Rivers And Lakes

“Water Lives” animation on biodiversity in river and lakes.

Released March 20th, “Water Lives…” is a science communication animation designed to draw attention to the important (yet largely invisible) life that underpins and sustains our rivers and lakes. Produced by Paul Jepson and Rob St.John at the School of Geography and the Environment for BioFresh – a European Union project on freshwater biodiversity – the animation brings artists and scientists together to collaborate and communicate the concept that freshwater is more than an inert resource: instead a living, dynamic system inhabited by beautiful, important organisms largely unseen by the naked eye. “Water Lives…” invites viewers to view our freshwaters in new ways, value the range of services they provide and discuss how they should be managed.

The curious and otherworldly physical forms of freshwater organisms such as diatoms provides abundant artistic inspiration. “Water Lives…” is a six minute piece animated by Scottish artist Adam Proctor. It is sound-tracked by a specially composed piece of music by Tommy Perman from Scottish, BAFTA award winning arts collective FOUND which samples a series of haiku about freshwater ecosystems written by environmental poet John Barlow. The content of both the animation and haiku was informed by collaborations between the artists and BioFresh freshwater scientists Rick Battarbee from University College London and Ana Filipa Filipe from the University of Barcelona, alongside Alistair Seddon from the University of Oxford Zoology department.

This novel, cross-disciplinary team have produced a nuanced, multi-layered piece that not only contains sound, robust scientific information, but that is also beautiful, engaging and playful. It is a work that can be viewed entirely on its artistic merits, from which the viewer could take away a range of different information – from something as simple as “Freshwaters are more interesting than I thought” to something as intricate as “How can policy makers manage this complex entanglement of life?” – and a whole spectrum in between.  “Water Lives…” is a valuable education and communication tool: it invites viewers to value the importance and beauty of freshwater ecosystems and engage with how they should be managed. It also suggests the productive possibilities created by collaborations between scientists and creative artists for opening up new, creative spaces for how we contemplate, value and plan to manage our environment. We hope that you enjoy it.

More information and artist statements

BioFresh project

The BioFresh project – funded by the European Union’s Framework 7 programme – is currently assembling dispersed information on freshwater biodiversity into a network accessible through an online portal to allow better analysis of the distribution, status and trends of global freshwater ecosystems.  This work will support more effective environmental policy formation and raise awareness of the importance and value of freshwaters ecosystems.


Off-Pipe With A Little Night Soil Music

by Lydia Breen
Composting Toilet

OK, folks., it’s time to tackle this subject head on.  Trailer Trash needs a toilet.   This may be a hard sell, but try to stick with us, because we are asking for your help.

The Trailer Trash Project is committed to creating a green space to live and perform art.  We want to conserve water and fuel and recycle whenever we can.  Or goal is to keep as much stuff as possible out of our landfills, oceans, rivers and lakes.A composting toilet was added to our wish list when we started thinking about the trailer’s design. When it came to holding tanks for water, we had to figure out our daily water needs.  That led us to wonder: What’s the use of a big expensive holding tank when most of that water would just get flushed down a toilet and sent into the sewer?  We thought why not use a toilet that requires no water at all?”

Help Trailer Trash Get A Super Green Toilet CLICK HERE to donate $10

Nature’s Head will sell us a composting toilet at a reduced price ($500 vs. $875).  We can get there if  50 people donate $10 through our Indie GoGo campaign.  Donate $20 and we’ll send you a copy of philosopher-farmer Gene Logsdon’s smart and irreverant Holy Shit.  Here is an interview with Logsdon on WBUR’s Here and Now: “Farmer Calls For Managing Manure to Save Mankind”.


The C.K. Choi building is widely recognized as a model of sustainable design

In case you think we are a bunch of extreme tree huggers, take a look at some of the organizations that have composting toilets:


  • Bronx Zoon (NYC)
  • Queens Botanical Garden (NYC)
  • C.K. Choi Building  (Vancouver)
  • Southface Eco Office (Atlanta, GA.)
  • Dufferin Grove Park ( Toronto)
  • Eco Dorm, Warren Wilson College (NC)
  • Neptune Elementary School (NJ)

…and lots of nature centers, trails, etc.

To see the system in action, check out this video made by the Bronx Zoo. Their system is designed for 500,000 uses a year.  They are also using the toilets to inform users with conservational messages.

Now, we’re getting down to brass tacks.  From what I read the toilets don’t smell (a vent fan should be kept running at all times).  Some people have told me that the toilets have a faintly earthy smell, like mushrooms.  O.K., I’m prepared to adjust to that.  But what about emptying the liquid and solid waste?  And where will I put it?

I admit, it will probably take me a little while to get used to this part.   Liquid waste will have to be emptied once or twice a week and dumped into a proper compost bin. The solid waste will require emptying less often and can also be dumped on a proper compost head.

I’m getting inspired and informed by two great, but very different books.  Gene Logsdon’s Holy Shit and  Joseph Jenkins’ Humanure Handbook, which Trailer Trash will review in an upcoming post.

Trailer Trash is a member of Fractured Atlas; donations are tax-deductible to the extent permissible by law. Your comments and donations are welcome.

Links: The Guardian  UK:  Humanure:  the end of sewage as we know it? Time Magazine:  Goodbye Toilets, Hello Extreme Composting Tree Hugger:  Vancouver Office Building Goes Off-Pipe National Geographic: Urine Battery Turns Pee Into Power ——–

Lydia Breen has written and made films about refugees, immigrants and displaced people for more than 30 years.  She has filmed on-location in refugee camps and war zones in more that 30 countries in all world regions.  In 2005 she left her New Orleans home in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and was never able to return.  When the Trailer Trash Troupe is not using the Spartan,  Lydia will live stay in it and write about living small and green in difficult economic times. Her permanent home is a 1972 Aristocrat trailer that occupies less 100 square feet.

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

IMAGINE – Towards an eco-aesthetic, 2011


IMAGINE - Towards an eco-aesthetic, 2011
The Aarhus Art Building,
Centre for Contemporary Art, Denmark

Artists and curators are hereby invited to submit proposals for 2011.

Deadline March 15


Only when people are in a position to use their own creative potentials, which can be enhanced by an artistic imagination, will a change occur [….] Art can and should strive for an alternative that is not only aesthetically affirmative and productive but is also beneficial to all forms of life on our planet.

Rasheed Araeen: Ecoaesthetics. A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century

In the autumn of 2009, Rasheed Araeen, editor of the respected periodical on art and culture Third Text, launched a frontal attack on the modern ego and the recuperation of the avant-garde. Instead of the continued rigid production of objects and a stubborn anchoring in art institutions, Araeen pleads for a collective artistic imagination as
the only road towards “[…] rivers and lakes of clean water, collective farms and the planting of trees all over the world.”

From what is perhaps a slightly one-track masculine perspective, Araeen’s manifesto examines earlier failed attempts to step down from the pedestal of the bourgeoisie in favour of a collective commitment to our surroundings and the environment. Nevertheless, the notion of art as a positive, giving alternative unhampered by the restraints of
either representation or negation is relevant in a new decade in a new millennium.

In trying to conceive of such an alternative it seems a reasonable first step to take a closer look at alliances between art and sustainable development For at the roots of the idea of sustainability lie an ethical imperative and a persistent struggle against inequality – parameters that seem indispensable today if we actually want to imagine change and alternatives.

The notion of sustainability first aroused political attention in the 1970s, although it can also be traced back to the 1960s in the shape of various grass-roots movements. In 1972 the UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm – this was the first of its kind, and at the same time the first transnational forum that even considered the environment and society as a single, interconnected issue.

The conference was strongly influenced by the book Limits to Growth published by the global think tank Club of Rome the same year, in which the problems of exponential growth vis-à-vis the limited resources of the Earth were outlined. The book inspired thoughts about the limits of growth in terms not only of the human population but also of economic factors. This realization that the Earth was not an inexhaustible storehouse of resources contributed to the development of a notion of sustainability that takes the future generations of the Earth into account.

The correlation between ecological and social issues is a fundamental aspect of thinking about sustainability, and consequently also involves concepts like responsibility and ethics. Similarly, in various movements that have consistently had sustainability as a central point of reference since the 1970s, for instance Social Ecology and Ecofeminism, sustainability is inextricably bound up with an astute critique of the dominant hierarchical structures.

The notion of sustainability thus includes the consideration of social structures, subjection and domination, ethics and economics on an equal footing with consideration of the environment and the ecology. If art today is to have the above-mentioned positive starting point, it needs to think about this complex apparatus as a whole and imagine
an alternative. Only thus can we move towards an art that is healing and affirmative – and thus towards an eco-aesthetic in the new millennium.

With this background the Aarhus Art Building is hereby issuing an Open Call for Proposals for 2011. We welcome suggestions for group exhibitions, solo exhibitions and workshops as well as suggestions for projects in public space. Guidelines can be found at www.aarhuskunstbygning.dk.

The guidelines must be followed in the application to make it eligible for consideration.