Robert Smithson

Spiral Wetland by Stacy Levy

This post comes to you from Green Public Art

9593754364eb337e51d5b54bc5a6ca95“Meshing the clarity of maps and diagrams, and the accessibility of science with the visceral sense of the site, I try to create an instant of wonder and understanding for the viewer.” – Stacy Levy

Spiral Wetland is an outdoor eco-art project by artist Stacy Levy that was inspired by Robert Smithson’s famous outdoor sculpture Spiral Jetty. The project is supported by the Walton Art Center as part of the Artosphere Festival in Fayetteville Arkansas.

618936faceefcbefc846d9b874526c38Levy created Spiral Wetland with one specific goal in mind: to improve the water quality of Lake Fayetteville. The project consists of a 129 foot long spiral floating wetland that is made with native soft rush, Juncus effusus, growing in a closed cell foam mat, anchored to the lake’s floor. The plants help remove excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from the lake water, and add shade for fish habitat. The installation will remain until the summer of 2014 at which time sections of the wetland will be adopted and transplanted into other wetlands and retention basins in the region.

Last year, Levy unveiled a Straw Garden at the Seattle Center in Seattle, WA. Additional information about the artist can be found on her website.

All images courtesy of the Fayetteville Flyer

 

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.
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Invisible Dust

Invisible Dust involves leading world artists and scientists collaborating to explore air pollution, health and climate change. The aim of this ambitious project is to produce significant and far reaching artists commissions in the Public Realm in the UK and internationally, as well as supporting the creation of new scientific ideas and engaging audiences with large scale events, education and community activities.

Founder

Alice Sharp has worked as an Independent Curator of projects with visual artists in the Public Realm since 1997. Sharp set up Invisible Dust as part of her commitment to involving Artists and Scientists in health and climate change.

Visibility

Our works seek to raise awareness of the key climate change imperatives and objectives now being tackled by National and International Governments, Policy Makers, Charities, NGO’s, Global Corporations, Investors and Consumer groups.

Visibility plays a key role in our trying to gain an understanding of the need to live sustainably and dramatically reduce climate change. Artists have many ways of making things visible and, particularly since the Land Art movement in the 1960s and 1970s (such as the ephemeral works of Richard Long and Robert Smithson) have responded to changes in the natural environment in a variety of forms.

Artists and Scientists

Invisible Dust first project was in 2009 with

and is currently working with the following artists developing new Invisible Dust projects 2010/12:

Artist and Scientist Dialogue Day Group Shot

Invisible Dust Dialogue Day, at The Wellcome Trust, July 2009. From back left: Karen David, Ian Rawlinson, Nick Crowe, Kaffe Matthews, Peter Brimblecombe, Paul Green, Alice Sharp, Mark Levy, Dryden Goodwin, Heiko Hansen, Mariele Neudecker, Faisal Abdu’Allah, Hugh Mortimer.

The artists are collaborating with the following scientific advisors:


Projects

The first of these projects ‘in clean air we fly’ by artist Kaffe Matthews was an Electronic symphony that engaged local Primary School children in Gillett Square, Dalston, London. 600 cyclists powered the sound installation to an audience of 1000 on Sunday, 6th December 2009.

Future projects in development include working with the the View Tube, East London, the Institute of Zoology and London Zoo, the University of East Anglia, Norwich, Kings College and St Thomas’ Hospital, London and Department of the Environment, UK (DEFRA), see New Projects

Background

The title is inspired by Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy in which dust is said to have a mystical role taking his characters to different worlds. There are many analogies with the great changes we need to make to live a sustainable future, most notably the need to travel without creating air pollution.  The organisation has been set up through Curator Alice Sharp collaborating with Atmospheric Chemist Professor Peter Brimblecombe, whom she met at Tipping Point, and measures air pollution through quantifying the components of dust through time. Invisible Dust is a not for profit organisation and has been awarded a Large Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust for ‘Invisible Breath’ for 2010/11.

Concept

Joseph Amato writes about ‘the visible world of dust.’ Amato contests that this informs our ‘perceptions of reality’. The invention of cleaning equipment and the modern day obsession with removing it has changed how we live our lives. Once dust was the smallest thing the eye could see, now our relationship with dust has dramatically changed due to powerful microscopic devices. For scientists, society’s transformation took place in the laboratory through the viewing of atoms, molecules, cells, and microbes; this also defined dust and the physical world for the first time but also our view of the human body and mind.

After the congestion charge was first implemented in Central London the air became cleaner than before the charge had been implemented but no one could see the evidence, it had to be revealed by subtle statistical analysis. On a global scale the ice caps are melting, coral reefs and rain forests are being destroyed.  In order for us to understand the consequences of our actions on the environment as human beings we need to ‘see’ the results. In his research Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and senior editor of Atmospheric Environment Peter Brimblecombe from the University of East Anglia has discovered that children’s playgrounds are more polluted than the surrounding area due to the exhaust fumes from the parents’ cars at the school drop off. Professor Frank Kelly is also conducting research into how air pollution effects not only our lungs but is a cause of heart disease due to small diseal particles passing into the blood.

How can people understand their own effect on the environment when the resulting gases disappear into the sky? Since the industrial revolution there have been huge gains to society but also the creation of many of the gases that are now poisoning the earth. This project brings together artists and scientists to help illuminate these consequences and bring a sense of something human and fantastical to a very invisible problem.

Mission statement

The mission of Invisible Dust is to encourage awareness of, and meaningful responses to, climate change, air pollution and related health and environmental issues. It achieves this by facilitating a dialogue between visual artists and leading world scientists. Invisible Duststrives, through its creation of high impact and unique arts programmes, alongside new scientific theories, to create an accessible, imaginative and approachable forum and stimulus through which to promote positive public action.

Core activities

Our works seek to raise awareness of the key climate change imperatives and objectives now being tackled by National and International Governments, Policy Makers, Charities, NGO’s, Global Corporations, Investors and Consumer groups, by providing a physical and imaginative manifestation of the key messages and driving a meaningful response to them.

In order to deliver this, primarily we:

  • Produce high quality artworks in the public realm both permanent and temporary

Additionally we also:

  • Create imaginative linked workshops and activities for schools and community groups
  • Coordinate artists residencies in the UK and internationally
  • Organise conferences and talks and provide speakers for events
  • Support the creation of new scientific theories and  ideas

Situation: a review.

I read “Situtation” as I read most books these days: sitting on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, traveling between jobs. It’s the 6-10 jobs that keep my volunteer blogging to a minimum (no regular wifi on BART just yet). Still, I wanted to read– and write about– this book. Because how I read it is also how it’s structured: in small digestible chapters. Because Situation is a compilation of excerpts from primary sources, the words of artists and scholars, here and gone, about context and place in artmaking.

The cited authors range from Lucy Lippard to Hannah Arendt to Robert Smithson (yes, THAT Robert Smithson) to Krzysztof Wodiczko. The excerpts are organized into four parts: “The Limits of Site,” “Fieldwork,” “Action and Public Space,” “Place and Locality,” and “The Curatorial Imperative.” Editor Claire Doherty does an excellent job of chaining seemingly unrelated sources together. And though there’s a lot of complaint about how media and television are affecting literature, that it read like a documentary was pleasant.

On one page I’d be reviewing Smithson’s work with sites and non-sites: on the next I’d be reading Giorgio Agamben’s thoughts on witnessing. The experience was an ever-evolving collage of thought on place. Like a kaleidescope with some of the best thinkers of the last 75 years or so in it. Good for introducing yourself to new thoughts on space. Good for mental niblets between trains. Good for discovering new incredible people.

Go to the Green Museum

Land Art and changing perspectives


Filming Jan Dibbet’s 12 Hours Tide Object with Correction of Perspective, 1969


Jan Dibbets 6 Hours Tide Object with Correction of Perspective, Maasvlakte beach, 8 February 2009

A year ago this week as part of the Portscapes project, the artist Jan Dibbets had what he called a “second attempt” at his 1969 piece 12 Hours Tide Object with Correction of Perspective; the artist and curators rejected the idea of the event being a recreation. The apparently parallel lines are drawn on the beach and disappear again within the space between two high tides.

The original work became part of the canon of Land Art when it was included in Gerry Schum’s 1969  Land Art TV broadcast, alongside pieces by Robert Smithson and Richard Long. For Schum the attraction of Land Art was its liberation of art from the gallery. He was trying to make a TV-based form of art that suited the more democratic half of the 20th century.

In the second attempt the work becomes more obviously about man’s relationship to the natural world, partly because Portscapes, which we list as one of the 21 highlights of 2009, was a series of commissions by Latitudes on a piece of land that will disappear as part of the new Dutch industrial port complex Maasvlakte 2. And the piece now seems to emphasise the tidal inequalities of that relationship. Just as Dibbett’s illusory parallel lines are seen being washed away by the rising tide, so this beach will soon be gone. That is another perspective shift, of a kind.

Read more about 6 Hours Tide Object… here

Photos: Latitudes, Paloma Polo/SKOR and Freek van Arkel

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More Used Art Books for Under $10

I received some positive feedback on a February post listing used art books for under $10. With the economy still on shaky ground (and most artists just as poor as ever…) here’s more books for recession 2009. These are listed from cheapest to most expensive at current Amazon used prices.

Thomas Kinkade: Heaven on Earth
A steal at 81 cents! This catalog is from Jeffrey Vallance’s 2004 survey of Kinkade. Good essays and examination of Kinkade’s work in the context of contemporary art.

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder
Can’t go wrong with this one. A great read about LA’s Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century
Not the greatest book—more encyclopedic than anything else—but it’s worth a couple bucks.

Between Artists
Haven’t read this one personally, but it looks good. Artist’s conversations from the mid-90s.

Camera Lucida and A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes
These should be in your library. Classics! and good reads too.

Robert Smithson
This expanded version of Smithson’s writings is a pretty good deal. Why not put it on your school book shelf so you can look like every other student?

Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip through the Land Art of the American West
At $9, this is approaching the almost-not-a-good-deal category. I’m curious to check this one out though—I’ve heard mixed reviews.

The Future of the Image by Jacques Ranciere
Only a few bucks cheaper than the new version, but this recent philosophic tract is a good deal either way. Plus it’s a looker!

Go to Eco Art Blog

10 YouTube videos from artists responding to the environment

Gemma Lloyd has put together this list of 10 artists responding on the Respond! site, which includes Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a slightly scratchy talk on Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field, film of Aleksandra Mir creating her First Woman On The Moon and this one by Tomas Saraceno:

 

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Artists Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison give a talk in NYC

On Tuesday January 13th,
ecoartspace
NYC curator
Amy Lip
ton hosted an Artist’s Talk with Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison. The artists led a gallery tour with over 100 in attendance through their new exhibition Global Warming at the Ronald Feldman Gallery. The Harrisons have been working together as a team since the early 1970’s and are two of the most influential living artists working today on ecological issues. They are considered to be pioneers in this field along with artists Robert Smithson, Han Haacke and Alan Sonfist and have been exhibiting artists at Feldman Gallery since 1974. Their practice is one of scientific inquiry, dialogic process, community engagement and collaboration. They work with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to uncover ideas and solutions, which support biodiversity and community development. Working well ahead of the curve, their work must now also be considered within the context of relational aesthetics, though their revolutionary concepts proceeded the coining of this term by over two decades.

The walk-through of the Global Warming exhibition focused primarily on the Harrison’s new multi-media installation Greenhouse Britain, which toured the UK in 2007/8. The work consists of video, large panels comprised of text, mapping, photography and architectural models. It proposes an alternative narrative about how people might withdraw as waters rise due to sea level change, what new forms of settlement might look like, and what content or properties a new landscape might have in response to the global warming phenomenon. It also demonstrates how a city might be defended. Greenhouse Britain includes 5 components, the first being, On the Island of Britain: The Rising of Waters. This large-scale model of the Island of Britain, rests on the floor, with six overhead projectors showing animated video of the rising waters, storm surges, and the redrawn coastline. A soundtrack of three voices accompanies the piece.

The next component includes 3 panels of maps and text and is titled, On the Upward Movement of People: A New Pennine Village. This work proposes a 9,000-person village where the land around it is eco-systemically redesigned to absorb the local carbon footprint of the village through the use of forest and meadow.

Part 3: In Defense of the city of Bristol is a three-minute video that proposes a defense and salvation from flooding for the city of Bristol. Part 4 consists of 3 large-scale maps and text panel, The Lea Valley: On the Upward Movement of Planning (in collaboration with APG architects) which takes issue with the existing development of the Thames estuary. The model shows this area covered by water, and proposes redesigning the l,000-square mile Lea Valley watershed, while at the same time suggesting how approximately one million people might be housed in ecologically provident high-rise structures with solar power, stilts, and hanging gardens, while also enhancing the water supplies of London.

The last component of the group is a large architectural model titled On Eco-civility: The Vertical Promenade (in collaboration with ATOPIA architects). Wherein the civil, social, and economic virtues embedded in a small town main street become the basis of design for a 150-story, 10,000-person, vertically-designed town, based on the concept of settlement, where eco-systemic thinking drives design as opposed to typical development models. Architects Jane Harrison and David Turnbull, from ATOPIA spoke at length about this model, their concepts and their collaborative process with the Harrisons during the creation of the work.

The Harrisons then moved into the smaller gallery of the two to discuss other works, dating as early as 1974; San Diego is the Center of the World demonstrating the long history of their engagement with the topic of global warming. A new work from 2009, Tibet is the High Ground, Part II: The Force Majeur is a 7 x 7 ft. map of the Tibetan plateau showing the seven rivers flowing from that plateau that nourish 1.2 bilion people in ten countries who are endangered by the rapid melting of glaciers in the plateau.

A brief question and answer session concluded the tour with comments by artists Aviva Rahmani, Betsy Damon, Joan Bankemper, Jackie Brookner and others. The event illuminated the Harrison’s artistic process and history and exemplified the ways in which their art embraces a breathtaking range of disciplines. They are historians, diplomats, ecologists, investigators, emissaries and art activists. Their work involves proposing solutions and involves not only public discussion, but extensive mapping and documentation of these proposals in an art context. The talk was documented on video and will become available for viewing, please contact amy@ecoartspace.org for information.

Greenhouse Britain (greenhousebritain.greenmuseum.org/) was produced as an artist-led project by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison and principles of the Harrison Studio and Associates (Britain) in collaboration with Tyndall Climate Center, Great Britain, designed by Westergaard & Harrison, and funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Exhibited at the Rotunda at London City Hall, Greenhouse Britain toured across England in 2007-08).

Photos top to bottom: Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison with Amy Lipton at Feldman Gallery, “Tibet is the High Ground, Part II: The Force Majeur” 2009, “The Lea Valley:On the Upward Movement of Planning” 2008
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