The Snakes and Ladders of Ecosystem Services

January 21, 2015 by

Originally posted on Forest Planet:

The trend towards applying economic value to forest ecosystems is contentious. While the valuing of the processes of nature (“ecosystem services”) or valuing of their stock value (“natural capital”) is potentially advantageous in helping to tackle challenges of nature’s conservation and protection, it is not unambiguously beneficial. I therefore wanted to find a way to visualise the sometimes contradictory nature of the ecosystem services approach, to convey the pros and cons, and to get away from binary arguments of being either “for” or “against”. The Snakes and Ladders motif seemed appropriate. All those involved (well, almost all) share the same ultimate goal — a sustainable solution to preserving our remaining natural ecosystems (and that is sustainable both in biological and social terms). But an ecosystem services approach leads you on a path that is both advantageous and perilous. There are some clear “ladders” that offer us chances to move us…

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Opportunity: Urbane

January 14, 2015 by

urbane1

“But cities are not just made of bricks and mortar, they are inhabited by flesh-and-blood humans, and so must rely on the natural world to feed them. Cities, like people, are what they eat.”
Carolyn Steel, from Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives, 2008

With 66% of the world’s population expected to be living in urban areas by 2050, now is the time to ask- how will we sustain these populations within the competing uses of city space? Have city dwellers lost all sense of connection with the rural, and in doing so, alienated themselves from the production of the very sustenance that keeps them alive?

Urbane, a cross-disciplinary exhibition, aims to address these questions and provoke further consideration of these issues. Embracing discourse around the growing energy and attention being drawn towards local growing initiatives and food projects, the exhibition will act as a platform for the exchange of knowledge between artists, architects, scientists, writers, policy-makers and community groups to address the need to more fully embed our food system within our everyday urban lives.

Urbane will run 19-24 February 2015, with talks, workshops and performances activating the gallery space to create a forum to better understand the unique attributes and possibilities existing within Scotland’s urban and social environments for a more sustainable and equitable future.

Submission Guidelines:

Deadline for submissions 23 January 2015

Works of all mediums will be considered for the exhibition, with a preference for interdisciplinary collaborative works. Works will be selected for their cohesion and ability to sit within a group show in the Tent Gallery, a street-front project space located in the Art, Space + Nature studio, a space where direct dialogue between the University and the public can take place. The dimensions of the gallery are roughly 6m x 6.5m x 2.5 m in height, so works must sit well within this scale of space.

Please send a digital copy or photos of your work along with an artist statement and description/interpretation of work to Allison Palenske at thedinnerlab@gmail.com by 23 January 2015 at 5pm. Email attachment sizes must not exceed 5MB, please provide links to a Dropbox file location for larger files. Only works that have already been created will be considered, unfortunately we cannot accept proposals for new work at this time.

Preference will be given to artists proposing a performance, talk or workshop surrounding their work. Applicants will be informed of curators’ decisions by 26 January 2015.

By entering, the artist confirms that if successful, they will deliver finished exhibition quality pieces to Tent Gallery, Evolution House, Edinburgh College of Art no later than 15 February 2015. Artists must be able to pick up their works following the end of the exhibition, or provide return postage, no later than 1 March 2015. Whilst due care and attention will be given throughout, artists should note that the artworks will be sent, exhibited and returned entirely at the owners risk. Artists are liable to make their own insurance cover, if required. Works should be sent suitably packaged and will be returned in the original packaging.  Artists whose work is of a fragile nature should discuss this with the organiser before sending the works. Any further questions can be sent via email to Allison at thedinnerlab@gmail.com.

徵件公告>> Announcing the 2015 Call for Proposals

January 7, 2015 by

Originally posted on Cheng-Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project:

We are pleased to announce the 2015 Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project will take place from April 9 – May 4, 2015. Proposals will be due by January 16, 2015.
我們很高興在此宣佈2015成龍溼地國際環境藝術計畫, 將於2015年4月9日至5月4日舉辦. 即日起開始徵件, 至2015年1月16日止.

Artists from all over the world are invited to send a proposal for the 2015 art project in Cheng Long village, Yunlin County, Taiwan. 3 Foreign artists and 2 Taiwanese artists will be selected to create large-scale outdoor environmental art installations at public sites in the community and the wetlands working with children in the local elementary school, volunteers and villagers. The theme for 2015 is “Fragile – Handle With Care”, and for this 6th year of the international environmental art project we want to emphasize the fragility of the local and global environment facing such problems as global warming, rising water, soil salinization, water pollution and other environmental issues.
歡迎世界各地的藝術家踴躍提案, 我們預計從中選出3位國外藝術家及2位台灣藝術家,進駐成龍村,和成龍國小的學童.村民及志工們,一起在村內空地及溼地邊,共同完成大型的戶外裝置藝術. 2015年的主題是<易碎品–小心守護>, 我們想要強調的是在面對全球暖化,海平面上昇,土壤鹽化,水污染及其他環境議題時,區域及全球環境之脆弱.

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Guest Review: Review of Estuary, by Lydia Fulleylove, with artwork by Colin Riches

January 5, 2015 by

David Borthwick, who runs the University of Glasgow’s masters programme Environment, Culture and Communication at the university’s Dumfries Campus, reviews Lydia Fulleylove’s Estuary, a new book of poems published by the excellent Two Ravens.

Estuaries are, as in the title of one of Raymond Carver’s stories, ‘where water comes together with other water,’ fresh into salt, and as estuaries are characterised by tidal influx, where salt reaches back upriver.  They are transitional zones where local systems meet global ones, the activities of the land meet the open sea; indeed, they are also open to the tractive pull of moon and sun, linking them to celestial bodies too.  An estuary is defined by relational forces, then, and this also makes it a profoundly susceptible space.  One might say an estuary is produced through its myriad relations.

Estuaries are profoundly cosmopolitan areas, rich in the symbolism of transition, and this is perhaps why these environments have proven fertile grounds for poets in recent years.  The Severn estuary, in particular, has received considerable attention in both Alice Oswald’s book length A Sleepwalk on the Severn, and Philip Gross’ collection The Water Table (both 2009).  Oswald refers to ‘this beautiful / Uncountry of an Estuary’.[1]  Her ‘uncountry’ is ‘both a barren mudsite and a speeded up garden’.  It is between, untenable, and indefinable, irreducible to notions of rootedness, permanence or stability.  Phillip Gross describes an estuary in terms of its ‘indefinite grounds’, characterised by ‘constant inconstancy’; its ‘indefinable grounds’ and ‘irrefutable grounds’: ‘six hours and the grounds / are remembered.  Forgotten. Remembered’.[2]

Lydia Fulleylove’s Estuary, published by Lewis based Two Ravens Press, adds to but also enlarges this resurgent interest in estuaries.  Centred on the River Yar estuary in the west of the Isle of Wight, Fulleylove’s eclectic book demonstrates in its very form the power of relationality.  The book is part nature daybook—a diary of visits to the estuary, interactions with it over the course of a year—but also a poetry collection.  It also has elements of deeply personal memoir.  One of the book’s strengths is that Fulleylove cannot bracket off her personal relations (an aging father during illness), her job as a creative writing tutor at HMP Isle of Wight, nor indeed the politics which sees one of the estuary’s farms carefully dismantled during her period of residency in the area.  It is all of a part, each element a channel or rivulet in the book’s flow outwards.  This is only added to by Colin Riches’ contribution of artwork at the collection’s centre: pictorial representations of estuary features, animals (domestic and wild), and artefacts.  Many of these have been created using materials from the estuary as their medium: estuary mud, sheep dung, bramble juice.

Colin Riches, 'moon and stream'

Colin Riches, ‘moon and stream’, silt, oil and acrylic

Fulleylove and Riches employ sensory information as a key part of their work here.  In one poem, the artist is observed at work:

Dung, mud, ink. The artist makes

the cow in the winter barn,

legs tucked under like a cat,

tail pressed close. Black eye watchful,

nostrils, ears flared. Long after

she is gone, these marks will call up her absence,

draw her presence out of dark.

This attempt to capture presence is vital, poetic and visual work going hand in hand as a means of representing the estuary faithfully, even as the environment shifts around one with the tide:

cracked mud mud-gasps

river dark glass

look down clouds sky

look up clouds sky

here is river

see sea-river

The stutters and repetitions here enact not only the process of trying to write the estuary, but its own particular and fluid behaviour.  Everything described must relate to the estuary, the estuary itself formed by these relations, and with all being fluid this negotiation even reaches into the language that Fulleylove uses.  The process of rounding up sheep is rendered in riverine terms.  Sheepdogs are:

Swift, slick

they whip round the sheep,

close to the ground. The flock

runs like a river into the pen

any stray rivulet

channelled back in.

It’s done almost before it’s seen.

Colin Riches, 'Reed and River', reed, earth, ink and gouache

Colin Riches, ‘Reed and River’, reed, earth, ink and gouache

What separates Fulleylove’s book from some of the celebrated ‘New Nature Writing’ is that it continually brings the reader back to community, away from the writer’s solitary observations and into the eddies and turbulence of issues affecting wider concerns.  Local writers’ and artists’ groups are taken out into the estuary to experiment.  Farmers’ views are recorded verbatim and inserted into poems.  Most powerfully, the estuary is brought indoors in order to engage prisoners with an external environment they cannot access.  Among the artefacts offered to prisoners are leaves: ‘what the men most want to do with the leaves is to smell them.  A leaf is passed round nose to nose.’  Sensory apprehension again.  The prisoners’ reflections in their own writing are recorded here too.

Colin Riches, 'Last Year's Leaves', mixed media

Colin Riches, ‘Last Year’s Leaves’, mixed media

There is a powerful social justice imperative within the book, from the treatment of the poet’s father in institutional care, to the politics of landscape which places farmland in ownership that cares not for local experience and traditions— and of course to the welfare of those in prison.

Estuary tacitly suggests that all of Fulleylove’s concerns are intimately connected.  Indeed, connection is a recurring motif.  A Schoolgroup is taken to see the last of the farm’s animals as it is transformed from an Aberdeen Angus carcass to food.  The visit is meant to reconnect the children with the food chain because, as Fulleylove notes, ‘we can’t be disconnected from this earth’.

And yet because we are ‘wrapped in layers of distance’ from the nonhuman world, and perhaps from each other, we ignore the interconnections which inform and shape us all.  From the flora and fauna of the estuary, to the farms upon it, and even the prison, relations exist which conjoin to form a relational space.  In short, the estuary, this place, exists only as the total interactivity of these factors.  There is no ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, but a reciprocal set of interactions in which we are all enmeshed.  In Fulleylove’s thoughtful book, the estuary becomes a powerful symbol for relations and responsibilities.

Indeed, in her prologue Fulleylove says that all of the book’s segments exist as ‘as sign of having been there, evoking the relationship with place at that moment’.  The work is, she says, ‘a dialogue’; it is all about ‘the act of paying attention’: using the senses, different materials, extending empathy to the lives of others, both human and non-human.

In a relatively slight book of under a hundred pages, Fulleylove manages to weave together all of the elements of the local environment on the Yar estuary.  Her vision is clear, her work concise and potent.  She is capable of reflecting back and forth in landscape, and in time, in a way that makes the book more than a diary of a specific place, but an exploration of a place’s multiplicity through the seasons, in which every detail is made to resonate, and flow outwards from itself:

I pick one barley stalk from this dry sea

to stick on the white field of my page.

Winter, I’ll look back at slant, hard-packed grain,

like Brent geese streaming in close line.

Colin Riches, 'Estuary Artefact', stone, wool, and wheat stalk

Colin Riches, ‘Estuary Artefact’, stone, wool, and wheat stalk

[1] Alice Oswald, A Sleepwalk on the Severn (London: Faber, 2009), p. 3.

[2] Philip Gross, ‘The Water Table (Tarset, Northumberland: Bloodaxe, 2009), pp 47-48.

Court orders Tate to disclose BP sponsorship figures

December 26, 2014 by

Originally posted on Liberate Tate:

“Tate shall disclose within 35 days from the date of this decision the BP sponsorship figures from 1990 to 2006 inclusive.” 

Information Rights Decision of the First Tier Tribunal, 22 December 2014

The UK’s Information Tribunal has ordered art museum Tate to disclose the sum of money oil company BP paid as a sponsor over the years from 1990 to 2006 as well as records of internal decision-making on the controversial sponsorship deal Tate had also sought to keep secret [1]. Liberate Tate has been amongst the groups calling for this transparency.

The Freedom of Information court ruling comes after a three-year legal fight that began with Tate’s refusal to disclose sponsorship information requested by a Liberate Tate member in December 2011 [2]. The case was taken up by Request Initiative, working with campaign group Platform, and law firm Leigh Day resulting in a major legal victory for the movement…

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Create & Sustain: Alastair McIntosh at GSA Sustainability

December 19, 2014 by
Alastair McIntosh By Dominique Carton, Oct 2010 http://www.alba-photography.com/

Alastair McIntosh By Dominique Carton, Oct 2010 http://www.alba-photography.com/

TALK + Seminar – 14 January 2015 15.00-19.00 Reid Auditorium. Booking here

Alastair McIntosh is a writer, poet, speaker, researcher and activist. Originally from the Isle of Lewis he now lives on Govan near to the GalGael Trust, for which he is a founding trustee.

“ Most of my work is constellated by a passion for community… I see the lack of it, or damage to it, as a prime driver of the the lack of meaning, emptiness and loneliness that underlies many of the world’s most pressing problems. Human ecology is therefore central to my work because it is the study of, and participation in, human community in relation to the wider natural environment. It therefore encompasses the great issues of our times, including the roots of war, poverty, meaninglessness and climate change.

For me, community is much more than just another name for society. It has three pillars – relationship with one another, relationship with the natural world, and relationship with the psychospiritual underpinning of all life. “Soil, soul and society” are therefore themes that weave through all my work. Integrating these requires bringing about a rich connection between our inner and outer lives. As such, both action and reflection interlace through all that I do and in the ways that I work with others.”

Sustainability at Glasgow School of Art.

Funded PhD Opportunity: Performing Geochronology: Deep Time and Sustainable Futures along Scotland’s Western Seaboard

December 17, 2014 by

How can creative research investigation into the climatic and tectonic processes operating along Scotland’s Western Seaboard can help to nurture and communicate a sense of the ‘deep time’ involved?  This includes the ‘slow’ temporality associated with glaciations, and the ‘quick’ events of storms and flooding, but also organic temporalities, from evolution to settlement patterns. Such an expanded notion of time is crucial if we are to respond to what Dipesh Chakrabarty has termed the sense of ‘historical confusion’ that climate change presents us with. For Chakrabarty, the uncanny spectre of ‘a world without us’ produces a sense of melancholia and helplessness. One way in which this despair might be countered is by imagining ourselves as planetary creatures whose history has always been entangled with a larger natural history.

This studentship investigates:

  1. How field-based geochronological dating methods can use cultural artefacts (written and image-based, and oral traditions), ranged alongside physical artefacts (e.g. morphologies and sedimentary archives), to outline the extent and impact of particular climatic/tectonic processes along Scotland’s Western Seaboard.
    How this work can be theorised, contextualised and composed with respect to extant artistic practices and theories of aesthetics.
    How an appreciation of the ‘deep time’ involved in Scotland’s changing Western Seaboard can produce 3 site-specific performances/exhibitions/films such that new narratives of place and alternative histories emerge. The student will draw on geomorphological/archaeological data and techniques as creative resources, and will prompt reflection on new ways of communicating science.

A suitable candidate is sought to apply for one of the prestigious Kelvin/Smith PhD Studentships at the University of Glasgow. The studentship is fully funded and the criteria for eligibility can be found by visiting http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/postgraduateresearch/scholarships/kelvinsmith/shortlistedscholarshipprojects/

The student for this project should possess a high quality undergraduate degree (2.1 or 1st), a Masters Degree and/or equivalent experience as an artist. The candidate should be able to work both theoretically and creatively. Evidence of prior work – both academic and artistic – in the proposed research areas (arts, geography, ecology) is crucial for this project. As well as strong academic achievement and excellent intellectual ability, the candidate should have a developed artistic practice and be able to provide a CV listing some evidence of the following: professional performances, screenings, exhibitions, commissions, recordings, and residencies and collaborations with both arts and non-arts organisation

If successful the candidate will work with an interdisciplinary team of scholars on the project from 1 October 2015 onwards. The primary supervisors will be Professor Carl Lavery (Theatre Studies) and Professor Deborah Dixon (Geography).

The Scholarship is intended to support candidates of the highest calibre and as such may be offered to residents of any country provided that the candidate has obtained leave to remain in the UK for the purposes of full-time study.

The deadline for applications is Friday 23 January 2015.

Further details can be found by emailing Professor Carl Lavery (Carl.Lavery@glasgow.ac.uk).

Anthroposcene Evolution

December 15, 2014 by

James Eckford Lauder - James Watt and the Steam Engine- the Dawn of the Nineteenth Century - Google Art Project

James Eckford Lauder – James Watt and the Steam Engine- the Dawn of the Nineteenth Century – Google Art Project

James Watt didn’t start the anthropocene age, nor is he responsible for climate change, but the invention of the Steam Engine is more than a footnote in history.  The new online journal at www.anthroposcenemanifesto.com (sic) is a platform for research and reflection from social, cultural ecology perspectives.  The introduction reads,

The Anthroposcene Evolution is a dialogue that began at an Environmental Research Network conversation, convened in Glasgow by Alex Benchimol, Hayden Lorimer and Rhian Williams in 2011. As that conversation closed, Chris Maughan suggested that for the arts and humanities  the idea might be better understood in terms of an ‘anthroposcene’, as a social or cultural ecology. All agreed it was an idea that needed to evolve and spiral outwards rather than a manifesto that would solidify and be set in stone. Here-in with many voices, hearts and minds – we establish a evolution of that discourse. In 2014-2015 an international group of contributors have agreed to develop critical variations on this theme for posting and discussion. Some will critique the form of the manifesto itself. We are the first contributors to a this dialogic journal. The membership of this group will change each year at summer solstice.

This online journal embraces all those in the arts and humanities who feel they have a vital role to play in the future. We will establish links to various projects, workshops and exhibitions as this site develops.

 The blog has a series of reports that Tim Collins and Reiko Goto wrote after ‘The Anthropocene: Artists and Writers in Critical Dialogue with Nature and Ecosystems held at the Australian National University, Canberra, June 2014:
1 Introduction, 2 Participants, 3 Images, 4Reflections and 5 Key Points.

 

33 dagar/33 Days

December 14, 2014 by
Ingrid Book and Carina Hedén, “33 dagar från ett krikonsnår” (“33 Days from a Damson thicket”), 2014

Ingrid Book and Carina Hedén, “33 dagar från ett krikonsnår” (“33 Days from a Damson thicket”), 2014

”33 Days” – an exhibition by Ingrid Book and Carina Hedén
20.11 2014—15.2 2015
KONSTHALL C , Cigarrvägen 14, 123 57 Farsta, Sweden
http://www.konsthallc.se

33 dagar/33 Days is an exhibition by Ingrid Book and Carina Hedén, and an investigation into the life of insects existing in a habitat of Damson trees (Prunus Insititia). The first Scandinavian findings of Damson, the “poor man’s plums”, are from the Viking age. The thicket measures 26 x 13 meters and is situated a few hundred meters from Grimeton Radio Station, on the west coast of Sweden. It’s a large-scale radio station for long wave transmissions and wireless telegraphy with the US from the 1920s. The Grimeton Radio Station of Halland is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

The Damson thicket is surrounded by an agricultural landscape with monoculture. It’s a fragment of an old cultural landscape and represents an endangered biological heritage. The insects have been filmed in high resolution (4K), with a camera that “sees” more than the human eye and that reveals a “new” visual reality. Vegetation observed from the inside with the ultrafast reactions of the insects versus standstill and slow-moving time.

A diary of the unexpected behaviour of insects and their encounters (with man and his machines as an alien element) – during a rapidly proceeding summer.

Another work, “DRIFT, what about Callisto?”, questions the usage of pesticides in today’s industrial agriculture.

Works in the exhibition:
Video: “33 dagar från ett krikonsnår” (“33 Days from a Damson thicket”), 115 min, 2014
Video: “DRIFT, what about Callisto?”, 28 min, 2014
Posters: ”Superweeds”

Ingrid Book and Carina Hedén are two artists based in Oslo. In their work – photography, video and installations – they actualize ethical and social questions in the intersections of architecture and urban and regional landscapes. Exhibitions of their work include Midlertidige utopier/Temporary Utopias for the Norwegian Democracy Investigation (Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo 2003), News from the Field about urban agriculture (Bienale de São Paulo 2004), Militære landskap/Military Landscapes (Festspillutstillingen in Bergen, 2008). They participated in the Moderna Show 2010 with the series of photos Bexells Stenar, ett undangömt monument (Bexell’s Stones, a hidden monument).

The exhibition 33 dagar/33 Days also marks the end of our two-year long exhibition/investigation Sustainability – What Do We Actually mean?*, initiated by the Konsthall C work group in January 2013.

In connection with the opening of the exhibition, Thomas Bøhn, researcher/professor in gene ecology at the University of Tromsø, gave a lecture.

About Thomas Bøhn: “My research interests are focused on the effects of modern biotechnology, and in particularly of genetically modified orgamisms (GMO), on experimental model systems and on real food-webs. At my institution GenØk I’m particularly interested in risk assessment and effect studies of modern biotechnological products. One focus has been on the food quality and ecotoxicology of GM-plants (for example Bt-corn or Roundup Ready soy) in a feeding model with water fleas (Daphnia magna), also in combination with chemical stress factors (herbicides and other chemical pollutants). In the field, I work with the consequences of modern biotechnology on biological diversity and food-webs, both in terrestrial and aquatic systems. I also have a great interest in evolution, biodiversity, ecological interactions and invasion biology.”

Fallen Animals cfp

December 13, 2014 by

Deadline for this workshop is 15th January 2015.
Call For Papers – Fallen Animals: an interdisciplinary perspective
19th-20th March 2015, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Following the success of the Fall Narratives project in 2014, this workshop will explore the theme of fallen animals. The serpent in the Garden of Eden is but one example of the ambivalence which has characterized the human-animal relationship over the centuries, both across, and within, cultures, societies and traditions. With publications such as Anat Pick’s Creaturely Poetics (2011), the field of post-anthropocentrism studies has in recent years become particularly vibrant and attracts scholarly attention from a variety of disciplines. We welcome proposals with research interest in fields such as, but not limited to, literature, religion, languages, history, philosophy, psychology, art, film and visual culture, cultural studies and economics.

We are pleased to confirm that Dr Laura McMahon of the University of Cambridge will be the keynote speaker.

Potential topics include (but again, are not limited to) the following:

  • Physical falls
  • Symbolic falls
  • Literary falls
  • Psychological falls
  • Changing symbolisms within a single tradition, culture, society or religion, or across different ones
  • Animals’ creation stories
  • Demonic and demonized animals
  • The changing significance of animals in terms of religion, society, economics, nutrition, etc.; and in interconnection between any such fields
  • Cinematic fallen animals
  • Animals in popular culture

Abstracts of approximately 200 words should be sent to the organizers:

Dr Zohar Hadromi-Allouche zohar@abdn.ac.uk and Dr Áine Larkin a.larkin@abdn.ac.uk

Deadline for submission is 15th January 2015

Dr Zohar Hadromi-Allouche
Lecturer in Islam
School of Divinity, History and Philosophy
King’s College, Aberdeen AB24 3UB
Scotland, United Kingdom
Tel: + 44 (0) 1224 273112
Email: zohar@abdn.ac.uk


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