Yearly Archives: 2011

Gaia Cabinet in Liverpool

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

The Gaia Project in Liverpool created the Gaia Cabinet as an informal working and interaction space during the Liverpool Biennial.  Featuring work by a number of artists including James Brady, David Haley, Anne Earnshaw and Rebecca McKnight, to name a few.

Brady focused on dead leaves and leaf mould,

David Haley often writes on walls,

Anne Earnshaw’s images of water,

Rebecca McKnight’s exploration of food chains,

All images are from the Gaia Project web site.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

Scottish Ecological Design Association

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

SEDA was formed in 1991 and aims to promote good ecological design across a wide range of built environment and social contexts.  They provide advice on specific issues such as construction for deconstruction and chemicals in buildings.  They support the education of children and young people as well as advising government on policy.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

CORE

Image from Elizabeth Ogilvie's website

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Edinburgh College of Art launches its Creative Research into the Environment on Thurs 3rd March 2011 in the Evolution Building.  There will be presentations from 3-5pm followed by refreshments. Key members are artists Elizabeth Ogilvie & Anne Bevan, and landscape architects Ross Mclean & Lisa Mackenzie.

Elizabeth Ogilvie contributes regularly to ECA’s Art, Space, Nature course which is featured in our Study section, and Donald Urquhart, one of the co-directors of the course, is featured in our Artists section.

Information on CORE on the Climate Histories website.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

4X4 Dance Body And The Environment

This post comes to you from Cultura21

18th – 29th April 2010

With Guest Artists: Jennifer Monson, Simon Whitehead and Angus Balbernie

4×4 is an eleven-day event on the theme of dance, body and the environment for dance or movement artists, choreographers and artists working in related art-forms.

“Somewhere in the midst of ‘sustainability’ lies an inspiring vision of transformation. As movement artists we will take our dance and choreographic practice into this territory, developing and deepening our sense of the self within the body, to inspire and engender a vital reconnection between humanity and the planet”.

More information on the website of bodysurf scotland

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)

– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)

– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)

– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

ashdenizen: wanted: a portrait of the climate scientist as a real person

In his preface to The Coast of Utopia, Tom Stoppard makes the point that writers can have real political influence. His example is Turgenev’sSportsman’s Sketches, which Stoppard writes,

“were plausibly said to have done more than anything else to turn the ‘Reforming Tsar’ Alexander 11 towards abolishing serfdom.”

But the writing has to be precise and observant. Earlier in the preface, when discussing Alexander Herzen, Stoppard writes,

“What he detested above all was the conceit that theoretical future bliss justified actual present sacrifice.”

Twentieth-century history was on Herzen’s side. It’s easy to imagine, today, that many playwrights’ resistance to climate change as a political subject comes from this idea that it deals with a “theoretical future” and that it is being used to justify “actual present sacrifice”. Playwrights like to write about real situations, flesh and blood characters, the here and now. And they like jokes.

In some ways, then, the most interesting characters to put on stage right now are climate scientists: not a climate sceptic disguised as a climate scientist (as happens in The Heretic), but the climate scientists who are simultaneously appalled and fascinated by what they are discovering.

At last year’s TippingPoint conference in Oxford, climate scientists spoke candidly and wittily about how their work had altered their lives and their world views. If caught accurately, that kind of portrait might have real political influence.

via ashdenizen: wanted: a portrait of the climate scientist as a real person.

Going Green

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Julie’s Bicycle just launched a publication, developed with the Mayor of London and Frieze Art Fair, on the visual arts.  This is one of a series of ‘how to’ guides across artforms.

Starting with work in 2007 that looked at the Greenhouse Gas emissions of the UK Music Industry, Julie’s Bicycle has researched and produced guides on CD Packaging, Audience Travel to Festivals, Performing Arts Touring, as well as Promos and Green Riders.

All organisations should be looking seriously at these issues, not only in terms of management of buildings, but also management of programming.  Whilst the recent glut of plays about climate change may have been met with some criticism, there are artists making interesting work focused on environmental crisis across all artforms.  The question in the end is whether this is didactic or whether it opens up dialogue.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

Deadzones in Irish seas; culture and climate soundworks

This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook

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Image: Recording with hydrophone in Killybegs

‘We, as many others, have been concerned about the world we live in and climate change ever since we started the Bliain Le Baisteach project over 10 years ago. In fact, most of our work has in some way been reflections and explorations of our relation to and understanding of nature, expressed as multimedia artwork and performances’, Softday (2010)
In 2008, Virginia Institute of Marine Science Professor Robert Diaz showed that the number of “dead zones”—areas of seafloor with too little oxygen for most marine life—had increased by a third between 1995 and 2007. Diaz and collaborator Rutger Rosenberg of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that dead zones are now “the key stressor on marine ecosystems” and “rank with over-fishing, habitat loss, and harmful algal blooms as global environmental problems.” The study, which appeared in the August 15, 2008 issue of the journal Science, tallied 405 dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, affecting an area of 246,000 km2, almost the size of New Zealand. It is currently estimated that there are 20 such ‘dead zones’ in Ireland and two were identified in the study at both Killybeg’s Harbour (1999) and Donegal Bay (2000). Geological evidence show that dead zones are not a naturally recurring event in marine ecosystems; dead zones were once rare, now they are common place and increasing, which poses a serious threat to indigenous marine habitats and the human food chain. It is currently estimated that there are 20 such dead zones in Ireland and two contested dead zones were identified in the study at both Killybeg’s Harbour (1999) and Donegal Bay (2000).
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I’m really delighted to have this guest post from Margaret Mc Lauglin on another of the remarkable Lovely Weather Culture and Climate Change projects in Ireland (Softday’s video-sound piece was my favourite at the opening). Margaret is an artist who is currently studying on the MA Art in the Contemporary Programme, National College of Art & Design, Dublin Ireland.

It’s Saturday 16th October 2010 and I’m standing in Mooney’s boatyard , Killybegs, Co. Donegal for the first time, even though this is the area where I grew up.  It is a space where I feel that I’m not supposed to be entering but I’m here today to watch a sound performance by two artists; Sean Taylor who is an art-scientist and Mikael Fernstrom, a computer-scientist; a collaborative partnership called Softday. Today they are about to realize a project that they have been working on for several months.  The project entitled Marbh Chrios which in translation from Irish means Dead Zone. This was an Artist’s Residency that was part of the Donegal County Council’s Lovely Weather Art and Climate Change Public Art Programme (2009-10). This project was co-curated by the Regional Culture Centre’s John Cunningham and Leonardo’s Annick Bureaud.

The Softday artists were one of five artist/s taking part in Lovely Weather Art and Climate Change project.  Other artists include Peter d’Agostino (USA), Seema Goel (CAN), The League of Imaginary Scientists (USA) and Anthony Lyons (UK). Below is the a fantastic documentary of all the projects directed and edited by Maria Mulhall and produced by Jeremy Howard and the Regional Cultural Centre under the Sharing Stories Project (funded by the International Fund for Ireland).

Softday have been engaging with issues of climate change and its global effects for the past 10 years. They have worked on projects such as Blain Le Baisteach,  which translates as ‘a year of rainfall’ (2000) – a soundvision project focusing on the  fluctuating annual rainfall patterns in Ireland; Coisir an Tsionainn which translates as ‘The Shannon Suite’ (2003), focusing on the four-year life cycle of the wild Atlantic salmon and the following effects of over fishing and pollution on the species.  Next was their Nobody Leaves till the Daphnia sing (2009) which looked at the contamination of domestic drinking water in Galway and West Limerick.

But today I’m about to witness their newest project; Marbh Chrios: Dead ZoneDead Zones are areas on the sea bed with too little oxygen for most marine life to survive. The artists worked with Met Eireann, The Marine Institute of Ireland, Dr Brendan O’ Connor of Aqua Fact International, Dr. Robert Diaz and Dr. Rutger Rosenberg, who have conducted the most comprehensive scientific studies of marine Dead Zones in the world and have identified two contested Dead Zones in Killybegs Harbour and Donegal Bay.  Along with Softday’s performance came a pamphlet with dead zone information so I am now informed of the background of their research, the meaning of a Dead Zone, and the unfortunate fact that my local area has two dead zones!!  Softday described the Marbh Chrios Dead Zone work as  a computer-generated music composition, constructed using eight years of related marine data mapping two ‘contested’ marine dead zones in Killybegs Harbour and Donegal Bay.  (A specially designed USB artefact in the shape of a fish containing a video and audio from the performance was recently launched in the Contemporary Music Centre’s new Platform for Performance space on 9 February 2011 and you can see an interview here ).

data points

Proceeding the performance, the Softday artists had collated sound information which they later turned  into algorithms, visualisations and sonifications. These algorithms, visualisations and sonifications were then carefully put together.  A projection of digital images was set up to be played throughout the entire performance.  The Boatyard was set up for a community performance of Softday’s compostions and included the local :

  • Youth Orchestra
  • a Ceili Band
  • and a Marching band that were later to appear (you can catch glimpses of the project in the video above)

As the space started filling up with eager spectators, an acoustic composition ‘Cuir glaoch ar Ghatar’ (distress call) was performed by the Softday artists to set the tone.  Onlookers were both apprehensive and excited.  Viewers were ushered to one side paralleling the orchestra and the artists which were wearing white lab coats, which highlighted the crossover between art and science. They then performed their second composition called ‘primordial soup no. 1’.  Some of the locals were unsure what to make of the music, which was a mix of electronic sounds.  This was followed by the traditional band playing Bathu Phrioclais ‘Drowning at Bruckless’, followed by Vattuskrack ‘fear of drowning’, a composition by Softday.

At this point a door to the boatyard opens and St. Catherines marching band pound forward,  passing the spectators, performing to marine themed songs; Ta na Baid, Fisherman’s blues and  the Boys from Killybegs.  They stay in the position between the artists and spectators for the duration of these songs, and then proceed to march out the opposite exit.  The door closes and the deadly silence consumes the space once more.  The spectators assumed a somber mood.  The orchestra, which have been in our view the entire time, then began to sound softly and become more and more dominant until the duration of the song was complete.  Boatyard workers were harmonizing with the orchestra, through the use of the machinery in the boatyard.  It’s mainly the sound of a saw that was resonating.  This was followed by Softday’s compilation, primordial soup no. 2. I look around the room, people start to mill out of the facing door.  The show is complete. Speeches are made and the artists and viewers go their separate ways.

After the show I wanted to know more about these dead zones and from talking to a few of the spectators they were equally intrigued.  I approached Mikeal Fernstrom, Softday artist, shortly after the show.  He described that ”Sean or I had been to Killybegs before when we started this project in October 2009.  We took the approach of explorers of an unknown land, and happily went about the place during several expeditions.  It took some time to get the inside stories from people, but at this stage we have so much material that we could probably do a couple of more Marbh Chrios works! One of our main data sources was the M4 buoy, located approximately 45 nautical miles (83 km) west north-west of Rossan Point, Co. Donegal. We analysed 8 years of data from the M4, including hourly readings of air temperature, sea temperature, wind speed, gusts, wind direction, wave height, wave frequency and barometric air pressure – a total of 648,800 data points”.

Mikeal also sent me on some interesting observations while working on the Donegal project:“it seems to be impossible to buy really fresh, locally landed fish.  The stuff sold from the fish van“ (a merchant selling fish along the Killybegs pier) “is from Castletownbere! It seems that all fresh stuff is loaded up on foreign trucks at night and exported.  He commented on the local music too.  “Everytime there’s something going on, Fish festival, Bank holiday, etc., the St. Catherines Marching Band plays, followed by a couple of local, very good, rock bands.”

 

An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook

Welcome The EcoMuseum to the CSPA Knowledge Network

The CSPA wants to welcome the EcoMuseum, a project of Carole Hammond, Exhibition Manager and museum professional: combining the complex ideologies of aesthetics, culture, objects, entertainment…and environment.

You’ll be able to find and link back to her writing here as part of the CSPA knowledge network. Her first post is already up here:

http://www.sustainablepractice.org/2011/03/09/identity-exhibition-eco-installation-begins/

You can also find a record, as it builds, at this category archive page:

http://www.sustainablepractice.org/category/ecomuseum/

Stay tuned for more!

Identity exhibition eco-installation begins

This post comes to you from the EcoMuseum


An exhibition, Identity: yours mine ours will launch in March 2011 at Museum Victoria‘s Immigration Museum, and is re-imagining the benchmarks of environmental sustainability in the cultural sector.

After over 2 years of development, in November 2010 construction work finally began on our Identity exhibition, with the removal of the old occupier of the space – Station Pier: gateway to a new life. Station Pier had been in place since 2004 and had enjoyed immense popularity with visitors, especially those who arrived by ship in Melbourne at Station Pier.

One of the challenges to eco-exhibitions is to design and build for what is essentially a temporary interior building fixture. Inevitably this leads to excessive waste come the end of the exhibition. Station Pier was designed without the insights of the burgeoning eco-exhibition industry, so the challenge to the team was to dismantle the exhibition and create the least waste possible in doing so.

Pre-planning is key to this process, and the integration of processes into your normal project planning. The Identity designers Andrew and Gina embraced the philosophy of an eco-exhibition, and so it was agreed to use laminated glass from the bespoke Station Pier cases, in Identity. Currently, whilst the infrastructure for the new exhibition is being built, the glass is being stored safely until we need it. Once that happens, our glaziers will cut to size and re-fit into Identity.

The builders who won the contract quoted on the notion of our eco-principles, with requirements for reuse and recycling written into the Request for Quotation. Necessities such as de-nailing reusable timber and cutting salvageable pieces were allowed for, so no nasty financial consequences could pop up unexpectedly. Appropriate RFQ’s are a big part of the eco pre-planning process, and after creating a template it’s easy to accurately ask your contractors for the right thing and avoid any confusion as to what you need them to do.

Unfortunately, apart from the glass and some structural softwood timber, not much was able to be reused in terms of Station Pier’s built environment. Too much had been glued not screwed all those years ago. Most of the timber had to be destroyed just in liberating it from its structural supports.

However, one thing usually never able to be recycled or reused are exhibition graphics. Station Pier documents a rich history of migration around an iconic port in Melbourne – which still exists. Talks with the management at Station Pier indicate they are keen be the vehicle for the long-term reuse of the Station Pier graphic panels – of which there is at least 50kg. Hopefully the museum’s graphics will enjoy a long life providing information for Melbourne’s tourists.

Stay tuned for the build of Identity: yours mine ours. Meanwhile you can find out more about the exhibition development here.

the EcoMuseum, is a project of Carole Hammond, Exhibition Manager and museum professional: combining the complex ideologies of aesthetics, culture, objects, entertainment…and environment.

Go to the EcoMuseum

Lovely Weather in Inishowen, Ireland: what is climate art?

This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook

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“how does data feel, taste, sound, look, smell?” Roger Malina, Leonardo, keynote speaker, Lovely Weather art and climate change conference, LetterKenny RCC, Nov 2010

I was briefly in Oxford this week and I had a little time to pass so I wandered into one of the oldest Museums of the History  of Science in the world. They had a display of early Islamic scientific instruments, many were for searching and understanding the skies. They were astonishingly beautiful as well as functional and were later adopted and developed through the middle ages and renaissance in Europe. Many instruments made for understanding the heavens were made in metal, some in ivory (couldn’t help thinking they looked like antique iphones as some were a similar shape, colour and size to our recent technology). The  industry and intent to know the world by all methods has long been with us.  I was thinking about this in reference to a recent Lovely Weather Culture and Climate Change conference that I attended in north-west Donegal last November. An excellent 2 day event celebrated the Lovely Weather climate artists residency project; an innovative Per Cent for Art Irish Public Art programme across 5 electoral areas, co-led by the local Donegal County Arts Office and the Letterkenny Regional Culture Centre  and co-curated by Roger Malina and Annick Bureaud of the long established Art & Science publication, LEONARDO/Olats. This was to my knowledge the first substantial culture and climate event in Ireland and the projects were in the main very thought-provoking and detailed (a catalogue of the projects can be obtained from the Donegal Arts Office).

Roger Malina, editor of Leonardo, was the keynote speaker. Roger is also an astronomer and Director of Astronomy Centre in Marseille, France. A point he made in his talk, while referencing his own experience in astronomy which has seen an explosion in technical instrument development, data production, now further accelerating with the sharing of online data networks, is that over the centuries,  scientists no longer use their senses but their instruments  to understand the world. He argued that in reference to climate change, that artists have such an important role… ‘in making science intimate….not just translating science  or making science pretty.’ He spoke of many artists who were attempting to engage with science, from many diverse practices, who were taking scientific data  and using it in their creative practices. He now sees that we are moving from a world of ‘data scarcity to data plenty but today, while we are data rich, we are meaning poor’. He described this as an epistemological (a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge) inversion. I was particularly interested how Roger described that we are in a ‘data flood… but artists can work successfully embedded in data, where data becomes an element (material) to use.” He concluded by asking us, “how does data feel, taste, sound, look, smell?”

There was an excellent example of data embedded centrally in one of the Lovely Weather residencies. Carbon Footprint is a multi-disciplinary work by Canadian born (now settled in Ireland) artist in residence Seema Goel. The piece uses local wool, spinning and knitting as a metaphor to explore climate change, carbon capture, and micro-economies in Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland. This project worked on many levels – making hurricane data intimate in the creation of knitted items (see the knitted hat above that relates to hurricane weather data), bringing together local people of all ages to use local materials and forgotten skills (a working example of ’social sculpture’), making visible the loss of  previous local industries to global, unsustainable supply chains (while Donegal has a rich history in wool products,  this has almost entirely disappeared and local wool items are surprisingly imported from afar – this a surprise to many Irish in the audience as Donegal is famed for its fibre heritage), and creating a legacy of community craft activities in the region. It’s delightful to think of the climate data discussions, mixing with knitting patterns discussions and cups of tea (it reminded me of the global crochet coral reef project that came to Ireland’s Science gallery that I discussed last year  – both show the huge upsurge in local materials and fibre craft and just a reminder: this is also the international year of craft, as well as forests). The success in this project are the climate conversations made tangible in the community and unlike many ‘climate  and art and science projects that I’ve encountered, the legacy of the project continues:  knitting and spinning workshops continue for every skill level, from people with an interest that want to get started to those who want to share skills. For more information please contact mccartney.ruth@gmail.com

To follow is a guest post by Margaret Mc Laughlin on another of the Lovely Weather residency projects – all about dead zones (Marbh Chrios) off the coast of Ireland – a fantastic audiovisual, data come community sound project.

 

An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook