ecoartscotland

How did vast heaps of industrial waste become the pride of a community? | Ian Jack | The Guardian

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John Latham on the Five Sisters, West Lothian. Photo Tate Gallery

John Latham on the Five Sisters, West Lothian. Photo Tate Gallery

Ian Jack’s comment in the Guardian How did vast heaps of industrial waste become the pride of a community? | Ian Jack | Comment is free | The Guardian on the role of industrial spoil heaps in the Scottish landscape is interesting for the history as well as for an error, an omission and an elision.

Jack draws out the important history of oil production in the landscape west of Edinburgh, it’s scale and its slow demise as other forms of oil production came ‘on stream.’  He’s probably profiled this because of the current debates around fracking in the UK and in fact nearby in Scotland (and perhaps also in relation to Tar Sands in Canada).

First the error – the bing he climbs should not be called Greendykes.  To me, and I see them from the train to Edinburgh pretty frequently, the big one is called the Niddrie Woman and the one they are digging away the Niddrie Heart, and this is because of Jack’s omission.  Whilst he does provide a history lesson, he misses out the art history part of the lesson.  In 1975 the artist and co-founder of the Artist Placement Group, John Latham, undertook an initial period of work at the Scottish Office in Edinburgh during which he proposed that seven bings across West Lothian should be regarded as ‘process sculptures’  (see APG Chronology on Tate website here and Craig Richardson’s analysis here).  This work was included in an exhibition at the Tate the following year and the catalogue is accessible here.

The eventual classification of Greendykes (not the whole cluster of four bings re-imagined by Latham as the Niddrie Woman and various parts of her body) and the Five Sisters as historical monuments was conceived of by Latham as a much more significant process of making sense of the landscape than the eventual bureaucratic action of ‘scheduling.’  Richardson articulates the aesthetic in terms of Gustav Metzger’s auto-destructive art and also notes the multiplying layers of signification since the site has now additionally been identified as supporting an unique biodiversity.

Jack’s elision is at the end when he suggests that the Victorian’s just got on with stuff and didn’t worry about creating an enormous shale bing.  By implication Jack is suggesting that perhaps we shouldn’t worry too much about the impact of fracking and other extractive industries on the ecosystem (and note I first wrote ‘landscape’ and struck that out because it concerns the visual quality whether pastoral and picturesque or sublime.  I then wrote ‘environment’ and struck that out because it puts us at the centre of any considerations.  So in the end we have ecosystem because that at least captures to complex constantly changing interactions between living things and places temporarily setting aside human-centred subject-object relations).  Just because the shale bings of West Lothian are now valuable sites of biodiversity after the fact does not in any ethical system constitute a rationale for continuing with similar actions.

I’d ask Ian Jack to pause and reconsider the advice he’s giving on environmental ethics (and here the word is useful because the point is precisely our relations with our environment – our actions and their consequences).  These are incredibly important sites precisely because we can see the consequences of extractive industries, we can discover the development of thinking about what is art and what it can be, and we can explore an amazing landscape.  We must also give careful consideration to the choices around how use land, we make energy and what we do with limited resources needed not just by us, but also by other inhabitants of ecosystems and places from the local to the planetary.

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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Working the Tweed – opportunities

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Kate Foster asked me to post the following:

With Working the Tweed, we have spaces left on an interesting Riverside Meeting Friday 30th August.  It is on the site of a river restoration project, re-meandering a the Eddleston Water as part of a Natural Flood Management scheme. The presenters are very knowledgeable and linked to national research on natural flood management and sustainable land use strategy.

This link gives full details: http://workingthetweed.co.uk/riverside-meetings/

Interested folk should respond to Claire Pençak on info@workingthetweed.co.uk

For background on the project Kate suggests reading http://workingthetweed.co.uk/2013/08/22/on-passing-through-places-so-far-stories-and-movement-improvisation/

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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Spirited Discussions Pt. 3

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Wednesday afternoon 14th August, third discussion around the issues of art, science, environment, monitoring, CO2.

Andrew Patrizio started us off by taking us back to Renaissance Florence. His summer reading had been Michael Baxandall’s Painting and Experience in 15th Century Italy. In that he found a description of the particular characteristics of the mercantile mind, the ability to gauge quantity, weight, volume and space accurately. According to Andrew, Baxandall argues that the circumstances in which Florence was a nexus for trade meant that a significant proportion of the population were involved in activities requiring gauging. By gauging I imagine we mean forming accurate judgements about things which can be weight and measured, but where some of the technologies for doing that which we take for granted didn’t exist or were relatively unsophisticated. We can perhaps imagine parallels with the emergence of monitoring in the 21st Century. Can we imagine the flows of energy through the grid when we are told about the impact of everyone turning on their kettle in the break for advertisements during a major sporting event? Or that animation of aircraft moving across the Atlantic and then moving back? As we have previously discussed, the calibration of our experience of CO2 through art is a particular challenge.

Renaissance Italy was at a critical point of social, economic and cultural development and the arts were deeply enmeshed in that. Trade was central, but the ramifications are much wider. The emergence of the new painting characterised by the use of perspective, but equally importantly including specific identifiable individuals such as patrons in real space with divine figures also treated as if they were human, is well known. We can imagine the pleasure that a painting which expressed space through perspective, and depicted fabric realistically, would bring to a person who could fully appreciate the space, volumes and sumptuousness – the play between the aesthetic and the mercantile mind. The late 20th and early part of the 21st Centuries has as Andrew drew our attention to, been characterised by conceptual, performative and participatory practices, sculpture in the expanded field, systems theory, data visualisation and new media.

In Renaissance Italy we know the practices of art and science were not separated out in the way that they are now. The enquiry into what can be understood about the world, whether through philosophy, science or art, was a process that individuals participated in as what we might now call public intellectuals, rather than as distinct disciplines. The methodologies were broadly similar and compatible if the manifestations were different. We know of Leonardo’s sketchbooks but we are less familiar with Piero della Francesca several treatise on mathematics of which the most well-known are those on perspective. The emergence of the artist researcher who plays across these two fields is a relatively recent not always welcomed development. It is criticised on the one hand as institutionally driven, and on the other perhaps because it seems to ‘explain’ the work, which by rights should stand on its own. The 20th Century in particular has been dominated by a resistance to the instrumentalisation of art, a resistance to a ‘unified reading’ of the work of art. The artist researcher, write of papers as well as maker of art seeks to understand the world and share that understanding. The artist researcher might seek to intentionally change the world (though probably not through simplistic cause and effect processes).

Setting aside the question of who writes papers and who makes artworks, Andrew was asking us to think about the comparison between then and now, the extent to which we are living through a period of more than just social, cultural and economic change. The shift taking place in Renaissance Italy might be characterised as the emergence of the idea of the human as being at the centre of everything, able to shape the world according to our desires and for our convenience. The word ‘environment’ means the circumstances or conditions that surround one, or that surround and organism or a group of organisms. It is predicated on an assumption of a ‘thing’ which has ‘an environment’. Without a ‘thing’ there is no ‘environment’ because the word is describing that relationship. Perhaps the Renaissance is the point in modern history where the human moves to be the de facto ‘thing’ – where the human environment division is crystallised. If we look at the paintings we see the human at the centre of the environment, the focal point.

We feel that we are living through another key paradigm shift, or rather that we need to be living through a paradigm shift, because the current paradigm, that we can use the planet and everything on it for our own convenience and comfort and it will just carry on, isn’t working anymore. If 500 years ago it seemed that we needed to learn how the world worked so that we could control it to make it safer (and make no mistake life was short and painful 500 years ago), at that point it seemed that nothing we could do would impact on ‘nature’. Science and technology offered ways to protect ourselves, live longer, avoid illness, be warm and comfortable.

If we accept that our world view is changing again, that the Anthroposcene is the result of a trajectory that has social, economic and cultural roots in the deep past, it is interesting to imagine the arts’ involvement in the process 500 years ago. Did artists sit around and worry about being instrumentalised? How would they have felt about Samuel Beckett’s statement, “Art has nothing to do with clarity, does not dabble in the clear and does not make clear.” Of course that resistance of Beckett’s is precisely because art has been implicated in the paradigm that created the problem. And Beckett has contributed to our understanding of the world. But Ian Garrett, one of the founders of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, led us into another possible construction of the avoidance of ‘making clear’ in a simplistic sense (where frankly Design Communication has the task of ‘making clear’). He talked about the project Fallen Fruit which used maps in a way which is reminiscent of the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, where the layering of information creates a density that requires thought and interpretation. CO2 Edenburgh layers information on carbon dioxide monitored in the City over greenspace and urban fabric, it performs the movement through the landscape of CO2, and overlays the social cultural activity associated with the Edinburgh Festivals. It could add economic layers or regular traffic movement layers, or any number of other factors. The point is to create questions in the mind of the person engaged with the work of art.

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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Be Strong Like Two People: Learning from Elders

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invite1

invite back

ayr converses is pleased to invite you to Be Strong Like Two People: Learning from Elders.  Gavin Renwick will give a presentation on his experience of working with elders in the Canadian North West Territories 6-9pm Thursday 22nd August 2013 in Ayr Auld Kirk Hall KA7 1TT.  Please RSVP info@ayrconverses.org.uk if you’d like to attend.

Please circulate – pdf version of flyer Working_with_Elders-FINAL2_lo_res

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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CO2 Edenburgh: Can art change the climate? – Spirited discussions Pt. 1

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922087632f7564901a6892281f6cadc2In amongst the people handing out leaflets for shows and holding up placards for restaurants, there are a couple of people wearing white coats walking around bearing standards reminiscent of Roman Legions, though these are not surmounted by eagles, but rather by LED displays reporting CO2 levels.  These are ‘Carbon Catchers’.

They are part of the Collins and Goto Studio‘s project called CO2 Edenburgh: Can art change the climate? and are working out of the Art, Space and Nature MFA‘s Tent Space at Edinburgh College of Art.  The data that the Carbon Catchers are collecting plus the data from a number of Festival venues (theatres, galleries and public spaces) is all feeding into a wall of information.  Creative Carbon Scotland, commissioners of the project, have relocated their office to the space so they are living with the blinking red LED’s as well as a background pattern of noise generated from the data and emitted into the space.

Yesterday, at the first of a series of discussions (see below for details of the next ones), Tim Barker, a media theorist from Glasgow University, talked about the history of interference – the point at which we became aware of the invisible. So in 1886 there was unexpected interference on the new Austrian telephone system. This was electromagnetic radiation from the sun was picked up by the copper wires. (Also Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant used to just sit and listen to the noise on the wires.) So there’s something about noise overpowering signals that’s pretty important in the history of science. Or maybe its the converse – as someone said yesterday afternoon, what’s important is, “…the desire to uncover the new by a disruption and treatment of the real.”

Why does this matter? Because our relationship to CO2 is pretty much at a similar stage – scientists are monitoring it (and it was a research station in Hawaii which first recorded passing 400ppm earlier this year). But we only think we understand what all this means. Actually the sensors that form part of this project are taking readings ranging from 320ppm to over 1000ppm. Walking around the City Centre yesterday with one of the team of ‘Carbon Catchers’ taking readings, we were getting different levels along the Cowgate. Someone commented during the discussion in the afternoon that they were surprised that the CO2 level in the room was going down because there were 10 people talking and no obvious carbon sink.

Harry Giles, the other invited speaker, challenged us to set aside the two cultures argument and pay more attention to the militaristic nature of the territory we are in (and he wasn’t talking about the Edinburgh Tattoo). The maps and sensors being used enable the surveillance of the environment in ways that has both tactical and strategic purposes. Art has often been allied with power

We might argue that the arts are engaged in both tactical and strategic purposes. There is an avowed intention on the part of Collins and Goto to challenge assumptions about aesthetics. There is not a lot of ‘sublime’ or ‘picturesque’ in this environmental art work. We might well ask where is the aesthetic? Surely this is just public engagement in science – how is it different from something that the Science Festival might put on? And if it’s public engagement with science, is it effective? Is this a Kaprowesque blurring of art and life? Is this like Burrough’s cut-ups, something as normal as a book cut up to offer new meaning, and at once so strange that it appears as just noise without meaning? If we are dealing with things that we can’t perceive with our senses, and which have timescales that we find difficult to comprehend, then should the aesthetic be that of, as someone suggested, a horror movie?  Don’t we need a new aesthetics for a new experience and a new scale?

On the strategic level Creative Carbon Scotland aims to green the cultural sector supporting organisations and institutions to reduce their carbon footprints. This is of course part of a pattern of attention on environmental issues which means that climate change comes up in pretty much every conversation, every organisation has a climate change policy (and it would be fun to make a collection of these), and the sustainability question in grant applications may in the future include environmental alongside economic criteria. But usually these programmes are ‘business to business’ rather than ‘business to consumer’ (if we accept that an exhibition in the Edinburgh Art Festival is by and large a ‘consumer’ facing affair).

So the events programme, a series of four conversations which ecoartscotland has helped to put together, is perhaps the point where we break out of these sorts of dichotomies.

  • On Saturday (10th August) the conversation will track across art, technology, activism and knowledge with the help of Dr Wallace Heim (of the Ashden Directory) and Joel Chaney (from the Energy Research Group at Heriott Watt).
  • The following Wednesday (14th August) focusing on “Environmental Monitoring” we be joined by Prof Andrew Patrizio (art historian and head of research at Edinburgh College of Art) and Jan Hogarth, (Director of Wide Open and one of the key people behind the imminent Environmental Art Festival Scotland).
  • An for the last event “Going beyond the material” (21st August) we’ll be joined by Samantha Clark, artist, and Lucy Mui, student, activist and Theatre Manager for Bedlam.

Full details on the CO2Edenburgh website.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Wings of desire: why birds captivate us from The Guardian

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Swallows nesting in Knossos Palace, Crete. Photo Chris Fremantle

Swallows nesting in Knossos Palace, Crete. Photo Chris Fremantle

Our behaviour is causing a mass extinction on the planet and birds are one of the many lifeforms suffering.  Mark Cocker’s new book and the cover article, Wings of desire: why birds captivate us, in this week’s Guardian Review  explores the relationship between humans and birds in practical, cultural and spiritual terms.  It clearly articulates thousands of reasons beyond the loss of biodiversity for us to make more space for birds in our lives.

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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Open Call: ARTIST IN RESIDENCE – ARTIST OR CREATIVE PRACTITIONER

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Corgarff, 2013, Photo: Chris Fremantle

This has a deadline of 10 August 2013

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE – ARTIST OR CREATIVE PRACTITIONER

The Forestry Commission is inviting tenders for ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ which will see two artists or teams of artists appointed to support the development of a new woodland park encourage local residents to get involved, get active and be inspired by their local woodland green space.

As part of the Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage funding for Year of Natural Scotland 2013, Forestry Commission Scotland has been awarded funding to support two unique Artist In Residence opportunities which will form part of an exciting project to develop a new inner city woodland park as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games Legacy.

A Breath of Fresh Air will see two artists or teams of artists, with a passion for the natural environment, appointed to support the development of a new woodland park and raise awareness within the local community of what benefits access to woodlands green space can bring.

The artists will work closely with staff from both Forestry Commission Scotland and Clyde Gateway to understand the aspirations of the project and with local residents and organisations to ensure the works produced reflect their views.

There are two contracts available. Contract 1 will require the contract holder to:

  • Organise and deliver a range of interactive / participatory workshops with local community members from across the city linked to the Commonwealth Woodlands Games Legacy project.
  • Create a range of concept proposals (Minimum 4) for two permanent installations and a series of linking sculptural interventions, including models and visual representations where appropriate, inspired by those communities and the partner organisations ethos and ambitions for the project.
  • Produce a public display of the options to allow feedback on the preferred option.
  • Work with the project board to identify the preferred option for development,
  • Work with the design and construction team to develop tender documents and installation requirements to allow the chosen works to be fabricated and installed as part of the wider project (to be funded out with the residency).
  • Ensure that the proposed installations are designed in a way which is durable, requires minimal ongoing maintenance and reduces the opportunity for vandalism or miss-use

Contract 2 will require the contract holder to:

  • Organise and deliver a range of interactive / participatory workshops with local community members and identified groups.
  • Create a range of temporary works which are inspired by the local community.
  • Showcase the work of both the artist themselves and those who contributed to the workshops in a range of locations which will draw attention to the project and raise the profile of the benefits of access to woodland green space.
  • Both residencies must relate their works to the unique offering of the new Cuningar Woodland Park as a flagship Commonwealth Woodland and the role access to woodland green space can play in encouraging healthy lifestyles.

The estimated total value of the contract is around £8k for contract 1 and around £6k for contract 2. This excludes t&s costs which will also be paid to the successful bidders.

The anticipated contract start date will be:

Contract 1: 1st September to be completed by 1st January

Contract 2: 1st November to be completed by 1st February

For further enquiries regarding this contract please contact Tom Wallace no later than 10th August 2013

To express your interest and to request more information please contact Tom Wallace no later than 10th August 2013 with submission by 14th August @16:00hrs

Tom.wallace@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Or

Cuningar Loop, Clyde Gateway URC, Bridgeton Cross, Bridgeton, Glasgow Deadline for submissions: 4pm, 14th August

Artist Brief: finalairbrief

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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Sprit in the Air Exhibition Opening Invite

co2_eden_burgh_banner_550Creative Carbon ScotlandCollins and Goto Studio with Chris Malcolm, ecoartscotland and Art Space Nature are pleased to invite you to

Spirit In The Air

Opening: Friday 2 August 6-8pm

at the Tent Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art, Westport, Edinburgh EH3 9DF

(refreshments will be provided)

Spirit in the Air is a visual art, technology and performance project exploring the impacts of the Edinburgh Festivals on climate change. Working with ground-breaking technology generously supplied by Gas Sensing Systems and Envirologger to measure real-time carbon dioxide (CO2) levels when Edinburgh is packed to bursting with artistic activity and people, eminent environmental artists Tim Collins and Reiko Goto will work with Chris Malcolm to ask ‘Can art change the climate?’

‘Carbon Catchers’ will roam the streets and parks of Edinburgh to seek out CO2 hotspots whilst the artists at the Tent Gallery use the measurements to make the invisible comprehensible through visual and sound works.

Spirit in the Air is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival and will be open Monday to Friday, 12 noon-5pm, from 2 – 22 August at the Tent Gallery on Westport, Edinburgh EH3 9DF. For more information click here.

In addition to the exhibition, a discussion programme curated by ecoartscotland will consider questions of art, science, activism and environmentalism in a Festival-long conversation.

Wednesday 7 August 3-5pm, Tent Gallery

Bringing the emotion of the arts to bear on the rigour of the sciences

Saturday 10 August 1.30 – 4pm, Tent Gallery

Art, technology, activism and knowledge in the age of climate change (book here for this event)

Wednesday 14 August 3-5pm, Tent Gallery

Environmental monitoring: Tracking nature in pursuit of aesthetic inter-relationship?

Wednesday 21 August 3-5pm, Tent Gallery

Going beyond the material: Environment and Invisible Forces in the literary, performing and visual arts

For more information contact ben@creativecarbonscotland.com

 

Please forward this invite to anyone who might be interested.

Merz DIY

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

e421449f2b5aca03a0e6369369fb25c2Miki, who along with Christine I met at Carrying the Fire where they were doing their Travelling Hearth project, asked me to post this, promoting Merz DIY this summer.  It’s an opportunity to experiment with being thinkers, builders, dwellers.  I should think the stuff on Let’s Remake might be useful.

Also download and circulate as a pdf: Merz DIY 13 e-flyer

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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