During the summer months of 2007 and 2008 Brandon was artist in residence at YSP. During this time he conducted primary research on site; collecting samples from the ponds and lakes in order to research rates of deformity and mutation in the Park's resident frogs, toads and newts. YSP visitors were welcomed to Brandon's laboratory and to help in the recording and presentation of his findings. Throughout his stay, Brandon led field trips and projects with the public and school groups to collect samples and conduct aquatic surveys. The research undertaken during his time at YSP feeds into his study of declining amphibian species, commissioned by Arts Catalyst in 2007.
Love Motels (2008)
During summer 2007, Brandon Ballengée led fieldtrips and student groups in a survey of insect life at Gunpowder Park, an area of land in London recently established as a country park for the benefit of the local community.
As part of this project, Brandon created a series of Love Motels for insects. These sculptural structures use ultra-violet (black) light to attract mating arthropods; beetles, moths, spiders and other nocturnal animals. As moths attempt to attract a mate they release pheromones and, as a consequence, paint the fabric of structure.
Throughout the insect mating season and to coincide with Brandon’s residency at YSP, Love Motels were built to continue the research. At night, these sculptural forms became a haven for insect life at YSP, resulting in the creation of beautiful patterns across the internal walls. When the season was over, the motels were removed, the fabric retained and subsequently made into a body of work which displayed at Longside Gallery in February 2009.
Brandon’s residency at YSP also involved a major study into amphibian decline and deformity. Previous visits to YSP led Brandon to discover a high rate of deformity in amphibian populations in and around the park.
These malformations are a suspected result of environmental factors occurring in the early stages of tadpole development, including parasites, nutritional deficiencies, increased UV radiation and pollution. By exploring the rates of deformity and mutation in amphibians, Brandon hopes to be able to highlight ecological changes that are driving the emergence of disease.
To aid in his research, Brandon established a bio-art lab at Longside unit 9, adjacent to Longside Gallery where visitor’s were invited to drop into the lab to observe and assist Brandon in his project.