Yearly Archives: 2016

Partial history of artists and bioremediation

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

 

The video posted by A Blade of Grass as well as the information on their website highlighting Jan Mun’s work with Greenpoint Bioremediation Project on Newtown Creek, a polluted industrial maritime waterway and Superfund site, is great. An artist doing useful ecologically-focused work, engaging the symbolism of mushrooms and fairy rings to address the significant pollution of Newtown Creek in New York. And this piece is not intended to diminish the importance of the project, the support of a major funder of social practice, or the involvement of artists in addressing polluted land.

But the way this work is presented misses out the history of the practice in this particular field. We end up with a sense of ‘innovation’ and novelty, “WOW, an artist working with mushrooms to clean up an industrial accident! How cool is that! Awesome.”

It’s important to understand that bioremediation is a major area of scientific, technological and also engineering work which uses organisms to remove or neutralise pollution in a particular location.Phytoremediation specifically uses plants both transgenic (genetically modified to accumulate pollution more effectively) and natural to absorb pollutants. Mycoremediation specifically uses fungi. These are described as technologies.

There is also a history in ecological art for these practices. A number of artists interested in working with scientists and engineers have been involved in the development of this ‘field’, although now bioremediation (and its specialisms) are largely undertaken by engineers and governed by Environmental Protection regulation.

A few key artists whose work might form a lineage for this are Mel Chin, who working with Rufus Chaney, a senior research scientist at the US Department of Agriculture, and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, developed the first field trial of phytoremediation at the Pig’s Eye Landfill in Minnesota in an artwork entitled Revival Field (1990 ongoing). For background on this project and Chin’s articulation of the art, see the Ecovention exhibition catalogue which is fully reproduced on Greenmuseum.org

Other artists who have developed work in this field include Georg Dietzler and Frances Whitehead. Georg Dietzler’s work (1999 involved using Oyster Mushrooms to remediate PCBs and was framed as research, with research questions, and conducted as an experiment (Concept).

Frances Whitehead’s Slow Clean-up (2008-2012) focused on multiple sites of abandoned gas stations across Chicago.  This work is firmly based on her concern with the embedded artist, relies as all these projects do on collaboration with scientists, engineers and environmental managers.  Her documentation of the project, available on the website, highlights her assessment of her own innovation focused on thinking about the meaning of time in relation to site and what short and long timescales for this sort of work enable and exclude.

Clearly early examples of this are innovative by any account, but its worth offering some criteria for innovation against which to examine other projects. Tim Collins suggests that innovation is usually in at least one of the following categories: formal, social or technical. Obviously Mel Chin and Rufus Cheney’s field experiment starting in 1991 was technically innovative – no-one had tested the potential for specific plants (or any plants infact) to remediate pollution. Their experiment both tested specific plants, but also tested the principle which up until that point had been a hypothesis. Revival Field is in itself socially innovative in presenting a scientific experiment as an artwork. Curiously in terms of formal innovation, Chin has described the work in terms of the most basic sculptural process of reduction. He argued that the work is like carving but in this case using biochemistry as the chisel, though eventually this process of reduction, carving away the pollution from the soil, will become obvious in the form of new growth on the site (see herefor Mel Chin’s own description).

To be able to ascertain the innovation in Jan Mun’s work on the Greenpoint Bioremediation Project we need a better and more detailed description of the work, whether through a deep description of the concept allowing us to understand the artist’s intention to do something innovative, or retrospectively by a description of the project’s emergent innovative elements (pacem Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold who argue that we can only see innovation retrospectively and in the moment only improvise).

This is a brief and partial indication of the history of artists involvement in bioremediation. It’s also worth reading Tim Collins’ comments here – he references other people not mentioned above.

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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Maker Coral Mallow on creating the Fringe Sustainable Practice Award piece

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

This post comes from Coral Mallow: the artist we commissioned this summer to craft the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award. Here’s what she has to say about her process.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe! It is an exciting time to be in the city with it’s candy wrapper costume of theatre posters and the possibility of art literally and figuratively around every corner and close. For an entire month!

With such an extensive celebration however comes much waste in promotion, tourism, and production needs. Rather than approach this issue negatively Creative Carbon Scotland chose to create an award to congratulate those productions that had a combination of low environmental impact and innovative production speaking to sustainability problems and solutions.

Hence we come to the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award. This is a collaboration between Creative Carbon Scotland and the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts. To further keep with the theme of this award they decided to put out a call to hire a local Artist/Maker to create the award. This is where I come in.

My name is Coral Mallow and I’m here to tell you about the making and thought process behind the creation of the 2016 award.

When I applied for the commission I was already thinking of some things that I would have to keep in mind. The performance that won might not be local as we get troupes and performers from all over the world. As anyone who has flown lately knows weight restrictions on luggage get stricter all the time, so creating something lighter as an award would probably be preferable. As such, the performer that won might not be in Edinburgh at the time of the award giving so it would make it easier to transport or mail as well.

I also looked into the award created last year by maker Sarah Diver so also knew I would have to add logos and text. This meant I had to consider a way to accurately and clearly present that information. It also meant that it had to be separate of the body of the piece because the maker would only find out about the winner a week before the ceremony. All of this information was key to my proposal.

While I work in many different mediums I chose to weave this award using a technique called twill inlay. Twill inlay allows you to create a design in a weaving by adding additional yarn to a pattern by hand. Here is a youtube link to a weaver who demonstrates the technique also using four shaft floor loom. I have a background in theatre as both performer and playwright so I looked to the history of theatre to inform my material choices. I chose to use rescued and reclaimed linen and wool yarns to create the body or the award which could then be displayed either flat or hung on the wall. The text pieces would be added and attached by hand using embroidery.

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To capture the text in clarity I chose to use the services of a local women owned company in Leith called BeFabBeCreative. Using digital printing may not sound sustainable, but when you take into consideration the lack of solvents, the small business commitment to recycling, and the locality allowing me to collect via walking or bus it is an excellent option! They created the digital prints on a cotton fabric that mirrored the pattern I would be using in the weaving. The proprietors Solii and Zoe were very excited and helpful in getting the cloth printed, prepared, and to me in time for me to complete the piece for the award ceremony. The three pictures above are three of the digital designs created in photoshop that were printed and used.

Textile waste is a huge problem with a significant portion of our landfills being clothing, carpets, household soft goods such as sheets and towels and more all contribute to a growing issue around sustainability. There is a tendency towards mass disposal of materials and props during large festivals. Depending on how far some acts have traveled, and what they wish to bring home, Edinburgh can wind up with a significant increase in waste.

Artists and theater makers have long been known for their resourcefulness in reusing what society discards. Whether for canvases, costuming, or various assemblages as can be found in sculpture and jewelry, “waste not want not” is the working motto of many a practitioner. By creating a soft textile piece I speak not just to the history of the Arts, but to the Arts long commitment to recycling, upcycling, and industrious innovation.

Congratulations to VOU Fiji Dance for winning the award for their production “Are We Stronger Than Winston?”! It was a delight and an honor to create this award and I hope it brings you as much joy in the having as I had in the creating of it.

The post Maker Coral Mallow on creating the Fringe Sustainable Practice Award piece 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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Hebrides International Film Festival

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Rural Nations Scotland CIC is proud to present the programme for this year’s Hebrides International Film Festival 2016: Islands and Environment.

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We are pleased to be partnering with An Lanntair Arts Centre who will be our hub for this year’s festival, screening our entire programme across its main auditorium and newly launched Pocket Cinema.

HIFF prides itself on it’s mission to engage rural communities throughout the islands, and this year will be no different bringing a breadth of cinema and film maker guest speakers to communities throughout the Outer Hebrides with screenings in Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra over the four day festival from the Wednesday the 14th to Saturday the 17th September.

The film festival has attracted films from around the world, and we are thrilled to announce that this year the screenings will include a UK premiere.

Award winning, Caribbean produced film, Vanishing Sail will open the festival with it’s UK premiere, which will take place simultaneously in our An Lanntair and Berneray venues on Wednesday 14th September at 8pm.

The opening of the HIFF festival and premiere of the film on our shores will see the town harbour filled with sailing craft in a parade of sail arranged with the help of Sail Stornoway.

Many of the first boatbuilders on the Caribbean island where Vanishing Sail was filmed, came from Scotland so we were very excited when Rural Nations invited us to open their 3rd Hebrides International Film Festival. We were inspired by their commitment to bringing meaningful international stories to their remote islands… Alexis Andrews, Director

This years festival can boast a similarly exciting line up of contemporary, award winning environmental features and documentaries. As well as a great selection of shorts, from both seasoned and emerging film makers from around the world.

From Norwegian blockbuster The Wave to newly released family film Swallows & Amazons. International success story Hunt for the Wilderpeople and hard hitting documentaries The Messenger from the US, Fire at Sea from Italy and The Islands and the Whales from Scotland just for starters.

There’s plenty of ways to get involved with the festival this year, with environmental themed events and talks arranged in collaboration with the North Harris Trust, RSPB Scotland and local businesses.

As well as free archive screenings from the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image archive bringing a look at island life as it was.

Special guests this year will include Loic Jordain, French film maker and his latest release, The Turning Tide In the Life of Man for a masterclass in long form documentary. As well as award winning Canadian director, Charles Wilkinson, who will join the festival from Vancouver for a discussion on his approach to green film making with his feature doc Haida Gwaii.

The full programme is now available online and tickets are available to book at hebfilmfestival.org

The post Hebrides International Film Festival appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

———-

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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Why Land Art Generator in Scotland?

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Video from the Test Unit Pecha Kucha at the Whisky Bond, Glasgow, July 2016, which provides a context for LAGI Glasgow.  Thanks to TAKTAL for the opportunity.Filed under: energy, Fremantle writing, News Tagged: Brent Spar, Greenpeace, land Art Generator, Peter Fend, PLATFORM London

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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