Environmental Responsibility

An Open Letter To Entertainment Industry Manufacturers

At LDI in 2009 and at USITT 2010, there was a lot of discussion about sustainability. Hundreds of your current and potential customers attended sessions with “green” in the title and participated in events where sustainability was a topic of discussion. This was an edifying exercise in talking about environmental responsibility, but it is time for our industry to take the next step.

We are writing to ask you to help us support our clients in their efforts in sustainability, which may, at the same time, help you promote your products. While much of our equipment is exempt from ASHRE standards and is not considered directly in LEED building certification, the point is not the certification; it is behaving responsibly.

Read the full letter at Live Design’s Website here: An Open Letter To Entertainment Industry Manufacturers.

Curtis Kasefang is trained as a lighting designer and embarking on his 20th year as a theatre consultant. He is a principal with Theatre Consultants Collaborative, LLC. Prior to his consulting work, he was a production manager for a four-theatre complex. He also chairs his local Historic Districts Commission. He will participate in the Green Day Think Tank at LDI2010.

Demo Eco MO

(Demonstrations of Ecological Modes of Operation for Art)

by Linda Weintraub

as published in the Fall 2009 issue of the CSPA Quarterly

My goal as a curator was the earnest pursuit of environmental responsibility. I invited ten artists to boldly break the conventions of art display and production that arose during the first flush of industrial productivity.  We pledged to scrutinize the innumerable aspects of creating and exhibiting artworks that are still ignored by many art professionals.  We vowed not to take abundance for granted, nor tolerate waste, nor disregard the contaminating effects of our    efforts.  The artists fulfilled the mandate imbedded in the title of the exhibition: “Demo Eco M.O.” (Demonstrations of Ecological Modes of Operation).  The exhibition opened on July 18, 2008, at NURTUREart, a non-profit art gallery in Brooklyn.

Instead of protesting against the environmental ills that are still rampant in the art profession, we attempted to set examples of responsible behavior by conserving resources, minimizing waste and energy use, and avoiding harmful by-products.  This mission determined every component of the exhibition, including the opening night refreshments.  Guests ‘ate local’ by sipping filtered rainwater collected from the gallery roof and nibbling on sprouts grown on site.  

Such unconventional materials, tools, and processes became the norm for this exhibition.  Each artist assumed the role of art eco-crusader.  Their fervor for environmental reform entailed minimizing art’s footprint upon the          environment while maximizing art’s mark upon the culture.  Despite this challenging task, each managed to preserve humor, commitment to community, and generous offerings of good will.  Together their contributions could constitute a hand-book of eco-alternatives for artists, gallerists, art supply manufacturers, and other art professionals. 

Writing this essay relieves the one regret that lingers, regarding this project. The most ground-breaking innovations were not visible to the visitors.  They occurred behind-the-scenes during the weeks preceding the opening.  That is when the artists and I discussed ways to emulate the interdependencies, interconnectedness, and efficiencies that characterize vital ecosystems.  Our spirited exchanges resulted in the artists reformulating their art practices.  Instead of behaving as independent creators, they performed services for each other.  As a result, all the pieces in the       exhibition were linked, comprising a network of connections. Consider the following

  • Mediums were traded among the artists. One artist’s material excess fulfilled another artist’s needs.
  • Tools were fabricated and shared.  One artist’s ingenuity provided another artist’s means.
  • Exchanging these tools and mediums between the artists’ studios, and delivering artworks to the gallery were   conducted in the basket of a bicycle driven by one of the artists.
  • General maintenance regimes were designed into some participants’ contributions. 
  • Illumination of each artwork was provided by one artists’ light sculpture. 

Meanwhile, the network of interactions expanded to  include members of the gallery staff.  They participated in the material exchanges and scrupulously applied  sustainable criteria to the production of the exhibition catalogue,   invitation, and wall labels.  Even members of the board were enlisted to supply components of works of art.  As the weeks progressed, opportunities multiplied to be a recipient and, simultaneously, to serve as a contributor.  In all these ways the rigid borders that isolate artists in their studios and separate professional roles dissolved.  It was   replaced with a dynamic multi channeled arena of participation that avoided redundancies, reduced consumption, eliminated waste, and conserved energy..

The contributions of the individual artists demonstrate the environmental advantages of such cooperative behaviors: 

Carol Taylor-Kearney applied her creative and aesthetic ingenuity to fabricate art-making tools.  By lending them to other artists in the exhibition she helped reduce unnecessary expenditures of material and energy associated with manufacturing, packaging, and transporting art tools. 

Christina Massey gathered unsold and rejected works of art donated by the other artists and utilized them as her   medium.  She not only avoided purchasing new art materials, she helped other artists reduce the material and energy costs associated with storing and preserving art. 

John Day offered artists and gallery visitors alternatives to purchasing newly manufactured art mediums by focusing on the formal qualities of society’s discards.  The waste stream became a site of enticing aesthetic opportunities. 

Tamar Hirschl methodically inventoried neglected resources and documented the new contexts and uses for these items that she initiated in her artwork.  Visitors were invited to help themselves to these items, providing a record of their      intentions within the gallery, and then sending the artist reports about how the material was utilized.  In this manner she not only exemplified responsible engagement with material, she provided an opportunity for the visitors to join her. 

Joyce Yamada and Joanne Ungar’s sprawling installation anticipates the particular effect the collapse of eco-system functions will have upon art.  The consequence of ignoring their warning is not a pretty sight. Yamada and Ungar       assembled an array of decrepit artifacts from our misbegotten culture to convey the specific scarcities, infirmities, and  dilapidations that will befall artworks and artists if we don’t shed our complacency, stifle our indulgence, and temper our greed.  Viewers are jolted by an uncompromising accumulation of grisly details – giant rats gnawing hungrily on stained and torn plastic wrappings meant to protect rolled canvas, pigeons trapped in the toxic fluid leaking out of a sculpture, a protective shelter for art hastily constructed out of branches and shreds of plastic, tools crudely configured from smashed plastic bottles and metal debris, a food processing rack where a few pathetic vegetables are drying and some radishes are making a valiant attempt to complete their life cycles in plastic bottles. Joseph Cornell’s “Hotel Eden” a masterwork that addresses a longing for a lost paradise, appears aged and crackled in this work.  The artists offer a a dire warning when they state, “The dream of Eden is a dangerous fallacy. Nature is neither benign nor stable. We ignore its true functioning at our peril.”

Gunter Puller demonstrated the full cycle of disintegration and creation by dismantling multiple outdated Yellow Books and then exposing them to the sun and rain.  As the pages decomposed, they transformed into a growing medium for seeds that travelled in the urban air and settled there by chance.  

Lynn Richardson reduced the electricity used in galleries by creating a sculpture that consists of light fixtures and surveillance technology.  The light from her sculpture was designed to illuminate the other works in the exhibition, but only when they are being viewed.  Thus, electricity was drawn only when it was needed.

Scrapworm performed on-site narratives that revealed the recent and historic manipulation of Williamsburg ecosystems.  The performance aspect of her contribution avoided the ecological costs of material fabrication, display, transport, and storage of art, while it magnified the ecological history of the ecosystem within which Nurture Art is located. 

Anne Katrin Spiess provided a low carbon dioxide emissions alternative to motorized transportation of mediums, tools, and art works.  She performed these art pick-ups and deliveries on her bicycle wearing an official uniform to draw       attention to her performance.  Photographs and a video documented her contribution. 

Patricia Tinajero established a functional reintegration between the gallery and its ecosystem by collecting the rainwater that falls upon the gallery’s roof.  This free resource supplied gallery visitors with water to drink and it was directed to sprouts that were served as refreshments throughout the exhibition.  She thereby severed the gallery’s   dependence on municipalities to provide water for business and life-supporting activities.  Furthermore, she demonstrated that even     galleries are capable of sustainability by generating their own nourishment and beverages. 

The spirited conviviality that developed among the participating artists originated in pragmatic environmental concerns.   It culminated on the roof of Scrapworm’s Brooklyn studio on the night before the opening.  As the sun set over Manhattan, the artists and I gathered to revamp the wasteful conventions of art catalog production.  We engaged in a communal book-binding party by assembling a great heap of binding materials gathered from our respective waste streams and using them to playfully assemble the pages that had been printed as sustainabily as we could afford.  The covers were supplied by Patricia Tinajero who made the richely textured papers by using rainwater run-off from the Nurture Art gallery roof, and scraps from the gallery’s waste bins.  Between sips of wine and bites of pizza, we braided, sewed, theaded, and           embellished several hundred catalogs. Each was unique, a testimony to a reassuring truth – respecting environmental    constraints can liberate the imagination.

The most significant aspect of “Eco Demo M.O.” was to expand the application of environmental considerations far beyond artists’ choices of medium.  The  artists in this exhibition demonstrated that their footprint can also be reduced during exhibiting, transporting, storing, and maintaining art.  Artistic collaboration emerged as the core to achieving ecological ethics.  It enables artists to activate roles within systems of exchange by sharing resources and providing support services to each other. In these ways the artists contribute to contemporary culture in a manner that far exceeds the limits of their profession. They demonstrate principles of sustainability for all human behaviors. Such art asserts that artists’ responsibility to the environment begins with a thorough review of its own professional practices.  Hopefully, it exists without an ending.  Such art can ripple through society as a model of sustainable behavior.   

Submitted by Linda Weintraub, guest curator gallery@nurtureart.org www.nurtureart.org

Soundwave Festival : Presented by MEDIATE

Soundwave ((4)): Call for Proposals:
GREEN SOUND

Summer 2010, San Francisco USA


The next season of Soundwave will explore our sonic connections to the environment. For GREEN SOUND, Soundwave seeks artists, composers and musicians to investigate the wonder of natural world, and
examine environmental responsibility and sustainability through sound.

Soundwave seeks experience-driven performances that interpret the connections between sound and environment through its instrumentation, concept, visual collaboration, installation, audience interaction, or production by local and international sound artists, designers, musicians,  and composers.

the questions

How does sound affect the environment and how does the environment affect sound? How can sound help the environment? How do we green sound? What compositions and performance can
influence environmental change? How can the environment innovate the sound experience? How can environmental concepts engage, inspire, and challenge audiences and performers with a new, exciting, bold and intense aural experience?

concepts to consider
Environmental/organic composition, production or performance, reusable/recycled/renewable/natural instrumentation, real and imagined natural environments and inhabitants, solar-wind-water-powered performances, low carbon footprint works, eco-systems, climate change, weather, environmental awareness and responsibility, sustainable performance/production, new sonic technologies supporting green initiatives, dance collaborations, film collaborations, theatrics, greening of environments, sound generating organisms, plantlife/animal life, green installations, audience greening, and other artist imaginations.

season 4 mission
GREEN SOUND hopes to engage artists and audiences in revealing an incredible natural world unknown/unexplored and re-imagining a world in environmental crisis and human consumption. It hopes to inspire thought and action while showcasing sound’s inherent connection to our environment and innovative artistic voices for environmental change.

important dates

Open Call Deadline: September 15 2009
Artist Notification: November 2009
Artist Performance Development: Jan-June 2010
Performance Dates: June through August 2010

festival details
Dates and Venues: Soundwave will take place on various dates between June and August at various venues in San Francisco. We work with the invited artist to schedule available dates, as well as venues appropriate for their work. Typically, specific dates and venues are confirmed three months in advance.

Artist Fees: Fees to performing artists are modest. Amount is dependent on grant awards and fundraising currently in process. Typically, fees are confirmed three months in advance of performance date.

Accommodations: We are unable to offer accommodation fees for international artists and American artists outside of the Bay Area. We can offer housing, with limited availability, in private homes of friendly and enthusiastic friends of Soundwave to sleep and store belongings.

Travel: We invite all artists to submit proposals, but we are unable to offer financial assistance to cover travel costs for those outside the Bay Area. We ask our international artists and American artists outside of the Bay Area to apply for travel funding through their national arts councils and private foundations in their home country (ie. Canadian Artists – Canada Council for the Arts).  We will need to be notified of your travel award or notification of self-travel by March 15, 2010 or the invitation will be rescinded.

We do, however, apply for a couple of grants specifically for our International artists and American artists outside the Bay Area. Artists that apply early will have better access to these grants.  These grants, however, would not be enough to offset travel and accommodation costs, so we encourage those to continue to apply for travel grants.

proposal guidelines
All proposals MUST include:

  • Your artistic resume and website (including past performances, exhibitions, commissions, discography, videography)
  • A concise project description limited to 500 words. Indicate whether this is a completed project, a work-in-progress or yet to be realized, as well as, the performance duration of your work (most performances are limited to 20-30 minutes long. Please indicated if it is time specific so we may have the ability to accommodate)
  • Support materials such as reviews, high quality images (photographs, slides, video) and recordings of past works and performances
  • A detailed list of your technical needs and space requirements
  • A 100-200 word typed bio of quality for publication in press materials
  • A high resolution photograph(s) of yourself, your group and/or your work for press materials. Digital images must be a minimum of 8X10 at 300 dpi. In Jpeg or Tiff format with the extension attached (.jpg or .tif). Do not embed photographs in Word or any other program.

how to submit
Email: submissions@me-di-ate.net (DO NOT send image, audio or text attachments the email over 5MB. We prefer you providing links to these supporting materials and hi-res pictures. Alternately, these materials can be mailed to the address below.
Mail: MEDIATE, P.O. Box 170305, San Francisco, CA, 94117-0305, USA

about soundwave
Soundwave is MEDIATE’s acclaimed biennial festival of innovative sound, art and music. Soundwave is a multi-venue and multi-date sound performance series happening over the span of two months every two years in San Francisco USA. Each season investigates a new idea in sound and invites diverse multidisciplinary artists and musicians to explore the season’s theme in new and innovative directions. Soundwave has completed three successful seasons: Season 3’s MOVE>SOUND in 2008, Season 2’s SURROUND>SOUND in 2006 and Season 1’s FREE>SOUND in 2004. Project>Soundwave, created by MEDIATE artistic director Alan So, explores the boundaries of how we see sound, language and music. It is a project dedicated to challenge and inspire artists and audiences to look deeper into the sound medium and discover new connections to sound making and the sound experience through the production of CDs, exhibitions and its marquee festival Soundwave. Soundwave was awarded Best Sound Sculptures – Future Classic by San Francisco Magazine’s BEST of 2007 issue. It has been featured on SPARK*, KQED’s (PBS) television arts show and Educator Guide on Experimental Music, SF Weekly, SF Chronicle, BBC Radio 3 (UK), San Francisco Bay Guardian, 7×7 Magazine, SFist, WNYC Public Radio, ResonanceFM (UK), KUSF, KALX, KPFA, amongst others.

“Soundwave has sought to make irrelevant the typical distinctions between artist, musician, audience, stage, and venue… idiosyncratic performances that are challenging, charming, magical, assaultive, and (as is always the case with really sweet sound art) deeply personal for everyone present.” – Frances Reade, SF Weekly

“It’s an artisitic and exploratory experience for your senses that will open your eyes and your mind.” – Nitevibe

Project Website: www.projectsoundwave.com
Organization Website: www.me-di-ate.net
Inquiries and Questions: connect@me-di-ate.net

via Project>Soundwave : Soundwave>Series : Soundwave Festival : Presented by MEDIATE.

Raise the Green Roof: Theater for the New City

TNC logoCrystal Field, the artistic director of Theater for the New City, is thrilled. Under Field’s direction, TNC has been a pioneer in the environmental movement for over 15 years, and she remembers when environmental issues were taboo. “When we wrote street-theater songs about organic food and rejecting genetically modified foods 10 years ago, people thought we were crazy,” she remembers. Today, her street theater focuses on environmental responsibility and climate change and the fact that here in NYC, “We may all be underwater while not having enough water to drink.”

Field is inspired by the fact that now there is technology accessible to help us address these issues. The issue is at the forefront of our minds, and now city and governments are willing to help, which Field says is “going to change everything. It’s not just going to be little cliques. It’s going to be well into the social fabric.” She adds, “Now we’re going to put some money where our mouth is,” and that’s just what TNC has been doing.

TNC green logoTNC has taken extensive steps to make its facilities and productions more sustainable, and they have ambitious plans to continue their sustainability efforts. TNC has already taken the following steps to green their theater:

  • They have replaced all the incandescent light bulbs in their theater offices and public spaces with compact fluorescents
  • In their lobby, which they use as an exhibition area and art gallery, they have installed a system that senses the availability of natural light and decreases electric lighting accordingly
  • Recycling of paper, plastic, glass, and metal has always been a priority, and they recently initiated a battery recycling program
  • Reusing show programs: TNC asks audiences to return their programs for reuse if they don’t want to keep them as souvenirs
  • Hosting Green Cabarets, which feature a variety of readings, dances, and musical acts, all inspired by green issues

Beyond these initial steps, however, an ambitious green renovation plan is in the works.  TNC is currently seeking funding from the Kresge Foundation, local businesses, and charity events; once a set goal is reached, the city of New York, which has become very active in green issues via its ambitious PlanNYC, will cover the remainder of the costs.  Features of the renovation are set to include:

  • Green roof diagramA green roof, the flagship component of the renovation, will feature vegetation and solar panels which will reduce their carbon footprint by gobbling up CO2 and releasing oxygen, insulating the theater (reducing heat/cooling energy needs), and generating power to run the theater from the solar panels.
  • Planting trees and shrubs on the sidewalk in front of the theater to increase visibility of their efforts
  • Installing more efficient stage lighting lamps
  • Complete renovation of the Chino Theater, including green lighting and mobile seats
  • Water-saving measures
  • Rennovating the scenic shop to make it more energy efficient
  • An audio/visual recording studio downstairs
  • All renovations will use sustainable wood and the most environment-friendly products possible, and they plan to reuse or recycle as much of the remaining material as possible

Field says that their emphasis on a green roof came about for three reasons.  Firstly, wanting to create an urban green space but without extra land of their own, they decided to turn to an unused space of their own: the roof.  The space will not only reduce their carbon footprint and improve the air quality in a crowded city, but also provide organic food for the community.  Secondly, they’re hoping that it serves as a model for other local theaters, saying, “If all theaters in New York City followed our example, the reduction of our collective carbon footprint would be extraordinary. “  Lastly, they realized that it would cut down on their long-term energy costs by reducing heating and cooling expenses, and might even help to prolong the operational life of the roof itself.

TNC’s plan is ambitious, and the obstacles to fundraising in today’s economic climate are many, but Field remains positive and determined to keep working towards a greener planet. She urges relentless perseverance and gradual change: “One small step and then another small step that is obtained with blood sweat and tears. But, you know, we don’t have slavery in this country anymore, right?” She believes Americans have the ability to recognize their mistakes and change their ways. She jokes, “We smoked, and then we got cancer. But then we gave it up. We learn.”

When asked what recommendations she would give to other theaters looking to go green, Field suggests that they start with green committees made up of staff and audience members, and that they address how the theaters can save money right away by greening their basic operations, from buying green janitorial products, to switching out lightbulbs, to recycling everything possible.  She advocates going online to learn about the basic ways to green a business and to start applying those practices. Lastly, she suggests that you “start talking about green on your own website. Put your plans on your website and people will start to contact you who want to get involved.”

According to Field, it is the theater’s job to be a part of the solution: “The theater is going to tell us that things can be solved.” She maintains that theater is good at reinforcing the message of going green to people who already support that cause – the converted. “The converted need inspiration to go on and do the work that needs to be done. Theater is of great value in that way.”

Links:

More information on TNC’s green roof via their website

“What is a green roof?” via HowStuffWorks

Greenroofs.com and Liveroof.com

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Go to the Green Theater Initiative