Visual Artists

CFP: The Two Cultures: Visual Art and Science c.1800-2011

The Two Cultures: Visual Art and Science c.1800-2011
Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference, 26 April 2012

History of Art Department, University of York

It is bizarre how little of twentieth-century science has been assimilated into twentieth century art. C.P. Snow, 1959

In his 1959 lecture “The Two Cultures” C.P. Snow asserted that the intellectual life of western society was increasingly being split into two polar groups: the sciences, and the humanities. The notion that visual artists and scientists are two entirely isolated strata of human activity and experience has proliferated since the nineteenth century, and continues to plague academic institutions and political policy today. The term “scientist” was coined in 1834 as a means of designating those who worked professionally in the various sciences. The “scientist” was described by direct analogy to the artist; suggesting that these now seemingly dichotomous areas of scholarship were in fact intended to exist in direct relationship to one another.

This conference seeks to challenge Snow’s separatist assertion, and explore the ways in which visual artists have acknowledged, appropriated and assimilated the ideas and theories of the ever-expanding field of “science” in their work since c.1800, the moment at which the professionalization of the sciences engendered a seemingly irrevocable split in the academy. As a result, we hope to recoup a sense of interdisciplinary fluidity amongst the international fields of visual arts and sciences, in order to build as complex and nuanced a picture as possible of the exchanges and interconnections between the “two cultures” over the past two centuries.We invite abstracts for papers of 20minutes by postgraduates that address the theme of relationships between the visual arts and the sciences 1800-2011. We welcome submissions from students working across the humanities, fine arts, social sciences, and applied sciences, but ask that the papers specifically address such relationships from the perspective of visual or material culture. Possible themes for discussion might include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Collaborations and communications between artists and scientists.
  • Representation and/or use of scientific concepts, vocabularies or technologies by an artist in the creation of works.
  • Modern medicine and representations of the body.
  • Representations of warfare, machinery and technological development – their physical and psychological effects/treatments.
  • The influence of post-Darwinian structures/theories on the visual realm.
  • The effect of/responses to new media such as photography, film, and internet.
  • The advent of cybernetics and computers, from early experimental use to contemporary digital media.
  • The ways in which the relationship between art and science intersects with issues of class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity.
  • The attitude of art education to science and vice versa.- How established genres such as landscape and still-life have responded to scientific developments.

Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. We ask that applicants also submit a brief biography in addition to their abstract. The deadline for submission is February 24th 2012. All submissions should be sent to Kirstin Donaldson and Robert Sutton at TwoCultures2012@gmail.com along with any questions regarding the conference or abstracts.

oil and tree cycles: art and activism – join global cycle day 24 Sept

This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook

Post image for oil and tree cycles: art and activism – join global cycle day 24 Sept

Image left: Bidon arme (Loaded Drum), 2004 Romuald Hazoume Right: Treebike – image from the International freecard alliance for World Environment day, 5 June 2009

An exhibition that I stumbled upon accidentally a few months ago has stayed with me. On a visit to the Irish Museum of Modern in April 2011 I came across African artist Romuald Hazoume’s very thought provoking and surprisingly enjoyable installations of ‘masks’, sculptures, documentary film and photography work.

Mon Général, 1992

"Mon Général", 1992 by Hazoume

Romuald Hazoumè, one of Africa’s most important visual artists, creates playful sculptures and masks made from discarded plastic canisters commonly found in his native Benin (a small country neighbouring Nigeria)  for transporting black-market petrol (known as kpayo) from Nigeria. As can be seen in his image (above left) these jerry cans are expanded over flames to increase their fuel-carry capacity, sometimes to excess resulting in fatal explosions. Hazoume’s work richly references mask making culture from his African heritage to commenting on his country’s predicament of being caught up in the day-to-day and often unacknowledged misery of the global fossil fuel industry.  His work is engaging on very many levels and to a wide audience; from children who love the use of his found objects to adults that can see the political concerns in his work, to others who see a continuation of identity expressed in local materials made into masks.  ‘Hazoumé has used the cans as a potent metaphor for all forms of slavery, past and present, drawing parallels with the vessels’ role as crucial but faceless units within commercial systems, dangerously worked to breaking point before being discarded (Tate Modern, 2007)

From across this side of the planet my own work attempts to touch some of these concerns too. My long term project the hollywood diaries to transform our conifer plantation to a permanent forest has real long term energy returns as we are very shortly to discontinue use of oil for our home heating (a common and increasingly expensive form of domestic heating in Ireland) and use our never-ending supply of forest thinnings. In fact, I was startled to learn recently from my forestry contacts, that our ongoing selective harvesting to keep the forest vibrant and encourage the native tree seedlings to flourish, will mean that we’ll have 70 tonnes of wood every three to four years from our small two acres!! Crikey!

The image on the above right, Treebike, is a pointer to this month’s global day of cycling, Moving Planet lead by Bill McKibben and his global 350.org organisation to invite us all to get on our bikes this Sept 24th, 2011. I’ve always been amazed at the huge response to these events and how often the arts help mobilise such activities.

Here’s the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ztEgLXSiek – as in the past you can goto 350.org and join in the fun but its also a serious campaign too

‘Circle September 24 on your calendar–that’s the day for what we’re calling Moving Planet: a day to move beyond fossil fuels…

On 24 September we’ll be figuring out the most meaningful ways to make the climate message move, literally. We’ll show that we can use our hands, our feet, and our hearts to spur real change. In many places, people will ride bicycles, one of the few tools used by both affluent and poor people around the world. Other places people will be marching, dancing, running, or kayaking, or skateboarding. Imagine the spectacle: thousands of people encircling national capitals, state houses, city halls.

But we won’t just be cycling or marching–we’ll also be delivering a strong set of demands that can have real political impact.”

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Note: some of you might be aware that I have returned to art college to undertake in-depth research on experimental film and ecology in the last year – if you want to follow along, my research site is www.ecoartfilm.com

I’ve recently created a small film sketch on how our small conifer plantation  is being transformed, comments welcome!!

http://vimeo.com/27704065

An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook

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

Nevada Museum of Art|Artists | Writers | Environments: A Grant Program

Teams of visual artists and writers who are U.S. citizens working on art + environment projects anywhere in the world from July 2010 through August 2011 will be eligible to apply for the first A | W | E Grant. Letters of interest must be received via e-mail on or before Friday, April 16, 2010 with invited applications due on or before June 22, 2010. The grant recipients will be announced on or before July 6, 2010.

A | W | E Grants

In 2010 the CA+E is piloting a grant program for visual artists and writers working together in the field. The purpose of the program is to encourage the creation of new art + environment projects that seek to address environmental challenges rather than simply comment on them, to foster deeper and more immediate public awareness of art + environment projects, and to encourage unique field reports of lasting value to scholars and other artists. The intent is for the writer(s) to document, report upon, and/or analyze the work of the artist(s) and its environmental context, not to provide creative responses such as fiction or poetry.

During this first year, one grant of $10,000 will be awarded to a team of artist(s) and writer(s) engaged in art + environment projects. Of particular interest will be those proposals addressing communities stressed by global change. Publication venues by writers can include articles in magazines, journals, or online, and chapters or essays in books, but significant public outreach will be favored.

Eligibility

Eligible teams will include at least one visual artist working in the field and one writer to accompany the artist into the field during the project. Artists can work in any medium, and the writers range from journalists to art historians. The total amount of the award may be divided between the artists and writers in any way they see fit. Funds may be used for travel, per diem, materials, equipment, and other costs, including time to work.

Applications during this first year are open only to artists and writers who are U.S. citizens, although they may work anywhere in the world. In future years we hope to broaden eligibility to artists and writers from other countries.

Application Process, Deadlines, Timeline

Interested artists and/or writers should submit a two-page letter of interest by e-mail on or before Friday, April 16, 2010. Letters should include a brief project description, budget and biographies of the artist(s) and writer(s). Please identify your letter of the artist(s) and writer(s). Please identify your letter of interest in the subject line of the e-mail when submitting as “AWE letter.”

Finalists will be selected by July 6, 2010 and invited to mail in a physical application that will include a longer narrative, budget, documentation of citizenship and previous works, and resumes.

Applications will be due on or before June 22, 2010 with the award announced on or before April 16, 2010. Finalist proposals will be posted on the Museum’s website, as well as that of the award recipient, upon awarding of the grant.

Archives, Exhibitions, Presentations

Finalists’ application materials will not be returned, but become part of the CA+E Archives. Although the artworks and writings of the grant recipients will remain property of their creators, the CA+E will collect related project materials of the funded project for its archives.

Results of the funded project will be exhibited at the Museum, and the recipients of the grant be invited to present their work.

FAQ’s

We strongly suggest that applicants visit the Nevada Museum of Art website and navigate to the Center for Art + Environment pages, and in particular the A | W | E FAQ page for more information. The FAQs may be updated periodically as we receive questions.

Contact

Letters of interest sent via e-mail with the subject line “AWE letter,” as well as any questions, should be directed to Rosalind Bedell, CA+E Manager at Rosalind Bedell or 775.329.3333 ex. 252

Funding

The A | W | E Grant is supported by the The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Wildflower Works followup

I’ve received a few emails alerting me that I had information wrong in my previous post on Chapman Kelley’s piece, Chicago Wildflower Works.

Here’s a shot from 1992, taken well before the park was altered by the city of Chicago. The image was provided by the artist.
And the shot I used in my previous post was taken after the piece was altered in 2004.
In addition, here’s a watercolor proposal for the piece done in 1984.
And a photo of the park with Frank Gehry’s concert pavilion in the foreground. A curving pedestrian bridge connects that pavilion to the altered garden by Chapman Kelley.

Although I was a bit confused on this originally, seeing all these images has greatly helped me understand Chapman Kelley’s federal appeal that his site-specific installation is original art under the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act. In September 2008, a Chicago Federal District Court said the park piece did not meet the definition of original art, and this spring, Kelley appealed that decision. More than half of the wildflowers were removed and as you can see in the photos, the ovals were altered to a long rectangle with one oval in the middle.

For really good reaction and analysis of this court case, there have been two excellent posts on the Arts and Ecology Blog here and here. Also, there’s a good post from 2007 on the Aesthetic Grounds blog.

As an artist and gardener, my heart is definitely with Chapman Kelley on this appeal. How terrible to see a garden that you designed and helped maintain for decades get ripped up? The main thing seems to be managing expectations—something the city did horribly by not working with the artist when deciding to alter his work.

Some might say this is simply landscaping but somewhere in there (and I guess this is the point of the court issue) there’s the line between art and landscaping, artist rights and the rights of the city or whichever institution manages site-specific art.

If anything, I’m glad some of the wildflower park is still there and maybe a compromise can be reached to expand or do the best to return the Wildflower Works to it’s original proposed format.

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