Yearly Archives: 2016

Broadway Up-cycled

This post comes to you from the Broadway Green Alliance

Broadway Up-cycled

By Joseph Napolitano

The magic of Broadway turns guitar strings into bracelets, playbills into flowers, and trash into Tony Award-winning set designs. With roots in folk art, the use of salvaged materials deliberately raises the intrinsic and monetary value of recycled objects. It gives items a second life, and transforms the mundane into the extraordinary. Through the manipulation of forms, mass and surfaces, individuals craft waste into functional products and works of art.

Popping up at events like BroadwayCon, and selling out at the Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction, Crafters are now coloring the Great-White-Way green with special up-cycled novelties unique to the theatre Industry. Theatre enthusiast & librarian, Ronni Krasnow creates “collage art with a theatrical twist” from Playbills, flyers and magazines (Facebook.com/broadwayglue). Ms. Krasnow started upcycling when she wanted to create a gift for her dear friends, songwriters Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty. She enjoyed the experience so much that she continued working on pieces that focus on particular shows, composers, themes, and sometimes just based on a color alone. “I love that all my materials are upcycled. It’s fun to create something new and different from something familiar”

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Ronni Krasnow, Broadway Blues, 2014, 11×14 inches, mixed media collage

“It’s a little like doing a jigsaw puzzle, just figuring out where the various pieces fit,” Ms Krasnow says. Her two cats fancy her work as well, and love interfering with her layouts from time to time.

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Ronni Krasnow, Some of Sondheim, 2014, 11×14 inches, mixed media collage

Recycling breaks consumer materials down so that their base materials can be used in new consumer products. Items that are up-cycled become refashioned, but still maintain their characteristics. “I am a librarian,” Ms. Krasnow says, ”so I am always looking at the various materials we discard to see if there is anything I can (re)use.” When looking at a book or magazine now, I am much more focused on typeface, color, and word size than on the actual articles!”

While quite beautiful, the nature of up-cycled work is inherently a political statement. For BGA member & communications guru Sasha Pensanti, it’s a lot of both. Sasha began up-cycling While working on multiple Broadway productions. Show after show, she watched as Playbills were continually thrown away. ”I kept asking why we couldn’t do something,” she said. “The answer always had to do with union rules. I didn’t like that answer.” Sasha decided to take it upon herself to make paper flowers from the discarded playbills. From there Ms. Pensanti developed a whole line of products: frames, jars for the flowers, canvases, hair clips/headbands… (https://www.etsy.com/shop/SomeOtherMe).

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Color Playbill Bouquets by Sasha Pensanti

“I’ve become conscious of a lot more waste than before. I’m also really careful to use recycled boxes when shipping my flowers, and instead of buying bubble wrap I use the extra playbill pieces, crumble them up and they make great packing materials! 100% recycled!” Ms. Pensanti said. Similar circumstances precipitated collage artist Stephen Winterhalter (The Art of Broadway: https://www.etsy.com/shop/theartofbroadway) to begin up-cycling playbills into works of art. Stephen’s work emerged when he wanted to do something with his enormous Playbill collection so they wouldn’t end up in the trash. “It started out as a small idea that just kept growing. By time the holidays rolled in I had over 100 orders,” Stephen said.

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Custom Broadway Playbill Art Collage by Stephen Winterhalter, 12×12 inches

Stephen has also been working with WICKED on Broadway since 2005, and calls the Gershwin Theatre his second home. As of late, people have taken to his collages. “People buy them to commemorate a trip they took to NYC, all the shows from their favorite composer, or as a gift for a Broadway fan,” Stephen says. “I also get a lot of theatre educators contacting me about pieces for their school.”

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Custom Broadway Playbill Art Collage by Stephen Winterhalter, 12×12 inches

“The idea of giving a second or third life to Playbills is what ultimately propels these projects,” Stephen says. “People get a Playbill at a show, and sometimes they just leave them on the floor afterwards. This is the perfect opportunity to take those Playbills and turn them into something new. Another example is when a show closes or there’s a major cast change that renders a batch of Playbills unusable at the theatre. I can use those!” Stephen’s idea of getting multiple uses out of a single Playbill is sustainable thinking.  His friends contact him when they are discarding their playbills, sometimes by the bin, and he always collects them. All of Stephen’s work is crafted by hand. He creates the frames, and uses the excess paper from inside the frames as gluing mats so nothing is wasted. Stephen also relishes in the idea of the puzzle. “It’s really satisfying when you finish a piece and think, man, these all look great together!” Check out Stephen’s instagram for more of his work @Art_of_Broadway

You can also find products where function influences form, and familiar every-day items and accessories are fabricated from waste material. There are chairs made from street signs, dresses made from candy wrappers, and homes made out shipping containers; the list goes on, and the possibilities are endless. Bagitude, a company based out of Chicago, creates handbags from playbills. Now it’s your turn! If you or someone you know is a Broadway fan and creative up-cycler, share your work with us on twitter: @broadwaygreen, facebook.com/BroadwayGreenAlliance, & instagram: broadwaygreenalliance.

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The Broadway Green Alliance was founded in 2008 in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) is an ad hoc committee of The Broadway League and a fiscal program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Along with Julie’s Bicycle in the UK, the BGA is a founding member of the International Green Theatre Alliance. The BGA has reached tens of thousands of fans through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other media.

At the BGA, we recognize that it is impossible to be 100% “green” while continuing activity and – as there is no litmus test for green activity – we ask instead that our members commit to being greener and doing better each day. As climate change does not result from one large negative action, but rather from the cumulative effect of billions of small actions, progress comes from millions of us doing a bit better each day. To become a member of the Broadway Green Alliance we ask only that you commit to becoming greener, that you name a point person to be our liaison, and that you will tell us about your green-er journey.

The BGA is co-chaired by Susan Sampliner, Company Manager of the Broadway company of WICKED, and Charlie Deull, Executive Vice President at Clark Transfer<. Rebekah Sale is the BGA’s full-time Coordinator.

Go to the Broadway Green Alliance

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The Air We Breathe

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

by Guest Blogger Katie Craney

I live on the edge of the earth’s largest contiguous temperate rainforest that connects with over 25 million acres of federally protected wild land. Annual precipitation ranges from 25 to 140 inches along this coastal panhandle. It is here that water defines our identity, our way of life, our values, and our survival. Some would argue it is salmon that defines Southeast Alaska as the bounty of nutrient-rich tidal inlets and glacier-fed rivers and streams have provided ample human habitation for thousands of years. Sacred Tlingit song and dance about salmon abundance and return has been passed down for hundreds of years. Salmon fill our freezers and shelves, fuel our regional economy and culture, feed our families and the bears which ultimately feed the forest to complete an inexhaustible cycle of nutrients.

As an artist in Alaska, salmon seem an obvious theme to base research on. As I began sifting through the ecological significance of salmon for my own survival, I took a step back to see the larger picture of what ocean processes are needed for salmon to thrive in this environment – all of which can be summed up in two words: marine plants. Specifically plankton, the microscopic ocean drifters that create a biological pump in our oceans and are indicators of how anthropogenic climate change and ocean acidification will continue to alter the nature of our planet.

As a gardener I’ve learned the importance of maintaining proper pH levels in the soil to grow my own food. I can add nutrients, including fish fertilizer, what we call ‘fish juice,’ and organic matter to create the appropriate balance between acidic and alkaline soils. Some plants, such as blueberries and potatoes require more acidic soil, a soil with lower pH levels. Other varieties, like arugula or beets, can tolerate higher pH. The beauty of my garden is I have easy control of nutrient levels and can, in a reasonable timeframe, change the overall soil composition.

That’s not the case for maintaining a basic level of pH in the ocean. The ocean acts as a sponge and has absorbed about one-third of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. This absorption causes chemical reactions to occur, ultimately dropping the pH level, leading to “ocean acidification.” With this environment the lowered pH impacts the smallest members in the food chain – chlorophyll producing marine plants such as phytoplankton and the organisms that feed on those plants to secure the life cycle stasis of Alaska’s beloved wild salmon and so much more.

Plankton fall into two main categories: phytoplankton (plants) and zooplankton (animals.) Research suggests that due to their photosynthesis, phytoplankton provide up to 75% of the earths atmospheric oxygen, providing a significant amount of the oxygen we breathe. Not only do these tiny organisms allow humans to survive at the most basic level, they are the basis of the entire marine food chain. The balance necessary for these plants to exit should be applauded, honored, and respected.

For Plankton

Another factor in marine chemistry is glacier runoff. At the speed of current glacier melt, nitrates and iron levels flushed into marine waters will increase, can harm the productivity of plankton, and have a rippling effect through the food chain from salmon to sea birds and beyond. As ocean temperatures rise, surface waters where plankton drift will see reduced nutrient levels. This is especially important for plankton survival during the winter months. Think about how a bear hibernates over winter – plankton do the same by slowing down their metabolism and go a long time without eating, however, as surface temperatures warm earlier in the winter season, plankton burn through their fat reserves before regular food sources become available.

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*Ongoing research will continue to develop and help us comprehend the breadth of plankton’s role in our every day life. This is only a brief description of how I have come to understand and observe changes at a basic level.

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The more I learn about the significance of the ecosystem that surrounds me, the more I want to shout from the rooftops that it’s not too late! We can learn and change and encourage responsible clean energy and development while taking care of the 7.5 billion+ people on the planet. Right? I think so. I hope so. Through artmaking, I embrace an ecological perspective towards the biggest challenge we face and hope to encourage others to do the same. By creating a visual statement of what is at stake, I hope viewers of my work will take the time to ask questions and learn that we are all connected and in this together.

The small vignettes I create are my way of interpreting the complicated, long-term social and ecological nature of climate change. By working with wax on small pieces of metal and wood I explore the contrast between the malleability of the wax and the rigidity of the metal, which is symbolic to human – animal relationships within an ecosystem. Working with reflective metal allows for the viewer to be directly included in the composition to challenge boundary lines, barriers, and misunderstandings of how Alaska is changing.

For OxygenWhen there are moments of discouraging news I recall Aldo Leopold’s philosophy that the things we understand, can see, feel, love, or have faith in, will determine how we treat the land. For me, the place I call home is all encompassing and easy to love and treat respectfully. Though my art I hope others sense this passion and engage in conversations in their own communities to bring change. My friend Kim Heacox said it best in his book The Only Kayak: A Journey Into The Heart of Alaska, “We must pass through the prism of our own destruction to see a new and better light.”

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Inspired by the mountains, glaciers, rivers, and ocean that surround her, Katie Craney’s work reflects the juxtaposition of natural and human landscapes and her understanding of what it means to rely on the land for survival. Craney’s work can be found in the Museums Alaska permanent collection and is currently exhibited at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and at the Museum of Art & History in Lancaster, California.

 

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Working Together

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

This piece was first published in New Energies, the Land Art Generator publication for the 2014 Copenhagen competition. Land Art Generator will be keynote speakers at the ‘Feeding the Insatiable‘ Art and Energy Conference at Schumacher College in November.


Why is ‘working together’ so vital right now? It is at the heart of ecoart practices and at the heart of the Land Art Generator Initiative. It is one of the features that distinguishes these practices and programs. LAGI asks architects, designers, and artists (a.k.a. “creative practitioners”) to work with scientists, engineers, inventors, land managers, ecologists, manufacturers, and communities.

There are several elements to working together. Teamwork is considered to be an important skill. In fact, it is part of the national curriculum in Scotland (2009). Participation has become mainstream in art, design, architecture, and new media. Interdisciplinarity is the mot du jour in academic research. Collaboration and creativity, participation and knowledge have become powerful words in the discourse today, but they are double-edged. Do they reinforce existing marketization, or do they open up new forms of public space?

LAGI invites teams to form and work together, ideally with communities, to develop new solutions for our societies’ energy systems and to imagine new structures for generating renewable energy at the mid-scale—the scale that relates to settlements. LAGI wants us to embrace renewable energy as a beautiful part of the places we live.

“Embracing” is a good word in this context, because we need to embrace renewable energy. It is also a good word for the particular sense of working together, because creative and techno-scientific practitioners need to embrace each other’s skills and expertise, knowledge and methods. LAGI is not looking to decorate existing energy installations or plop down energy-producing sculptures. This embrace must not be uncritical. The future of energy must be renewable, and it must be socially just. The BBC reported when the renewable energy system on Eigg, an island off the west coast of Scotland, came online. What wasn’t reported was the social justice built into the system. Renewable energy is limitless over time, but limited at any point in time. On Eigg, every house and business has a cut-out switch, which stops an individual from using too much energy at any particular moment. This is a form of community collaboration, which is significant and which addresses the “tragedy of the commons” (the tendency for people to act in their own short term interests even if this has long term negative consequences for the community). On Eigg people embrace each other with social as well as environmental justice.

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If we want to understand why working together with artists might be important, it is worth looking to the practice of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. These eminent ecological artists responded to an invitation from David Haley (Director, Ecology in Practice, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) to consider the impact of global warming on the island of Britain. The result was the project Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (2006–2008) funded by the UK government as part of its Climate Challenge program. In the independent evaluation of that project, Wallace Heim comments on interviews she conducted with the Harrison’s project collaborators:

They all reported that the experience was illuminating, informative, challenging, imaginative, liberating. Their respect for the cross-disciplinary knowledge of the Harrisons was high, including both the science, the land-use planning and the architectural aspects, including Newton Harrison’s ability to ask ‘the right questions.’ Further, they had been taken on a journey, relieved of the strictures of their respective disciplines and work practices, and had found it in some way transformative of their way of considering climate change and possible adaptations to it. But, from their responses, the exercise was not just one of being relieved of limitations, but one which was highly informed, creative, and reflective, not just of their own methods of work, but of more conventional responses to climate change. They reported feeling supported, mentored, and reported an appreciation of what this kind of process of ‘art’ can achieve in providing the context, the time and space for imagining possible futures, for rehearsing what may happen. (2008, p.9)

The words that Heim chooses to characterize the experience of collaborating with the Harrisons are also used by others when speaking about the quality of collaborative relationships between artists and scientists. LAGI is seeking to provide a context, time, and space for that quality of informed, creative, and reflective practice to imagine possible futures and rehearse what can happen as we embrace renewable energy.

There are dangers, however, in focusing on an idealized form of collaborative practice, a fetishized meeting of minds. What Heim’s description does not suggest is that the result of Greenhouse Britain is a problem solved. Rather it is making sense of our new circumstances and exploring what some futures might look like.

In his essay The Negotiation of Hope (2005), Jeremy Till addresses John Forester’s argument that the role of designers in particular should be understood as “sense-making” rather than “problem-solving.” Till states:

“Central to Forester’s argument is that such a move from the problem to sense-making necessarily brings with it an acknowledgement of the contested social situation in which the design process is first initiated….”

When we step outside our specialized spaces, whether the galleries, concert halls, and theaters of artists, or the labs of scientists and engineers, we are negotiating our practices. Increasingly, we are negotiating with communities as well as other professions. Creative practitioners working with ecological systems, human habitation and development, energy and resource generation, and so on, quite specifically embrace other ways of working, in particular other methods. They can enter into deep relationships. There is a sharp edge here, because this involves dealing with other living things, not just inert materials. Therefore, this embrace has to be respectful, has to have an ethical dimension, has to be caring.

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To understand what this might mean, Tim Collins and Reiko Goto’s project Plein Air (2010–2014) required that they work with engineers to develop a range of sensing technology. This technology enabled the public to perceive trees breathing and, in collaboration with musicians and audio artists, to transform the data streams of that breathing into acoustic experiences. Collin’s and Goto’s concern was to encourage empathy, using technology to heighten awareness.

In being collaborative, we are often being interdisciplinary—working between, with, across, into, and beyond disciplines and between different forms of knowledge and practice. Sometimes conversations explore the similarities between artists and scientists, designers and engineers, but a discipline is a specialization. With specialization comes skill and expertise. Ecoart always requires multiple and varied skills and expertise. There are many dimensions to this. Creative practitioners tend to have thematic interests, such as water, biodiversity, urban greenspace, brownfields, phyto-remediation, farming, orchards, and permaculture. Ecoartists will name their collaborators and will report, and sometimes document, the dialogues.

I’m increasingly concerned about the terms “collaboration” and “interdisciplinarity” because these words might be obscuring the basic act of “working together.” However, not all “working together” is the same. David Haley (2011), using the analysis of Basarab Nicolescu, suggests some ways of thinking about the differences. A group of people with different specializations can all work on the same question. This might be called “multi-disciplinary.” If those people exchange methods, so that the specializations become hybrid, then that might be called “inter-disciplinary.” Then there are circumstances where different specializations come together to focus on a problem, setting aside any hierarchies of specializations, and this might be called “trans-disciplinary” (the prefixes post- and extra- have also been used). Haley argues that the repositioning of specializations, clarified by this terminology, is vital to address 21st Century questions. I would argue that ecoart is inherently interdisciplinary—it is not just the knowledge domains that are embraced. If you look at a lot of ecoart, it actually sits in grey areas between art and design—not clever product design, but design in the sense of clear communication of information, clear construction of process resulting in impacts. Joachim Sauter opens up the issue when he states:

In short: the result of design work has to be understood immediately and should be directly legible by as many as possible. This means it has to be told in a language that everyone understands. Artwork however is produced using an individual and personal language and it is mainly not meant to be understood immediately or by everyone. The process of understanding an artwork by deciphering is very important. It forces one into a much deeper dialogue with what is presented. In design work it is the opposite—if there is a fire, you don’t want to decipher an exit sign. It goes without saying that the borders are blurry and that you find both approaches in both fields. (2010, p.250-251)

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Perhaps the Danish collective Superflex might exemplify this issue. In addition to their work 2000 Watt Society Contract, which relates to the collaboration on Eigg mentioned above, Superflex’ Supergas project sits in this blurry, in-between space. The Supergas website Introduction page states:

In 1996–1997 Superflex has collaborated with biogas engineer Jan Mallan to construct a simple, portable biogas unit that can produce sufficient gas for the cooking and lighting needs of an African family. The system has been adapted to meet the efficiency and style demands of a modern African consumer. It is intended to match the needs and economic resources that we believe exist in small-scale economies. The orange biogas plant produces biogas from organic materials, such as human and animal stools.

First note that the engineer is credited in the first sentence. Second, the Supergas project appears to conform to Sauter’s description of design. In Tanzania, Cambodia, Thailand, Zanzibar, and Guadalajara, the project’s function is clear. When seen in an art exhibition, however, for example at the Louisiana Museum, Denmark (1997) or at Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, in Maastricht (2011), it becomes a kind of personal language that requires deciphering. In those contexts, it becomes an “issue-based” work of art. There is a third position from which it also needs to be deciphered. As Mallans states in an interview:

“That’s also different from industry. In industry you don’t ask whether there is any money. Of course, there is. But here you know there’s no money.” (1999)

Creative practitioners working on environmental and ecological projects, including those contributing to LAGI, might be attempting to operate, like Superflex, in both of Sauter’s modes. Their works often operate at more than one level—to understand immediately what the project is doing and make it directly legible, but also to enter into a deeper dialogue through a more personal relationship with the work.

In exploring collaborations between artists and communities, Grant Kester is interested in the politics of collaboration:

In the most successful collaborative projects we encounter instead a pragmatic openness to site and situation, a willingness to engage with specific cultures and communities in a creative and improvisational manner …, a concern with non-hierarchical and participatory processes, and a critical and self-reflexive relationship to practice itself. Another important component is the desire to cultivate and enhance forms of solidarity…. (2011, p125)

Kester’s defining characteristics are leitmotifs. In particular ‘solidarity’ is a political word (perhaps more so if you are connected to Poland and grew up in the 80s), but it signals the importance of respect and justice in the process, echoing openness to site and situation, reinforcing engaging with specific cultures and communities, and embedding an alternative politics.

Kester’s phrase “a critical and self-reflexive relationship to practice itself” opens up space for the practice to inhabit the blurry space between clarity and directness on the one hand, and depth and personal language on the other.

The reason we might need to rethink our understanding of creative practice, as suggested at the start of this essay, is because the most provocative examples of ecoart, and LAGI in particular, are characterised by a shared process rather than an autonomous one. The artists are not adding decoration to something that engineers have designed, and the designers are not simply designing the logo for the product. There’s a deep understanding that to make sense of our energy challenges and to intervene effectively takes multiple intelligences, multiple practices, multiple creativities working together.

References

HALEY, David (2011). Art, Ecology and Reality: the Potential for Transdisciplinarity in the Proceedings of Art, Emotion and Value. 5th Mediterranean Congress of Aesthetics http://www.um.es/vmca/proceedings/docs/52.David-Haley.pdf accessed 12 March 2014

HEIM, Wallace (2008). Evaluation Report DEFRA Climate Challenge Fund CCF9 Project code AE017 Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom. http://greenhousebritain.greenmuseum.org/evaluation/ accessed 12 March 2014.

KESTER, Grant (2011) The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

SAUTER, Joachim (2010) interview in Data Flow: v. 2: Visualizing Information in Graphic Design. Berlin: Gestalten

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT (2009) Curriculum for Excellence: Building the Curriculum for Skills for Learning, Skills for Life and Skills for Work.

SUPERFLEX (1999) Superflex: Tools. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig

SUPERGAS website http://www.supergas.dk/introduction/ accessed 12 March 2014

TILL, Jeremy (2005). The Negotiation of Hope, in Architecture and Participation London and New York: Taylor Francis

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

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The Greener Events and Innovations Conference

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Aimed primarily at green-field/open-air music festivals, and addressing the theme of ‘challenging the status quo’, the event covered everything from the formal mechanisms for change, innovative examples, and the different dimensions of sustainability through which festivals can make an impact.

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Two active initiatives leading the outdoor music festival sector towards environmental sustainability were presented publicly at the conference. A Greener Festival, having run their successful sustainability-assessment awards scheme for a decade, relaunched their application and assessor recruitment and training for their award. Applied for annually, the award rates festivals on their commitments and actions, and helps adapt and continuously refine their behaviour towards environmental sustainability.

This was followed by Chris Johnston (Powerful Thinking, Shambala Festival, Kambe Events), who emphasised the message of “Alone I can go faster, together we can go further”, when discussing The Show Must Go On report (created as a festival industry response to the Paris COP that took place in December).

Chris particularly urged those festivals present to sign up to the Festival Vision:2025 pledge, which encourages those committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% over the next 9 years. Audience comments and questions around the pledge were varied, with those festivals more established in their sustainability efforts unsure as to how to reduce their power consumption further, and those heavily reliant on generator power requiring significant management support to make the changes suggested.

However, presentations on Smart Power Plans for fuel optimisation and the how hybrid generators can provide uninterrupted power supply at festivals and in the developing world (Tim Benson, Firefly Clean Energy), provided rational, tested and current opportunities for realising these goals.

Tech innovations

Inspired by the ‘disrupting complacency’ element of the conference, there was a focus on new ideas and innovation, several of which seemed to co-incidentally address the issue of human waste at outdoor sites. Managing to avoid toilet humour, Jonathan Winfield of Bristol Bioenergy Centre excited the group with his explanation of the major scientific and practical advancements in urine-powered fuel cells, producing enough electricity to light their test toilet at Glastonbury Festival in 2015. Hamish Skermer (A Natural Event) also regaled the group with the various tribulations of beginning composting toilets at his own festival, claiming: “Port-a-loos are designed for building sites, not music festivals!”.

Interpreting sustainability

Consistent across the conference was the variety through which the presenting individuals and festivals approached different dimensions of sustainability. As well as the innovative technological developments, the speakers highlighted the areas of:

  • Society: Throughout the event, speakers from across the panel sessions highlighted the more social good and non-profit motivations of festivals and how these had typically been more explicit in the past. Particularly relevant to the arts and sustainability, WE LOVE GREEN’s upcycled ‘scenography’ opportunity for emerging artists combined professional opportunities with the circular economy. Panellists also highlighted the concept of festivals performing social good, and those working in the events and festivals sector having significant transferrable skills to offer – for example, in application to working at refugee camps with honed abilities in generator power, temporary structures, mass catering and working with people.
  • Behaviour: The role of festivals in affecting audience behaviour change is a hot topic, and Livvy Drake of Shambala discussed the positive and negative reception the festival faced when announcing their plan to go ‘meat-free’ in their catering. There was a conflict too between those with differing beliefs around audience engagement in behaviour change initiatives: whereas Steve Muggeridge’s Green Gathering background led him to appreciate the democratic and audience-demanded sustainability adaptations, Rob Scully (Glastonbury) explained the festival’s internal process for developing stainless-steel re-useable cups, and the executive decision, research and development taken by the festival to ensure that the process was well implemented in its first instance.

Overall, the event provided a snapshot of the varied and international avenues to increasing the positive contributions festivals can make to their societies and the natural world. Never before have we learnt about koalas, fuel cells, stainless steel and Japanese ski resorts in the one day!


At the Greener Events and Innovations conference, Gemma and Catriona also presented on their learning around working in collaboration with respect to cultural and music festivals. Click here to find out more about our Fields of Green project, the Green Arts Initiative and the work of the Edinburgh Festivals.

Photo: Shambala by Marc Reck via Flickr Creative Commons

The post The Greener Events and Innovations Conference appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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The Boy and the Sunflower

This post comes from Ecoscenography

Since 2012, I have been developing a series of projects under the banner of The Living Stage, a concept which combines stage design, permaculture and community engagement to create recyclable, biodegradable and edible performance spaces. In this post, I reflect on my time working with Glaswegian Children’s theatre company Eco Drama during the development of my third Living Stage.

bring life into concrete playgroundsIn the UK Summer of 2015, I collaborated with local theatre company Eco Drama to create a travelling garden with and for children that could brighten up Glasgow’s concrete playgrounds; fusing live performance with living plants.

me&amp;gardening3The project involved working with four Glasgow primary schools to design, grow and build a portable stage. I joined permaculturist Katie Lambert and the pupils in their concrete playgrounds in late Spring to plant out quirky containers with basil, parsley, tomatoes and carrots. Despite the dreary Glaswegian weather, the children’s enthusiasm to be outside and get their hands dirty was infectious – placing their hands into the soil was regularly met with audible ‘aahs’ and ‘ooohhs’. Even in pouring rain, there was an instinctive desire for the children to engage with the world beyond the classroom walls.FB_IMG_1438862682003

Together, we planted seeds, made willow arches and wrote plant labels for the set. As we absorbed ourselves in the act of gardening, the children learnt to gently ‘tuck’ their seeds into the ‘bed of soil’ and give the earth a ‘good drink’ of water. By the time the children left for their summer holidays, the seeds had started to sprout, turning the once humble soil into hopeful speckles of green.

FB_IMG_1438862577280Through the growing season, the director, performers and I began building a show around the budding plants, coupling storytelling with experiences of gardening. The story that emerged followed three characters (Plum, Lily and Basil) singing to the salads, flowers and herbs amongst their curious home of plants. Told through music, movement and multi-sensory storytelling, Uprooted connected audiences with nature through the view of the wider planet as home. In true Living Stage spirit, Uprooted became part theatre show, part garden and part installation, where audiences had the opportunity to nibble at the stage and sample drinks made from the set.

FB_IMG_1439020088656FB_IMG_1439020306523Uprooted toured to various outdoor venues and schools across Glasgow, before finding its way back to the schools that helped plant it. As the students returned from their school holidays, they watched the performance and were excited to see how much their plants had grown. They were amazed at how the plump vegetables, bushy herbs and soaring sunflowers that inhabited the set had emerged from the tiny seeds that they had planted months ago. The students revelled in tasting unusual herbs and flowers, and embraced new textures, flavours and sensations. I have never seen so many children so excited about a zucchini. But more broadly, they also shared an immense pride in the space and the fact that ‘their’ stage had been touring around their home city.
After our final showing at Corpus Christi Primary School, we turned to the task of transplanting and installing the set as a permanent feature in the playground, turning an ugly metal fence into a beautiful space for future gardening and storytelling. Again, the children became an integral part of this process, transplanting the living stage pots into the soil of their garden beds and gently ‘tucking’ the greenery into its new home. This time, I witnessed an even greater eagerness to be in the garden and contribute to the next phase of the growing. There was clear comradery and confidence amongst the group, with many of the children playing a leadership role in the planting process. The pupils had been shaped by gardening’s lessons and its potential.

boy with sunflowerAs the children returned to their classrooms after the final session of planting, Eco Drama’s director Emily Reid pulled me aside. She had seen how a boy had taken the initiative to claim responsibility for a sunflower he had planted during the transplanting of the set – even giving the flower its own name ‘Jack’. Emily saw the boy standing by one of the garden beds and started walking towards him, when she suddenly stopped, intrigued.

Lost in his own world and focused inward, the boy did not know that Emily had been close by. As the boy stood there, sharing a moment with his newly found friend ‘Jack’, he began to sing softly to the flower. In the context of Uprooted, where the characters sing to their plants on stage, this would not have been considered unusual; however, it had been a striking moment to experience in the real world. It was only a moment (perhaps only a few seconds before the boy joined his classmates), but Emily’s description of the event bought me incredible joy.

FB_IMG_1438862648341This boy had found a way to break through perceived binaries between humans and nature, nature and culture. He had connected to the ecological complexity of the living world with such simplicity. In this moment of more-than-human communication, this small boy had seen himself as an integral part of the web of life, as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

A short documentary film of Uprooted here.

Photos by E. Reid and E. Carey.

 

The post, The Boy and the Sunflower, appeared first on Ecoscenography.
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Ecoscenography.com has been instigated by designer Tanja Beer – a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia, investigating the application of ecological design principles to theatre.

Tanja Beer is a researcher and practitioner in ecological design for performance and the creator of The Living Stage – an ecoscenographic work that combines stage design, permaculture and community engagement to create recyclable, biodegradable and edible performance spaces. Tanja has more than 15 years professional experience, including creating over 50 designs for a variety of theatre companies and festivals in Australia (Sydney Opera House, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Queensland Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Arts Centre) and overseas (including projects in Vienna, London, Cardiff and Tokyo).

Since 2011, Tanja has been investigating sustainable practices in the theatre. International projects have included a 2011 Asialink Residency (Australia Council for the Arts) with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a residency with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London) funded by a Norman Macgeorge Scholarship from the University of Melbourne. In 2013, Tanja worked as “activist-in-residence” at Julie’s Bicycle (London), and featured her work at the 2013 World Stage Design Congress (Cardiff)

Tanja has a Masters in Stage Design (KUG, Austria), a Graduate Diploma in Performance Making (VCA, Australia) and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne where she also teaches subjects in Design Research, Scenography and Climate Change. A passionate teacher and facilitator, Tanja has been invited as a guest lecturer and speaker at performing arts schools and events in Australia, Canada, the USA and UK. Her design work has been featured in The Age and The Guardian and can be viewed at www.tanjabeer.com

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Piloting Strategies: Arts and Land Use

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Kate Foster and Claire Pençak have written this article to highlight the ways that they as artists (visual and dance/choreographic), have been engaged with land use and in particular the development of Land Use Strategy for Scotland through the Borders Region Pilot.  The article specifically responds to a previous piece on ecoartscotland which asks “What can the arts contribute to a Land Use Strategy for Scotland?”

Some of the really central challenges for artists working with land use issues are highlighted by Kate Foster and Claire Pençak including the discipline and practice specific languages used by environmental scientists and land managers as well as the dominance of Geographical Information Systems technologies.  Kate Foster and Claire Pençak’s projects demonstrate some of the best approaches that can be learnt from the past 60 years of ecoart and the longer history of art.


Introduction

Previous posts on this topic have pointed out that government policy has made an ecosystems service approach central. This opens up questions of what to place value on, and if, and when, it is helpful to monetise an ecosystem service. Too often human interests only are considered, leading to ongoing over-exploitation of ‘natural capital’. There has also been concern that intangible cultural elements cannot be recognised by an approach dominated by Geographical Information Systems, and mapping only what exists on the ground.

This article provides an outline of how we (choreographer Claire Pençak and environmental artist Kate Foster, who both live in the Scottish Borders), have worked in parallel to the regional Land Use Strategy pilot that was conducted in Borders Region.

Creative practices can contribute ways of relating to place, and offer alternative meanings and insights that escape conventional appraisal. Artists can act as connectors between disparate approaches, and re-enchant what is overlooked. The work we describe below is marked by a commitment to improvisation and responding to context. Our consistent theme is finding ways for rural-based arts practice to engage with contemporary concerns, regional and international.

Some background to the Land Use Strategy

In way of background information, the government Land Use Strategy initiative stems from the 2009 Climate Change Act (Scotland). The Scottish Borders along with Aberdeenshire was selected to develop a Pilot Regional Strategy, which would ultimately inform the revision of the national Land Use Strategy, to be published later this year. In our region, the process was led by Scottish Borders Council in partnership with Tweed Forum who co-ordinated the stakeholder engagement programme. Tweed Forum is a membership organisation whose collective purpose is to enhance and restore the rich natural, built, and cultural heritage of the River Tweed and its tributaries.

The Land Use Strategy regional framework in the Scottish Borders was developed through mapping and a series of public consultations to seek the views of communities. This came to our attention as it coincided with Working the Tweed, a Creative Scotland Year of Natural Scotland 2013 project which was an artist led partnership project between Tabula Rasa Collaborations, Tweed Forum and Southern Uplands Partnership.

From our vantage point, it was obvious that the LUS pilot strategy was beckoning to artists to contribute to it, but it was a question of how?

The following sections describe different art projects that were considerations of aspects of land use, emerging during the period between the Climate Change Act (Scotland, 2009) and the conclusion of the draft consultation for the Land Use Strategy 2016-2021, in January 2016. We were aware of the pilot regional strategy taking place in our area, and engaged with it by attending public meetings and filling in questionnaires. This activity fed into our work; we were inspired by the ambition of sustainable land use and searched for a way that we could contribute to the debate in a way that was meaningful for us – both as artists and as local residents.

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A catchment map as a talking point

Seeking to engage with the Land Use Strategy, we found the vocabulary and frames of reference were clearly suitable for conversing with land managers and land owners who were knowledgeable and skilled at the interface with government and agriculture. We could sense that the kind of language used could be impenetrable, and wouldn’t empower the broader community to connect with the ideas, which is what Tweed Forum were keen to do. Having been to a few of the public consultations, we found it tricky to know how to engage with what seemed a very prescribed, compartmentalised and ‘male’ approach.

The Land Use Strategy pilot project used catchments to identify localities – an idea we had also used as a motif map for Working the Tweed (a project that is described in more detail below). Because a catchment map was not cheaply available in the public domain, we made a hand-drawn version. We found it an evocative image to engage with people. Looking at this catchment drawing moves you from the predominant perception of the Scottish Borders as a series of discrete small towns, towards seeing it as a region connected by the dense network of tributaries to the Tweed. This was an effective means for us to generate conversation and elicit local knowledge and viewpoints, for example by taking stalls in annual agricultural shows.

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River Ways © Working the Tweed 2013

A Riverside Meeting concerning Resources and Land Use

Working the Tweed was an artist-led Year of Natural Scotland 2013 project that was planned prior to the Land Use Strategy pilot project. It was a nine-month programme that focussed on the diverse ways that people were working with the Tweed waters. It included a series of six riverside meeting with different themes. These meetings brought together professional creative practitioners living and working in the Tweed Catchment with scientists and environmentalists, to stimulate discussion, exchange and creative responses. They took place at different locations in the Tweed Catchment, and each meeting explored a different theme related to the Tweed Catchment Management Plan.

A first step in making the ideas behind the Land Use Strategy more accessible was to use the final Riverside Meeting to focus on two policy strategies being developed in parallel in the Scottish Borders: for culture as well as land use.  The final Riverside Meeting – Mapping the Future Scottish Borders – took place at The Lees fishing shiel on the Tweed at Coldstream and explored the themes of Water Resources and Land Use. Derek Robeson, Senior Project Officer at Tweed Forum, introduced the Land Use Strategy in relation to the Tweed Rivers through the frames of Environment, Culture and Economy. It was an opportunity to look at the maps that had been created through the lens of the Land Use Strategy (e.g. Biodiversity Networks and Resilience, Sporting and Recreation, Agricultural Crops) and to consider land use in the field through a riverside walk. The meeting placed the Land Use Strategy alongside the parallel development of a Cultural Strategy for the Scottish Borders which was introduced by Mary Morrison, Director of the Creative Arts Business Network. This brought a focus on cultural landscapes to the session. The final contributor David Welsh introduced an historical perspective, with his detailed knowledge of how the line of the Border has shifted around each field and burn in its path. In the year of the Independence Referendum this had an added potency. The session as a whole provided a challenge to how artists can work with complex histories and geographies, and engage with uncertain futures. It is fully reported on this link.

At this Riverside Meeting, the point was made that the lifetime of deciduous trees defied the short time frames for which policy is made, typically a five-year period. The mature trees along the River Tweed are evidence of much older strategies of land management.

Salmon scale – a link to different places and timescales

The catchment map acted as a motif for the Working the Tweed project, and provided an overview of our region. This was complemented by looking at something close-up, a scale from the skin of a Salmon (which is smaller than a finger nail).  Looking at magnified scales from migratory fish offered us another lens to perceive different rhythms of time and place that might influence daily life and work in our region.

Like a tree ring, a Trout or Salmon embodies a pattern of its growth into its scales. The Tweed Foundation collects scales from anglers, and accumulates data that helps interpret seasonal changes in the fishing catch. With a microscope an expert eye might see – for example – that a Salmon lived for two winters in the river, with a further winter at sea before returning to the Tweed to spawn.

These scales inspire a step backwards, to consider the larger picture. These fish deserve the name ‘Atlantic Salmon’ because they belong to a species who use ocean currents to drift to cold subarctic waters. Rich feeding to the west of Greenland allows them to mature before returning to their home river in mating mood.

There is room for speculation about future patterns that will be read in Salmon scales. Within ten years perhaps, the North Pole will become a navigable ocean, allowing seasonal passage to the Pacific. What impact will warming oceans have on their migration patterns and the patterns of their scales?

Thus a drawing of a Salmon scale became a second project motif, conveying connectedness to oceans, and hence the world. This led to the reflection that the Land Use pilot strategy was only considering land use within the administrative remit area. From such a narrow frame, events in wider geographical scales become ‘irrelevant’. Conversely, impacts on areas beyond the boundaries as a result of local land use can remain unconsidered.

This is a paradox for legislation stemming from a Climate Change Act, dealing with an international problem that is hard to fix in time or place, and where the actions of people in one place are acknowledged to have distant effects. To quote from an article by the academic Timothy Clark:

Climate change disrupts the scale at which one must think, skews categories of internal and external and resists inherited closed economies of accounting or explanation.  (2012, page 7)

Artists can contribute reminders of the unruliness of more-than-human timescales, explore the possible meanings and experience of climate change, and question the deranged scales in common currency.

We would argue that Salmon are integral to the identity of the Tweed Catchment, and its welfare cannot be seen as separate to the wellbeing of humans.

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Scaling the Tweed © Kate Foster, 2013

Approaching Choreography: A Proposal for Engagement

Following Working the Tweed, Claire Pençak began a research project funded through a Creative Scotland Artist Bursary by considering what a choreographic approach to thinking about Land Use might yield.

Approaching Choreography was an attempt to articulate an environmentally sensitive approach to dance-making and choreography through the frames of Placing and Perspective; Pathways Through; Meetings and Points of Contact and Working with Materials and Sites. It reflects on our positioning and shifts the emphasis from taking centre ‘stage’ towards margins and sidelines. This alternative framework emerged out of a series of riverside improvisations and conversations with dancers Merav Israel and Tim Rubidge, environmental artist Kate Foster and writer/researcher Dr. Wallace Heim. These took place on the Ettrick and Yarrow Waters in the Scottish Borders, and the East and West Allen Rivers in Northumberland.

Claire writes:

Choreography is concerned with space and I started by exchanging the idea of ‘space’ for that of ‘habitat’, and thought of the dancer as both creating and revealing habitat. Through this lens, habitat could be understood as ‘action spaces’ and land use became something that could be considered as performative, emerging and improvisational.

From this I developed a score as a way to proceed, a way to assist imaginative engagement, a way into playful encounters with land.

Further information is available here.

The score offers sixty examples of ways that habitat could be interpreted and worked by the diversity of species that use it – birds, fish, insects, mammals, plants and trees. It is easily understood, does not rely on land management knowledge and acknowledges multi-species. It suggests potential zones of action – on the ground, under the ground and over ground; on the water, underwater and in the air. The score can be cut up, shared, read out and passed on. Further information is available here.

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River Ways © Working the Tweed 2013

This thinking was made into a small illustrated A6 booklet (Approaching Choreography: A Proposal for Engagement) as part of a collaborative project, Speculative Ground which was conducted with Jen Clarke and Rachel Harkness of Aberdeen University.

Stone Lives 

Stone Lives was commissioned by Aberdeen University as a contribution to the Speculative Ground project which also included an exhibition curated by Jennifer Clark and Rachel Harkness at the Anthropological Association Decennial Conference in Edinburgh, in June 2014.

Stone Lives developed from an investigation of riverbank ecology at the meeting point of the Ettrick and Yarrow, at Philliphaugh near Selkirk. Our arrival at the riverbank in an afternoon in late May coincided with a hatch of Stone Flies – aquatic insects emerging from the water to find a stone to air themselves, and shed their final larval form. The river was low and we could walk on the smoothed rock, ancient mudstones shaped and sifted by ice and water.

This is an extract from Kate’s writing on this piece:

This set me on a trail, I collected husks for some days after – keen to find them before river levels rose. I searched online too, learning that of all the insects that live in water, Stone Flies need the cleanest water. They are ecological indicators of healthy streams, flattened and adapted to be able to cling to stones in rapid currents.  Apart from Trout who devour them, they are best known to fishermen, river ecologists and entomologists.  As one source remarks: “they are rather endearing little creatures once you get to know them”.

The fossil record of Stone Flies stretches far back to the Permian, but their adult life is brief.  A juxtaposition of Stone and Fly offers simultaneity at different timescales – a ‘so-far story’ (an idea that is further discussed in an article with Dr. Leah Gibbs and Claire Pençak  available here).

Stone Lives became an artwork inviting anthropologists at an international conference to share a sense of stone, and life supported.

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Documentation of Improvisation and Stone Fly Adult Emergence © Tabula Rasa 2014

Further documentation of Stone Lives is available here.

A bioregional sensibility

We have, so far, offered examples of how visual art, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary events, field work, and improvisational dance practices might offer further ways of thinking about land use. In combination, these directed us towards an ambition of bioregional sensibility, that has been articulated by Mitchell Thomashow:

‘Developing the observational skills to patiently observe bioregional history, the conceptual skills to juxtapose scales, the imaginative faculties to play with multiple landscapes, and the compassion to empathize with local and global neighbours – these qualities are the foundation of a bioregional sensibility…’

M. Thomashow, ‘Cosmopolitan Bioregionalism’, Bioregionalism, ed. M. V. McGinnis (London: Routledge, 1999), pp. 121-32 (pp. 130-31)

Borders Sheepscapes

An earlier project by Kate Foster, Borders Sheepscapes, was an exploration of sheep farming as a major land use in the Scottish Borders. This project is highlighted because it contributed a dimension to our thinking about Land Use Strategies, which are human-centred. The artist’s process of drawing in the field articulated some of the human resources of knowledge, skill and design underlying workaday pastoral scenery – as well as the part that sheep play in producing landscape. This project intended to shift humans from centre stage in landscape appreciation and reached towards a multispecies way of understanding how humans exist in the world.

A later addition to this body of work explored the widespread use of palm oil in livestock fodder through the example of an automated milk supply for orphaned lambs.

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Lac-tek, the electronic mummy © Kate Foster 2012

This work explored both the welcome benefit ‘Lac-tek’ brought to the farmers and possibly the orphaned lambs, and also the presence of palm and coconut oil in the sheeps-milk substitute (and many other animal feeds). Palm oil is an example of a highly controversial commodity, because increasing demand for this product has led to expansion of plantation monoculture in tropical countries, undermining climate change mitigation and creating further environmental injustice.

Carbon Landscapes

The Climate Change Act (Scotland) was a starting point for the Land Use Strategy. Atmospheric pollution by greenhouse gases is a complicated science, but there are straightforward ways that the movement of carbon can be inferred. These are not widely understood. Kate is piloting collaborative work that explores what artists can add to the environmental science of Carbon Landscapes.

The project Flux Chamber created a guide to carbon riverscapes with Dr. David Borthwick and Professor Susan Waldron of Glasgow University.

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Image from Flux Chamber series © Kate Foster 2015

You need to have thought about what Carbon Landscapes consist of before you can start to see where carbon exchange between different reservoirs (terrestrial, marine, atmospheric) is taking place. If people are to protect naturally stored carbon, we need to develop sensibility to see how carbon is gained, lost and recycled.

For Peatland Actions, Kate worked with Nadiah Rosli on another pilot project exploring carbon landscapes, that brought together different experiences of the use and exploitation of peatlands in Scotland and South East Asia. The name of the work was derived from a government programme of  peatland restoration, and this piece was shown at the exhibition Submerge, as part of the ArtCOP 2015 programme at the Stove Network, Dumfries.

Nadiah Rosli used social media communications to convey how the toxic haze, that now frequently spreads from Indonesia to other countries in South East Asia, has come to feel normal to her family and friends in Malaysia. The haze from illegal fires makes blue sky  something to exclaim about.

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River Ways © Working the Tweed 2013

Here is an extract from Kate’s description of this collaborative work:

Until recently Mosses have not been valued for their ‘ecosystem services’ but peatbogs are the most effective carbon sinks known. Conversely, peat releases greenhouse gases when it is exposed. Damaged Scottish peatlands are being restored using public money for climate mitigation – but at the same time, peat extraction is pursued privately, for example at Nutberry Moss. I see this, passing by on the A75 to Carlisle. For me (Kate), this grim landscape of carbon emission is a glimpse from the car window. Nadiah Rosli has had to breathe far more damaging airs – the thick toxic haze from fires raging in Indonesian carbon-rich peatlands. Nadiah has courageously communicated about the situation in which Indonesian rainforest is burnt to allow commodity production (including palm oil and paper pulp for western markets). Her approach insists on a focus on environmental justice, including the idea that land abuse should be understood as a crime whose victims include humans exposed to the consequences of atmospheric pollution, amongst many other species.

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Nutberry Moss seen in passing, from a car © Kate Foster 2015

These are ways in which we as artists have worked to open out political attention to land use, to include more-than-human and intangible cultural viewpoints. Short-term economic gain for humans is often the main consideration within our globalised economy. However artist-led projects can explore how different kinds of land use bring both benefits and loss to different parties, by adopting an ecocentric viewpoint and juxtaposing different timeframes and geographical scales. In common with other strands of contemporary art, this work seeks to shift humans from centre stage in landscape appreciation. The anthropocentric idea that extraction of commodities is endlessly possible is challenged by eco-artwork that refuses to work within the deranged scales that are endorsed elsewhere.

Academic work informs our practices in different ways, for example there is a trend in the study of international relations that takes ecology into account. Also, the environmental humanities are producing multispecies perspectives: as Deborah Bird Rose argues, if we fail to grasp the connectivities between human and nonhuman, we cannot have insight into the ramifications of anthropogenic extinction and miss ‘our entangled responsibilities and accountabilities.’

Artists can work with these pioneering and inspiring influences to produce multi-layered understandings of place, which can also be thought of as developing a bioregional sensibility. This feeds into a process of shifting aesthetic appreciation, and being able to recognise patterns of land use – as well as land abuse – within global processes. We would also wish to take the more complex step of helping develop the relationships to place and its inhabitants, humans and others, that a contemporary land ethic requires.

Kate Foster and Claire Pençak, February 2016

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.

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