Local Knowledge

MICRONATION/MACRONATION Democratizing the Energy

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

How can a social cultural organisation take on issues that are creating social unrest? Earlier this year Indonesia experienced demonstrations and clashes between protesters and police over proposed price hikes in fuel.  Indonesia, like most of the rest of the world, is highly dependent on fossil fuels.  Whilst the immediate crisis was averted by a the Government withdrawing the price hike, the challenge remains.

HONF (House for Natural Fiber) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia has responded to the energy crisis and the results are presented at the Langgeng Art Foundation.  The project draws on local knowledge of plants as well as ways to use new media and technology.  They have framed the project as follows:

The presentation—as a sustainable design prototype—consists of 3 core components: a) Installation of a fermentation/distillation machine to process hay (raw material) into ethanol (alternative energy to substitute fossil fuel); b) Satellite data grabber: to obtain data related to agricultural production (weather, climate, seasons); c) Super-Computer: to process data (weather, seasons as well as ethanol production capacity), which is also capable of predicting when Indonesia can reach energy and food independence if this MICRONATION/MACRONATION sustainable project design were to be implemented as a public strategy and policy to achieve the condition of energy and food independence in Indonesia.

This presentation is a good opportunity for us to reassess basic performative premises of various practices combining science, technology and arts. HONF’s project—as with their previous projects—actually blurs the boundaries that have thus far been setting apart science, technology and arts. They combine all three, which to us brings home the question: where is the boundary between aesthetic experience and function? What possibilities could the relationship among science, technology and arts bring when confronted to actual problems in today’s communities?

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.
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Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways III February – June 2012

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways is a project inviting reflection by artists on the anxieties embodied by the rank infrastructural development across India and its uncomfortable coexistence with local ecologies.

Now in its third year, the project has invited artists, collectives and other professionals to develop projects that are site-specific and have an inter-disciplinary approach. Mapping various sites across the country, artists and communities have come together to discuss the regeneration of the environments they inhabit. The project encourages the archiving of local knowledge and mythologies, flora, fauna, home remedies, stories and folklore as integral to the specific artist’s intervention.

This years ongoing projects are:

NR 9: Akshay Rathore and Flora Boillot (Aulinjaa Village, Madhya Pradesh)

Abstract Reality: A Visual Perspective on the Organic Movement in Madhya Pradesh http://aulinjaamp.blogspot.in/

NR 10: Priya Ravish Mehra (Najibabad, District Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh)

Making the Invisible Visible: The Darning Tradition of India


NR 11: Uma Ray (Domahani, District Jamshedpur, Jharkhand)

Where the River Meets its People


 For more information about the event and the ongoing projects , please click here.

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

The Ecology of Innovation

Our approach has been to teach these principles to local residents and help them apply them to the behaviours that underlie local environmental problems. We think that giving community activists the knowledge and support to “nudge” their neighbours could be a better way of encouraging behaviour change. National attempts to apply these principles could leave people feeling preached at, or alienate people by taking covert approaches.

Instead, we think that training community activists with the knowledge they need to nudge their neighbours can harness their local knowledge, their “one-of-us” status, and their existing trusted relationships with their community.

Towards the end of last year we tested this approach in a two-day workshop. Twenty-five enthusiastic residents learned about the effects of personal, social and infrastructural factors on human behaviour, then worked together to apply this knowledge to Peterborough specific problems. After a pitch to a panel of judges, two ideas were selected for seed-funding and non-financial support to allow them to become pilot projects.

One of the pilots will encourage a wider segment of the community to manage local plots of unused land. The group behind this project plan to map unused land in their neighbourhood and throughout Peterborough, then run small interventions to encourage local people to take an active role in stewarding the land.

The other pilot will encourage residents living near an area of ancient woodland to take an active forest management role. Currently neglected and the scene of anti-social behaviour, the community decided to create a woodland walk to make walking through the forest a normal activity for local residents.

Part of this approach to local nudging was informed by a paper – The Ecology of Innovation – that we published just before Christmas. It presents a few simple principles that could be used to encourage and support local people in getting projects off the ground. These principles include ensuring that local community organisations are able to participate in contributing their ideas, and supporting their ideas with financial and non-financial support so that they can be tested. You can read the paper online or download it here.

In 2011, we’re looking forward to getting these ideas off the ground, and also holding more workshops to encourage and support more ideas that could make Peterborough into an even greener place to live!

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology


Donegal County Council and Leonardo/Olats are proud to announce the five projects selected for the ‘Lovely Weather Donegal Artists Residencies’, a ground breaking art & science project which will examine the issues of climate change in County Donegal, Ireland.

Leonardo/Olats : http://www.olats.org


A large community across the world is in agreement: the climate is changing. But what is climate change? What is causing it? And how will it affect us? These are the questions which are being asked by this unique initiative by Regional Cultural Centre / Donegal County Council Public Art Office in partnership with Leonardo/Olats.

The project has entailed a national and international competition resulting in five art/science artists or group of artists being selected to work in each of the electoral areas of the county to explore on the ground, the effects of climate change and its modifications throughout the county.

According to one of the project co-coordinators John Cunningham, “If we truly want to understand climate change, we have to realise how it works in local environments like Donegal. Art could help us to question our perceptions and relationships to weather, climate and help us to experience and reveal our inner participation with weather and climate; the rupture of their balance and its meaning for our world. The ‘Lovely Weather’ projects, which are currently being developed, will access ongoing scientific studies alongside generations of local knowledge and are important mechanisms for progressive understanding of the impact of climate change on Donegal.”


The 5 selected artists are:

  • Peter d’Agostino (USA)
  • Seema Goel (Can)
  • The League of Imaginary Scientists (Lucy Hg & partners, USA)
  • Antony Lyons (UK/IRE)
  • Softday (Sean Taylor & Mikael Fernstrom, IRE)

See projects below


The 5 residencies will be situated in the five Electoral Areas of County Donegal, Ireland (One per area).

The Electoral Areas of County Donegal are:

  • Glenties
  • Donegal Town
  • Letterkenny / Milford
  • Ballybofey / Stranolar
  • Inishowen


The Lovely Weather projects will take an interdisciplinary approach from the outset and actively involve local people in their work, to develop artworks that raise questions about climate and its changes on a practical level, with the aim of contributing to familiarising them with cultural praxis and specifically new media, and ecologically aware behaviour.


The Lovely Weather Artists Residencies will run from December 2009 until December 2010.


Donegal County Council’s Public Art Programme will utilise monies from the 5 electoral areas (under the % for Housing Scheme) to initiate a series of residencies for artists to examine on the ground the effect of climate change throughout Donegal. These residencies will examine cultural approaches to weather, climate and their modifications throughout County Donegal.


The residencies will be managed by co-curators for the project Annick Bureaud (Leonardo/Olats) and John Cunningham (Regional Cultural Centre on behalf of Donegal County Council’s Public Art Office). Workshops and seminars will be held with the artists and interested parties, throughout the run of the residencies.


Artists: Peter d’Agostino, Deirdre Dowdakin, David Tafler
Project: WorldWideWalks / between earth & sky / Dún na nGall
Location: Glenties Electoral Area


WorldWideWalks / between earth & sky / Dún na nGall

This project is based on a series of World-Wide-Walks, video / web projects that combine elements of natural, cultural & virtual identities. The complimentary realities of actually walking through a physical environment and of virtually surfing the web are key components of these projects that began with The Walk Series, video documentation / performances in 1973, and have continued to the present. The project intends to explore issues of the natural environmental sciences with an emphasis on cultures and histories, including examining climate reconstructions; the science of climate; societal impacts of climate change; and cultural analyses of climate history.

Peter d’Agostino is an artist who has been working in video and new media for three decades. His pioneering projects have been exhibited internationally in the form of installations, performances, telecommunications events, and broadcast productions. Recent surveys of his work include: Interactivity and Intervention, 1978-99 exhibited at the Lehman College Art Gallery, New York; and Between Earth & Sky, 1973/2003 at the University of Paris I Partheon-Sorbonne. Major group exhibitions include: The Whitney Museum of American Art (Biennial, and The American Century-Film and Video in America 1950-2000), the Sao Paulo Bienal, Brazil, and the Kwangju Biennial, Korea. His work is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art and is distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix, New York.

Artist: Seema Goel
Project: Carbon Capture Sweaters
Location: Inishowen Electoral Area

Carbon Capture Sweaters is a process-based artwork linking local phenomenon to global climate change. While the scientific data and analysis are imperative to our understanding of climate change, the project will also consider the hijacking of the term “climate” as in “the economic climate”, the concept of “low-carbon” economies, a statistical correlation analysis of Malin Head meteorological data with Ireland gross domestic product (GDP) and green house gas emissions, and a substantial consideration and use of local materials, knowledge, iconography and personal industry on a human (rather than industrial) scale. The project will attempt to make the science and issues of climate change accessible by rephrasing them in materials and contexts, which are part of the everyday experience, as well as working to reclaim local iconography.

Seema Goel is a Canadian artist and a MFA Graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and is currently completing a MA.Sc. (Interdisc) at the Fine Arts / Environmental Engineering dept, University of Regina.

Artists: The League of Imaginary Scientists (Lucy Hg & partners)
Project: The Irish Rover: Looking for Mars Off the Northern Coast of Ireland
Location: Letterkenny / Milford Electoral Area


The Irish Rover: Looking for Mars Off the Northern Coast of Ireland project focuses on and takes its inspiration from the legendary voyage of ‘The Irish Rover’ and the current work being carried out by NASA on Mars. The idea is to develop a scientific expedition along the Fanad / Swilly peninsula’s that will mirror the work currently being undertaken on Mars. In combining planetary storylines, the League hopes to draw a reverse timeline from Earth to Mars and question whether the Earth could end up with a Martian like climate in the future. In examining these seemingly opposite planetary climates, we hope to understand the effects of climate change on Donegal.

The US based League of Imaginary Scientists is a group of artists and scientists who engineer hybrid art works in the cross-section of their worlds, in collaboration with local communities. The League’s previous history aboard boats, barges and ferries prepares them of their Irish expedition. This includes works with the NY Water Taxi, a League residency on the Waterpod (a floating sustainable habitat).

Artist: Antony Lyons
Project: Weather Proof
Location: Ballybofey / Stranolar Electoral Area


Blog/Diary of the project : http://www.antipod.info


‘Slowness’ is the key to Antony Lyons’ project. In the Ballybofey / Stranolar area, a look- out point, which is also an existing field-gate, will be selected. The site will be close to a location where scientific weather measurements (rainfall, humidity, temperature, pressure, wind speed, wind direction) are already being taken. This will become the site for year-long observation (by the artist and some observers). At the gate / look-out site, the artist’s recordings will be highly personal weather-words/ weather-diaries recorded on paper and digitally with photos and sounds. The programmed visits by the artist will be supplemented by daily/weekly visits by members of a small volunteer observation team. Furthermore, there is the potential to extend the observer participation into the idea of a geo-caching trail, with weather-proof boxes located at points in the landscape.

Antony Lyons is an artist, landscape designer and environmental scientist based in Bristol, UK. He was the lead artist for NOVA’s 2005/6 ‘Brunel 200’ commissions in Bristol. Co- founder of Deiseal – formed in 2006 to develop sculptural and land-art projects in Ireland.

Artists: Softday (Sean Taylor & Mikael Fernstrom)
Project: Marbh Chrios (Dead Zone)
Location: Donegal Electoral Area


Marbh Chrios (Dead Zone)

In 2008, Virginia Institute of Marine Science Professor Robert Diaz showed that the number of “dead zones”—areas of seafloor with too little oxygen for most marine life—had increased by a third between 1995 and 2007. Diaz and collaborator Rutger Rosenberg of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that dead zones are now “the key stressor on marine ecosystems” and “rank with over-fishing, habitat loss, and harmful algal blooms as global environmental problems.” The study, which appeared in the August 15, 2008 issue of the journal Science, tallied 405 dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, affecting an area of 95,000 square miles, about the size of New Zealand.

It is currently estimated that there are 20 such ‘dead zones’ in Ireland and two were identified in the study at both Killybeg’s Harbour (1999) and Donegal Bay (2000). Geologic evidence shows that dead zones are not a naturally recurring event in marine ecosystems; dead zones were once rare, now they are common place and increasing, which poses a serious threat to indigenous marine habitats and the human food chain.

Softday proposes to examine the available data from the Irish dead zones and work collaboratively with three distinct partners, local traditional musicians from An Charraig/Amhainn a’Ghlinne (Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí) in Donegal, Met Éireann (the Irish Meteorological Service) and The Marine Institute of Ireland, to address the relationship of climate and culture to sound.

Since 1999, visual artist Sean Taylor and computer software designer Mikael Fernstrom (aka SOFTDAY) have collaborated on a number of high profile science/art projects. Both artists are interested in exploring ‘the cracks’ between various media such as expanded theatre, sound art, sculpture, music, dance and the application of new technologies.

In 2000 they presented a computer generated musical composition entitled Blian le Baisteach (A Year With Rain), with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. The project was constructed using rainfall data supplied by Met Éireann (The Irish Meteorological Agency) for the year 1999-2000. This rainfall data was converted into music using a series of specifically designed neural networks and algorithms, trained by a database of traditional Irish melodies and folk tunes. In 2002, they developed a collaborative project Coisir an Tsionann, with The Irish Chamber Orchestra, Daghdha Dance Company and the Berlin based choir ‘Der Brullchor’. The composition used data from The Electricity Supply Board from the power station on the River Shannon at Ardnacrusha and salmon stocking information from the salmon hatcheries.

For further information please contact Declan Sheehan, Assistant Public Art Officer. Tel: ++ 353 74 9129186 e: declan.sheehan@donegalcoco.ie & www.donegalpublicart.com