In an era marked by myriad crises (ecosystem collapse, political and social unrest, growing economic inequity), CSPAQ Issue 25: Time and Attention compiles various frameworks, tactics, and propositions for tuning our attention and contextualizing our place in time. An experimental philosopher, prisoners, a child, and others contribute their diverse perspectives, collectively and constructively building a discourse for how we might direct our time and attention. Guest Edited by Ryan Thompson.
Our first-ever issue takeover! The Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology takeover of the CSPA Quarterly proposes generative spaces of experiment and failure for a speculative, sustainable aesthetics. The issue grapples with the metaphors of compost and glutinous narratives. It paints with the eerily luminous colours of climate breakdown, and offers instructions for post-(r)evolutionary survival. It stays with the troubles of enlisting nonhumans as labourers of detraumatization, and presents cyborg witches as unholy guides towards reparative tactics for modest hope. Edited by Ida Bencke and Dea Antonson. Designed by Zille Bostinius.
Expanded scenography is everywhere. On the streets, in hospitals, at airports, parks and shopping malls and most recently, in the form of knitted pink beanies and protest banners at political rallies. Space ‘performs’ in the everyday, quotidian, and the mundane, providing much inspiration for scenographers both in and beyond conventional theatre. While it could be argued that ‘expanded scenography’ has existed since the beginning of human culture, performance design’s focus on the ‘expanded’ over the last decade has opened up new approaches and artistic insights. Gone are the days when being a stage designer was restricted to ‘working on other people’s shows’ in traditional theatre spaces. Instead, scenography now represents an exciting pathway for imagining and inspiring new realities beyond the confines of the theatrebuilding and its (often elite) audiences (Beer, 2017).
I recently had the pleasure of editing the newest edition of the CSPA Quarterly on ‘Expanded Scenography’ with fellow ecological artists Ian Garrett and Meghan Moe Beticks. Expanded Scenography is an emerging area in the field of stage design that is being increasingly embraced. But what is it? ‘Scenography’ is already a contested term, with multiple definitions, but essentially one that describes the art of creating performance environments. Since the last half of the 20th Century, the term ‘scenography’ has rapidly replaced ‘stage design’, ‘theatre design’ or ‘set design’ in contemporary performance scholarship, and now represents a progressive field that is moving far beyond traditional scenic illustration and naturalistic representation.
I use the term ‘expanded scenography’ to acknowledge an increasing number of performance designers working outside of traditional theatre, and whose passion for socio-ecological issues is at the core of their practice. Expanded scenography uses scenographic strategies (i.e. spatial, narrative, dramaturgical, performative and multi-sensory) as a way of engaging with the world beyond the theatre. I like to think of expanded scenography as stage design that ‘has left the building’ to intersect with daily life. The idea of scenography ‘leaving the building’ can be both literal and metaphoical, but the central premise is one of questioning normative practices and re-imagining what scenography is and what it can become. It is not bound to the schackles of theatre buildings, disciplinary rhetoric and formal expectations. Here, the scenographer is seen as both a designer and artist in their own right (as well as a producer, facilitator and instigator of creative work).
Ecoscenography works across both in expanded scenography and ecoscenography, but it is in the ‘expanded’ realm that I am finding myself the most these days. Perhaps, it is because the ‘expanded’ allows me to be free to explore the possibilities of ecoscenography — to create new ways of working that integrate ecological thinking without the constraints of unsustainable conventions of the mainstream. For example, projects like The Living Stage and This is not Rubbish could be described as ecoscenography within the realm of expanded scenography.
I hope that one day I can also create ecoscenographic designs in more traditional settings. I want to demonstrate that ecological projects can also take place in the beautiful theatres that first inspired me as a young artist. Regardless of whether designers want to work across conventional or more expanded contexts, one thing is clear: opportunities for performance designers have never been more diverse and inspiring. I look forward to seeing more scenographers using their theatre training to explore the potential to expand their practice outside of traditional contexts in the coming years.
Our special issue on ‘Expanded Scenography’ features artists who have ventured outside of the more traditional boundaries of theatre-making and performance design to find their own way of responding to the complex problems that haunt us in today. While incredibly diverse, it is our collaborative desire for contributing to the wider world and being part of the political debate as artists in our own right that unites us in this issue. We hope that this publication opens up discussions that reframe traditional perceptions of scenography and introduces new audiences to its potential. The full journal edition can be accessed here.
More information about Expanded Scenography can be found here.
Ecoscenography.com has been instigated by designer Tanja Beer – a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia, investigating the application of ecological design principles to theatre.
Tanja Beer is a researcher and practitioner in ecological design for performance and the creator of The Living Stage – an ecoscenographic work that combines stage design, permaculture and community engagement to create recyclable, biodegradable and edible performance spaces. Tanja has more than 15 years professional experience, including creating over 50 designs for a variety of theatre companies and festivals in Australia (Sydney Opera House, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Queensland Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Arts Centre) and overseas (including projects in Vienna, London, Cardiff and Tokyo).
Since 2011, Tanja has been investigating sustainable practices in the theatre. International projects have included a 2011 Asialink Residency (Australia Council for the Arts) with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a residency with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London) funded by a Norman Macgeorge Scholarship from the University of Melbourne. In 2013, Tanja worked as “activist-in-residence” at Julie’s Bicycle (London), and featured her work at the 2013 World Stage Design Congress (Cardiff)
Tanja has a Masters in Stage Design (KUG, Austria), a Graduate Diploma in Performance Making (VCA, Australia) and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne where she also teaches subjects in Design Research, Scenography and Climate Change. A passionate teacher and facilitator, Tanja has been invited as a guest lecturer and speaker at performing arts schools and events in Australia, Canada, the USA and UK. Her design work has been featured in The Age and The Guardian and can be viewed at www.tanjabeer.com
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We can’t wait to see how this project evolves. It is a bold, thoughtful response to an issue we will all undoubtably face- and perhaps currently fear. You can help support this incredible work by visiting the HOLOSCENES Kickstarter.
This issue contains content from contributors who were part of Issue #1, along with a few new perspectives. We have lovingly called this issue 1.0. As an experiment in looking back, we’ve re-published Sam Goldblatt’s comprehensive report on greening events from 2009, which cites the London 2012 Sustainability Plan. We’ll check in on this plan in a later issue this year. We are also re-running a call to action from Thomas Rhodes in this issue- on renewable energies in organizations. Have we progressed as a movement since these two writings were initially published?
We’ve invited updated articles from frequent contributor Meghan Moe Beitiks, now part of a new “performance research collective” based in Chicago, as well as Olivia Campbell, writing on site-specific dance and it’s relationship to sustainability. Linda Weintraub has contributed a fantastic essay on the curator’s role within our complex arts ecosystem.
And, of course, we feature Dianna Cohen’s latest works in our issue 1.0. Since our first issue, Dianna’s work has been exhibited in several galleries and museums internationally. She has delivered one of the most memorable TED talks on plastic pollution in our oceans, and continues her work with the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
We thank our collaborators in this issue, and our membership for their ongoing support. The issue is available from MagCloud, both in print (on-demand) and as a digital reader.
Includes: Alyce Santoro, Amanda Gartman, Fusebox Festival, Linda Weintraub, Meghan Moe Beitiks,Moscow Science Art Conference, Sarah Moon
CSPA Quarterly #8 is now available for purchase through MagCloud. Members, your print and digital editions will find their ways to you shortly!.
Our third international issue focuses on projects that call attention to topics that extend well beyond national borders. With a focus on interdependence, and an abundance of contributions about water, ice, and sea rise, this issue addresses the space between national borders- our oceans. Featuring work from Moe Beitiks, Chantal Bilodeau, Eve Mosher, Michael Pinksy, Christopher Robbins, and Liz Ward.
Q9 Intersection: Science and Culture
We’ve been noticing a flurry of work that exists at the intersection between art and science. This includes installation and performance pieces that challenge scientific claims, and work that utilizes science to prove a point, or to reach a new audience. It’s about fact-imbedded art, or emotions and reasoning co-existing.
CSPA Quarterly 1.0
Our tenth issue anniversary! For this issue, we will breathe new life into our pilot issue, and will check in with those participating artists.
Featured artists include Susannah Mira, Thomas Buttery, Jeremy Pickard, Hui Ling Lee, Eric Leshinsky and Zach Moser.
Please share with us any work that creatively addresses global issues in sustainability. We are particularly interested in projects happening outside of the United States that pay attention to global dilemmas including global warming, rising sea levels, disappearing cultures, and economic divides. A special section will be dedicated to work at the UN’s Conference of the Parties, summit on climate change in Cancun in December.
International Action Deadline for Submission: January 10, 2011
For this issue, we are interested in art projects, installations, and performances that visualize invisible threats to our environmental, economic, or cultural sustainability. How can our creative industries call public attention to major issues that are easy to ignore because they are ‘out of sight, out of mind?’
Invisible Visibility Deadline for Submission: February 1, 2011.
The CSPA Quarterly explores sustainable arts practices in all genres, and views sustainability in the arts through environmentalism, economic stability, and cultural infrastructure. The periodical provides a formal terrain for discussion, and seeks to elevate diverse points of view.
Please send your opinion articles, project case studies, researched essays, and photos to: Miranda@SustainablePractice.org.
To view past issues, along with our current issue on digital work, please visit: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/Magazine/38626