Trans – Plantable Living Room at WSD2013

TANJA-BEERonline_livingroom_guyAn edible stage will provide the unique space for this performance, which will explore our relationship to gardening in the age of ecological uncertainty and our broad relationship to nature. You will be invited to plant a seedling, contributing to the space in your own personal way.

The event will unify a temporary, site-specific edible garden with local gardening communities via performance.

Outside of the performance, the space will function as a discursive, enjoyable sitting area and installation which can be enjoyed by the public.

Open to all.

This performance has travelled to World Stage Design 2013 from Australia, the USA, Canada and the UK.

This performance will take place on the college grounds.
Tickets are free but limited in numbers.
Please follow the links below to pre book your free tickets.


Tauris by Sarah Moon

tauris-image-with-black-1Sarah Moon’s new play Tauris will be performed as a staged reading at the Wild Project in New York March 16th and 17th.

She’s fundraising with Kickstarter to help cover the costs of production, rehearsal and publicity. This reading is an important step in the development of the play and I feel grateful to have the opportunity to workshop it with a great cast, director and music director before another revision and full production — Tauris has been accepted into the Planet Connections festival in June.

This play adapts the Greek drama Iphegenia at Tauris, mashing it up with sci-fi elements, contemporary issues and music to create a story that is adventurous, dramatic and sometimes funny. The play aims to address the challenges we face as a society and as individuals regarding a shift away from a one-way relationship with nature to real sustainability. The goal is not to preach or “teach the world to sing.” We’re well past the shaming phase of environmentalism, we’re well past believing in a utopian back-to-land fantasy. Where does that put us? This play explores where we’re at now relative to re-shaping our relationship to the earth and each other and the personal issues we face in coming to terms with the fact that no one of us can make the journey alone.

We’re raising $2,500 to cover the costs of production. Whether you can contribute $3 or $30 or more, it means a lot. And if you don’t have a cent to spare, but know some people who would be interested in supporting this project, please pass this along.



Out Now – CSPA Q9: Science/Art

followOur issue on Science/Art features a preview of the CSPA Fusebox Festival study, writing from Sarah Moon and Alyce Santoro, a report from Moe Beitiks on the first annual Moscow Science Art Conference, and an excerpt from Lina Weintraub’s new book. Through this issue, we explore the connection and complex relationship that exists between science and art.

Includes: Alyce Santoro, Amanda Gartman, Fusebox Festival, Linda Weintraub, Meghan Moe Beitiks,Moscow Science Art Conference, Sarah Moon

tele-present water 2011


This installation draws information from the intensity and movement of the water in a remote location. Wave data is collected in real-time from a selected National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data buoy station. These buoys are located on the surface of the ocean at different locations all over the globe. They collect and transmit real-time data about water temp, wind speed and direction as well as wave heigh and frequency. The wave intensity and frequency is transferred to a mechanical grid structure. This installation will be a unique method of representing data in physical form creating a contrast between the organic movements of the water and the movements of mechanical structure. The resulting sculpture will be a real-time simulation of the physical effects caused by the movement of water from a distant location creating a relationship between two different locations.

#COP16: Posters Depicting Designers’ Messages of Climate Change | Inhabitat

If a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s a whole lot of talking going on right now at the Eleventh Annual Poster Biennial of Mexico. “Disenyadores por la tierra,” (Designers for the Earth) is an exhibition of poster design down at the COP16 Climate Change Village exploring the theme of the relationship between man and his environment. Click through all of the pictures of these eye-opening posters and visit the site to download them for yourself.

via COP16: Posters Depicting Designers’ Messages of Climate Change | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

The Plus/Minus Dilemma: The Way Forward in Environmental Guidelines | ArtBabble

The Plus/Minus Dilemma was the third roundtable discussion in the ongoing IIC series Dialogues in the New Century; events that explore emerging issues in the modern world and their relationship to heritage conservation. The event took place at the Midwest Airlines Convention Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 13, 2010 as part of the AIC annual conference. The IIC is pleased to have collaborated with the AIC to have brought together experts to discuss environmental guidelines, advances in environmental research, and the way forward to solve the plus/minus dilemma. This collaborative event has been made possible by the generous support of: The Booth Heritage Foundation, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

via The Plus/Minus Dilemma: The Way Forward in Environmental Guidelines | ArtBabble.

Art as warning: David Olsen’s Vulture

Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of art around these days questioning our relationship with the natural world and the creatures that live in it. Arts Catalyst’s extraordinaryInterspecies series last year contained a series of works in which artists “collaborated” with animals in disturbing ways that disrupted our conventional ideas of the co-dependency of the natural and human worlds.

As part of their excellent Flash Point series “How do arts respond to the natural world?”, art:21 blog has just published an essay by curator Nova Benway on the artist David Olsen, whose work explores the toxic impact we have on the natural world. As part of it he adopts the persona of “Vulture”, dressing in bizarre protective handmade clothing to ape the vulture’s adaptive strategy of becoming resistent to the pathogens that it finds in the decaying food that it finds. His attempts to become animal appear ridiculous.

Benway explains how Olsen then suberges pieces of work beneath the polluted waters of Benway Creek in Brooklyn:

The creek is one of the most pollutedwaterways in the country, and the sculptures are, in a certain sense, tools for healing. Made from natural materials like clay, wax, and rope, they employ humble filtration devices to purify tiny amounts of water, or crystals intended to absorb negative forces. One recent work, Witness (2008), is a seal skull with crystals embedded in the eye sockets. A rope attaches the skull to a glass buoy, so when it is lowered into the water it can float through the depths, “seeing” and collecting information or negative energy, until it is retrieved by the artist. Olsen adopts the identity of “Vulture” for these actions, wearing a handmade protective helmet and suit to mimic the bird’s heightened immune system. Of course, these activities have negligible impact on the rampant pollution of the waterway. Olsen’s deliberate mixing of pragmatic and mystical solutions to the problem further obfuscate their effectiveness, while retaining the urgent desire for change.

Its an interesting idea, and I like the idea of art-as-warning, but I confess the Mad Max apocalypticism of this work puts me off. That it revels  in the aesthetic of decay seems to dent the point it may be trying to make about the awfulness of pollution.

Read art:21 blog’s How does art respond to the natural world series of Flash Point essays.

Pictured: Above, David Olsen as “Vulture”; below, Witness (2008) by David Olsen.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

“Shun the unbeliever”: a climate blog for Blog Action Day

When we talk about climate, we are talking about time. Not simply about time that appears to be running out, but about how we, as a species, are so poor about judging our relationship with the future.

On Monday at the Roundhouse in London six musicans performed a version of the score of Jem Finer’s Longplayer. What they played, on 234 Tibetan bowls, was just a fragment of the complete score. Jem Finer may be a musician better known for his three-minute punk-folk masterpieces as musical lynchpin in The Pogues but  Longplayer, is no three chord wonder. It is designed to play for a thousand years. You can hear a fragment at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, where the complete score is gradually being played out, note by slow note, by computer.

In America, The Long Now Foundation measures time in millennia. It was founded, as they say, in 01966 by Stewart Brand and a group of friends who included Brian Eno; (it was Eno who gave the organisation its name). They have built a clock [above right] which struck solemnly twice as the new millenium dawned, and will strike next three times at the dawn of New Year’s Day 3000AD.

In 2005 the artist Betinna Furnee set a time lapse camera up on the East Anglian coast. In eight months she filmed the relentless disappearance of land for her artwork Lines of Defense. Only by condensing that event into just under six minutes, by altering our perspective of  time, does the scale of the the erosion become awesome enough to hold our attention.

The paradox of the modern age is that we have been given the power to see for miles and miles, yet most of the time we can only look as far as the end of our nose – or to some apocalyptic future that is beyond our control. For 80,000 human generations we struggled through the Pleistocene era, honing our ability to cope with our immediate needs – food, shelter and sex; in the 500 generations since then we have utterly transformed the planet -  first gradually, then over the last dozen or so at a breakneck speed which now puts our own relationship with earth in danger.

Perhaps not a surprise, then, that we are having trouble with the immensity of the paradigm shift we need to get our head around this new era. Maybe those of us who campaign around climate haven’t quite got that paradigm right ourselves yet, either.

I thought about this when I read Matthew Cain’s recent blog, Climate Change: I don’t care enough:

I don’t care enough about climate change. I’m not proud of that. I believe experts when they say that it is the biggest threat to the future of civilisation. I pity the plight of poor farmers in areas of the world vulnerable to changes in the climate (Maldives, Bangladesh spring to mind). And I would like to live a responsible lifestyle, contributing more to society than I take out. But that’s not enough to make me care about climate change.

It’s a very honest statement. We may worry about denial buffoons like the Tory MP Douglas Carswell who blogged earlier in the week that the idea of “man-made climate change” was merely the product of the “lunatic consensus” but in truth, they are just the clowns. The real problem is the middle ground… the vaguely sympathetic. The IPPR’s recent report reminds us that there are large numbers of people out there who, far from being energised by the noise we all make on days like today – Blog Action Day, instead feel resentful about being made to feel guilty about their lifestyles. The difference with Matthew Cain is he’s big enough to own up.

We accuse them of being selfish. We pile dung on their driveways. [Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for piling dung on Jeremy Clarkson’s driveway, but… ] But all too often our grandstanding produces lethargy, not action.

There doesn’t appear to be much that’s self-centered about Matthew Cain – apart from an over-keen interest in his own web stats, perhaps. He’s as interested in social causes and progressive change as the rest of us – more probably. He shares with the rest of us that altruism that we know is encoded in all of us.

So why isn’t he as engaged with climate change?

It’s time to start asking whether that’s our own fault. When I say “our” I mean, us, the true believers… those who think it’s the most pressing social issue of our time.

Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, has a new book out, Why We Disagree About Climate Change. Hulme’s career arc has been a fascinating one. He is the scientist responsible for founding the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. If you’re remotely interested in the science of climate, you’ll know what major players they have been. But recently his place in the unfolding story of climate research has made him more interested in the social response to science than the science itself. He has watched with fascination as the news about impending climate change has been translated into panic, anxiety and inaction. He realises he has seen us handing over our ability to think about the future to people like himself.

Much of the rhetoric here at the RSA has been about allowing individuals to take control of their lives, yet Hulme suggests the narrative of climate change has been about surrendering our mastery of the future to numbers, to politicians and to scientists. Yes, I support the campaign to stabalise atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 350 parts per million, but what does that really mean? I barely understand the science of it, let alone what it means for the way we will live.

Yes, I want to see significant progress at Copenhagen, but most of the political solutions on the table require a stronger state to enforce carbon reductions. In the Politics of Climate Change Anthony Giddens argues that we must return to an old style command economy. Is this really the future we want? Much of the silent middle ground, left and right wing, sees climate as the excuse the state is using for taking back the power they lost in the second half of the 20th century. And who’s to say they haven’t got a point? If activists like Matthew Cain, who have spent their political lives trying to give people power over the machinery of the state, don’t feel engaged in climate, is that really such a big surprise?

We tend to think those who do not share our need to act to make the future safe are short-sighted. They don’t understand the “long now” those artists have all identified.

But maybe it’s time for climate change campaigners to start thinking more seriously about the future themselves. Shouldn’t what we want our society to be like in the future be a lot more connected to what we want it to be like right now?

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Eliasson on TED

This quote from Olafur Eliasson put me in mind of the New York Waterpod project I mentioned last week.  “Water,” says Olafur Eliasson in the excellent TED Talk he did last month, “has the ability to make the city negotiable.” In a talk calledPlaying with space and light, he was discussing his Green River project, in which he dyes the water of rivers flowing through a city a bright, startling,  green, cajoling citizens to notice the flows and eddies around which their cities grew up, and asking them to reconsider their relationship to water. (Just in case you’re alarmed, the green is  non-toxic).

Eliasson is that rare thing, an artist who is beautifully articulate not only in his work, but in what he says about his work. He talks about how his art is about changing people’s relationship with what they see, and about with how a piece of work allows the viewer to renegotiate his or her position in relation to what they see. This, he says, means that art has a role in democratising the space that art exists in:

What the potential is, obviously, is to move the border between who’s the author and who’s the receiver, who’s the consumer and who has the responsibility for what one sees. I think there is a socialising dimension in moving that border; who decides what reality is. […] What consequences does it have when I take a step? Does it matter if I am in the world or not? Does it matter whether the actions I take filters into a sense of responsibility? Is art about that? And i would say yes, it is obviously about that. It is obviously about not just decorating the world and making it even better or even worse, if you ask me…  it is obviously about taking responsibility.

Tucked away in the talk is the notion that this kind of art embodies not just a political position, but a unique one:

Art addresses great things about parliamentric ideas – democracy, public space, being together, being individual,… How do we create an idea which is both tolerant to individuality and also to collectivity without polarising the two into opposites?  Of course the political agenda in the world has been very obsessed with polarising the two against each other in different, very normative ideas, and I would claim that art and culture – and this is why art and culture are so incredibly interesting in the times we are living in now – has proven that one can create a kind of space which is both sensitive to individuality and to collectivity.

At the very least this seems to be a nice distillation of the intentions of much of the best contemporary art…

Photo: Green river by Olafur Elliason, Moss, Norway, 1998

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Mammut Magazine #2

{Mammut #2 cover by Teira Johnson}

Mammut #2 is done and ready for you to read!

The second issue of the magazine, which I co-edit with Roman Jaster, has a special focus on urban nature with contributions by Nicholas Bauch, Maya Brym, Ian Garrett, Charlie Grosso, Teira Johnson, Gerard Olson, Camilo Ontiveros, Nick Romaniak, David Snyder, Ashwani Vasishth, Sue Yank, and an interview with Ari Kletzsky.

Order a print copy or download a free pdf at

Also, join us for a release party at The Lounge at REDCAT on Sunday, May 17 from 3-6 pm. REDCAT is at 631 W Second St, 90012 in the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. RSVP or invite your friends to the event on Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

> Mammut is a biannual magazine dedicated to all forms of creative production that have a relationship with nature, landscape and environmentalism. Read more at 

Go to Eco Art Blog