ecoartscotland

Wallace Heim: documenting art science collaborations focused on environments Pt.1

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Wallace Heim, editor of the Ashden Directory and Ashdenizen Blog for 20 years, has reviewed two books, documenting art science collaborations focused on environments.  Imagining Natural Scotland is the publication associated with a programme for the Year of Natural Scotland.  Creative Scotland working with Scottish Natural Heritage and other partners put out a call for collaborations.  They were looking for new and existing partnerships to put forward projects that focused on the way we understand natural Scotland.  The publication highlights the fifteen projects.  In a second post tomorrow, Wallace will review Field_Notes, from Landscape to Laboratory.


 

Putting together an artist and someone with a specialism in another field or discipline, usually the sciences, has become so prevalent as a mode of research and art-making, it has become a genre, or a practice in itself – whether it takes place on a boat in the northern seas, in a castle, on a farm, in a village hall, along a city river, in a laboratory. The expectations for original insights and a melding of knowledge and praxis from these collaborations continue to be high, along with the more pragmatic acceptance that these associations are a way of generating work, securing funding and establishing credibility.

There’s a mysterious core to these collaborations, those possible moments of generosity and receipt that exceed the mere representation of knowledge in novel forms, or the exchange of information that each can take back to their own disciplinary territory. For the outsider, those moments are never known except as they are described in the documentation that follows, or are evidenced, most often, in the artist’s work. It’s like hearing about a party you missed.

Two compilations have been published recently documenting collaborations that relate to ecological arts practices: Imagining Natural Scotland (reviewed below), investigating the natural-cultural place of Scotland, and [Field Notes]. From Landscape to Laboratory (reviewed in the next post), a report from the Field_Notes – Cultivating Ground collaborative laboratory in 2011, hosted by the Finnish Society of Bioart.

How are these books to be read? How are despatches back from a collaboration to be read? Some offer philosophical perspectives from aesthetics or environmental ethics; others offer justifications according to funding criteria; others how the project has addressed ecological and artistic needs. All of these read as kinds of meta-narratives.

But it’s the descriptive reports of the empirical work that make these collections valuable reading, even if the accounts may be partial, or not even always reliable. Most often, the focus is on the artist’s practice, with how the collaboration affected their working processes, how it contributed to the knowledge that they can use as sources and materials. They are informative of the kinds of art-making being done, the subject matters explored, the combinations that are being made.

Often, the commentary by specialists/scientists will offer leads for further questions, lines of connection with their disciplines. Many remark on a moment of freedom from disciplinary restraint, or of a new perspective on their research processes. But there’s little evidence of how this translates into the accredited work of a peer-reviewed paper in a similar way, for example, to the artist’s practice or a completed piece of work. The weight is with the arts.

Although the views from the participants are self-reflexive, they often do not undertake a critical perspective on the collaboration itself. One wants to know more about the flowing exchanges and the rankling frictions between divergent working processes. One wants to know more about the risks and negotiations made at personal, political, aesthetic and ecological levels. And, the voice that is most often absent is that of the public or communities who are often co-collaborators through artists’ social and dialogic practices.

Even so, these kinds of collections, including the two reviewed here, provide markers of the practices that are defining evolving fields of work and a sampling of the questions that artists ask. These reports offer a multitude of diverse ways-in to ecological art practices for those new to it, and enough detail for those familiar with the fields to mark the shifts in practices that are happening.

Imagining Natural Scotland

Imagining Natural Scotland is a record of the fifteen collaborative projects with artists, scientists, social scientists and environmental historians supported by Creative Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and others as part of the Year of Natural Scotland in 2013. Creative Scotland’s brief to the projects was to explore the relationship between Scotland’s ‘natural’ world and its representation in arts and in popular culture, to explore the differences between the ‘real’ Scottish ‘nature’ and its cultural representations. Further, to ask how could the arts and popular culture influence society, public attitudes, policy and environmental management.

Each partner reflects on their project in relation to the brief. The projects are diverse with overlaps in their artistic methods and in their attention to the land, to river and marine environments, to woodlands and animals. Some directly involve public communities, others work with invited groups or publics. What emerges from the whole are the big themes of the human in the landscape, what is ‘nature’ and ‘natural’. Too, the book confirms a vitality specific to Scotland in how artists are grappling with the ‘place’ of the country, as natural-cultural, as natural-political. There’s a sense of artists and their partners working within the historical conflicts and legacies of land use and aesthetic representations, while newly creating what Scottish nature and culture are and will be.

Following are summaries of the projects, favouring the artistic practices.

Two different collaborations explore the relation of land use policies and management to the landscape and perceptions of place. In A New Environmental Impact Assessment for Natural Scotland – Environment, Imagination and Aesthetics, the artists Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges, with sociologist Claire Haggett suggest that beauty, naturalness and the impact of change on a community are the missing – and necessary – tools for assessing the impact of large-scale developments. Their co-collaborators were a community in South West Scotland near both an existing and proposed wind farm. They undertook diverse processes, such as mapping journeys, views and memories; devising fictional scenarios; representing a community narrative through a fictional film called ‘Settlement’ complete with film posters featuring individual families; and making a collaborative soundscape broadcast on ‘Settlement Radio’. All were derived from ‘meet-ups’ with the community. A copy of the ‘outputs’ from the project were printed in the style of an EIA, and buried by the community as a time capsule to provide archaeological information for planners in 900 years.

In Future Forest: Caledonian Black Wood, Aware Access, environmental artists Tim Collins and Reiko Goto and social scientist David Edwards considered what it means to make art with a forest, rather than about or in a forest, specifically, the Black Wood of Rannoch in Highland Perthshire. Their ideas for a critical forest art practice involve experimenting with the empathetic exchanges between people and trees in urban and rural settings; and considering the processes of art as an interface with a forest in rural settings, and how these correspond with images, ideas and artefacts in an urban setting. At Black Wood, Collins and Goto found centuries of historical, cultural and institutional conflicts over the meaning, value and use of the forest. Through a dialogic, imaginative and place-centred workshop process with the many institutional partners, they were able to re-align an approach to access and awareness of the forest, to begin a re-framing of ecosystems services to include cultural value. As ‘time’ is an essential element in understanding a forest and a public conversation, for the urban / gallery settings, the artists assembled a body of time-based media work, including video installations.

The contested or conflictual aspects of a place are embedded in its social history; in the inequalities of economics, class and power; and in the variations in perceptions of value, amenity and even of nature itself. Conflict is a thread running through several projects, if not explicitly represented.

Interviews with people connected with the Firth of Clyde showed their differing perspectives, from fishing, scientific, philosophical, ecological, conservationist, underwater and spiritual experiences. Artist Stephen Hurrel and social ecologist Ruth Brennan, in Clyde Reflections, created an immersive film and audio-visual installation of the interviews. Hurrel devised a meditative, ambient structure to the film/installation. Brennan found that this poetic methodology allowed for the implicit ideas and overlaps in interview material to be conveyed, rather than the more informational or confrontational style of a documentary.

Mirror Lands critiqued the techniques of nature documentaries that construct an idealised version of nature. Based on the Moray Firth, filmmaker Emma Dove, composer Mark Lyken with ecologist Paul Thompson and colleagues at the Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty, conducted interviews with people giving their accounts of experience with the local environment. The filming technique highlighted everyday interactions between humans and the environment, rather than the dramatic focus of a nature documentary. One intention of the research was to influence individual behaviours in ways that reduce conflicts like that between the oil and tourism industries and marine conservation.

Conflicts between human social and political interests and other species was the direction given by the conservation scientist Steve Redpath for the project Thinking Like a Mountain, with writer Esther Woolfson. Conflict is inherent in issues of sustainability, and represented in this project by human relations with predators. They researched how Scottish literature, law and culture viewed predator species like the wolf and its effects on the shared biotic community. Woolfson traced the etymology of Scots language words for ‘predator’, among her series of non-fiction essays.

The ‘science’ in many reports seems confined, but in Search Films, the collaboration opened up the scientific process itself, directly exploring how a science produces its knowledge in a way that melded with an artistic process. The project began as a walk in the woods, as biologist Mick Marquiss described to his son, artist Duncan Marquiss, how he found goshawk sites by responding to cues or idiosyncrasies in the landscape. The hawk is elusive; the subject of study is found by its hawk-signs. That scientific method, that way of walking and observing, is a formalised version of innate foraging behaviour that humans use to find scarce resources in complex environments – on land, but also by extension, while shopping, on the internet. Duncan mimicked this behaviour in the process of film-making, as he followed Mick, as a way of understanding the biologist’s methodology and search patterns. For the scientist, the film-making offered the opportunity to look again at the routines of field studies, the tacit knowledge involved, and at ways that this experiential knowledge could be articulated to others.

How to know a place, how to imagine nature features across most projects. In Imagining Wild Land – Coire Ruadh, artists Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson, with performer Ruth Janssen, worked with Rob McMorran from the Centre for Mountain Studies. Looking at how landscape depends on movement, the artists used video and dance on the land to articulate the scientific data from CMS defining the borders and zones that mark out ‘the wild’.

Portraits of Scots Pines explored how the identity of a place is known through that iconic species. Artist Marcus Leotaud contrasted ideas of re-wilding with the dead zones of spruce plantation, and with what constitutes a ‘natural’ landscape in Scotland. Working with PhD candidate William Cornforth and Heritage Management Officer Simon Montgomery, the project viewed the individual tree rather than the forest, as iconic of habitat, landscape, time and history. Leotaud’s portraits of are not merely representational, but portray as well the threats to the species.

The animal as a way of imagining nature features in Barnacle Fish or Fowl, by artist Philippa Mitchell and ecologist Carl Mitchell. The visual representation of barnacle geese and how this has affected public perceptions and management decisions about its population was explored with students at Port Ellen Primary School, Islay, in the inner Hebrides.

Interrogating how visual representations of Scottish places invent those places, The Valentine Project: A Landscape with Trees, started with historical post cards from Glen Tilt, produced by James Valentine and Sons of Dundee between 1880 and 1935. Moving between the archive, artefacts and the site, the team of artist Victoria Bernie, landscape architect Lisa Mackenzie, historical geographer Fraser MacDonald and field ecologist John Derbyshire walked, drew, photographed, videoed and talked over how to do field work, how to represent constant change in a landscape, the human artifice that shapes it, the future realities of a landscape and the processes of decay, ruin and flux.

Another grouping of projects draws out that focus on change in the landscape, with water as the indicative representation of this.

In Montrose Bay, the Changing Coast, artist Jean Duncan, zoologist Tracey Dixon and hazard geoscientist Fraser Milne used arts-based public engagement with local groups and schoolchildren to observe the shifting sands of the beach, and to record how it is used and how it might be managed in the future.

Using sound recordings, visual art and photography, artist Tommy Pearson and environmental writer and musician Rob St. John used water flows to explore Edinburgh’s urban environment. In Water of Life – City of Edinburgh, they traced the subterranean flows of water in sewers, drains, pipes, rivers and reservoirs, revealing the confluences of clean and unclean, ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’, the organic and synthetic. Using analogue photography, and with the production of a vinyl record, they kept to a slow artistic methodology.

For Making Space for Water: A Poetry of Place, writer Leslie Harrison and environmental engineer Rebecca Wade walked the banks of the Denburn in Aberdeen and the Dighty Water in Dundee, exchanging methodologies for researching the impact of language on perceptions of urban river environments. The project showed how character, history and social function of the river, what it carries with it, is revealed in both ordinary language and poetry.

Storyteller Andy Hunter, community archaeologist Brian Wilkinson and public engagement practitioner Sophia Collins walked a river, holding storytelling events with communities and specialists along its length. In Tales of River Tweed, stories were told and stories were collected, marking the flow of history, narrative and river.

Finally, in Dreaming Scotland, writer Lowri Potts, sound designer Tam Treanor and photographer Karen Gordon, kept with the human, asking what ‘natural Scotland’ meant to a group of new arrivals to Glasgow, contrasting this with the views of more established residents. Urban parks, the cold, Loch Ness, the traditional skills of shipbuilding, the thinking space offered by the hills outside the city, the light, the softness of the air came through in the interviews. The installation featured recordings interspersing the newcomer and the established resident. Visually, a ‘flock of words’, was animated by an algorithmic, unfixed programme.

All these abbreviated summaries miss the detail of the texts, and they, in turn, miss the details of the processes. But as despatches, they mark a time when public funding saw the political, economic and cultural value of supporting collaborations across the aesthetic and ecological worlds.

Imagining Natural Scotland (2014), edited by David Griffith, published by Creative Scotland.

ISBN: 978 1 85119 207 6

http://imaginingnaturalscotland.org.uk/

The Imagining Natural Scotland project was a partnership between Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, and supported by the University of St. Andrews. Year of Natural Scotland 2013 was led by VisitScotland, Event Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

If you want to obtain a copy of this publication you are best to email Scott.Donaldson@creativescotland.com at Creative Scotland with your postal address and he’ll arrange to send one to you.  There may be a charge.


Dr. Wallace Heim writes and researches on performance and ecology, and she does this in many places. Her academic slant is philosophical, but she works across disciplines to analyse the experience of performance, of art and of social practice arts, to consider how these events shape ecological and social understanding.

www.wallaceheim.com

She recently published Landing Stages. Selections from the Ashden Directory 2000 – 2014, an ebook marking the archiving of the Ashden Directory and Ashdenizen, websites focused on ecology, climate and culture which she co-edited. Landing Stages can be downloaded from www.ashdendirectory.org.uk.

Her current writing is on conflict; on sense and extinction; and on how a place can learn.

She has published in Performance Research and in Readings in Performance and Ecology. She is on the Advisory Board of the upcoming publication series Performing Landscapes. She co-edited Nature Performed, and co-curated the conference/event BETWEEN NATURE. She taught on the ‘Art & Ecology’ MA at Dartington College of Arts. She has also worked as a set designer.

 

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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Opportunities: Interns to work on Environmental Art Festival Scotland 2015

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The Environmental Art Festival Scotland (EAFS) has two Internships (with stipends) to help with the 2015 Festival at the end of August – one focused on Design and Mapping and the other on Production.

Themes for the Festival this year are:

  • Inventiveness, foolishness and generosity as a way of understanding the world
  • Food, clothes, shelter and environmental sustainability
  • Hospitality, hosting and community
  • Journeys, migrations, secular pilgrimage and transformation

If these are ideas that resonate with you then access the brief for both here EAFS Internships brief

If you are interested there is a ‘drop-in’ session at The Stove in Dumfries on the afternoon of 17 June. If you can’t make it to Dumfries next week then contact Jan Hogarth directly on jan@wide-open.net .

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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Glasgow School of Art’s Climate Challenge project

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Counting Consciousness: the book tells the story of our journey of 15 months’ work exploring the edge between creativity and sustainability. The Artists Using Resources in the Community (ARC) project set out primarily to reduce carbon emissions by working with staff and students of the Glasgow School of Art and creative professionals from across the city to tackle climate change. It also worked to challenge social norms and normalise the sustainability conversation within the creative sector by providing opportunities for people to come together and explore the topic. While we achieved what was originally tasked of us, what came out of the project was so much more. Not only have we laid strong foundations for those interested in sustainability and creativity living and practicing in Glasgow, we have realised and proactively developed work around deep, values based action. Click the More link to take you to the book.

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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North Light Arts: Alchemy of Soil

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Image: Natalie Taylor, Force of Nature

North Light Arts is delighted to present the ‘Alchemy of Soil’, an outstanding exhibition by the Scottish artist Natalie Taylor at Dunbar Town House Museum and Gallery, East Lothian from 23 May – 21 June 2015. Dunbar is probably best known for being the birthplace, in 1838, of John Muir, one of the world’s best-known conservationists, whose chief concern was the protection of our natural environment. This year Natalie Taylor was selected as North Light Arts John Muir Artist in Residence at Dunbar Town House from the 13th to 27th April 2015, funded by East Lothian Council Arts Service as part of the annual John Muir Birthday Celebrations. During her residency Natalie explored the theme of ‘Fertile Ground: Soil’, in particular investigating the importance of East Lothian’s soil.

This year the United Nations has proclaimed 2015 International Year of Soils, which offers a unique opportunity to address the crisis in soil sustainability. Dunbar is a in a unique position as local community organisations such as Sustaining Dunbar have been actively exploring sustainability, carbon reduction and composting initiatives and Dunbar was recently named Scotland’s first ‘Zero Waste Town’, piloting a new initiative in Scotland to dramatically reduce waste and encourage the reuse of waste products.

Natalie Taylor’s work in the ‘Alchemy of Soil Exhibition’ is a range of previous work and new work made during her John Muir Residency and includes; watercolour paintings, sculpture, drawings, installations and tapestries in dramatically contrasting scales. She has a strong environmental and public art engagement practice and her work is made both in the studio, in site-specific locations and with community groups.

During her John Muir Residency Natalie undertook research into East Lothian’s soils by contacting local farms and community gardens and collecting soil samples. As you walk into the exhibition space you encounter a very large wall piece made with local soil pigments. This painting, titled ‘The Alchemy of Soil’ is inspired by the Tibetan Buddhist practice of creating temporary artworks from dyed sand, instead of sand Natalie has created her piece from the different pigments of collected East Lothian soil. One third of the soil based paint drips down off the surface of the paper – it is Natalie’s reaction to the knowledge that we are all under threat. As the ancient Vedas Sanskrit Scripture saying goes: “Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel, and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”

Nature penetrates all of Natalie’s work and she is not afraid to look back to history or experiment with different media. ‘Force of Nature’ made in 2012, is a beautiful tapestry after Jacques le Moyne de Morgues ‘Daughter of the Picts’, a 16th-century print of a tattooed girl. The original picture is one of a series of five figures, representing Picts. Natalie’s tapestry depicts a naked woman covered in flowers and plants but with a skull for a face. The piece is reminiscent of 15th century Flemish tapestries, which were hand woven over many years. The original by work by Jacques le Moyne de Morgues was exhibited in a travel collection in 1590, the processes that produced both pieces are vastly different: one created from manual engraving and the 16th century printing press, the other a tapestry woven with the aid of 21st century digital tools.

There is a dark side to Natalie’s practice, sitting on white porcelain plates in one of the drawers in the display cabinet are a series of small potatoes, which on closer inspection are in fact thumbs. Also in the top section of the display cabinet is ‘Suicide Seed’, a bronze cast of a large emerging seed with skeleton teeth set into it. Both artworks make us question what we find on our plates and if what we eat has a long-term impact on our health.

Natalie states “As the John Muir artist in residence in April I was offered two weeks to research the soils of East Lothian. What I quickly discovered was that here in this region we are blessed with healthy fertile soil and the region is still known as the Garden of Scotland. Here we are in a privileged position to be comfortably fed, with easy and cheap access to high quality foods.

Of course, we rely on the soil under our feet to provide this. As every farmer and gardener knows: rich fertile soil equals good nutritious crops for market. However, many farmers use chemical phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen to add plant nutrition back into their intensively farmed soil.

But as I discovered with further reading, what we don’t see is the accumulative effect of these chemicals on our soil, and the surrounding habitats. Although a self confessed newby to this complex and sensitive subject, what I have gleaned is that a dark shadow encroaches our global soil due to soil erosion caused by lack of structure, chemical leaching into the sea from these fields, and inability to retain water due to lack of carbon based plant matter underground.”

In the exhibition there is a series of six limited edition giclee prints called ‘Biotech Seeds’, depicting emerging wheat, soya, rice and corn seeds with logos stamped onto them which are particularly worrying. This work makes us think. Are our experiments with nature a step too far and what is the long-term impact of genetically modified crops?

“My growing understanding of the soil crisis which, according to the Soil Association means that 30-40% of global soils are under threat of total depletion, had to be translated into a painting, sculpture, or print. After my research period was over I was hit by a sense that the more I looked into the rich biology of the soil, the more I needed to make this visible, so that folk could see what it does for us, and every living creature on Earth.

It is not all doom however I am pleased to add. Organic farming methods allow a multitude of ills to be rectified: a he amount of airborne carbon can be sequestered in the form of plant and timber byproducts back into the ground by using composting techniques, simultaneously adding fertility to the plants, and structure to the soil. All is not lost!” Natalie Taylor

Natalie has shown internationally in exhibitions in Europe, Australia, and Scandinavia. She is currently artist in residence with ‘North Edinburgh Grows’ at North Edinburgh Arts in Muirhouse, Edinburgh where she has worked over the past two years with community groups to develop artworks for a community garden. North Edinburgh Grows was the winner of the creative category in the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum’s Best Practice in Community Regeneration Awards in 2014, and winner of the Civic Trust Award, 2015.

The Alchemy of Soil Exhibition continues daily 1 – 5pm until 21st June at Dunbar Town House Gallery, The High Street, Dunbar.

Natalie Taylor will deliver an artist talk on her experience as the John Muir artist in Residence and her work in the exhibition at 7pm on Wednesday 17th June at Dunbar Town House Gallery.

For further information or to arrange a photo opportunity with the artist please contact: Tracy Morgan, Programme Manager, North Light Arts

E: infonorthlightarts@gmail.com

T: 01620 824 025

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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Design/Ecology/Politics: Within and Beyond Error

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Originally posted on EcoLabs:

Today I signed a contract with Berg / Bloomsbury Academic Publishers for a book called Design/ Ecology/ Politics: Within and Beyond Error, due April 2015.

Design/Ecology/Politics is a clear articulation of the powerful role for design – once informed by ecological literacy and critical perspectives. This book moves the debate in sustainable design beyond its narrow focus on the design of marginally more sustainable consumer products. Ecological theory exposes philosophical problems at the root of the environmental crisis. Social theory exposes the social and political function of design. This book will describe the relationship between these three dynamics. While there are prominent movements in design working towards socially responsive practice, these efforts are hampered by the manner in which power relations are constructed, reproduced and obfuscated by design. Revealing these dynamics creates new possibilities for transformative practice – i.e. design which will create ways of living enabling human prosperity…

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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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Caledonian Everyday Discussions – Glossaries

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Edvard Munch, The Yellow Log, 1912,

A panel of Foresters (2pm Saturday 16 May, Summerhall, Edinburgh), perhaps a Glossary might be in order (thanks to Robert Macfarlane and his new book Landmarks for the idea and the resources).

Forestry Commission Research Glossary. (Page to a letter, i.e. not particularly good for browsing).

Royal Forestry Society Glossary. (Some terms and some links – full glossary available to members, but one also finds a link to an article on Forestry and Painting by Andy Moffat arguing that specific paintings of forests contribute to foresters’ understanding).

Forests and Chases in England and Wales, c. 1000 to c. 1850; A Glossary of Terms and Definitions. (Obviously it’s England and Wales not Scotland, but an interesting historical resource). 

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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Call for Collaborators: “Field_Notes – HYBRID MATTERs”

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Call for collaborators: “Field_Notes – HYBRID MATTERs”

From 14th – 20th September 2015
at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, Lapland/Finland

Application deadline: 29th of May 2015
http://hybridmatters.net/calls/field-notes-hybrid-matters

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“Field_Notes – HYBRID MATTERs”

“Field_Notes – HYBRID MATTERs” is an art&science field laboratory organized by the Finnish Society of Bioart at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Lapland/Finland. Five groups, hosted by Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman (Arctic Perspective Initiative – API) with Leena Valkeapää, Richard Pell and Lauren Allen (Center for Postnatural History), Antye Greie aka AGF, Antti Tenetz and Lea Schick will work for one week in the sub-Arctic Lapland. Together with a team of five
selected collaborators, they will develop, test and evaluate specific interdisciplinary approaches in relation to the notion of Hybrid Ecology.

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Application process:

We are looking for 25 artists, scientists or other practitioners, which are interested to collaborate and work in one of the five groups.

Find more information and the online application system at http://hybridmatters.net/calls/field-notes-hybrid-matters

We warmly welcome artists, scientists and practitioners from different fields to apply.

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Conditions:

We will pay for the journey from Helsinki to Kilpisjärvi and back, as well as for full board and accommodation at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station for the whole working week.

Participants from outside of Finland have to take care about travel to Helsinki and possible accommodation in Helsinki themselves.

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“Field_Notes – HYBRID MATTERs” is a project by the Finnish Society of Bioart and part of the HYBRID MATTERs and CHANGING WEATHERS program. It is co-funded by the Nordic Culture Fund, the Creative Europe programme of the European Union and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
http://hybridmatters.net
http://www.changingweathers.net/ 

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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Call for Submissions – Sanctuary 2015

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Sanctuary is a unique 24-hour public art laboratory within the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park in South West Scotland that runs from Noon 26th September to Noon 27th September 2015. It creates a space for new work that ranges from sound installations and radio broadcasts to interactive video and performance. At its heart is a temporary community that forms to camp, talk, explore and show work, providing opportunities for unexpected meetings, conversations and new ideas.

We would like to commission three new works for Sanctuary 2015 that explore Darkness and Light in new ways. As much of the Dark Skies Park is beyond the reach of communication networks, we are particularly interested in ‘electronic’ darkness, as well as exploring light across all its frequencies.

We are open to any art forms, interpretations or behaviours.

There are three commissions of up to £1000 to include all materials and travel. Please see www.sanctuary2015.org for more information.

Sanctuary curators:
Jo Hodges: www.johodges.co.uk
Robbie Coleman

The Dark Outside FM curator:
Stuart McLean: frenchbloke.tumblr.com

How to apply:

Please send an outline of your idea (no more than A4) including any technical requirements, 5 images of previous work – this may include links to video / sound works, and a C.V to: sanctuarylab2015@gmail.com

Deadline 28 May 2015 @ 5pm

Supported by New Media Scotland’s Alt-w Fund with investment from Creative Scotland; as well as Dumfries and Galloway Council.  Sanctuary is a partnership between the Forestry Commission and Wide Open.
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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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Caledonian Everyday Discussions Pt 2 of 3

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Tim Collins and Reiko Goto, Coille Dubh Rainich (The Black Wood of Rannoch), mixed media, 2015. Photo Tim Collins

Should artists seek to change the world?  That’s where the first discussion ended, having explored the history of pit props; the potential for a poet to contribute to the constraints that a forest manager might have to take account of in planning the management of an area of woodland; the development of ecosystems services assessment and in particular the cultural dimension; Gaelic and the subaltern, and how to protect a bramble patch in Central Scotland.  A more reflective and detailed summary of these discussions will be forthcoming in due course.

In the meantime we are very pleased to announce that the next panel (2pm Saturday 9 May 2015, the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Summerhall) will have on it:

Beth Carruthers is a philosopher, theorist, artist, and curator known internationally for her work and research over three decades exploring the ethics and aesthetics of the human-world relationship. Her primary focus is on the transformative capacities of aesthetic experience, and of the arts in human relations to environment and other beings. She has collaboratively across the arts and sciences on the SongBird project (1998-2002), and in 2006 created a research report for the Canadian Commission of UNESCO on art in sustainability focused on sci-arts collaboration. She has recently begun a collaboration with a neuropsychologist on a project studying interspecies aesthetic engagement in part by imaging the patterns of human brain response to birdsong. Over the past decade she has been developing a theory of “deep aesthetics”, arising from the aesthetics and ontology of Merleau-Ponty, and studies in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. It proposes that aesthetic engagement is potentially transformative of reductive ontology, and hence of cultural practices, looking toward more sustainable futures (see Carruthers, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015). Her most recent publication is “A Subtle Activism of the Heart” in Piper and Szabo-Jones, Sustaining the West: Cultural Response to Canadian Environments, from Wilfred Laurier University Press (May 2015). Also note: “Returning the Radiant Gaze: Visual art and embodiment in a world of subjects” in Brady, J., Elemental, from Gaia Project/Cornerhouse (forthcoming). Beth lives in unceded indigenous Coast Salish territory on Canada’s west coast. She is irregular faculty at Emily Carr University of Art + Design at Vancouver Canada, and currently a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Amy Cutler, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of English, University of Leeds  Amy’s main academic research focuses on modern literature and its engagement with environmental politics and with old and new geographical imaginaries of Britain. Her specialist areas of study are coasts and forests in popular, small press, and avant-garde writing. She writes on problems of language, symbolism, and definition in particular environmental imaginations.  Amy is the lead academic on the new cross-disciplinary White Rose network, Hearts of Oak: Caring for British Woodland, based at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, and York.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREMurdo Macdonald, Professor of History of Scottish Art, University of Dundee. Murdo’s doctoral thesis (University of Edinburgh, 1986) explored the relationships between art and science. He was editor of Edinburgh Review from 1990-1994. He is author of Scottish Art in Thames and Hudson’s World of Art series. His recent research focus has been as principal investigator of an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Window to the West/ Uinneag dhan Àird an Iar: Towards a Redefinition of the Visual within Gaelic Scotland (2005-2011). This is a collaboration between the Visual Research Centre of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic College in the Isle of Skye. It explores the inter-relationships of contemporary art, Gaelic language and culture, and art history. A further research interest is in the generalist ideas of the cultural activist and ecologist Patrick Geddes.

Scott Donaldson, Creative Scotland.  Scott is responsible for film education and environmental development.  Scott studied literature, film, education and environmental management. He taught photography and media in London colleges and Scottish universities, photographed for Scottish Natural Heritage and programmed cinema and education at macrobert. From 1997 – 2010 at Scottish Screen, Scott promoted film and moving image education in statutory and tertiary education. Since 2010 at Creative Scotland, he managed the Creative Futures talent development programme and continues to promote film education.

The following and final discussion on 16 May will have a panel of forestry managers and forestry researchers.

You can download the pdf of the exhibition publication SylvaCaledoniaCatalogue

For those of you who are observant you’ll notice that we have reduced the number of discussions from four to three – the one this Saturday 25 April has been cancelled.  Look forward to seeing you on 9 May.

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 law of the forest and the freedom of the streets

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Thanks to Scott Donaldson for sharing this article The law of the forest and the freedom of the streets on openDemocracy.  Forests play an important role in the evolution of public space in England.  The Magna Carta was followed in 1217 by The Charter of the Forest.

The Forest Charter formalised the right of unbonded men to access and use of the goods of the royal forests (grazing, fuel, food), while implicitly assuming the right to wander freely in the landscape as well as providing a place of refuge for those cast out of the social order.

Forests not only played the role that cities now play, forests also offer a conceptual tool for thinking about the public realm in cities today. 

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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