Yearly Archives: 2009

California Map Project

{California Map Project, 1969, by John Baldessari}

Somehow I missed learning about this piece until just recently, but it’s my new favorite work of “land art.” In 1969, John Baldessari took the map of California (lower right) and then went to each place on the map where the map letters spelling ‘California’ would be located. At these sites, he spelled out the letter in rocks or some other way, or maybe he found them. I don’t know exactly how he mad the piece, but it’s a pretty hilarious work and definitely in line with my other favorite piece of land art, Bruce Nauman’s untitled text piece which states, “Leave the Land Alone.” (A whole issue of Mammut was devoted to this text piece.)

Unfortunately, the online images of Baldessari’s piece aren’t that great. I’ll keep my eyes open for a better version, maybe in a book image that can be scanned. I also just read an excellent Dave Hickey piece on land art from the September-October 1971 issue of Art in America. In it, Hickey examines the perceived notion that land or earth artists were challenging the status of object production or the space of the museum. This is a viewpoint that still seems to be thrown around today. Hickey points out that the work was marketable and that many museums commissioned land art projects. He goes on to write that

It is not the Earth artists who are challenging the market and the museums, but the magazines themselves. Earth art and its unpackageable peers cannot hurt the market, but extensive magazine coverage can, since not as much object art will get exposure. The magazines have found in this unpackageable art a vehicle through which they can declare their independence from art dealers who invented the critical press, nurtured it, and have tended to treat it like a wholly own subsidiary. Now there is an art form ideally suited to presentation via magazine. Work consisting of photographs and documentation is not presented by journalism, but as journalism—a higher form—needless to say.

The people on the magazines must believe (and I think rightly) that these indefinite art forms might do for the magazines what Pop Art did for the dealers—lend a certain institutional luster,, and with it a modicum of arbitrary power.

It’s a great read of Earth Art and it makes sense to me. And works like Baldessari’s map project or Nauman’s text piece point to movements spawned by Earth Art, such as environmental art, where it’s not about bulldozers and diesel or creating monuments, but instead a use of land in a way that is less invasive. And artists have come up with a variety of strategies to turn that kind of art into careers—whether that means founding their own non-profits, existing on museum commissions or yes, making things for galleries. It’s hard to be a rebel these days, but there are still interesting things to do.

Go to Eco Art Blog

Jeff Koons and art as big bling

With reference to the post below on the value of art, The Art Newspaper reports that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is about to commission Jeff Koons to create a sculpture of a life size replica of a train that will dangle from a crane – commemorating the railroad’s part in 19th century America’s westward migration. “We’re talking about a $25m work,” says Koons.

Twenty-five million makes it the most expensive artwork ever commissioned by a museum – even more expensive than Richard Serra’s $20m commission for the Guggenheim, Bilbao. Talks between LACMA and Koons began two years go, in those long-gone days when it looked like the boom was going on for ever. In times like these, it seems absurd for an art institution to be shelling out this much for a single artwork. And you don’t even have to be of the Patti Smith opinion, that Koons’ work is “just litter upon the earth”, to think this kind of commission is a very bad idea right now.

I was in Los Angeles a couple of months ago. The nature of the city means that the larger art institutions like LACMA and the struggling MOCA seem to have so little connnection to the real life of the city.

The artist Fritz Haeg, who I interviewed for a piece in The Observer that’s coming up on April 18 talked about this. “The way LA operates is not in the way of a European urban system of a top-down institution. It’s much more networked. This is an artists’ town, and there are a lot of small artist-run spaces that people feel more connected to personally than they do the museums.”

In this climate, in that city, the Koons commission way looks too much like art as big shiny bling.

Photo of Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Yellow) 1994-2000 taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, by Ken Applebaum

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Actually, It is Easy Being Green: Apollo Design Technology

From Live Design Online

We asked readers what they’re doing to be green, whether in design, manufacturing, or just life in general.

Here’s what Monty McWilliams at Apollo Design Technology had to say:

“Apollo has obviously gone green in a big way by switching our gobo production process from chemical etching to clean laser technology. Please click this link to view our video on our going green. We are also transitioning into recycled or recyclable packaging for all our gobo products.” 

And Blair Parkin, managing director at Visual Acuity, notes:

“As lead technology consultant on the planetarium, visualization studio, and other technology heavy areas of the new California Academy of Sciences, the world’s largest green building, we have developed new design approaches. These in turn have driven equipment manufacturers to develop their technology with a much greater focus on sustainability.

At the Academy the entire building was designed to LEED platinum status which was a major innovation. The client team are passionate about climate change and biodiversity given the nature of their institution. As such the design team elected to take the sustainable design criteria further than would have been needed to achieve LEED status. The application of LEED principles beyond scoring the necessary points led to a major shift in traditional technology design practice. This, in turn, led to new design processes being evaluated and a number of new technologies applied in a public space that had not been used before. One example would be the wide use of special LED lights developed by Philips. Another example would be the creation by Visual Acuity of a heat and power ‘budget’ for the AV/media/technology systems which was used for planning and vendor selection. In short, it would be fair to state that this project has entirely changed the way Visual Acuity and all the other members of the design team plan, design and build projects.”

via Actually, It is Easy Being Green: Apollo Design Technology.

Theatre and the Environment « Mo`olelo Blog

Theatre and the Environment Panel
(And an excerpt of a work in progress)
Martin E. Segal Theatre Center
The CUNY Graduate Center,
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309
April 23rd, 2009, 6:30 pm

Join us on the evening after Earth Day to explore what theatre artists and production staff are doing to meet the extraordinary challenges of climate change. At a time when local, state and federal governments are setting goals for reductions in carbon emissions, holding public meetings to solicit public recommendations for adapting to rising sea levels; when businesses are beginning to talk about renewable energy, closed-loop waste streams, and innovative mobility systems; what are we doing in the theatre?

This event will explore theatre and the environment from two perspectives: the process of making theatre, and the theatre we make.  On the process side, we will explore building performance and renewable energy, facilities management, closed loop set design and construction and intelligent recycling. On the content side we will see an excerpt of a new play by Shelia Callaghan. Directed by Daniella Topol, we will learn from her how this multimedia theatre piece about water has been shaped through her consultations with scientists at the Department of Environmental Conservation. We will also reflect on Bill McKibben’s lament that the theatre lags behind other art forms in grasping – and mining – the full artistic potential of this issue

via Theatre and the Environment « Mo`olelo Blog.

Solar One Gives Presentation at ecoartspace NYC

On Saturday, April 25th at 6:30 join ecoartspace in NYC to hear the “I Heart PV” presentation by Christopher Neidl from Solar One. Christopher will give an overview of why solar photovolatics (PV) are a good fit for NYC and the types of policies that the state and city can pursue in order to grow solar’s contribution to our energy mix over time.

Launched by Solar One in 2008, “I Heart PV” is a people powered campaign that mobilizes citizen support for pro-solar policies and educates New Yorkers about the potential and benefits of solar power here in the five boroughs.

The Habitat for Artists project will continue this summer at Solar One’s City Sol Festival at Stuyvesant Cove Park at 23rd Street and the East River, stay tuned for more info.

Saturday April 25th at 6:30 pm at ecoartspace, 53 Mercer Street, 3rd Fl. NYC
SEATING IS LIMITED – PLEASE RSVP!
amy@ecoartspace.org

Go to EcoArtSpace

One of Pavlov’s Dogs

{This is actually one of Pavlov’s dogs,
with a surgically attached container for catching saliva.}

Continuing today’s theme of taxidermy:

I’d never thought about what Pavlov’s dog(s) actually looked like…but this is possibly the dog Baikal, and is from the Pavlov Museum in Russia.

Once again, just have to say ‘Thanks Wikipedia!’ for this kind of knowledge.

–> More here: wikipedia.org/wiki/File:One_of_Pavlov%27s_dogs.jpg

Go to Eco Art Blog

Taxidermy on Trees


(A deer mount on a tree, by Jim Baughn of Air Capital Taxidermy in Wichita, KS.}


A comment on an older post led me to a site by a Wichita taxidermist with unusual photos of mounts hung on trees. Maybe they are outside for good lighting, but outside is specifically the place we don’t expect to see taxidermy.While I’m not a hunter myself, nor do I have any stuffed animals at home, I am continually fascinated by this practice. Why? Well, a good taxidermy animal allows us the same possibility as a portrait or realistic sculpture of a person, i.e. the chance to get up close and really investigate something that we might not be able to experience in other ways.

Taxidermy is also a way return some dignity to an animal, especially overly numerous animals like deer. I wouldn’t say the same about an endangered animal, like grizzlies or wolves, so it’s sort of shades of gray for me here.


Finally, I’m interested in taxidermy because of the obvious skill and attention it demands as a craft or artform. And understanding the many ways people appreciate wild animals is one way to what I hope is the eventual formation of voting bloc composed of environmentalists, hunters and farmers. I think we all want generally the same thing (preservation of existing species, protection of wild places, good quality of life for humans and animals, etc) so if we can get these groups united, it would be an unstoppable political force.


–> More at aircapitaltaxidermy.wordpress.com

Go to Eco Art Blog

Sci-fi: speculation as art form

Much of the art around climate is about imagining new futures. Rubbing up against visions of the future is a good way to reconsider the present. Sci-fi is the daddy of that concept, so it’s interesting to see EcoGeek doing a series of really excellent in-depth interviews with US sci-fi authors.

No 1 is with Tobias Buckell.

No 2 is with Karl Shroeder.

No 3 is with Paolo Bicigalupi.

I can’t claim to be the greatest science fiction fan, but a) its prophetic role seems ideally suited to a time in which we have to face up to change, and b) the interview with Bicigalupi is a lot of fun:

I’m not interested in PV cells, or solar paint, or zero emissions cars, or any of a zillion other objects that companies want to sell us so that we can feel good about ourselves while we roar off the cliff. If I had to think of […] technologies that I greatly admire, I would say… wool sweaters and long underwear are fabulous.

Photo of TH.2058 by Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, 2008, by abrinsky.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

APInews: Panel: Art + Land Reclamation, Urban Ecology

The role that art, architecture and design play in land reclamation and urban ecology is topic of an upcoming panel at Parsons the New School for Design in N.Y.C. The panel, set for April 10, 2009, will discuss transdisciplinary fieldwork in art, landscape architecture and industrial reclamation, focusing on the field methods of Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech and the Incubo Atacama Lab in Chile. Land Arts, directed by Chris Taylor, is a field program that investigates the intersection of geomorphology and human construction beginning with the land and extending through the complex social and ecological processes that produce contemporary landscapes. The Incubo Atacama Lab project began when the curatorial exchange organization Incubo invited Taylor to bring the working methods of Land Arts to Chile. Taylor will participate along with Incubo artists and more.

via APInews: Panel: Art + Land Reclamation, Urban Ecology .