Yearly Archives: 2009

1906 SF earthquake “a hoax”

Touching on denialism in that earlier post, there’s a piece on The Guardian website about the deniers’ conference held this week in New York, Global warming – Was it ever a crisis?

This in the week that the Copenhagen Climate Change summit reports on the sea’s dangerously rising acidity, the attempt at calculating the volumes of CO2 that will be released as ice melts and tundra thaws in the event of a 2 degree temperature rise, the raised predictions for sea-level rises and the prediction by some scientists that climate change makes the attempts to save the existing rainforests a labour of Sisyphus.

At times like this, thank God for The Onion:

SAN FRANCISCO—In an event that sparked outrage across the historical community, deniers of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake convened last weekend to share their controversial theories about what actually occurred on that tragic day more than a century ago.

The 1906 Earthquake Deniers, a group reviled by Californians and scholars alike, held three days of lectures and roundtable discussions over what they call a “century-long hoax” of exaggerated seismic activity in the Bay area, and part of a conspiracy to bring the World’s Fair to San Francisco in 1915. Historians protested the conference, saying the organization’s statements denying any major seismic activity in 1906 are reprehensible and out of line with all available geologic data from the time.

“On Apr. 18, 1906, an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale killed 3,000 San Franciscans and devastated a growing metropolis,” Professor Richard Kasper of the University of California, Berkeley, told reporters Tuesday. “It was a massive, massive earthquake. To say otherwise is to callously ignore not only the suffering of the disaster’s victims, but also a mountain of photographs, video footage, and eyewitness reports.”

Added Kasper: “And I find it personally offensive to suggest that a single malfunctioning trolley car could have wiped out 490 city blocks.”

Hat tip to Denialism blog.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Age of Stupid as a model for climate activism

Armstrong filming in New Orleans, 2006Armstrong filming in New Orleans, 2006

On the eve of the premiere of Age of Stupid, an email from director Franny Armstrong:

Tabloid Revolution: Three million people will have choked on their cornflakes this morning when they read Pete’s column in the Sun. See attached. “We – that is humanity – have only a couple of years left to act if we are to stop catastrophic climate change causing the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.” In The Sun.

Pete being Pete Postlethwaite. The column is an achievement in itself in a paper that last year published a column by Kelvin MacKenzie  headlined Global Warming Doesn’t Exist.

The Age of Stupid has been an exemplary campaign, from the crowd-funding strategy that raised £450,000 to meet production cost, £130,000 to meet distribution and publicity costs and a further £164,000 for political campaigns running alongside the movie, to an incredibly efficiently run grass-roots internet strategy to get the words out.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Stern changes predictions: says now we have to contemplate six degrees

At Copenhagen, Nicholas Stern admits his 2006 Stern Report underestimated the gravity of the problem – not so much the economics of it, or in terms of the more recent data coming in, but the stunning lack of political response:

“Do the politicians understand just how difficult it could be? Just how devastating 4, 5, 6 degrees centigrade would be? I think not yet. Looking back, the Stern review underestimated the risks and underestimated the damage from inaction.”

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Cornerstone Theater Company – ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE RESIDENCY

FLOW

Written by JULIE HÉBERT

Directed by JULIETTE CARRILLO

May 28 – June 21, 2009

The Los Angeles River has a long and documented history thanks to river historians and Hollywood films. But, how do we begin to unravel LA residents’ relationship to a river most of us have only glimpsed from our car windows? Playwright Julie Hebért begins to explore the mysteries and hot spots along the river, including adjacent communities like Frogtown and people working to reclaim the waterway and its benefits. Conversations with scientists, advocates, river lovers, politicians, Native Americans, artists, and residents along the banks of this great paved natural resource will all inform this play. What spaces are vital along the river today? What does the future hold for the ecosystems that exist within it? And, what will happen when Angelinos finally get out of their cars and step into the riverbed?

Community partners for this project include:
Farmlab
Friends of the Los Angeles River
South Asian Network

via Cornerstone Theater Company – ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE RESIDENCY.

Rogue Artists Ensemble – AUDITION: Gogol Project Workshop

Rogue Artists Ensemble is now looking for actors, puppeteers and movement-based performers for a staged workshop version of their upcoming original Hyper-theatrical work, Gogol Project, based on three tales by

Russian author Nikolai Gogol. The script been adapted for the stage by Kitty Felde with music and songs by Ego Plum.

The workshop will begin rehearsals the 2nd week of April and the workshop performs Tuesday April 28-Wednesday April 29th at Bootleg Theater on Beverly Blvd. Rehearsals will be Mon-Thurs with select

rehearsals on weekends leading up to the performance. There is a one-night mandatory technical rehearsal on Monday April 27th from 6pm – 11pm.

For more information including the character breakdown, click “read more.”

There is no pay for the workshop, but it will be a rewarding and inspiring experience for all involved The full production of Gogol Project will take place from September through October at Bootleg Theater, and

auditions will be held in July. Participation in this preliminary workshop does not guarantee a role in the full production. The workshop performance will be open to the public and pay-what-you-can/free.

The cast size for the workshop will be twelve actors, some of which will be performing as the silent characters and puppet based characters in the piece. Gogol Project will require an ensemble of actors to together create

the over twenty characters which populate the world of Nevsky Prospect. The workshop will feature some projected elements, puppets, set and costumes in order to help approximate the feel of the full production.

Interested artists should submit by March 20th to scawelti@rogueartists.org, including their resume and headshot if available.

Cast will be contacted by March 27th and auditions/readings may be scheduled if needed.

via Rogue Artists Ensemble – AUDITION: Gogol Project Workshop.

Thinking about the “use” of art at times like these

Some while ago I did an interview with Siân Ede, Director of Arts at the Gulbenkian Foundation. This week I finally got around to transcribing it and posting it up on the main arts and ecology website. She was particularly smart when it came to addressing the objectives of the RSA Arts & Ecology website here:

People think there must be a use for art in issues around the environment – and we believe there is – but quite often they misconstrue what that use is.

Yes. Artists never use the word “use”. What Kant says about art is it’s purposiveness without a purpose. And it is a response to the world in any number of interesting different ways because all the artists are looking at it slightly differently. So there is a fundamental problem for me, and I think for the RSA too, and for the Arts Council, about asking artists to make things that have a utility, that are issue-based, in the jargon. You’ll get people like Cornelia Parker saying “as an individual I am very moved by the politics and the ethics

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, Cornelia Parker 1991

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, Cornelia Parker 1991

of environmental issues, but I can’t do that in my art.” It’s not how it works. Because the arts are much more complex and do not have a particular purpose.

Obviously there will be some artworks that have a particular purpose, and interestingly the attitude to nature that we hold enshrined because of Romanticism, means that we are now aware that nature is no longer the nature that it was. Romanticism came about in response to the industrialisation of the countryside. Now we know nature is no longer the sublime, the transcendent, the beautiful, the God-given. It is tainted. It is sad. It is ending.

You can’t say, “Hail to thee, blithe spirit!” any more like Shelley did, without being aware that the lark is in decline. If you read the Shelley again you read it with this new awareness and you bring this awareness to it.

Is there a problem then with a project like Arts & Ecology – or is there only a problem if you think about it in terms of “use”?

Oh, subtle question. I mean, you could say, arts and sport, or arts and economics, couldn’t you? And arts and anything? In fact my book Art and Science is part of a series of books that are art and anything… Art and Medicine, Art and Sex, and in a way you’re just making an interpretive selection. “Ok, let’s look towards all the art that looks at the environment, and look at environmental issues.” Which is different from being an agenda given to artists. Of course, how can you not make art about the environment? Nobody’s isolated.

So Arts & Ecology, or Art and Science, gives you a pair of critical glasses through which to look?

Yes. Yes it does.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Report from CAA 2009, Los Angeles

This was my fourth College Art Association conference over a ten year period. My first being in Los Angeles in 1999. Not only did I attend that year because I lived in LA at the time, I was also interested to attend a studio session entitled Off the Mainstream, Into The Mainstream. The session included three chairs and nine artists presenting the state of environmental art from the 1990s, including mostly artists from California. This was the panel that set me on course to participate in an ecoart dialogue listerve online for the last ten years.

Ten years later, CAA 2009, was once again in LA, although this time there were several panels that crossed over into the realm of science or ecology including:
Proof: Art Illuminating Science with artists Lillian Ball and Aviva Rahmani; Green Foundations: Curricular and Environmental Sustainability with Linda Weintraub; Place Markers: Artists, Technology, and Landscape; The Ecological Imagination: From Land Art to BioArt; and Land Use in Contemporary Art, Part I & II.

Since I lived in Los Angeles for more than twenty years, I decided this CAA to propose a paper for the Land Art panel to present examples of artists working outdoors in Southern California from 1999-2008. I focused on work that was least invasive and noted a progression of a land ethic by artists who were in the following exhibitions: Malibu Art Ranch 1997; SaFARi at the Old LA Zoo 1998; Escondido Phoenix 1999; Newtown Trail Markers 2001; Earthworks NOW Biennial 2003/5; HDTS 2001-2008; and MOISTURE 2001-2008. Other panelists included Kimberly Paice from University of Cincinnati who gave a talk “On Wheat” that mostly focused on Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield: A Confrontation. She also presented Dennis Oppenheim’s’ field work “Cancelled Crop” and “Directed Seeding” both from 1969. Chris Taylor, co-creator of Land Arts of the American West, a program operating from Texas and University of New Mexico, presented a visual diary of a caravan road trip he took with students to cultural sites and earth/land art sites in the desert Southwest over a two month period in one semester. They create ephemeral work on the land and return to the campus to create work for a gallery exhibition. Ann Wolfe with the Nevada Museum of Art gave a paper on Chris Drury and his Mushroom work they recently comissioned him to do. The Museum sponsored the Art+Environment conference in Reno last fall where Ann also gave a presentation. Her emphasis was that the Museum in Reno is the first of its kind to make Art+Environment its curatorial thematic. She also announced that the Director of the program, William Fox, has begun to create an archive of ephemera related to projects created in and near Nevada in the desert (Heizer/deMaria).

Land Art is a term that mostly refers to a movement from the 1970s, large-scale or monumental earth art, meant to be seen from far away. You often hear this term from Europe, particularly from the UK, to describe earth art, smaller works in the landscape, even ephemeral. However, after this panel, I believe there was some consensus that Land Art is a historical term referring to work created in the desert Southwest and does not define the type of work being done today. Panel Chair Kirsten Swenson referred to this new work as a Land-based Art Practice. And, from there, the medium is the message. As we know, there is still plop art happening (even at High Desert Test Sites). And, much of the art that is created outdoors is simply using nature as a gallery or cheap studio space. The real trick is to work with the land but not impact it, thus the title of my talk
Land Ethics:Post Land Art. Some better examples of this would include audio tour projects like Invisible 5 & Jack Rabbit Homestead by Kim Stringfellow, or more urban/rural dialogic/relational mapping/tour projects like Fallen Fruit or LA Urban Rangers.

Or, how about Bruce Nauman’s proposal for a sky writing in 1969 entitled “Leave the Land Alone.” This is a work I only found out about in the inaugural issue of Mammut magazine (Fall 2008), in an article with the same title written by Andrew Bernardini. He stated that this was Nauman’s response written in a letter to a gallery who invited him to participate in an earth art exhibition. The work was never realized and the letter has not been found. This sounds like a perfect project for the Center for Land Use (CLUI) to execute with Nauman, in the clear blue skies of Nevada?

 

Go to EcoArtSpace

Are green blogs failing to convince?

Commenting on the possiblity of creating a new .eco domain, Al Gore said this week:

We fully support Dot Eco LLC in its efforts to secure the .eco top level domain through the ICANN application process and look forward to working with Dot Eco LLC to promote .eco. This is a truly exciting opportunity for the environmental movement and for the internet as a whole.

Exciting? Really? Really?

Like Matthias Merkel Hess, who occasionally wrings his hands with regret at calling his admirable site, Eco Art Blog, I inwardly cringe at the word. Here at Arts & Ecology we are always pleased that we never fell for the single-syllable option, keeping the subtler, more powerful term “ecology”, with its implicit sense of connectedness. Why having it as a suffix creates anything more than an internet ghetto, I don’t understand.

Anyway, to the point. Meaghan O’Neill, the woman behind Treehugger.com and Planetgreen.com is perkily bullish about the future of green blogs in general, writing in an article in last week’s Guardian. In an age in which conventional media are shedding staff as fast as they can, she believes that blogs can and should take over the role of reporting on environmental issues:

Anecdotally speaking, the audience for green content appears to still be growing, even as budgets for green media outlets are cut.

If you look at what she says with web2.0 spectacles on, things look rosy. Green bloggers have formed a community which educates and reinvigorates itself. As Abi Silvester of hippyshopper.com says in a comment on O’Neill’s article:

One element of blogging that’s particularly relevant here is that as bloggers we treat the issues as a basis for dialogue rather than presenting them as facts in the way that mainstream media tends to do… I do understand why some are uncomfortable with the idea of unqualified bloggers spurious scientific “facts”on the environment or any other topic, but so is any blogger worth his or her salt. In my experience, the blogs that gain credibility and respect are those that don’t set themselves up as “experts” but as interested parties that want to get involved and explore solutions creatively. There’s really no better place to do that than online at the moment.

Which is why green blogs are failing to change minds. Web2.0 is a great thing. But it’s not an end in itself. .

O’Neill says her faith that growing green audiences is “anecdotal”. Silvester too is a fan of the anectotal: “In my experience, the blogs that gain crediblity are those that don’t set themselves up as ‘experts’,” she says .

We don’t really have to prove ourselves right because we have the moral highground. A community that talks hihg-mindedly to itself is of value, but not when faced by an opposing community of sceptics which is, frankly, making all the running. In fact, as the barbed comments below O’Neill’s article show, climate deniers retain a much more powerful voice on the internet given their relatively small numbers, and green bloggers don’t appear to be able to do anything to dent that. Last month, to the horror of green bloggers everywhere, the climate-sceptic blog wattsupwiththat.com was nominated Best Science Blog of 2008 by the Best Blog Awards, to the delight of denier-trolls everhwhere.

The thing is, if blogs are going to replace the mainstream media, they must start assuming their authority. And that means finding more ways to do old-fashioned research and reporting – what the old mainstream media regarded as its central role. Moral highground is cheap. A reputation for accuracy is much harder to come by. That’s happening, but still so slowly.

The web is, as we are so often told, only 5,000 days old.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

Why does it always have to be Chas?

This morning’s Telegraph leads with the story of Prince Charles giving the  warning that we have “less than 100 months to save the world“.

Wonder what sort of crisis would it take to get a mainstream politician to make a similarly unequivocal statement  – one which in the light of new data emerging now on an amost daily basis is, after all, hardly scientifically controversial?

As long as the public continues to doubt the climtate science, as IPSOS Mori polls show they do, politicians remain reluctant to call a stick a stick – though to move swiftly from one metaphor to another, it’s unclear in this case which is the egg and which is the chicken.

In such circumstances, it’s not surprising that the undemocratic medium of green custard will continue to be used.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

C.R.A.S.H. : Artsadmin and The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination – commission, events and course – April – June

From April to June 2009 Artsadmin will be working with The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (LABOFII)on C.R.A.S.H., experimenting with sustainable alternatives to the current financial and ecological conditions.

C.R.A.S.H is part of “2 degrees” Artadmin’s festival of art and climate change.

C.R.A.S.H contains two parts: 
1) C.R.A.S.H Course is free, intensive training by LABOFII, combining permaculture design, art activist tactics and skills for building ecological and democratic communities, from 1 – 14 June.

2) C.R.A.S.H Culture is a week of commissioned actions, street art, skill-share, performance lectures and interventions across the City of London and a nightly promenade performance in an abandoned office block, from 17 – 21 June.

There are also commissions for internventions of £500 being offered, deadline 3 April.

More information and applications for the course and commissions are on labofii.net/experiments/crash.

www.labofii.net 
www.artsadmin.co.uk

Go to the Ashden Directory