Articulation

Imagining Natural Scotland’s 15 projects

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

3d8154de18fcc0dc5d079c4b5277cac3Photo: Chris Fremantle

Imagining Natural Scotland have just announced their selected teams to develop work towards the August conference in St. Andrews.  It includes a wide range of artforms and approaches to questioning how we imagine natural Scotland.  The projects include a wide mix of methods, and should represent a good articulation of the range of artists’ ways of knowing, each somewhat juxtaposed and engaged with scientists’ ways of knowing.

Press release here: Successful Applications announced | Imagining Natural Scotland

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

Powered by WPeMatico

Transition Design – thoughts

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Gideon Kossoff, in the event last Monday evening at UWS, was attempting to articulate a theoretical framework for transition design, design approaches intended to move towards resilient communities that can address peak oil and environmental, social, existential crisis. This is an important area for theoretical development as well as practical activity. I’m offering these observations from memory, so apologies for any mistakes or misunderstandings.

This project is understood to be undertaken in the context of current design theory, in particular ‘wicked problems’ and ‘user-centred design’. I have reservations about the current assumption that design, in whatever configuration, can solve all the world’s problems. It seems to me that we might offer an alternative argument along the lines that education could solve all the world’s problems. Ascribing solutions to any single discipline or practice is inherently problematic in itself. Graham Jeffrey has argued that any articulation of ‘design’ needs to have a parallel and complementary articulation around ‘performance’. This construction is likely to be more fruitful.

Kossoff framed the complex challenges that are interacting with each other, challenges that we are all familiar with – climate change, food security, existential crisis, pollution, peak oil, etc. At root he argued that, whilst the externalisation of environmental impacts may be one problem, another is the way in which our needs are met externally or within our homes, communities or regions. At the core of his argument is a critique of neo-liberal consumerism.

He set the stage for the idea of sustainability and resilience in terms of basic needs, but he defined these more broadly than work, housing and shopping. His definition included spiritual, creative, security, communality, etc.

Core to Kossoff’s theoretical framework is a developed understanding of holism which he unpacked in detail. Holism is nested and exists at the domestic, community, regional and city level, and there are historical examples of these, but holism at the global level remains something to be understood. He did differentiate between holism encompassing diversity and holism as uniformity (Nazism).

His idea of holism becomes operative when related to holistic therapies: he hinted at, but didn’t explore the role of intervention in holistic therapies – a subject that perhaps Aviva Rahmani is currently exploring in her work on Trigger Point Theory from an ecological perspective.

But the constant juxtaposition with modern and pre-modern, pre-industrial cultures, developing the contrast between mass production of bread with local production of bread, romanticised the pre-modern in ways that we know are deeply problematic.

Gavin Renwick’s work with the Dogrib in the Canadian North West Territories, in which he highlights the Elder’s rubric “strong like two people” is significantly richer and more provocative. The Elders are acknowledging the necessity of young people operating in the western culture, whilst also valuing and understanding traditional culture. This is a richer and more productive construction which does not romanticise the pre-modern, but rather values it for what if offers to life now. Renwick also highlights a correlated idea which is “being modern in your own language”, an idea which is strong in Scottish writing of the 20th Century including the likes of MacDiarmid and others.

Kossoff’s articulation lacked a strong practical articulation of ways that the ethical can be woven into the fabric of life – I’ve elsewhere talked about Eigg’s move to renewable energy and the importance of the ‘cut-outs’ built into the system ensuring that no one person can be greedy at the expense of others.

Finally in the discussion the issue of technology was raised. Our extensive dependence on digital devices is a problem for Kossoff’s construction of the ‘good life’. If holism is about the satisfaction of needs within nested structures, what is the role of the internet, mass communications, social networking, etc? I’m not sure I have an answer, but I was very struck by the argument made by James Wallbank of Access Space in Sheffield. He said that their organisation will offer anyone a free computer, but they have to come and learn to build it themselves. Buying a computer off the shelf is buying ignorance. Like the example of social justice embedded in the renewable energy system on Eigg, the example of Access Space is one which addresses resilience whilst also embedding learning and empowerment in the satisfaction of everyday needs.

I’d really like to revisit the conclusions that Kossoff offered as well at some point.

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

Cultivation Field

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

 Cultivation Field is a Postgrad exhibition and symposium at the University of Reading (thanks to RANE for circulating) deadline for abstracts 29 July – exhibition and symposium end September 2011.

The premise for this Symposium and accompanying Exhibition is that cultivation is leading to new art practices deserving of critical inquiry and articulation. Whether in the garden or allotment, the soup kitchen or the road, on wasteland or the tower block, or wherever there are cracks in the system, cultivation provokes questions about human being’s relation to and encounter with the earth and its growth systems and operations. The purpose of this Symposium and Exhibition is to encourage discursive exchange and productive encounter between art practitioners and researchers within the cultivation field.   more…

 

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

ashdenizen: flowers on stage: the daffodil

In the second in our summer series of blogs, the artist Sue Palmerwrites about the daffodils and the desk fan in Mary Southcott’s ‘Let’s get some weather in here’

One moment – a movement – remains with me. I can remember none of the content now – it is about 8 years since I saw the theatre performance and the stories are blurred, fleeted. What I do remember is Mary performing her solo show, and one moment within it has fused itself onto my memory.

Just off centre in the performance space is a window box, a white plastic window box, and facing the audience are a row of daffodils, yellow and bright in the studio lighting. They are looking perky and buoyant as only daffodils can, and very yellow, the trumpet variety. At one point in the performance, Mary switches on a desk fan that stands behind the daffodils and a deeply satisfying event takes place.

As the fan turns its automated 120-degree span, so the daffodil heads respond – bobbing, nodding. The bobbing heads in the breeze are met by collective warmth and delight from the audience – our attention is absorbed by the responsive movement of the flowers that is so familiar, so recognisable.

Mary’s simple creation of a small ‘weather system’ in the studio is utterly captivating: the outside is suddenly on the inside. The relationship between the wind and the flower is placed at the centre of my attention, so I can see in absolute detail the architectural brilliance of the flower at being able to both receive and resist the wind. Due to the travel of the fan, the breeze interacts with the flowers over an arc of time so the daffodil heads respond to the beginning of the wind touching them, nodding vigorously as the full fan passes over them, returning to a small stillness before the process loops to a return.

The articulation of the flowers and their ability to work with the wind ‘speaks’; their ‘heads’ work with receptivity, capacity, intelligence. The daffodils have performed for us.

At ‘Presence’ Festival, Dartington College of Arts, Devon, June 2002

Photo: Ed O’Keefe

See also flowers on stage: the poppy. Next: flowers on stage: the lotus.

via ashdenizen: flowers on stage: the daffodil.

Tactical Biopolitics: a review.

“How can we know for sure these days that the truck driver repairing his exhaust at the crossroads in your neighborhood is not a silent conceptual artist engaging you in a thought-through performative experience? ” asks Jens Houser in “Observations on an Art of Growing Interest,” part of the collection of essays in Tactical Biopolitics. An engaging overview of scientists as artists, artists as ethnographers, activists as sociologists, and women who do agility trials with their dogs as philosophers, Tactical Biopolitics presents the words and works of people who profoundly engage their ethics with their craft.

Largely centered around issues of biology and bioethics, the book often wades deep into the waters of scientific jargon and academic word-whirlpools. When it emerges into common reality, however, it does so resonantly. While artist Kathy High gives a factual breakdown of her reasons for working with a group of former lab rats (they were predisposed to have her same health issues), we get caught up in the story of the rodents, their namings and personalities. Donna J. Haraway manages to make us forget agility trials as a means to make dogs literally jump through hoops and see them instead as an exercise in human-animal communication.

The book emerged from a conference on BioArt and the Public Sphere at UC Irvine in 2005. It is, write editors Beatriz de Costa and Kavita Philip, “a hybrid, made possible by two recent histories: the enormously creative practices at the intersection of technoscience, activism, and art; and the explosion of cross-disciplinary conversations following Michel Foucault’s articulation of biopolitics.

We see artists confronted with the ethics of working with living tissue, witness the affect racism has on modern scientific research, and learn of the evolution of activist’s tactics for getting AIDS medicine to patients who need it. We hear artists talking about life in labs, and scientist talking about the craft of ethical living. It’s a smorgasboard of modern ethical thought, of challenges to the definitions of professional fields. It’s fantastic reading for anyone interested in cross-disciplinary work. But largely, it is the story of people using the tools they have at their disposal to positively engage with an increasingly complicated and manipulated world. So while the authors featured in Tactical Biopolitics might not be the truck driver in your neighborhood, they are, like him, attempting to fix what’s broken.

Go to the Green Museum