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Mel Chin in "Consumption"

An interactive video game based on rug patterns of nomadic peoples and a garden with “hyperaccumulator” plants that clean up contaminated land are just two of Mel Chin’s unique collaborative ventures, incorporating botany, ecology, and even alchemy. “Making art, I think, is not about one track, one method,” he says. “The diversity of mediums and techniques is minor. But the diversity of ideas and how they survive and the methods that are transmitted is very important.”

The segment follows Chin in Detroit as he scouts locations for his latest project that converts arsoned houses into worm farms that benefit the local economy. Fractured by television static, Chin’s segment resembles a subversive broadcast.

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Executive Producer: Susan Dowling. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Production Coordinator: Laura Recht. Researcher: Quinn Latimer & Wesley Miller. Director: Deborah Shaffer. Editor: Amanda Zinoman. Director of Photography: Ken Kobland & Joel Shapiro. Additional Photography: Adam Larsen, Laura Recht, & Deborah Shaffer. Assistant Camera: Jarred Alterman, Steve Carrillo, Brian Hwang, Alan Pierce, Beth Puorro, & Kipjaz Savoie. Sound: Rick Albright, Stuart Deutsch, Andrew Garrison, Steven Robinson, Gary Silver, & Bill Wander. Gaffer/Grip: Ned Hallick, John Roche, & Wilson Waggoner. Production Assistant: Steve Carrillo, Courtney Harrell, & Kevin Tierney. Animation Stand Photographer: Marcos Levy & City Lights. Assistant Avid Editor: Matt Prinzig & Kate Schmitz.

Introductory Segment | Artwork: Barbara Kruger. Cast: John McEnroe.

Mel Chin Houston Segment | Director: James Harithas. Producer: Manuel Pellicer & Kathleen Pellicer. Director of Photography/Sound/Producer: Wes Sandel.

Devil’s Night Commercial | Director: Helen Nagge. Cast: Bubba Crutchfield. Director of Photography: Adam Larsen. Sound Recordist/Producer: Mikael Manoukian. Location Manager: Bob Sargent. Package Design: Erick Robel. Driver/Special Effects: Bob Bass.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Art Design and Direction: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Music Supervisor: John Yaffé. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack, New York. Post-Production Supervisor: Michael Weingrad & Keir Randall.

Artworks courtesy of: Matthew Barney; Michael Ray Charles; Mel Chin; Andrea Zittel; Andrea Rosen Gallery; Frederieke Taylor Gallery; Barbara Gladstone; & Tony Shafrazi Gallery.

Special Thanks: Fareed Armaly; Art Car Museum; Anne C. Baker; Alison Beall; Jamie Bennett; William Bush; Dr. Rufus L. Chaney; Cincinatti Art Museum; City Lights; Susan Delson; David Ebner; Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum; Thomas G. Grace; Guggenheim Museum; Russell Hassell; John McEnroe Gallery; KNOWMAD Confederacy; Spike Lee; Bruce Mac Corkindale; Steve Malmberg, Queens Museum; Cara Mertes; Tom Miller; Margarita Moreno; Carter Mull; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Chris Pullman; Project Row House; Nick Robinson; Chelsea Romersa; Matt D. Ryle; Tamberelli Video; TenniSport; University of Texas, Austin; & Darin Webb.

Interns: Maytal Ahrony, Joyce Alcantara, Christina Darcy, Leslie Fritz, Johanna Goldfeld, Susannah Gust, Sage Lehman, Kelly McCoy, Genevieve Mercatante, Jeff Seelbach, & Stacy Wu.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman.

Major underwriting for Season 1 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by Robert Lehman Foundation, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, The Broad Art Foundation, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Bagley Wright Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and The Foundation-to-Life.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Mel Chin

Mel Chin’s art is both analytical and poetic and evades easy classification. Alchemy, botany, and ecology are but a few of the disciplines that intersect in his work. He insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. Unconventional and politically engaged, his projects also challenge the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork.

“Making art, I think, is not about one track, one method. The diversity of mediums and techniques is minor.

But the diversity of ideas and how they survive and the methods that are transmitted is very important.”

Mel Chin

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Mel Chin

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By Barbara Kruger with John McEnroe

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“Revival Field”

Artist Mel Chin discusses the inspiration for his 1991 land art piece, Revival Field.