Medium film | mixed media | performance | photography | other
smudge studio is a collaboration between Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse.
Our media include photography, performative research, multiples, installation and micro-productions. Inspired by both ancient and contemporary observations of Earth’s time and place in the cosmos, we stage embodied engagements with the planet’s ever-transforming events and conditions — human and nonhuman. We take this to be a vital aesthetic-ecological act.
In 002005, Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse founded smudge studio as a 501c3 art and education nonprofit. Our first works used various media and hand-built devices that interacted with diverse landscapes and topographies in ways that signaled the dynamic forces shaping them.
We traveled nationally and internationally for several years to research landscapes in transformation, including the Nevada Test Site in 2009 via a Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) residency in Wendover, UT. Through these travels we saw first hand how humans often design in ways that unintentionally create waste, rearrange landscapes and biospheres, and disrupt bio-geo networks. These impacts will shape our planet and our species and ramify into the future for thousands, and even millions of years. As these new material realities of climate change and the Anthropocene intensified, we expanded our framings of landscape and earth’s biosphere to include geologic time and geo-cosmo frames of reference.
To share this expanded frame, we founded the blog and project entitled Friends of the Pleistocene (002010). We used it to record and creatively respond to our observations and experiences as research artists. It led to our original publication entitled Geologic City: A Field Guide to the GeoArchitecture of New York (NYSCA funded 002012) and our co-edited collection of artists’ insights about the material conditions of contemporary life entitled Making the Geologic Now (punctum books 002012).
In May 002022, we launched smudge studio’s site-specific project: OBSERVATORY, located on the Penobscot Formation, in Belfast, Maine (158 High Street). OBSERVATORY is a geo-cosmo field station dedicated to making vast scales of geo | cosmo connection sense-able, meaningful, and liveable at a human scale. In the midst of fast environmental change, OBSERVATORY’s mission is to generate experiences of curiosity, participation, and deep belonging to our home planet—and to its home, the cosmos.