A public photo exhibition, showcasing images of wildlife and scenery on the National Cycle Network has gone on show in Edinburgh.
The Go Wild exhibition, showcasing stunning images of wildlife and scenery on the National Cycle Network in Scotland, has gone on show along the Union Canal in Edinburgh.
The free exhibition, which showcases submissions from photographers of all abilities as part of Sustrans Scotland’s Go Wild photography competition, will be displayed at Lochrin Basin until 30th August.
Go Wild is part of Sustrans Scotland’s Greener Greenways project, which is part-funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, and aims to improve and enhance biodiversity on traffic-free sections of the Network that are home to a variety of animals and plant species.
The shortlisted photos range from a playful stoat to scenic shots highlighting breath-taking views along National Cycle Network routes in Scotland.
Sustrans Scotland Volunteers Coordinator, Laura White said: “We hope these photos will inspire and encourage more people to explore their local area by foot or bike, and enjoy the fantastic scenery and wildlife the National Cycle Network has to offer.”
“The National Cycle Network plays a vital role in supporting and promoting a wide variety of wildlife in Scotland and is a fantastic place for people to experience some of the rich biodiversity that Scotland has to offer.”
See the exhibition
You can visit the exhibition at Lochrin Basin, EH3 9QD, along the Union Canal in Edinburgh during the month of August. Visit www.sustrans.org.uk/scotphotocomp18 for more information.
There are approximately 2,371 miles (3,815 km) of National Cycle Network routes in Scotland, including 644 miles of traffic-free routes which use a mix of railway path, canal towpath, forest road, shared-use path, segregated cycle lanes and re-determined rural footways. It plays a vital role in helping people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more every day journeys and can act as a green corridor for wildlife.
Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.
In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.
We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.
Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:
Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.
The Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain and SPAIN-USA Foundation have envisioned a cultural exchange residency between New Orleans, Louisiana and Las Palmas, Canary Islands to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences between creators from Spain and the United States through artist residencies and to explore themes related to artistic and cultural heritage from a creative and multidisciplinary perspective. These residencies address the general theme of heritage and conservation, focusing on the interrelationships between art and culture, the use (and re-uses) of heritage sites, new opportunities and public participation in the context of the city and our society.
The calls for artists were announced in April and artists were selected in early July. From New Orleans, artist Monique Verdin will travel to live and work at La Regenta, an art center in Las Palmas of the Canary Islands. From the Canary Islands, artist Julio Blancas will come to New Orleans to live and work at A Studio in the Woods. The two artists will overlap during their time in both regions and will come together to explore the shared cultural and environmental concerns of the Canary Islands and the Gulf Coast. The residencies will span October 22 – December 14, 2018 and honor New Orleans’ tricentennial year and Spanish roots.
About the Artists:
Julio Blancas was born in 1967 in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. He studied art at Las Escuelas de Artes Plásticas in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and sculpture in Santa Cruz, Tenerife. He works mainly with pencil or graphite on paper, canvas, or satellite dishes and has participated in more than forty group exhibitions and seven solo exhibitions in both his home in Gran Canaria, Spain as well as other countries such as Belgium, Italy, and Germany.
Working almost exclusively with pencil and graphite, Blancas uses nature as a source of inspiration. His methodology is simple: to fill the artistic surface by repeating the essential graphic gesture – the line. The line made with graphite reflects light, creates subtle gradations, and molds forms that arise from the opacity of the black surface. Blancas works with the idea of memory, simulating natural spaces that serve as mental landscapes. These landscapes provide a strongly structural sense of the end result through the art’s intention and meaning.
Julio Blancas, Sedimentos, Charcoal on paper
Monique Verdin has been intimately documenting the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change in southeast Louisiana for decades. Her indigenous Houma relatives, their lifeways at the ends of the bayous, and the realities of restoration and adaptation in the heart of America’s Mississippi River Delta have been the primary focus of her work.
Monique is the subject/co-writer/co-producer of the award-winning documentary My Louisiana Love (2012). Her interdisciplinary work has been included in an assortment of environmentally inspired projects, including the multiplatform performance ecoexperience Cry You One (2012-2017) as well as the publication Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013). Monique is a member of the United Houma Nation Tribal Council and is director of The Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange; an experiential project engaged in building a community record through cultural happenings, strategic installations and as a digital archive to share stories, native seeds and local knowledge.
A Studio in the Woods, located in 7.66 forested acres on the Mississippi River in New Orleans, is dedicated to preserving the endangered bottomland hardwood forest and providing within it a peaceful retreat where visual, literary and performing artists can work uninterrupted. A program of Tulane University’s ByWater Institute, A Studio in the Woods focuses on interrelated areas of programming including artists’ residencies, forest restoration, and science-inspired art education for children and adults. One of a few live-in artists’ retreats in the Deep South, A Studio in the Woods fosters both environmental preservation and the creative work of all artists. For more information, visit: www.astudiointhewoods.org.
About La Regenta:
El Centro de Arte La Regenta, located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is a public institution that was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to the exhibition, education, production and promotion of contemporary art, from a local, national and international perspective. Its programming includes exhibitions, workshops, seminars, talks, debates and didactic activities, with attention to all manifestations of contemporary culture, that are conceived for all types of audiences and public. Located in a former tobacco factory, el Centro de Arte La Regenta also houses a library and archive. For more information, visit: http://www.laregenta.org/
Centro de Arte La Regenta Exterior
About the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain:
The Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, through its official cultural program SPAIN arts & culture, aims to promote Spanish culture in the U.S. through fruitful cultural exchanges among institutions and artists, fostering positive bilateral relations between our two countries. Among its objectives, the program enhances shared knowledge on the cultural and creative industries and facilitates professional opportunities for artists, drawing on our common Hispanic heritage. We partner with American institutions to build institutional alliances and long-lasting transnational bridges through the arts in a broad sense. Our multidisciplinary approach covers a wide range of fields from design, to urban culture, culinary arts, music, cinema, literature, visual arts and performing arts. For more information, visit: https://www.spainculture.us/
Top Image: A Studio in the Woods Exterior, Photo by Neil Alexander, 2018
We’ve been working on a number of interesting projects! In April we released “Where is the Hope,” an anthology of Short Climate Change Plays which came out of the 2017 Climate Change Theatre Action. That project, a distributed festival, had nearly 150 sites and over 200 events. We’ve also released the 20th issue of the quarterly, with issue 21 coming out shortly, a fantastic exploration of “Material Futures” guest edited by Whitefeather Hunter. We have a number of exciting Guest Editors lined up for future issues of the Quarterly, including the Lab for Aesthetics and Ecology, Ryan Thompson, MK Meador, and Calvin Rocchio. Back issues are available here!Reports and Quarterlies also get sent immediately to all of our subscribers… and that’s what this is really about. A big thing we’re working on is transitioning our membership platform to patreon. This is planned to make it easier to support us and access our work, like the Quarterly. With patreon, you can pay your subscription in monthly instalments, and choose from a number of subscription tiers, adjusting the level of benefits. Digital copies of the Quarterly will be delivered immediately through patreon’s platform. We’re also introducing organizational subscriptions, so your school, university, non-profit or company can subscribe, and receive a special level of perks.
We have a goal of $1200 per month, which is to allow us to continue to improve what we do, paying contributors to the quarterly based on WAGE stands and restarting limited print distribution of the Quarterly, along with continuing to support our programs, projects and administrative costs. But, mainly, we want to pay our contributors, now that we’re publishing at a good clip!
Of course, all current memberships on our existing annual subscription program will be honored for a full year from this email. Even if you signed up 364 days ago, we’ll keep you going for one full year from today as we transition to the new platform. When it comes time to renew, one year from today, we’ll ask that if you continue to value the work that we’re doing, that you re-subscribe on patreon then.
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The Southern California ConsolidationProject for the California Air Resource Board (CARB) is an approximately 400,000square-foot facility on a 19-acre campus located in Riverside, CA. The campus is one of the world’s largest and most advanced emissions testing and research facilities and consolidates five existing locations into one state-of-the-art facility. The campus, under the design-build team of ZGF, Hensel Phelps (HP), and Affiliated Engineers, Inc. (AEI), is the largest true zero net energy facility of its type and has the highest sustainability goals including Zero Net Energy, LEED Platinum,CALGreen Tier 2, and Zero Carbon. The Public Art Program is comprised of three open call commissions and is developed and managed by Dyson & Womack.
There are three unique public art commission opportunities open to artists through this open call Request for Qualifications (RFQ) / Request for Proposals (RFP) process. We encourage artists to take time looking at each opportunity and to apply to the commission that best suits their interests and work. Artists may apply to more than one commission opportunity but must apply separately to each. Artists are encouraged to submit Statements of Qualifications (SOQ) with artwork samples and letters of interest that are relevant to the specific commission to which they are applying, even when applying to multiple opportunities. We encourage artists to engage critically with the mission of CARB and the vision of the Art Plan to shape the future of public art in California and across our diverse communities.
The context of CARB is one of innovation, discovery, and stewardship of the environment. It is integral to the story of California and is a rich space for the creation of art. CARB was formed through a merger of the Bureau of Air Sanitation and the California Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board, in 1967. It is charged with protecting the public from the harmful effects of air pollution and developing programs and actions to fight climate change.
All SOQs must be submitted electronically through the online SOQ submission platform located at the RFQ site, www.CARB.dysonwomack.com by Friday, August 31, 2018 at 5:00 PM (PST).
Artists and Artist Teams may apply to one or more of the three open call public art commission opportunities but must submit a unique SOQ to each. Artists and Artist Teams may only apply once to each specific commission opportunity.
We strongly encourage applicants to review all materials and supporting documents available prior to responding to this RFQ. SOQs submitted late, or through any other means than the application portal, will not be reviewed.
NEW YORK CITY MONDAY-FRIDAY, AUGUST 6-10, 2018 10AM-5:30PM FEE: $425 LEADER: CHANTAL BILODEAU
Calling artists, activists, scientists, and educators who want to engage or further their engagement with climate change through artistic practices! Join The Arctic CycleArtists & Climate Change Incubator, August 6-10 at The Lark in New York City. All disciplines are welcome and individuals from traditionally underrepresented populations and communities are encouraged to attend. The Incubator is an inclusive environment that supports diverse perspectives.
During this 5-day intensive, participants interact with guest speakers from fields such as environmental humanities, climate science, climate change activism, and visual and performing arts. Work sessions allow participants to dig deep into the challenges and concerns of working at the intersection of arts and climate change such as embracing activism without sacrificing personal vision and artistic integrity, letting go of the idea of “product,” and bringing the arts to non-traditional audiences. Group exercises and discussions cover a range of topics including:
Strategies to engage artistically with climate change
Ways to take the arts out of traditional venues
How to develop collaborative projects with non-arts partners
How to activate audiences and create greater engagement with climate change issues
All sessions will take place in the studio of The Lark at 311 West 43rd Street, New York, NY. Limited to 20 participants. Availability is on a first come, first serve basis. For more information, visit the website.
NOTE: Also taking place this summer is the exhibition Indicators: Artists on Climate Change at Storm King Art Center, one of the world’s leading sculpture parks. Located in New Windsor, NY, Storm King is accessible by train from New York City.
Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.
At the party there will be a live art auction, specialty beverages, tasty samplings provided by local, artisanal vendors, live music, wine, and over 60 artworks on view. In addition to attending the VIP Mixer party, attendees will have an opportunity to meet the artists and curators that make Trestle so special – including new Chief Curator, Alex Paik! As an artist-run space Trestle Gallery’s overarching goal is to put artists first, and in support of this ideal we will only be receiving 10% of each sale. Support emerging artists and curators by supporting Trestle Gallery.
Co-curated by Jacqueline Ferrante & Jen Nista
Featuring artwork by:
Yasmeen Abdallah – Angela Alba – Hannah Berry – Julia Blume
Rosa Bozkov – Nell Breyer – Andrea Caldarise – Nathan Catlin – Haleigh Collins
Jessica Dalrymple – Kat Deiner – Martin Dull – Todd Durm – Eliza Evans
Jacqueline Ferrante – Alexandra Frankel – Mayuko Fujino – Katherine Gagnon
Christina Graham – Abigail Groff-Hernandez – Kristen Haskell – Christopher Hayes
Dianne Hebbert – Erik Hougen – Lehna Huie – Caitlin Hurd – Rhia Hurt
Jessica Rose Jardinel – Christina Kelly – Richard Kessler – Myra Kooy – Nikolina Kovalenko
Taeko Kuraya – Seung Won Lee – Sandra Lippmann – Genevieve Lowe – Katrina Majkut
Allison Maletz – Sarah Mallory – Jamie Mirabella – Katherine Muehlemann
Steven Nedboy – Gal Nissim – Jen Nista – Justin O’Brien – Alex Paik
Panos Papamichael – Aston Philip – Mari Renwick – Jessica Rosen – Erika Roth
Zoe Schwartz – Zach Seeger – Alexandra Seiler – Julie Snyder – Marcy Sperry
Jeanette Spicer – Melissa Staiger – Rosemary Taylor – Carlos Torres-Machado
Ruyin Tsai – Lesley Wamsley – Lisa Warren – Chris Weller
Ezra Wube – Heidi Yockey – Sooyeon Yun – Cindy Zaglin – Ping Zheng
Trestle Gallery 850 3rd Ave., (Between 30th and 31st st) Suite 411, Brooklyn NY 11232
train/bus: DNR – 36th, R – 25th, B37 – 3rd & 29th/30th
Gallery Hours: MWF 1:30-6:30p
Trestle Gallery Seeks Applicants for Small Works 2018, Curated by Sharon Louden
Application Deadline: May 1st, 2018
Show Dates: July 26th – August 29nd, 2018
– Pieces may be no bigger than 12″ on longest side – we accept 2D and 3D framed and unframed works of all media. If a work is framed, the frame can be a maximum of 2″ larger than the piece itself, making the max dimension 14″
– You may submit up to 3 works for consideration
– Images must be in JPEG format, 1000 pixels on longest side
– CV and Statement must be submitted in PDF form
Sharon M. Louden is an artist, educator, advocate for artists, and editor of the Living and Sustaining a Creative Life series of books.
Louden graduated with a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicagoand an MFA from Yale University School of Art. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Drawing Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Weisman Art Museum, National Gallery of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
Louden’s work is held in major public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, National Gallery of Art, Neuberger Museum of Art, Arkansas Arts Center, Yale University Art Gallery, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others.
Image Credit: Ahn Hyun Jung, “Cranky and Grumpy”, 2017, Wood, 2.75 x 2.5 x 1.25″
Trestle is a 501c3 non-profit contemporary art space located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, that was established in 2012 in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Our mission is to foster creativity and community by offering exhibition, education, and networking opportunities for contemporary artists and curators. We provide a place for creative people to focus on the development of their art and their career. Our mission is carried out through four core programs: Contemporary Exhibitions, Professional Development, Community Classes, and Residencies.
We met Helen Mayer Harrison (along with Newton Harrison) in 2006 at a conference in Shrewsbury thanks to David Haley. We had the privilege to spend the next three years working with them to realise Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom, a project which prefigured their more recent work through the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure. It was through Greenhouse Britain that they first talked about the ‘form determinant’ which later became the ‘force majeure’.
“We suggest that the existing plans for greenhouse emissions control will be insufficient to keep temperature rise at 2° or less. In this context, the rising ocean becomes a form determinant. By “form determinant” we mean the ocean will determine much of the new form, that culture, industry and many other elements of civilization may need to take.” (Greenhouse Britain, 2007)
Throughout this time we heard Helen read from the end of their magnum opus, Lagoon Cycle, many times, in meetings and at events and performances. She read,
And the waters will rise slowly
at the boundary
at the edge
redrawing that boundary
moment by moment
all at once
It is a graceful drawing and redrawing
this response to the millennia of the making of fire
And in this new beginning
this continuously 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 can withdraw
as the waters rise
(Lagoon Cycle, 1984)
Sometime she started slightly earlier in the text, with the list of rivers around the world, but she always read this last section and it always drew a deep, thoughtful silence.
Helen was the English Major with a Masters in Psychology who had worked in education extensively and to a senior level before becoming a full time artist and professor at the University of California San Diego. From this point she collaborated full time with Newton.
Living in New York in the early 1960s Helen had also been the first New York Co-ordinator of the Women’s Strike for Peace. As far as we remember she was also the one who had been reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a critical influence in Helen and Newton’s decision in the early 1970s ‘to do no work that did not in some way benefit the ecosystem.’
It is not useful to attempt to separate out who did what (or for that matter which one of them was the genius*). Rather it is useful to highlight that when we asked about their influences from literature, Helen mentioned Chaucer. You can see in particular works humorous comment on human frailty and weakness.
Helen had a lifelong interest in language, narration, storytelling, and the oral tradition. In San Diego the Harrisons were close friends with David and Eleanor Antin and with Jerome and Diane Rothenbeg. They were part of the ethno-poetic movement. Ethno-poetics as an aesthetic movement is concerned with the power and beauty of the spoken word. It is concerned to break out of the dominance in the Western tradition of the written word. Rothenberg pointed out,
“The suspicion came to be that certain forms of poetry, like certain forms of artmaking, permeated traditional societies ∓ that these largely religious forms not only resembled but had long since achieved what the new experimental poets & artists were then first setting out to do.” (Rothenberg, 1994)
Helen, in bringing a certain quality of literature into their practice, opened up the possibility that the “social ∓ spiritual as well aesthetic” (as Rothenberg puts it) can become intertwined. Whilst they recognised that boundary conditions were critical (just read their essay Public Culture and Sustainable Practices) they equally recognised that boundaries, “…seemed to exist only for a moment and thereafter fade back into a pattern of moments grouped within moments.” (Harrisons, 2001)
Helen introduced photography into their practice in addition to literature, but what is perhaps most remarkable about this partnership is that both photography and literature became part of a shared way of working and understanding the world.
In one of the articles which addresses their working together, they describe their process (speaking in the third person) as,
The work of the Harrisons has a great deal of writing in it. Their method is straightforward. Newton writes the initial text; Helen edits it, comments, and develops it, Newton comments, and Helen finishes it. Thus, they have evolved a very comfortable way of working where Newton has the first word and Helen has the last word. (Ingram Allen, 2008)
The two voices of the Lagoon Cycle, the Lagoon Maker and the Witness, are a very powerful evocation of the potential for two people to combine action and reflection in ways that lead to insight.
To touch and be touched by a life gives energy to the world. Helen gifted us with the energy to create, improvise and adapt to whatever life offers us, with humour, courage and with love. She achieved this through empathy, reaching out into the world and listening carefully without judging. Our first meeting created a quality of friendship and humanity that will be with us for the rest of our lives.
David Haley provides the final word,
I hear the warmth of her words
the passionate chill of her poetry
such fearless insight
such good fun
such a pleasure
(Helen, David Haley, 2018)
Anne Douglas and Chris Fremantle
* Apparently the MacArthur Foundation never gave them a Genius Award because the Foundation couldn’t decide which one was the genius.
Harrison, Helen Mayer and Harrison, Newton, 2001. From There to Here(San Diego: The Harrison Studio), unpaginated.
– 2007. Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (Santa Cruz: The Harrison Studio & Associates (Britain)) pdf
– 1985. Lagoon Cycle. Ithica, NY: Cornell University
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.
Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Arts Project Manager Catriona Patterson was invited to present a TEDx talk at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde on February 17 2018. We’re sharing her talk below for World Poetry Day 2018, we’ll share the video once it is available.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the …
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date
Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare
This quote is from Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare: potentially one of the most famous sonnets from one of the most famous writers in the world. Shakespeare calls upon our physical environment to woo his lover…I’d probably be convinced.
However, I’m also a bit of a cynic, and I spend a lot of time thinking about climate change. In the future, ‘summer days’ might not be quite so lovely: climate change predictions for the UK range around hotter and more stifling temperatures, and much more rain. In Scotland, we’re already receiving 27% more rain than we did in the 1960s. The ‘rough winds’ of May he’s talking about? Much more likely to be all year round, and much more extreme. 2011’s ‘Hurricane Bawbag’ doesn’t quite have the same romantic, poetic flair to it, but it might be a more contemporary (and accurate) reference point for those looking to impress me nowadays.
I show this to demonstrate just how ingrained are our culture and our climate, and how often the two are inextricably linked. I’m not here to convince you that climate change is real: we haven’t got time for that (not today, and actually not at all). But I am here to convince you that we can’t just consider issues of climate change to be something confined to scientists and policy makers.
Since the 1950s, the speed of the changes have been unprecedented, with increased temperatures, less snow, and sea levels rising.
Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped tomorrow.
The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of the warming increases.
Climate change is a huge physical threat to “the planet” (cute polar bears included), but mostly it’s a huge social, political and cultural threat to humans, to our society and to our way of life: our culture! Culture encompasses everything from our history, our homes, our language, our food, our architecture, our traditions: that which makes us people above all else. My concentration within this is on the arts: the visual, oral, audible manifestation of culture. Otherwise known as: TV, theatre, music, books, film, poetry.
I argue this: climate change is the biggest problem we’ve got, and we need to throw everything at it. The arts are an essential part of that. I’m going to give you a whistle-stop of tour why that’s the case, what’s happening already, and why “all the world’s a stage” should be taken more seriously.
The arts have always been central to how our society grows, shapes and develops, and this should, can and is extending to the biggest single issue of our time: climate change.
Art can show us where we’ve come from, and where we have been: 19th century romantic landscape painting was all about the aesthetics of the sublime – creating a picture-perfect view of rolling hills and dramatic valleys: imagery which we still use to describe the UK internationally. Our societal obsession and expectation of having a white Christmas can basically be traced back to Charles Dickens writing the weather into all of his novels. Our whole cultural identity has been shaped by the words we read, write and listen to, and by the images and expressions we see reflected back to us from the walls of museums and galleries.
The arts can help us understand how we got here.
Art can explore the alternative realities and futures that we might face under new world conditions. Consider how George Orwell’s 20th century novel 1984 has been the warning and the prediction of the dystopian and tyrannical state which may result from surveillance and censorship. It still informs debates around data protection, net neutrality and the rights of the individual. It may be an extreme example of climate-disaster fiction (yes, it’s a genre!), but Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow did play out climate change impacts for the general population.We know that climate change is unlikely to happen quite that quickly, but it put climate change front and centre at the box office.
The arts can help us play out what might happen under different conditions.
Art can reflect our present, and the turmoil we currently face. It helps us make sense of the world around us – and sometimes more subtly than we expect. At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, there were 61 shows about Brexit (including a musical, cabaret, theatre and comedy), helping everyone figure out quite what is going to happen – socially, at least. Skip a few verses into Rabbie Burns’ most famous poem, and you get straight into the existential questions around humans and their impact on the planet:
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
To a Mouse, Robert Burns
The arts can clarify and crystallise the issues of now.
Art is not merely a passive agent, serving to educate by translating concepts and science and make them more digestible. Art is an active agent of change, and we should consider, recognise and encourage this when we see it. It’s a total cliche, but I might not be here today, were it not for Al Gore’s climate change documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and the Scottish Government making it mandatory viewing in all Scottish high schools in the late 2000s.
The arts can catalyse people’s lives.
There are already lots of examples where artists, writers, storytellers and others are explicitly tackling climate change head-on…
…in visual art.
Jason deCaires Taylor’s ‘The Rising Tide’ combines images of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse (borrowing from historic cultural references), with the skeletal machinery of the oil industry. The sculptures were flooded twice a day with the ebb and flow of the tide of the Thames – a rise and fall which will become ever the more extreme as sea level rise impacts the capital.
There are novels, essays, short stories and poems dedicated to issues and concepts of climate: an issue where traditional scientific communication has failed, or actually turned people away from an issue that seems too difficult or too distant. Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – about a scenario in which environmental concerns have created dystopia – was written in 1985 and adapted into an award-winning TV show. Jackie Kay, the National Poet for Scotland (our Makar) had her climate change poem published in the Guardian alongside 21 others from internationally renowned poets (her poem itself paraphrased another cultural reference point, riffing off The Wizard of Oz but talking about extinction: “No lions, no tigers, no bears!”).
…as figureheads in our culture.
Leonardo DiCaprio: arguably one of the biggest film stars of our time, upon finally receiving an Oscar for best actor, used his speech and his wider celebrity to talk about the urgency of climate change. More people listen to bigger voices.
“I am consumed by this…there isn’t a couple of hours a day where I’m not thinking about it. It’s this slow burn. It’s not ‘aliens invading our planet next week and we have to get up and fight to defend our country,’ but it’s this inevitable thing, and it’s so terrifying.”
Michael Gove, the UK’s Environment Secretary, said he was ‘haunted’ by the images;
Ullapool has banned plastic straws;
the Scottish Government has committed to banning plastic cotton buds;
hundreds of thousands have people have petitioned the UK government to take action on reducing ocean plastics and,
the Prime Minister has announced a 25 year plan to eradicate all plastic waste..
But the thing is…ocean plastic is not news! We’ve known about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch since the mid-1980s, but it’s taken an emotional, artistic and accessible presentation of the impacts to prompt this change to our wider culture. Moral of the story: get ‘national treasure’ David Attenborough to say it on a Sunday night to the great British public, they will take action!
These are just a tiny fraction of the countless examples of how our arts and wider culture are already taking on the mantle of climate change, but it’s still not enough. As audiences, consumers and producers of culture, we need to demand that our culture stares climate change in the face.
Here are a few way that you can start to make this happen:
We need to celebrate and share examples of great work. It was a book that started the whole environmental movement – Rachel Carson’s 1962 book ‘Silent Spring’ – and both Al Gore and David Attenborough have cited it as influential to their work – but when was the last you heard about a great climate change book? With the advent of social media and ‘shareability of culture’, can you imagine if people recommended climate change art as they do that which focuses on romance or war? Could good climate change art go viral?
We need to challenge narratives that omit climate change. It’s irresponsible to ignore the existence of climate change, and it’s irresponsible to ‘leave it out’ of our current art forms and wider culture. Start asking questions of those art form you engage with:
Are there recycling bins in TV mockumentary ‘The Office’?
Are those electric cars they are driving Cars 3?
Is the protagonist in your crime fiction novel sipping on their black coffee from their re-useable coffee cup?
When the next sci-fi film comes out showing ‘the future’, is it a realistic depiction of what life will look like 1.5 degrees warmer?
We need to demand climate change be addressed more. Next time you’re watching a film – perhaps the next Avengers installment (filmed partly in Scotland: a country with some of the most stringent climate change targets in the world), see if, among the superhero technology, the superhero stunts, and the superhero morality…you can spot the concern for a very real threat to our species.
And so. I’d like to end at the beginning; back again with the bard:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare
Climate change is the biggest problem we are facing as a species.
Culture and the arts are what make us human: they ‘give us life’. Culture is the key to climate change.
Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.
Join the 5th edition of Soundcamp over International Dawn Chorus Day weekend
5 to 6 May 2018.
What Is Soundcamp?
Soundcamps are networked by the Reveil radio broadcast: a crowd-sourced 24 hour transmission of real-time sounds that follows sunrise around the planet from 5AM London time UTC 0 on Saturday May 5th to Sunday morning on the 6th.
Soundcamps vary from small forays to events with a full program of walks, workshops, talks and performances. Check here for information about visiting and camping, including booking details as they are confirmed.
Who Can Join?
The call is open for streamers to contribute live sounds from their locations using a phone, laptop or Raspberry Pi. Streams will be featured on the Locus Sonus soundmap, archived at soundtent.org and broadcast live on Wave Farm and Resonance Extra and netradio and FM stations around the world. See a selection of streams from 2017.
Broadcasters are invited to join in relaying the program in whole or in part. (Details on listening and broadcasting). Where:
Soundcamps are run as self organising events. To help, please see the contacts at each location.
No soundcamp near your area? Set up on here.
SoundCamp are an art collective based at Stave Hill Ecological Park in Rotherhithe. Since 2013 our practice has developed in response to this place, through residencies, collaborations and commissions. We use real-time technologies to reveal the site’s hidden ecologies and make them audible to a diverse audience locally and remotely. This has been replicated in other locations and led to a growing network of listeners and DIY broadcasters sharing live sound from specific listening points – at home, outdoors, under water – in what has been called an emerging Acoustic Commons.