Aesthetics

Investigating the Aesthetics of Ecological Design and Eco-scenography with Dr Wallace Heim and Tanja Beer at WSD2013

Sustainability-Tanja-Beerweb1Thurs 12 Sept 16.30 – 18.00

The Willow Theatre

What are the aesthetics of sustainable design? New ways are needed of appreciating ecologically valid design that can incorporate the artistic dimensions with the material effects. This presentation will explore the application of ecological design in the Performing Arts as it creates new sensibilities, new dramaturgies and new forms of experience throughout a range of theatre productions. These aesthetics expand on existing design critiques and offer ways to consider the relations between the content of what is performed to the ecological and artistic dimensions of stage design. Starting with a philosophical perspective, this session will talk through examples with focus on the emerging paradigm of ‘eco-scenography’ – a movement that seeks to integrate ecological principles into all stages of scenographic thinking and production. Taking a holistic approach to materials and resources, this approach asks “can we create designs that enrich our environment and community, as well as our audience?”

The presentation includes a live and interactive showing of Tanja Beer’s “STRUNG”, an eco-scenographic investigation that merges the boundaries between performer and designer, installation and costume, site and material.

Open to all.

Price: £6

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Key contributors

Dr Wallace Heim – http://www.wallaceheim.com

Tanja Beer – http://www.tanjabeer.com/

Sustainable Transformation of Global Society – Navigating Ecological Times, Whitechapel Gallery, London

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Friday 30 August, 2013, Navigating Ecological Times, Whitechapel Gallery, London

A study afternoon of presentations and discussion on art practice and sustainability with artists Lise Autogena, Fernando Garcia-Dory and Tamás Kaszás and led by curators by Maja and Reuben Fowkes. This symposium looks at the challenges of living in ecological times and the sense in which the current political, economic and environmental predicament might also offer opportunities for a sustainable transformation of global society. How have artists sought to navigate the dilemmas of living and working in a world system that seems chronically out of touch with ecological realities and can they, through their practice and approach to the world, act as guides during times of crisis?

‘Navigating Ecological Times’ is realised through the River School and supported by the EU Culture Programme. Maja and Reuben Fowkes are art historians and curators whose interests in the field of art and ecology are manifest in their curated exhibitions, symposia and writings, which have explored key ideas and practices around green curating, environmental art history and the sustainability of contemporary art. Their work also focuses on the theory and aesthetics of East European art from the art production of the socialist era to contemporary artistic responses to the transformations brought by globalisation.

 For more information : click here

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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Eco-Aesthetics: Contemporary Arts and the Politics of Ecology

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Saturday, 2 March, 2013, 2-7pm
Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL

The first issue of Third text, a bimonthly appearing journal on art in the global context, in 2013 is a special issue focusing on Contemporary Arts and the Politics of Ecology and is accompanied by the conference on the same topic in London.

The event will include numerous contributors to the special issue, which investigates eco-aesthetics in a postcolonial framework—from global warming in the arctic to oil industry environmental damage in Nigeria’s delta, from conflicts between mining corporations and tribals in rural India to the ecological effects of industrial development in the port of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, from urban farming in Detroit to the Occupy movement’s development of a post-media social ecology. The special issue and conference seek to link international and interdisciplinary researchers, artists, and critical theorists in order to consider the questions of how such politico-ecological developments have been recently analyzed, mediated, and negotiated within the visual cultural of art and activism.

The conference is free and no registration is required (seats on a first come first serve basis). (For more information on this event, please email tj [dot] demos [at] ucl [dot] ac [dot] uk).

Among the list of confirmed speakers are Ravi Agarwal, Christoph Brunner, Liberate Tate and Nabil Ahmed.

For the full list of speakers visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/art-history/events/eco-aesthetics

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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Gardens Beyond Eden: Bio-aesthetics, Eco-Futurism, and Dystopia at dOCUMENTA (13) – The Brooklyn Rail

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

T J Demos’ review in Brooklyn Rail of the gardening and other ecological projects at dOCUMENTA.  He’s positive about the projects, but critical of dOCUMENTA’s lack of any overarching critical framework.

Gardens Beyond Eden: Bio-aesthetics, Eco-Futurism, and Dystopia at dOCUMENTA (13)

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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ASTR Working Session Calls for Papers “Trans-cultural, trans-national, trans-species histories in performance”

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Since their first American Society for The Theatre Research (ASTR) Working Group session at the 2010 conference in Seattle, the Performance and Ecology Working Group has spawned symposia, anthologies, and publications. Foremost among those is a new volume that grew out of the 2010 session: Readings in Performance and Ecology, eds., Wendy Arons and Theresa J. May (Palgrave 2012). The Working Group has continued valuable research on numerous fronts, including “Earth Matters on Stage” conference at Carnegie Mellon University (2012) and “Staging Sustainability” at York University (2011).

“The rising tide of this focused research indicate not only a growing concern and mounting artistic will in the realm of ecological sensibility, but also faith in the imagination as a critical aspect of our individual and collective ecological identities.”

This year, as part of ASTR’s “Theatrical Histories” focus, they turn their attention to trans-cultural, trans-national, and trans-species performance in anticipation of a second volume of ecocritical writings on theatre and performance. The questions for the upcoming 2012 Working Group session, that will take place November 1st.- 4th 2012 include:

  •  How do transcultural and transnational performances re-map our understanding of what May has called “ecodramaturgy”?
  •  What constitutes “theatre of species” (Chaudhuri) and how might these trans-species performances rearrange or reinterpret understandings of representation?
  •  How do the material characteristics of artistic sites condition the aesthetics of the work produced?
  •  What kinds of geological and geographical histories emerge alongside socio-cultural storytelling?
  •  How do intersecting histories – indigenous, place-based, community-driven – play out on stage in performance?
  •  How do ecological transitions, transmigrations, transmutations, transformations and transference shape artistic practice and meaning-making in the theatre?
  •  Other questions, approaches and topics that clearly address trans-national, trans-cultural, trans-species topics in performance.

Please send Abstracts as word attachments to both Working Group conveners below by May 31, 2012:

Theresa May, University of Oregon ( tmay33 [at] uoregon [dot] edu)

Nelson Gray, University of Victoria ( ncgray [at] uvic [dot] ca)

 More info: http://www.astr.org/conference/2012-working-session-cfps

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

LAGI announces it’s 2012 competition

This post comes to you from Green Public Art

In partnership with New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation, the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition is being held for a site within Freshkills Park (the former Fresh Kills Landfill) in New York City.

The competition is free and open to everyone. Designers, artists, engineers, architects, landscape architects, university students, urban planners, scientists and anyone who believes that the world can be powered beautifully and sustainably are encouraged to enter. Download the RFP here. Deadline: July 1, 2012

Robert Ferry & Elizabeth Monoian conceptualized the Land Art Generator Initiative in the fall of 2008 shortly after moving to Dubai. The project was strongly founded by the spring of 2009 and they continue to work tirelessly to nurture and promote the concept of aesthetics and renewable energy with the goal of seeing to the construction of the first large-scale public art works that generate utility grid electricity in clean and sustainable ways.

In January of 2010 LAGI put out an international call to artists, architects, scientists, and engineers to come up with both aesthetic and pragmatic solutions for the 21st century energy crisis. The 2010 LAGI design competition was held for three sites in the UAE and received hundreds of submissions from over 40 countries. View entries from the last competition.

 

Rebecca Ansert, founder of Green Public Art, is an art consultant who specializes in artist solicitation, artist selection, and public art project management for both private and public agencies. She is a graduate of the master’s degree program in Public Art Studies at the University of Southern California and has a unique interest in how art can demonstrate green processes or utilize green design theories and techniques in LEED certified buildings.

Green Public Art is a Los Angeles-based consultancy that was founded in 2009 in an effort to advance the conversation of public art’s role in green building. The consultancy specializes in public art project development and management, artist solicitation and selection, creative community involvement and knowledge of LEED building requirements. Green Public Art also works with emerging and mid-career studio artists to demystify the public art process. The consultancy acts as a resource for artists to receive one-on-one consultation before, during, and after applying for a public art project.
Go to Green Public Art

New metaphors for sustainability: include the craft of great design

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory
Following Solitaire Townsend’s suggestions for metaphors – teen-aged sex, Shakespeare, and advice to the dude – Ed Gillespie, co-founder of Futerra, emailed us to add a crucial component to the art of sustainability. Ed writes: 

To add to Soli’s suggestions I would include: craft.

Sustainability is really all about craft – artful, considered, creative solutions that work for people and planet.

Sustainability is also the crucial third component of great design, building on William Morris’s‘fit for purpose’ (functionality) and ‘beautiful to look at’ (aesthetics). I add to these ‘sustainably produced, reusable, durable, recyclable’. Sustainability turns good design into truly great design.photo above of William Morris

 

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

2012 Residency Application

This post comes to you from Cultura21

The Guapamacátaro Interdisciplinary Residency in Art and Ecology is a site-based and community-oriented program for artists from different disciplines, scientists, educators and activists, aimed at fostering socially and ecologically-conscious cultural development. The hacienda is set on rural farmland and located in the state of Michocán, Mexico.

The topic of ecology plays an important role for the program and is not confined to the common association with the preservation of the natural environment. The facilities include several studios, large common areas and ample outdoor space.

Each year the residency takes place in Spring (March through June) and lasts 3 weeks.

During their stay, participants use the hacienda grounds as a laboratory for the creative process and engaging with the local community in art, ecology and development practices. They are free to work whenever desired in the provided studios and anywhere in the property. Experimentation is encouraged as is discourse and collaboration. Daily group activities such as morning stretch and meditation, and occasional guided walks and fieldtrips to nearby towns and natural areas are often organized, depending on people’s interests.

Up to 10 people are selected from a mix of the following disciplines: Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Sculpture and Installation, Design and Architecture, Humanities and Social Sciences, Natural Sciences.

Application is open to professionals (or students who demonstrate maturity) from all countries, cultural backgrounds and aesthetics. The next residency dates are from the 7th until the 24th of June 2012, you are able to send your application until the 1st of November 2011 to http://www.guapamacataro.org/apply

More information can be found here http://www.guapamacataro.org

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

Review of the 1st Cultura21 Forum – “The cultivation of ecology/-ies: Gardens and complexity in rural and urban landscapes”

This post comes to you from Cultura21

The following review was written by Janna Gehrke (you can find out more about Janna at the bottom of this post):

From the 23rd until the 25th of September the first Cultura21 Forum (by the German platform of Cultura21) took place in the “Studio Kunst und Landschaft” in Hude near Oldenburg in Germany. The forum was the opening for more events of its sort, which will occur on an annual rhythm in Germany. This year’s theme was: “The cultivation of ecology/-ies: Gardens and complexity in rural and urban landscapes”. It created an ideal platform for exchange between Cultura21 members, interested attendants from the vicinity and international guests. The aim of the event was to create networks, combine art and sustainability and get people interested in the theme of gardening.

Friday

A lively opening was guaranteed by Insa Winkler’s guided tour through the garden in the evening sun. Besides the white Garden and the classical English Garden, the participants were also able to see a mediterrenean garden and the ‘Wildparterre’, an area where wild herbs grow. All these garden treasures span over 7000m² and are accompanied by art objects. Among these the „Tamagotchis“ can be found, whom the artist Insa Winkler gave their names because they required a lot of care during an exhibition in Hamburg.

Further objects called Vegitabilibus are an eyecatcher, because they seem to grow directly out of the earth, without  a pedestal. Their genesis leads back to the artist’s involvement with Albertus Magnus, who said: The root is the mouth of the plant.

After this introduction, three referents gave some insights on the leading theme:

„Gardens and aesthetics of sustainability” (Sacha Kagan, Cultura21 Institut e.V., Lüneburg)

Gardens can be seen as approaches in order to reach the status of „cultures of sustainability“. They describe the search process for models of civilisation and dynamic balance. Following Edgar Morin, they yield the opportunity to think of unity and multiplicity together, rather than being mutually exclusive. Furthermore disorder can raise attention to the beauty of antagonisms. This creates an acute sensibility to the complexities in life.

According to Gilles Clément,  nature as constant transformation is what we should see in gardens. The following three concepts underlie his considerations:

  • The Moving Garden as an formerly used, but neglected garden, that does not undergo constant control. The task of humans is observation before intervention, so that a balance is created and diversity increased.
  • The concept of the Planetary Garden considers the whole world as a garden and points out the ecological limits of the biosphere and the advancing planetary mixing, which generates positive as well as negative effects due to invasive species. Concerning this matter it is important to use diversity without destroying it.
  • Third landscape is about subtle, non-interventionist interventions that highlight fallow lands and left-apart lands of all sorts as spaces for the undecided, spaces for the future. To use the words of the Abbé Sieyès: “What is the Third Estate? Everything. What has it been in the political order until now? Nothing. What does it want to be? Something.”

„On Urban Gardening“ (Dr. Christa Müller, Network „Interkulturelle Gärten“, Berlin/Munich)

In 2007 there were already more people living in cities than in rural areas. As a logical consequence emerging from this development gardens reclaim space in the cities and a (re-)discovery of the desire to garden becomes visible. This success of gardens is not a new phenomenon, but it gets more and more attention by the media. Thus it leads to a new understanding of urbanity since nature and city no longer exclude each other but build spaces in which natural and social environment can melt and create a new awareness concerning the value of time, consumption and community. This opens the opportunity of an integrative and community creating impact of gardening in cities.

The main reasons for the increasing popularity of urban gardens can be found in the desire to experience something that is perceptible to the senses, and in the wish for new forms of togetherness due to mounting individualisation, virtualization and marketization of the world.

Urban areas provide the basis for testing new social structures of sustainability and visualise alternatives in light of the imminent food crisis. Additionally it triggers off the political discussion, whether it might be possible to “plant” a new world.

„Sustensive Gardens“ (Dr. Oleg Koefoed, Cultura21 Nordic, Copenhagen)

De-composition and de-totalisation of certainties provide a constant transformation of the world and pave the way for a process of change. This process generates an area of tensions, which encompasses the maximal diversity of forms without destroying them. The opportunities can be enhanced in this way by gaining capacity for complexity.

The imperfection of mankind invites to open processes, as we have to connect to things that are outside of us. With reference to gardening, this implies a step out of everyday life, appropiated by various forces. Sustensive spaces are created for creativity, ancient knowledge, community and participation. Altogether they provide the basis for alternative lifestyles. Furthermore there is the possibility of making a connection between past and future, for instance by means of cultivating old sorts or rare species.

Examples of garden projects from Denmark emphasize this process: ‘Prags Have’ is an old factory site, which gradually changed and gained attractiveness induced by a process of gentrification. Meanwhile even the city of Copenhagen decided to support the project and enables citizens to grow their own vegetables there. A community kitchen was established as well as a meeting room in form of a caravan in the trees. ‘Amager Commons’ is an area in Copenhagen, which is partly used as an area for the development of the district Ørestaden of Copenhagen. Recently this vast fallow land was used for urban gardening projects, too. Thus a fight between landscape and urban development was inflamed. In most cases the garden projects are very vulnerable, as they rely heavily on support and investment.

Saturday

On Saturday Shelley Sachs and Hildegard Kurt proceeded with a workshop, which took place in the framework of a mobile, alternative university, the “University of the Trees”. This network focusses on the question: What is knowledge and how do we know? It rests on the basis, that we are all students and teachers at the same time, but additionally the trees are also our teachers. Regarding this it is necessary to call forth the sleeping potential that is in everyone of us.

On a walk through the garden, the vicinity and the forest nearby, the participants were able to bethink of the trees and create a field of awareness by the use of bands. In the following group session the focus was put on the soil in the created awareness field. Within the group the participants were able to make a connection to the soil and foster the consciousness for this valuable resource. A very pleasant atmosphere for these processes of thinking was created by the use of the practice of active listening, which encouraged awareness-raising and reflection.

In the afternoon, the participants had time to take up questions that were partly already generated on Friday evening. These could be discussed and enlarged upon in Open Space sessions. The following themes were discussed: Gardens as experimental spaces for alternative lifestyles, Traveling/Walking – Why do we appreciate landscape as beautiful? and Privatisation of public spaces. It was possible to follow different discussions as the working method was shaped openly.

The second day was rounded off by a Guerilla Gardening Workshop lead by Rana Öztürk. The special background of Guerrilla Gardening is the idea of the beautification of public spaces such as fallow land in collective actions of planting. This can be interpreted as a political movement without being obvious or as an artistic intervention. It adds to identity creation and counteracts insufficiency and delapidation by restoring fallow land, and partly supports self supply.

After a first input about the history and emergence of the Guerilla Gardening movement, which developed as early as the 1970s as a form of political resistance, the participants got the chance to take action themselves. Seeds were sieved and mixed, so that the group could contribute its share to the beautification of the village afterwards. Hopefully first results can be seen in spring.

The evening faded away with the presentation of different garden and art projects together with a nice get-together around the fire.

Sunday

 

On Sunday Nikos Anastasopoulos presented his activist engagements in Greece, which include the throwing of seedballs to improve the character of the soil and to green part of the landscape in Greece again, following the principles of ‘Natural Farming’. In this way a hub for change shall be created in order to achieve a long-term success. The  locally rooted initiative runs the right path which can be seen in first successes thanks to the involvement of the participants.

Insa Winkler called attention to her project „Artenvielfaltroute“ in Wüsting, which aims to strengthen the local awareness for what is happening with biodiversity in the locality through cooperative work with the neighbourhood and the school nearby.

Finally Dr. Christa Müller gave an overview and a summary of the contents for the guests. Thanks to the hosts, sponsors and participants, the first Cultura21 forum was a great success.

This review was written by Janna Gehrke, who will be Cultura21′s intern in Germany for the next 6 months, starting in mid-October 2011. Janna’s internship is taking place within Leuphana University Lueneburg’s “Leuphana PLUS” program.

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

Good Cents in the Museum – a case study

This post comes to you from the EcoMuseumMany people will wonder at first, what the connection is between immigration, museums and the environment.

For the last two and a half years Melbourne’s Immigration Museum has been developing a unique and contemporary exhibition based on what identity actually means to those living in Australia today. The transient nature of ‘identity’ as a concept meant a high degree of creativity was required. The project team worked on this challenge for over two years, and in addition, managed to integrate a high degree of environmentally conscious initiatives. Identity: yours mine ours launched on May 9, 2011 and has an eight to ten year life span.

 

COMMITMENT

 

One of the first commitments the project team made came in 2009, with a collective agreement to seriously consider environmentally sustainable initiatives within the concept and development process. Each important element of an event – be it exhibition, festival, theatre production – needs a champion.Identity had champions for content, multimedia, lighting and so on, but it also had a champion for environmentally preferable initiatives.

 

METHODOLOGY

 

Keeping an eye on the overall production, and another on the possibilities of integrating sustainable initiatives into the proposed design, isn’t that difficult.

 

Re-use (re-using stuff)

 

The demolition of the exhibition previously occupying the Identity gallery enabled the team to save various materials for use in Identity itself, and for use throughout the rest of Museum Victoria.

 

Around 18m² of laminated glass was saved and reinstalled into purpose-built Identity cases, a saving of around $8,000. Around 500kg of timber was saved for other uses as well. Graphic panels from the old exhibition were reused for education and decorative purposes in the Immigration Museum’s Education Room and Theatrette. Public programs took possession of older bespoke plinths and cases, and fitted them with wheels for portability, thus extending their original life expectancy many times over. Another site rich in immigration history, Station Pier, is negotiating with the Museum to take the remainder of the exhibition graphic panels in order to augment its premises on the pier.

 

It is worth noting however, that construction methods and material choices made much of the pre-used timber untenable. ‘Screw don’t glue’ is definitely something the team has a deep understanding of after watching the demolition process and noting the broken and torn elements thrown in the skip. Undaunted, ‘small steps’ was a common maxim throughout, and one which reminded us that every environmental achievement enables future teams to take our lead, and go even further.

 

De-materialisation (using less stuff)

 

Knowing that exhibition graphics are one of the most energy, material and maintenance intensive components of exhibition production, keeping a vigilant eye on the emerging design is crucial. WithinIdentity, the unique line-work developed by Gina Batsakis emerged as a major graphic feature. Previous work with a landscape artist/signwriter provided the impetus to explore similar possibilities withinIdentity, and although the team initially felt anxious, our early commitment to facilitate a sustainable outcome determined the contracting of a specialist painter.

 

The results are surprising – far superior to that which could have been produced mechanically by a printing machine. Early planning and decision-making enabled enough time for the extensive paintwork to take place – a crucial factor in an innovative environment. The final outcome consumed similar financial resources to that required from graphic printing and related materials. More importantly, the 150m² of painted graphic will require very simple, low energy maintenance across its ten year life – involving human dexterity, paint and a paintbrush. What could be more…sustainable!

 

This environmental achievement was important in terms of boosting the project team’s satisfaction in their commitment, and gave an eye-opening model initiative to other Museum Victoria exhibition project teams. Scienceworks has taken up the scenic painter challenge and greatly benefited from it. Being brave and trialing new concepts has always been crucial, especially in the world of the museum. Have we forgotten this in our world of automation and programmed productivity? The Identity project team discovered an unexpected delight and control in veering away from machine-led production.

 

Identity is a big exhibition in a small physical space. How does one do justice to such a broad, contentious topic and still keep the exhibition spatially contemplative? By using hundreds of intangible layers of digital information of course. These digital stories are interpreted through touch-screens, the web and multiple projections.

 

The project team wanted gallery products that combined reasonable financial outlay, with low energy usage and long lived consumables – like globes. Using a range of product information and organisational experience, different products were put through a data-crunching excel calculator. After putting the exhibition’s lighting through the same rigorous process, the completed Identity now consumes the least amount of energy per square metre of any exhibition at Museum Victoria, and has set an organisational benchmark.

 

The environmental consequences of energy creation arguably impact our lives more significantly than any other human activity, and consume a huge amount of our finances. Reducing our need, and therefore general demand, is definitely something worth giving some time and thought to.

 

Some of these practices are standard in many smaller organisations throughout the country because of individual budget restrictions. Some are practices that have died out only in the last few years. Even so, it’s liberating to explore and rediscover new frontiers, and if you can save money and time while simultaneously reducing your impact on the environment, it just makes good sense (and cents) to continue pushing those boundaries.

 

the EcoMuseum, is a project of Carole Hammond, Exhibition Manager and museum professional: combining the complex ideologies of aesthetics, culture, objects, entertainment…and environment.

Go to the EcoMuseum