. 

Artist Websites

Embark Gallery
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
2 Marina Blvd., Bldg. B, Ste. 330
San Francisco, CA 94123

Gallery Hours
Saturdays and Sundays 12 – 5pm or by appointment from July 28 – August 19

Press Preview
Thursday, July 27, 10am – 5pm [by appointment]

Press Contact
Christopher Squier,