Monthly Archives: December 2008

Seoul searching

Earlier this year I interviewed Winy Maas of architects MVRDV about a beautiful small-scale project he was doing in Rotterdam called Didden Village. Back then I wrote: “MVRDV’s signature “obsession” — the word Maas uses for it — is density:
the idea of using urban space intensely to create a sustainable future.”

When I met him he was just off a plane from Seoul. It turns out what he was doing there is this:  Gwanggyo, a competition-winning future city which MVRDV have imagined to house 77,000 people self-sufficently. The terraces provide green space, also creating ventilation and minimising water use.

MVRDV have a great history of radically reimagining cityscapes, from their book Five Minute City (everything you need within five minutes travel), to radical urban farming, Pig City, to thought experiments like Skycar City (what if someone invented a car that worked in 3D). They make the future sound fun again.

I found news of this latest project this on Bruce Sterling’s Wired Blog. Sterling comments giddily on MRVDV’s prize-winning design: “Great to see some out-there major building for people who aren’t,
like, bloated panic-bankers and outre Bond-villain petrocrats.
If we could just pry the red-hot cash away from the jittery financial overlords
and bloodstained fossil merchants, and spread it around the general
planetary population, man, tomorrow’s cities could look great.”

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

Announcing CSPA Connect

You may have noticed a couple of small changes to the site. First f all, our page dedicated to the GreenSTAGE Program has come down. More on this soon, but it’s not going away, we’re retooling out certification efforts to better reflect growing partnership in the sustainable arts community. 

We’ve also changed the name of the Wiki to the CSPA Online Resource Guide to make it clearer what it is, as opposed to what technology powers it. Of course the people that power it are you and me still. 

But the bigger news is CSPA Connect. To add to our attempts to provide infrastructure, we’ve set up CSPA connect at CSPA Connect is a dedicated social network for those involved and interested in the activities of the CSPA to connect. We are big fans of transparency and sharing, so it seemed natural to provide this to our friends and members. It’s free and since it is built on the Ning Platform, you’re profile becomes a portable identity you can carry to other Ning based networks like for theaters big on concept, but cheap on funds are connecting, for New York Theater artists, and where people are envisioning new models of production. 

Join when you get a chance.

To the barricades!

Heather and Ivan Morison’s latest work at the first One Day Sculpture event in New Zealand was this gargantuan work filling a street in the centre of Wellington, Journée des barricades. The brief was: “to produce a new work that will occur during a discrete 24-hour period over the course of one year.” The scuplture, continuing the Morison’s vision of a world teetering on the edge of impending chaos, was erected on the night of 13th December, created out of urban debris including wrecked vehicles, and dismantled the following night.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog


From the main website:

As the year ends and a new one begins, it’s time to take stock of the
work we saw in 2008. One thing is conspicuous; the volume of art that
in some way encountered the subject matter of ecology suggests there is
an increasing sense of urgency and engagement in the arts world. 2008
was also a year of major art events focussing on the environment, from Greenwashing in Turin to 48 Degrees Celcius in Delhi – both of which featured artworks that were RSA Arts & Ecology
commissions. In London, Frieze commissioned artists around the loose
theme of “engaging with the ecology of the fair and its surroundings.”

is a list of personal choices by ourselves and our colleagues, pieces
that we thought were worth revisiting. It includes work by major name
artists like Olafur Eliasson and Catherine Yass, and also a few names we hope you’ll be hearing more of in the future. Take a look here. And let us know the artworks you thought shone out in 2008.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

Art as a Trojan horse

The latest print edition of Neural Magazine includes a single piece of yellow notepad paper – apparently at least. I haven’t seen it yet. On this sheet, readers are encouraged to write a letter  to the White House. This letter will be then filed away alongside the billions of others.

The special notepaper has been produced by computer artists Douglas Easterly and Matt Kenyon of SWAMP. Each line on the notepaper contains the micro-printed details of civilian casualties in Iraq. By sending it to the White House smuggling the ignored officially-ignored consequences of the Iraq war it created back into the White House. It’s a kind of Trojan horse. Sometimes it’s symbolically important just to get your own back on a culture that has ignored so many of the consequences of its actions.

This isn’t the first SWAMP project to commemorate the civilian dead in Iraq, largely ignored by the media. In 2005 they created their IED – improvised empathetic device, an electronic band worn around the arm. The armband was linked to the website Whenever news of a new US army fataility was posed on the site, the armband would be triggered to plunge a needle into the arm of the wearer, drawing blood and enforcing empathy through pain. “The LCD
readout displays the soldiers’ name, rank, cause of death and
location and then triggers an electric solenoid to drive a
needle into the wearers arm, drawing blood and immediate
attention to the reality that a soldier has just died in the
Iraq war.”

(Which sounds kind of brutal, but it’s probably less painful than the experience of seeing something like Thomas Hirshhorn’s The Incommensurable – yards and yards of photographs of the mutilated Iraqi dead culled from the web – at Fabrica a couple of months ago.)


Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

ETC Gives the Green Light

From the ETC website, 11/21/08:

ETC (Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc.) has not only led the entertainment- and architectural-lighting industry in technical innovation but is leading in green practices as well.

The company’s environmental policy is ‘committed to fostering a healthy, safe and sustainable global environment.’ ETC meets and exceeds compliance with the European Union’s WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directive — practicing proper recycling of all products, including the disposal of electrical equipment. Within the ETC factory, reusable containers are used instead of disposable ones that produce further waste. ETC also adheres to the European Union environmental-safety directive RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances), which regulates chemicals used in electrical and electronic equipment.

On a product level, ETC strives to develop greener, more energy-conscious lighting solutions. The new ETC architectural line, the Unison® Paradigm™ lighting control system, was engineered to regulate energy: detecting occupancy in rooms and automatically lowering light levels in vacant spaces, operating on a programmable timed-event schedule, and through ‘daylight harvesting’ — a light-detection capability that lowers electric lighting levels in response to incoming natural light.

ETC’s Source Four® fixtures are known globally for their high energy-efficiency. The Source Four spotlight has become the most efficient tungsten fixture for entertainment lighting — given its patented high-performance lamp (HPL) and dichroic ellipsoidal technology. ETC’s 575-watt Source Four fixtures shine as brightly as competitors’ 1000-watt fixtures — using 40% less energy. ETC also produces a full range of Source Four HID fixtures with high-intensity-discharge lamps that last up to 10,000 hours longer than other lamps, while maintaining over 90% efficiency.

ETC’s products and systems are helping customers and their buildings achieve the distinguished Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating. The largest LEED building, the silver-certified new Palazzo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, is equipped with ETC’s Unison system as well as over 100 Source Four fixtures. The Grand Rapids Art Museum, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the first art museum to achieve Gold LEED certification, also benefits from green-minded Unison control.

ETC has gone greener on the homefront too: the recent 78,000-square-foot addition at ETC’s Wisconsin headquarters was designed with minimal environmental impact in mind.  ETC’s Unison Paradigm system is used throughout the headquarters to maximize energy efficiencies. In the new construction, thick, heavy-duty metal panels were chosen to reduce excess material consumption. Software connected to the factory’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system was deployed to regulate energy use during peak hours to minimize overall energy consumption. ETC also installed a receiving dock equipped with an air lock to prevent temperature-regulated air loss. Doors, windows, and even asphalt materials were recycled during the construction process. The new addition uses electricity-frugal fluorescent lighting and contains eight huge skylights for optimal natural lighting — reducing need for electric light.

ETC’s property too is greener than ever, recently re-landscaped with almost 170 newly planted trees that will surround the headquarters with a canopy of natural dimming. In addition to tree planting, ETC is reducing future paper waste internally. The company has started a huge effort toward a ‘paperless office,’ in which all paper records will be transferred into electronically-archived copies. The project will take over a year to complete and will convert over three million pages of data into electronic format. All existing paper will be recycled.

Even ETC’s 2009 product catalog too is eco-friendly. The new cover is made from 100% recovered cotton, from textile-factory waste, and the catalog’s pages are made of FSC-certified paper — 30% recycled fiber and chlorine-free pulp from timber-managed forests.

Other links:

ETC products help Las Vegas’ Palazzo achieve LEED status

ETC to expand Middleton factory


Go to the Green Theater Initiative

Pessimism, optimism, pt 2

After hearing the latest news about the increasing rate of Arctic melt, Bibi van der Zee burst into tears.  She wonders whether it’s time to give up. Conventional social wisdom says that bad news does not make people act. Maybe she’s an example of that.

The current poll question on the RSA Arts & Ecology page, posed by Gemma Lloyd,  is, Are apocalyptic facts more effective in motivating people to change than positive messages? As it stands, the voting is Yes 52%, No 40% and undecided 8%.

Photo: Museo Aero Solar, by Tomas Saraceno, as mentioned by matthew here. A more heart-lifting artistic act of collective intervention.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog