Empire of Dirt is a site-responsive, art-science research collaboration between artist James Geurts and Prof Andy Ball at RMIT University’s Centre for Environment, Sustainability and Remediation.

As a public sculpture responding to a construction site, Empire of Dirt draws its form, content and context directly from a soil sample taken from the site of RMIT’s New Academic Street development. Geurts engages our imagination in the darkness and complexity of the living earth beneath our feet and suggests how the existing soil biology may adapt to survive the current global ecological tipping point.

The project is the first to emerge from a partnership between Wonderment Walk Victoria, RMIT/CAST and Carbon Arts to deliver public art outcomes that celebrate knowledge and science, with a particular focus on environmental sustainability. Empire of Dirt will be realised through the Urban Animators: Living Laboratory program near the New Academic Street development site and be installed in Rodda Lane courtyard.

The sculpture is linked to a series of light box works features drawings produced during fieldwork on site combined with modified imagery produced in the laboratory context. Launching in early 2017.