Call for proposals – Feeding the insatiable – a creative summit – November 9-11 2016

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Real and imagined narratives of art and energy for a troubled planet

This international summit takes place at Dartington Hall in southwest England from 16.30 on November 9 to 16.30 on November 11, 2016.

Encouraging all manner of energy generation through creative intervention and invention and new approaches to scientific enquiry including the quirky, the impossible, the micro and the personal.  Encouraging debate – practical, philosophical, metaphysical, and theoretical – bringing creative minds from many disciplines to bear on these pressing issues.

We also offer an accompanying residential short for three days adjacent to the summit, from Saturday November 11 Monday November 13.  Special pricing is available for both if registered together

Principal partners are Schumacher College, and Regen SW.


COP21, the climate talks held in Paris in December 2015 produced a breakthrough agreement after twenty years of frustrations, meanderings, compromises, and political squeamishness. The commitment to limit temperature rise to 2°C (whilst aiming for 1.5°C) represents a global commitment to wean the world from dirty energy to cleaner forms in which renewables must inevitably play a significant part: the only way the commitment can be met. This, we were told, ‘was the last chance… and we took it’; not all voices purred so positively but the outcome was broadly embraced.

The politicians and diplomats, it seems, have finally been moved to action. Moving the general populace has proved more difficult. Twenty years of increasingly immoderate language bordering at times on the hysterical, broadly-aligned and finely-honed but progressively panicky science from some of the world’s brightest minds, and even a grudging political consensus has made virtually no impact on how people live and how they consume: energy, food, the planet. In the meantime our government here in the UK sends out the most mixed of messages, lauding the outcome of COP21 whilst legislating to undermine renewable and clean energy and many other initiatives aimed at mitigating harm to the planet. Clean energy becomes a discussion about money, not about our world.

Art can change the world.  Artists have played an important part in every major social change in our society and have an indispensable role today in helping us deal with complex existential challenges.  But issues-laden art can be bombastic, unsubtle and lacking in spirit, particularly when artists insist they have a message to send. Renewable energy can change the world, too. But we don’t have to accept that only industrial scale installations are the answer.

This gathering encourages through creative intervention and invention and new approaches to scientific enquiry all manner of energy generation including the quirky, the impossible, the micro and the personal. It encourages debate – practical, philosophical, metaphysical, and theoretical – about how creative minds and creative spirit can be brought to bear on these issues.

We explore ways in which creative makers and enquirers –– artists, scientists, philosophers, theorists and others –– can increasingly play a part in moving rather than cajoling, inspiring rather than scaring, succouring rather than scourging. The impassioned voice has an essential role to play in shifting the inert and entrenched thinking about how we live in the world, how we consume its resources and how we subvert and circumvent monolithic thinking. The danger lies not in those with abrasively negative views (as panic leads to stridency bordering on the absurd and numbers inevitably dwindle to irrelevancy under the growing weight of evidence), but those who have no views at all.  Flicking the switch is so utterly fundamental to our daily lives that we gasp with horror and puzzlement if it produces no effect.

How can the lights not come on?

Potential topics

This are suggested topics only; the list is not intended to be proscriptive

  • transformational potential of art
  • visioning change
  • imaginative and invented narratives and technologies
  • micro-generation and body-derived energy
  • plant and other organic power generators
  • beyond communication
  • energy and metaphor
  • message and instrumentalisation
  • slow art, process
  • non-literal big data visualisation
  • envisioning the profound
  • aesthetics of art/science
  • using imagination for social change
  • emotion / science
  • sensible / actual
  • new ways of seeing
  • new ways of knowing
  • evolving meaning
  • celebrating authenticity and ethos
  • energy in the animal world
  • ethnographics, big data, climate change, understanding
  • exploring chasms between artists and industry
  • energy futures and questions of design

Keynote speakers

Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian of Land Art Generator Initiative

The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), provides a platform for artists, architects, landscape architects, and other creatives working with engineers and scientists to bring forward human-centered solutions for sustainable energy infrastructures that enhance the city as works of public art while cleanly powering thousands of homes.

Laura Watts (IT University of Copenhagen): writer, poet and ethnographer of futures

Laura is a Writer, Poet, & Ethnographer, and Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at IT University of Copenhagen. Her interest is in the effect of landscape on how the future is imagined and made in everyday practice. How might the future be made differently in different places? Over the last fifteen years, she has collaborated with industry and organisations in telecoms, public transport, and renewable energy, to re-imagine how the future gets made in high-tech industry, and how it might be made otherwise.

ICE Art & Energy 200

During the summit we will launch the callout for the ICE Art & Energy prize, an engaging, clean energy generating, international art competition, led by Regen SW and the Institution of Civil Engineers.

The competition challenges outstanding artists and designers to collaborate with civil engineers to construct an iconic piece of public art that also generates energy at scale. The winning piece will be installed in a UK city by 2020.

Day 0: Research Day

During the day on November 9 an invited group of artists, engineers and others will meet to discuss issues around art and renewable energy, public art, ephemeral art, and how to foster closer ties between artists and industry. A summary of this day will be presented during the main summit, and a report published. This meeting will be led by Chris Fremantle, founder of ecoartscotland and is hosted by Schumacher College‘s arts and ecology programme

Find out more

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

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