ecoartscotland

Open call STRANGE WEATHER at Science Gallery, Dublin

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Strange Weather

Should we adapt to a world of Strange Weather, or attempt to prevent it? How can we model, control and even generate weather? How can we sustain our planet and human culture into the future?

“Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” ― Mark Twain

Calling all future forecasters, weather hackers and planetary visionaries: Science Gallery is seeking project proposals for our upcoming summer exhibition STRANGE WEATHER. To apply, read on or visit the STRANGE WEATHER website. The deadline to submit your ideas is 14.02.14.

What is really going on with the weather? How can scientists and designers help us understand weather systems? How can we understand and respond to climate change? STRANGE WEATHER is a curated exhibition that will bring together meteorologists, artists, climate scientists, cloud enthusiasts and designers to explore how we model, predict, and even create weather.

How has the human experience of weather changed over millennia, and how will it change in the next 50 years? Will future weather be more, or less predictable and controllable? Should we attempt to prevent a future of STRANGE WEATHER, or embrace it? From hurricanes to droughts, from cloud-seeding to greenhouse gases, weather is of greater concern than ever. What consequences and opportunities will arise from the changing weather of our planet?

Curated by CoClimate, this exhibition will challenge audiences with novel visions of a global culture adapting to extreme weather, and zooms in, to explore how STRANGE WEATHER will affect daily commutes, the governance of our cities, and even our fashion choices.

Science Gallery is interested in works that offer a participative and interactive visitor experience for a broad age-range of visitors, especially those aged 15-25. We seek projects that inform, intrigue, provoke dialogue and engage audiences directly, making the complex and emotional topic of extreme weather and climate change more relevant to everyday experiences. In particular, we are looking for projects that connect massive planetary-scale systems to personal, localised and individual lived experience.

Science Gallery is interested in receiving proposals on a wide variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • Tools for predicting and preparing for severe weather, climate change, and environmental change.
  • Climate change and the everyday: projects that respond to the consequences of climate change. e.g. how will climate change affect fashion, entertainment, transportation and education?
  • Examples and critiques of weather manipulation and GeoEngineering.
  • Tools for mapping the planet: from satellites, to ocean drones and weather balloons.
  • Designs that mitigate environmental change: architecture for migrating species, water management for more severe flooding, smog and air quality detection and prevention.
  • Future scenarios for cities, governance and culture on a changed planet.
  • Works that show how weather information is collected, compiled and disseminated.
  • Exhibits that speak to the social, cultural and political implications of strange weather and climate change.
  • Participatory experiences, field trips, site visits and workshops.
  • Scientific experiments that utilise data/participation from visitors.
  • Forecasting, not just of weather, but of many kinds of environmental patterns and change.
  • Your amazing project that is relevant to the theme ‘Strange Weather’.

CURATORS & ADVISORS

  • CoClimate, a think tank that studies the technologies and tactics used for sculpting the biosphere of planet Earth
  • ​Michael John Gorman, Founding Director of Science Gallery and CEO of Science Gallery International
  • Martin Peters, Computational Scientist at the Irish Centre for High Energy Computing
  • Gerald Fleming, Head of Forecasting at Met Eireann

APPLICATION DETAILS

The open call will close at 12 midnight on Friday February 14th 2014. To apply visit our open call site. If you have any questions about the application process, please send them to strangeweather@sciencegallery.com.

SCIENCE GALLERY, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
+353 1 896 4091
info@sciencegallery.com
www.sciencegallery.com

P.S. The curators note there is a budget for selected artists to make the work.  Thanks to Aviva Rahmani for highlighting this call.

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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A Critical Forest Art Practice

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Characteristic Scottish landscape, sometimes described as a wet desert: high moorland managed for shooting and commercial plantation of conifers. This is what makes Black Rannoch Woods, as remnant Caledonian Forest, so important. With permission of Collins and Goto Studio

Tim Collins and Reiko Goto’s project, The Forest is Moving, exploring, listening and responding to, imagining, learning from, touching, sleeping in, filming, photographing, walking in and with, the Black Rannoch Woods, is ongoing at the moment.  They have been posting to the Imagining Natural Scotland’s blog (where you can find blog posts from other projects as well).

1. A Critical Forest Art Practice. | Imagining Natural Scotland.

2. Critical Forest Practice: Onsite in the Black Wood. ¦ Imagining Natural Scotland.

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 Papers: two Sessions at RGS-IBG 2014 Annual International Conference, London, August 26-29, 2014.

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Two Calls for Papers that might be of interest to art and ecology practitioners and theorists – thanks to Michelle Bastion, Graham Jeffrey and Wallace Heim for the flag.

“Geoaesthetics: art, environment and co-production”

Session convened by Miriam Burke, Royal Holloway, University of London; Sasha Engelmann, University of Oxford; Harriet Hawkins, Royal Holloway, University of London

Abstract:
Alongside the well-established rise of citizen science and participatory democracies in co-production of knowledge, there has been an exciting parallel expansion in the use of creative and artistic methodologies for the production of, engagement with, and dissemination of knowledge about the environment. Building on this body of work, so often focused on human participants, this session addresses the ways in which contemporary geographical and art practices are brilliantly suited to explore expanded ideas of human and non-human ‘publics’ in the co-production of environmental knowledge. Thus, alongside artists enrolling lay or “non-expert” environmental knowings, we find other practitioners collaborating with the environment itself: for example with non-humans who are ‘big-like-us’, microbes which are not, and even with inanimate forces and environmental matters.

Within the ontological shift to a non-dualistic view of ‘naturecultures’, what can we learn from creative and artistic methods of co-production and engagement with the world around us? How might artistic practices help geographers and others to take account of the forces and matters of the ‘geo’?

Themes may cover, but need not be restricted to the following questions:

  • What kinds of creative methodologies are being employed by artists, geographers and others to create new spaces of encounter between humans and nonhumans?
  • How do we understand ‘impact’ in terms of creative co-production of knowledge with the environment, the public and nonhumans?
  • Who and what are we co-producing knowledge with?
  • What kinds of participatory practices are invented by creative projects that seek to enrol both human and nonhuman actors?
  • What may an expanded notion of ‘publics’ look like, and in what specific ways do creative methods contribute to these new public configurations?
  • How can we creatively engage non-humans in the artist process, and how do non-humans engage us in their creative practices?
  • How is co-produced knowledge disseminated?
  • How can creative and artistic practices facilitate engagement with non-relational and insensible parts of the world?

This session aims to showcase and learn from different practitioners using these ideas in research. Creative and participatory means of presentation are very welcome.

To Submit: Please send abstracts of 200 words to all conveners (Miriam Burke, Sasha Engelmann and Harriet Hawkins) by 14th February 2014.

Complicating the co-production of art: Hidden humans and acting objects

Session organisers: Danny McNally (Royal Holloway), Harriet Hawkins (Royal Holloway), and Saskia Warren (University of Birmingham)

(Sponsored by the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group)

“Collaboration in art is fundamentally a question of cultural form”, John Roberts has claimed (2004: 557). By this he was bringing to attention that co-production in art is not a new phenomenon associated solely with the recent rise of socially-engaged or participatory art – rather that the production of socially-engaged art has become “a self-conscious process” (Roberts 2004: 557).

The creative process of participatory art has become a topic of increased intrigue in Social and Cultural Geography. Foci have emerged detailing its “messy materialities” and fluctuating social tensions (Askins and Pain 2011); its ability to create “senses of stability and belonging” (Parr 2006); and the art studio as an archival space “where things begin” (Sjöholm 2013: 1). More broadly, this geographical work on art can be seen as a move away from representational politics towards an understanding of art as a process constitutive of experience and meaning (Hawkins 2011). Despite this, however, geography’s attention to the intricacies of the co-productive processes of art has remained on relatively narrow grounds.

Drawing inspiration from John Roberts’ complication of the (co-)production of art, this session seeks to encourage geographers to expand their analytical lens to investigate the numerous actors and processes that go into the ‘co-production’ of art. Within this remit of actors and processes it seeks to draw attention not just to the human labour of art production, but also, alongside recent geographical attention to more-than-human publics and technological devices (e.g. Braun and Whatmore 2010; Dixon et al. 2012) the role of the non-human. In this light the session seeks papers that expand on both the understanding of the collaborative human work (e.g. technical staff, volunteers, gallery assistants, community groups, curators, researchers), and the role of the non-human (e.g. the canvas, the paintbrush, the gallery space, the gallery text panels, the raw materials) involved in the co-production of art.

Papers might explore some of the following questions:

  • Who are the people involved in the production of art? What role do they play?
  • Who is hidden and who is exposed in the production of art (e.g. technical staff, volunteers, gallery assistants, community groups, curators, researchers, artist, funders)?
  • What are the connections between co-production and co-authorship in art?
  • How can we think of the non-human as co-producers in art? What role do they play?
  • How does this problematize the idea of co-production?
  • How can this investigation extend geography’s interest in the process and meaning of art?
  • How can we think of the co-production of art as an assemblage?
  • How does this engage with wider geographical questions around co-production and (co)authorship? (For example Crang 1992; McDowell 1994; Withers 2010; Keighren and Withers 2013).

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Danny McNally (Danny.McNally.2010@live.rhul.ac.uk) by 14th February 2014.

The session will consist of five 15-minute papers with time for questions.

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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Aesthetics of Uncivilisation Pt.2

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The first post under the title Aesthetics of Uncivilisation focused on responding to Charlotte Du Caan’s call for submissions for the Dark Mountain Project’s next publications and her reflection on Seeing through a glass darkly. She said,

The fact that civilisation holds us so tightly in its unkind embrace is not only because it controls what some call ‘industrialised storytelling’, but also because it manufactures the images that powerfully and unconsciously distract and misinform us, keep us endlessly looking at the shiny surfaces of what we feel is our cultural reality.

That essay responded to Charlotte’s examples of reconnecting with nature and highlighted the work of the Collins and Goto Studio and their projects The Forest is Moving and Plein Air; Liberate Tate’s performance Parts Per Million and Penny Clare’s photographs. Arguing that these represent aspects of an aesthetics which is also an ethics, an ethics of eco-cultural well-being, of the absurd performance of catastrophe, and of the possibility of an art of low energy, the essay suggested a wider conceptualisation of reconnecting with nature.

In this second essay another selection of examples have come to mind in response to watching The Grass Will Grow Over Your Cities (2010), Sophie Fiennes’ film exploring Anselm Keifer’s studio and landscape in Barjac in the South of France.

In this discussion we cannot overlook Dada and Surrealism. The artists now grouped under those ‘movements’ were responding to catastrophic human stupidity.

Perhaps the shaping document of the 20th Century has been Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism (1909), calling as it did for the of the overturning of the heart of European culture, the washing away of the old, and celebrating speed and violence. The first few lines evoke this,

1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.

2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.

3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggresive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.

4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. ….

For all the other philosophising, this manifesto is what the 20th Century has lived up to: the headlong charge, the rabid consumption of energy, aggression and violence in magnificent proportions culminating in a weapon that can destroy all life on earth and the realisation that in any case we are affecting all life on earth, and not for the better – so much more than the authors could have imagined in their call for an overturning of a failed culture.

On the other hand, and less than ten years later, Dada and Surrealism were reactions to a civilisation which believed that art was about beauty and truth, but was able to wreak havoc and destruction on a generation. This year we will remember the start of the First World War – as someone recently said, the slaughter of the working classes in the name of European Imperialism. The poets, performers, writers and artists associated with Dada and Surrealism were met with anger and derision.

Dada threw out meaning and sense: it was anti-art. Surrealism opened up the unconscious, foregrounded our basest desires and fears. These are the aesthetics of a previous moment of fury at our civilisation. Dada enacted absurdity, and Surrealism refocused art on inner madness and fear. Both have deeply influenced art over the last century and remain important tropes for artists today (Christy Rupp‘s collages such as the Frack-me-not sequence and her felt sculptures; Joel Tauber‘s Seven Attempts to Make A Ritual films).

Sophie Fiennes’ film of Anselm Keifer’s studio and landscape at Barjac in the South of France is on the one hand precisely an articulation of an aesthetic of abandonment. Keifer has constructed a landscape of broken concrete, molten lead, burnt books and broken glass, a strange proto-archaeological site of desolation. But you cannot watch the film without becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the hubris and an extraordinary cost. Between the many assistants, the JCBs and cranes, and the cement mixers, this is on a scale not hugely dissimilar to Turrell’s Roden Crater. Keifer is creating a landscape of abandonment, a man-made version of landscapes which we can see around us in our cities and towns, but he is doing it by spending vast sums of money. It is a fable of the age.

Where Keifer is constructing a destroyed and abandoned landscape, in the 60s John Latham and Gustav Metzger were amongst a group of artists who again questioned civilisation. Metzger was one of the key figures in the Destruction in Art Symposium (1966), and as part of the symposium Latham experimented with his Skoob Towers. These towers of burning books have a close resonance with Keifer’s towers and burnt books. Latham was not afraid of destruction as an artistic process, but it was within a wider intellectual project.

Whilst Latham is often a reference point for art that is engaged with industry, bureaucracy, policy and society as well as being one of the most compelling demonstrations of the idea that “context is half the work,” other aspects of his art deeply expand the norms of social scope. There are three pieces which could be signal elements in this aesthetics: These three pieces question everything. The first represents experience and event through a reduction of drawing to a one second act. The second reframes the scale of our experience into a device which encompasses the quantum and the cosmological. The third provocatively suggests that there is a common truth which shines through the greatest books understood as cultural events. This was so provocative that the Tate Gallery refused to include it in their retrospective (2005).

John Latham One-Second Drawing (17″ 2002) (Time Signature 5:1) 1972

Latham’s One Second Drawing works of various dates are just a second of spray paint on paper. They allude to the limits of our perception as well as to the limits of beauty. The question the value of painting and express the briefness of life whilst reminding us of the cosmological. These works express with absolute simplicity his conception of the least event, demonstrating the simplest spatiality whilst embodying the shortest temporal experience.

Time-Base Roller with Graphic Score, 1987 (with Basic T Diagram on left). Canvas, electric motor operating metal bar, wood, graphite. Photo: Ken Adlard

Latham’s Time Base Roller (1972) is a much more complex and sophisticated evocation of his philosophy, enabling us to understand our experience of time as event in a spectrum. Using something as mundane as a domestic roller blind with an electric motor, he set out different scales of time through a along its length, from the cosmological to the quantum, “Light at one end, and at the other the longest cosmological extent” (1975). Events occur in front of us as the roller unfurls, past time being perceived only partially through the canvas against the wall. So our sense of the immediacy of events and our dim understanding of the scale of time, whether of the least moment or the longest duration, is manifest in an everyday object elegantly reimagined as a treatise on chronology. He describes it thus, “This Time-base Spectrum presents a universal filing device whereby all manifestations are comparable within the same co-ordinates.” (1975).

John Latham, God is Great.

Latham’s work God is Great of various dates takes the form of the three fundamental books of the Abrahamic tradition, the Talmud, the Bible and the Koran, and unites them with a sheet of glass which penetrates all three. The unifying device of a sheet of broken glass both signals a shared truth and notes the incompleteness of that truth in one moment. But the underlying point is the event structure of which these books are merely spatial manifestations.  Latham said, “The belief system is a rock-bottom source of non-negotiable problems of the day”.

If one aesthetic of uncivilisation is to attempt to make art more or less useful in reconnecting us with nature, then another must be the absurd and the internal confrontation with death. In a blog for the New York Times (2013), the soldier and writer Roy Scranton spoke about coming to terms with dying in the Anthropocene. He says,

Many thinkers, including Cicero, Montaigne, Karl Jaspers, and The Stone’s own Simon Critchley, have argued that studying philosophy is learning how to die. If that’s true, then we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age — for this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene. The rub is that now we have to learn how to die not as individuals, but as a civilization.

He goes on to say,

I found my way forward through an 18th-century Samurai manual, Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s “Hagakure,” which commanded: “Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily.” Instead of fearing my end, I owned it. Every morning, after doing maintenance on my Humvee, I’d imagine getting blown up by an I.E.D., shot by a sniper, burned to death, run over by a tank, torn apart by dogs, captured and beheaded, and succumbing to dysentery. Then, before we rolled out through the gate, I’d tell myself that I didn’t need to worry, because I was already dead. The only thing that mattered was that I did my best to make sure everyone else came back alive. “If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead,” wrote Tsunetomo, “he gains freedom in the Way.”

To come to terms with dying, or collapse as the Dark Mountain project frames it, is to address the absurdity of life, to acknowledge our inner fears and nightmares, and also to understand our existence in relation to the quantum and the cosmological, to see the event rather than the thing.

==

Apollonio, Umbro, ed. 1973. Documents of 20th Century Art: Futurist Manifestos. Brain, Robert, R.W. Flint, J.C. Higgitt, and Caroline Tisdall, trans. New York: Viking Press, 19-24.

Du Caan, C. Seeing through a glass darkly: towards and aesthetics of uncivilisation. The Dark Mountain Project, The Dark Mountain Blog. http://dark-mountain.net/blog/seeing-through-a-glass-darkly-towards-an-aesthetic-of-uncivilisation/ accessed 8 January 2014

Latham, J. 1975 Time-base and determination in events in State of Mind, Düsseldorf: Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, revised reprint Edinburgh: R & R Clark

Scranton, R. 2013. Learning how to die in the anthropocene. New York Times. November 10, 2013. http://www.opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/?_r=0&pagewanted=print accessed 12 November 2013

Smith, D. 2005. Artist hits at Tate ‘cowards’ over ban. The Guardian 25 September 2005.

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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Looking for examples of eco art in public spaces?

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If you are interested in examples of eco public art, or you have undertaken an eco public art project (temporary or permanent) you should seriously consider adding it to this important new database.  It’s already got a wealth of interesting projects.  There is information on how to submit on the website (and it’s peer reviewed so the quality is good).  Thanks to Ian Garrett and the CPSA for highlighting this.

It’s part of the wider Curating Cities research programme,

Curating Cities is a 5-year research project that examines how the arts can generate environmentally beneficial behavioural change and influence the development of green infrastructure in urban environments. Founded on the principle of using art and design to curate–literally, to care for–public space, the project places creative disciplines at the heart of the sustainability agenda. In doing so it advances an ambitious research plan for aesthetic practice, proposing ‘curating’ as a method for working through the practical concerns of sustainable living.

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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Global Mapping: Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison

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Ronald Feldman Gallery Home PageSierra Nevada, 2011
(installation view south gallery)
aerial photograph, digital mapping, pastel, oil, and ink
42 feet long x variable width

If you are in New York in the next month, this is a ‘must see’ show.

Press Release:

January 11 – February 8, 2014

[The Harrisons’] work is a prime example of the potential of ecoart to create knowledge that promotes cultural change. Ruth Wallen, Leonardo XLV, no. 3, 2012

Helen Mayer Harrison & Newton Harrison are the first recipients of the Corlis Benefideo Award for Imaginative Cartography, presented at the Annual Meeting of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) on October 9, 2013 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts will exhibit Global Mapping, an overview of the life-long work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, pioneers of ecologically-oriented art, whose visionary proposals have influenced long-term public policy in the United States and abroad. For more than forty years, the Harrisons’ expansive practice, realized in collaboration with experts from other disciplines and often commissioned by government and art institutions, has been to map out specific geographical areas at ecological risk to encourage public discourse and community involvement. Their impassioned works serve as both a meditation on global ecology and also as a futuristic vision, often with proposals for environmental change and recovery.

The Harrisons’ mapping – on large wall panels and synthesized with aerial photographs and narrative text of Socratic reasoning – dominates the exhibition space. The artworks are selected from large-scale installations of projects from the early seventies to the present. Similar in appearance to the wall panels, a floor panel allows the viewer to walk on a topographical map of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, a work from Force Majeure, the Harrisons’ current on-going series which addresses the effects of global warming on an unprecedented scale.

Earlier works, From The Lagoon Cycle (1974-1984), Law of the Sea Conference from the 1976 Venice Biennale, and Baltimore Promenade (1981), focus on watershed restoration, agricultural and forestry issues, and urban renewal, as well as providing a history of the Harrisons’ engagement with the topic of global warming.

Reflecting the Harrisons’ international perspective and the scale of their research, the exhibition includes projects that study the eco-systems of large bodies of water from around the world: the Sava River in former Yugoslavia, the Yarkon River in Israel, and the Salton Sea and the Bays at San Francisco in the state of California. Their titles often incorporate visual metaphor to define and unify the large geographical areas under consideration: A Vision for the Green Heart of Holland, Peninsula Europe, Greenhouse Britain, and Tibet is the High Ground.

Helen Mayor Harrison and Newton Harrison, Emeriti Professors in the Visual Arts at the University of California at San Diego and currently research professors at University of California at Santa Cruz, have been represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts since 1974. The recipient of numerous awards, they delivered the convocation address at the College Art Association 100th Year Anniversary Conference in 2011. They have exhibited internationally, and their work is in the collections of many public institutions including The National Museum of Modern Art, The Pompidou Center, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.

Ronald Feldman Gallery Home Page.

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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Aesthetics of uncivilisation (call for visual works)

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By Chris Fremantle

At Carrying the Fire, which was held at Whiston Lodge last year, Dougie Strang had asked me to contribute to the discussions, and I read a section of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’s Lagoon Cycle (1985). The poem evokes the world-wide changes resulting from the increase in heat and consequent decrease in ice. The text ends,

And in this new beginning
this continuous rebeginning
will you feed me when my lands
………….can no longer produce
and will I house you
when your lands are covered with water?
So that together
we will withdraw
as the waters rise?

The Harrisons combine poem and image in artworks that speak to eco-cultural well-being: social and environmental justice. A larger part of this poem and the associated image, a world map where the seas have risen as a result of total ice melt creating a coastline redrawn at the level of 300 feet, is here, and the whole of the book of the Lagoon Cycle is here.

The Dark Mountain project, of which Carrying the Fire is a Scottish branch, seeks ways to speak about collapse: the collapse of our civilisation, the fragile world we live in, the need for a different type of civilisation.  And whilst that collapse might seem distant living in Scotland, it is a constant state for people and ecologies in other places (in the last ten years, Haiti, New Orleans, New York, Fukushima, Sri Lanka and the Philippines).

Dark Mountain publishes edited volumes of writing and visual material, providing a space for thinking and speaking about collapse, not hysterically, but thoughtfully and with care. Charlotte Du Caan has joined the Dark Mountain project as Arts Editor and asked in an introductory blog and call (current deadline 6 Jan 2014) for visual works for the next two editions, “Is there an aesthetics of uncivilisation?”

This is not simply a question of the aesthetics of desolation, of abandonment, an aesthetics well explored particularly in photography. Perhaps what we are looking for is a wider aesthetics of a different future. The Dark Mountain project, a project of uncivilisation (a term it seems they coined), suggests that it is precisely the thing we normally call civilisation that needs to be called into question. The civilisation being addressed is that which separates us, makes us think we can control and consume the ecological systems that we are in every conceivable way part of and from which we are literally inseparable.

Firstly we must understand that the aesthetics that Charlotte and the Dark Mountaineers are calling is a new sort of aesthetics, not an aesthetics of decoration, or of ‘form following function’, but an ethical-aesthetic dimension added to the fundamental characteristics of sustainability, of doing nothing that diminishes eco-cultural well-being for future generations (of all living things).

The idea of an ethical aesthetic relationship with all living things is developed by the Collins and Goto Studio in their current project The Forest is Moving. The Black Rannoch Woods are the southern-most significant remnant of the Caledonian Forest which used to cover Scotland. Black Rannoch is an incredible complex ecosystem from the bugs to the granny pines, but it is also culturally significant as a future indicator as well as a remnant of the past. It could get larger, it could join up to woods in Glen Lyon and further across Highland Scotland. This revitalised Caledonian Forest could provide a different form of landscape experience for people in Scotland. It could inform and address urban challenges such as nature deficit disorder. But the Collins and Goto Studio are also provocatively interested in technology and their work Plein Air uses a range of sensors to enable us to experience trees breathing in a gallery space mediated by audio driven by complex algorithms.

Plein Air, Collins and Goto Studio, 2006-ongoing. With artists’ permission

A key aspect of the aesthetics we might be looking for is focused on reconnecting with nature. Charlotte Du Caan highlights the work of artists including Richard Long, who makes art from walking, art which is not first and foremost about ownership. In fact Long’s fellow walking artist Hamish Fulton says, AN ARTWORK MAY BE PURCHASED BUT A WALK CANNOT BE SOLD. Charlotte cites Derek Jarman’s Garden near the nuclear power station at Dungness, as well as jewellery made from lost keys found on the banks of the Thames, furniture made from scrap metal, but also artists who focus specifically on the detail of plants and patterns of growth. It’s an eclectic mix which might or might not sell and be collected, but speaks of deep and personal explorations of the interrelations of the artist and their environment(s).

Another quite different aesthetic might be exemplified by the recent action by Liberate Tate, a group of activists and campaigners for divestment from fossil fuels by the cultural temples. Liberate Tate have been campaigning for the Tate, the national museum of contemporary art in the UK, to cease to take sponsorship from in particular BP, but more generally from the fossil fuel industry. This work builds on PLATFORM‘s compelling analysis of the ‘social license to operate,’ the oil industry’s programmes to ensure that they can continue to do business regardless of the environmental and social destruction.

On the reopening of Tate Britain’s galleries of British Art, a large group of activists created an unofficial performance, Parts Per Million, of real power and affect. Dressed in black, as attendees at a funeral, they “performed rising carbon levels to the chronology of the Tate Britain re-hang” sponsored by BP, paralleling the history of British Art with the increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The performance started in the ’1840′ room, representing the period when the CO2 generated by the Industrial Revolution in Britain started to make a measurable impact on global CO2 levels. Characterised by choreographed movement reclaiming public space, voiced in the same manner as the Occupy mic-check (one person says something which is then repeated by the collective), this work speaks directly to our relationship with Nature. It disambiguates the historical as well as contemporary connections between art and industrial culture.

The final aspect that might be relevant to an aesthetic of uncivilisation is the work of Penny ClareChris Dooks drew attention to her work and has included it in his forthcoming Phd. Penny’s photographs are taken by her in bed in the darkness. The text that goes with the images on the Pheonix Rising website says,

I was mostly confined to bed in a dark room – for years, and years, and years. At some point, in this isolated sea, I started taking photos. From my bed, in the dark. And my relationship to my illness and circumstances took on a different meaning and found creative expression. It was my way of creating movement.

Bed Deconstructing into its elements, Penny Clare, with artist’s permission

They are not only very beautiful, but also represent an interesting point, being works made with very low energy, in her case low energy resulting from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but perhaps indicating that low energy might be an interesting wider experience. ME/CFS is a form of personal collapse and Penny’s response is a clue to a wide society experience of low energy or collapse.

All art is a form of mediation and also transformation of the artists’ experiences. We need to be careful in assuming that art has some special ability to bring us closer to nature. In the first instance it brings us closer to art. Some art succeeds in renewing our senses, making us look at the world around us anew.  Some art can reframe our experiences and reconnect our emotions to our understandings.  One characteristic of an aesthetic of uncivilisation might be that it incorporates a new sort of ethical dimension, not necessarily in a simplistic or didactic way, but fundamentally in the interrelation between people, art and environment.

The aesthetic of uncivilisation might also take up some of the characteristics that Suzanne Lacy attributes to the work of Allan Kaprow. He emphasised the importance of process as the “product” of art. He was interested in the meaning-making between people more than the object or activity that is usually identified as ‘the work’.  Ambiguity and questioning are central to the structure of his works, and for Lacy this is a way to balance dealing with prominent issues and distinguish art from politics.  Finally, the blurring of art and life in its various manifestations denies the artist recourse to the assumed authority of talent, or recourse to claiming value simply because it is art.

I hope this last point might be a defining characteristic of the aesthetic of uncivilisation.

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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Trees, mother trees and interactions

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This short film opens up a different understanding of forests and the interactions between trees facilitated by fungi – inspiring stuff reinforcing the importance of respecting the complexity of forests across both species diversity and age diversity.  Professor Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia highlights the importance of Mother or Granny Trees in these networks.  Thanks to Jan Van Boeckel for highlighting this video.

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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Dirty Water – new issue of WEAD online magazine

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One of the few publications that focuses on giving voice to artists involved in ecological work, the magazine of the Women Environmental Artists Directory has just published a new issue entitled Dirty Water.  The issue features essays by artists including Betsy Damon, Stacy Levy and Jackie Brookner, as well as Chris Drury. Activist, writer and poet Jourdan Imani Keith provides a personal perspective and Linda Weintraub provides a survey of practices. This is essential reading for anyone interested in artists and water. Previous issues are well worth checking out.

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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Soil Arts Call for examples

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James Brady suggested that the Soil Arts Call might be of interest to readers of ecoartscotland (and Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts).  Alex Toland who is behind the site is a visual artist and environmental planner.

The Soil Arts Call says: If you have used earth materially or symbolically in your creative practice, or in some way addressed the value, function, or meaning of soil in your art, we invite you to submit work to our blog.

There are already some really interesting and diverse examples of work in the links section.

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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