Lament

The PlanetShifter.com Interview with Ian Garrett, Executive Director: The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, Los Angeles | www.planetshifter.com

Where are you? In the present? In the future? See my lament for clues:

Things only happen here to make what happens next.

Is LinkedIn a viable artistic community in your opinion? How would you improve it?

I don’t think so, and I don’t think i wish it to be. I don’t know if LinkedIn represents a community really as much as an infrastructure. I think it exists separate from something like Facebook without competition because one is about social networks and one is about businesses networks. I also don’t see how it accommodates the needs of an artistic community.

I don’t think there is a social network that does effectively represent an artistic community out there. How specific do you allow it to sort itself? the arts are too expansive with too many points of access to be represented effectively through a network with a defined set of sortable criteria. For self-sorting facebook is more effective because it is focused on individuals not labels. For curated sorting a wiki is better since everything is of equal weight.

That’s the issue with getting past post-modernism isn’t it? Modernism was about the universal, post-modernism was about the categorized, and post-post-modernism is about the unique.

What is at the intersection of mythology, innovation and sustainability?

From now on.

What new symbols, songs, secrets, myths are you driving in the green movement?

I can tell you that I’m trying to drive it away from the color green and images of leaves. The image that bugs me the most is actually grass, since in most places it’s impractical and wasteful regardless of it’s green-ness. I think an era’s aesthetics speak to values and I think we’re pushing the value of the first nature and something more raw, less processed. It’s happening in design, supply chains and our food. I’m also trying to break the myth of technological solutions.

I’m irked by the layering of systems over existing systems to solve problems with the existing system. I’d rather break it down to it’s elemental parts. I’m a big promoter of archaic technology, like using steamed banana leaves or not vitrified drink ware in Indian. Things that were discarded as incorrect in a modern manufactured world that persists into the contemporary era.

Are you an alchemist?

No, there is plenty of magic in real science.

Tell us about your favorite modern painter and how you feel when you gaze at the work.

Are we saying modern or contemporary. I’m a traditionalist when I define the Modern era as something that happened in the beginning of the 20th century out of industrialization. If we’re talking painters though I can name a few. Magritte for being clever and questioning the mudane, Haring for balancing accessibility, message, and challenging art world constructs. I do however find myself most drawing to the infrastructural and phenomenological though and insofar as that is concerned am more trilled by visual are that engages those parts of my brain. That’s not always present in painting, so I have to mention Olafur Eliasson, who fascinates me.

How do you manage the bureaucracy that you’ve created at The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts? How do you personally support your members?

There isn’t much Bureaucracy. We’re extremely small and nimble. We’re the least incorporated we can be and have foregone 501c3 status to stay lean. I suppose we deal with the bureaucracy of partnership with more cumbersome organizations and then it’s oftentimes working within their structure.

We can make our decisions and change methodology rapidly to best accommodate our members and partners since all of the power rests between two equal executives. We’ve yet to expand our power-sharing, outside of partnerships, and those are all project based. It’s not the most profitable, but it’s in line with our core mission, which is really about information and infrastructure. We’re like the opposite of the CIA, we don’t see value in protecting our information, and support ourselves through others valuing sharing information as a desired act.

For the second part of the question though, it’s hard to say. I mean, we don’t have funds to directly support their activities. But, we try and talk directly to all of them. They have our address, phone numbers, email addresses, and ultimately all of our lines of communication like our website, social networks, twitter and so on is all us personally. If you get in touch with the CSPA, you’re getting in touch with us directly. We don’t filter that, and don’t understand ecologically mind organizations that put up blocks, since we gain absolutely zero (aside from profit I guess) from not talking and being transparent if we plan to not destroy the planet and the billions of lives that will impact.

And, ultimately, it helps that I’m the web guy too. It’s part of what I do, so there is nothing standing in the way of our web presence, we do.

What were the 3 – 5 best innovations from last year’s CSPA Convergence?

Well we did this in partnership with the University of Oregon’s School of Theater, so mind you a couple of these might be theater centric.

  • The Convergence itself. I go to a lot of conferences and I deal with but don’t like the hierarchy and artifice that often surrounds them. I prefer the camp model which, like wikis, aims to gather people around a topic and allow all of them to offer something. So I think it’s in expanding the convergence model to get between these models of conference and camp and add on more doing, not just talking.
  • Marbles in a Jar – This is Avery simple re-use model we’ve been working on. It looks at volume of material used as a marble in a jar. You fill the jar until you’re done and then add a second jar for the next and so on to next iterations. For each unit of reused material you move a marble from the first jar to the one for the current project, if you use new material you add new marbles. It doesn’t have to be marbles and jars, but it’s a very simple way to engage your use of raw material
  • Energy Budgets – We’re trying to get theaters to incorporate the expenditures of energy into budgets for making. It incentivizes energy innovation by the user. If no one uses energy efficient devices, it doesn’t matter.
  • Eliminating recycling programs – this idea started at this convergence in response to the 6 receptacles the University of Oregon had for waste. It’s too much. The idea waste receptacle is only one for compost-ables. It’s not entirely feasible though. When speaking at APAP last month I brought this into a more realist goal. Not recycling because you don’t have anything to recycle. At the CSPA we print proofs of the Quarterly for editing that we share and otherwise we don’t generate material waste by our business. That sort of blows people’s minds.

I think Jack Capitalism and Eli Sustainability are headed for a blow-out, down and dirty fist fight in the months ahead? Ready?

I’m ready, but I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be particularly violent. I think that the necessity of sustainability will be the biggest check on a capitalist future. I think about the labor movements of the post-industrial world and the evolution of that “conflict”. I also think about the 4 roles in the actor-centric model of political change and the political pendulum. Sustainability is different still, it’s an opportunity if we want it to be, but as with all of these models of shift, the future is hybrid, not contrary.

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Ian Garrett Bio –

Executive Director of The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA), a non-non-profit arts infrastructure organization where he collaborates with others like the LA Stage Alliance, University of Oregon, York University, The Arcola Theater, EcoArtSpace, the Royal Society of the Arts, Diverseworks ArtSpace and others to work towards sustainability in the arts, ecological and otherwise.

Programs at the CSPA include a rich online resource guide, curricular development, a quarterly journal, annual convergence, and the development of collaborative local materials re-use programs and a certification program for arts making being initiated through an international partnership between US, Canadian and British producers. The center was founded by funds received through the 2007 Richard E. Sherwood award for emerging theater artists from the Center Theater Group (CTG) awarded to be used forming a working relationship consulting with CTG on the integration of ecologically sustainable practice into their production.

Ian teaches Sustainable Theater and Management Technology courses at the California Institute of the Arts and has been featured in American Theater, DramaBiz, and The Design Magazine and has spoken at The Central School for Speech and Drama, St. Louis University, and the Indy Convergence along with most arts conferences in the United States.

He originally studied architecture and art history at Rice University in Houston, Texas, but has since come to build an awarding winning practice in live performance and installation art, having also attended California Institute of the Arts to complete MFAs in Lighting Design and Producing.

Connections –

Ian Garrett
Executive Director
Ian at sustainablepractice dot org
The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts
c/o LA Stage Alliance
644 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Profile Summary: William “Willi” George Paul Green Business Certified Sustainability Consultant and strategic vision planner, writer and program designer for environmental planning, civil engineering and non-profits for over 15 years. Executive producer at PlanetShifter.com generating 125+ thought leader interviews and 1200 posts to-date since EarthDay ’09. Produced two innovative online community building projects as a PhD Student in Environmental Planning and Design at Virginia Tech. Designed the electronic charrette while earning MA in Urban Planning. Developed marketing and online community building strategies for over thirty Internet start-ups.

Willi Paul, Art and Sustainability Consultant
415-407-4688 | willipaul1 at gmail dot com
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10 ways of looking at Radical Nature

The critics pass judgement on  Radical Nature, at the Barbican and elsewhere:

PERCEPTIVELY Hari Kunzru The GuardianNature is in crisis… It’s not even really beautiful any more. It’s a problem, a remnant, something that needs to be conserved and argued for. The chances of being romantically overwhelmed are slim.

PROVOCATIVELY Regine Debatty We make money not artAs long as these artworks do not step out of museums and galleries most people hardly ever visit … , I fear that the impact of their work might be somewhat limited.

NEGATIVELY Edwin Heathcote, Financial TimesThe show just doesn’t hang together. “Museums,” said Smithson, “are tombs, and it looks like everything is turning into a museum.” Forty years on, we’re still in the museum.

POSITIVELY Madeleine Bunting in The GuardianOn every side, artists are putting their shoulder to the wheel, trying to prompt the revolution in values and attitudes required to deal with environmental crisis.

ARTISTS SHOULD STICK TO ART-ISHLY Rachel Campell-Johnston, The TimesIt’s all very worthy and often delightful… But do artists contribute anything practical?

THOUGHTFULLY Skye Sherwin in The GuardianFrancesco Manacorda, identifies… a dangerous dualism concerning how we think about nature and culture:.. but while many artists here lament the rift or attempt to close the gap, only a few explore its potential…

DEFEATEDLY Christopher Werth: Newsweek: That somewhat defeated tone pervades much of the newer work, which reveals little of the excitement[… ] found in the campaigns of Beuys and Ukeles. Perhaps that’s only natural after 40 years of environmental art, when for most of that time, so few have paid attention to the message.

ENTHUSIASTICALLY Throughstones blogThe Radical Nature project is an extremely important landmark exhibition, and groundbreaking in the degree to which it reaches out to the public and integrates with real life as it is lived. It will for sure have a far-reaching influence for many years to come.

OBTUSELY Rowan Moore The Evening Standard: Saving the planet is more to do with the Chinese changing the way they build power stations, or Americans changing the way they make cars, than anything an artist can do.

LOOK AT US, WE’RE CYNICAL AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS-ARE-ALL -FASCISTS ANYWAY-ISHLY Anorak.co.uk on the Tree Radical parade through central London: One man has painted his face and others are raising their arms in the air, in the manner of Moseley’s mob. The driver tells us that these are the Green Shirts not the fascist Black Shirts. Old Mr A says “same difference”.

Some are thoughtful, some are downright enthusiastic; some seem distinctly rattled, too.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology