Center for Genomic Gastronomy: A great food system should be…

October 31, 2014 by


Only Human? 14-16 November

October 29, 2014 by

Only Human? 14-16 November Poster

Picture after picture [by photographer Chris Jordan] depicts the decomposed bodies of albatross chicks – just bones, feathers, and a beak remaining, and in the middle of each, a multicolored pile of plastic and other debris: cigarette lighters, bottle tops, toy soldiers, and so many other little items.”

“Millions of years of albatross evolution – woven together by the lives and reproductive labours of countless individual birds – comes into contact with less than 100 years of human “ingenuity” in the form of plastics and organochlorines discovered or commercialized in the early decades of the twentieth century.”

Reading Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction by Thom Van Dooren in preparation for chairing a discussion on Sunday 16th November at the Only Human? Festival in Glasgow.  [note: the discussion on Sunday 16th is with the author Thom Van Dooren]

The humanities and creative practices have a role in comprehending the meaning of the anthropocene, where all of the world is affected by one/our species. We have a role in addressing extinction, the end point of millions of years of the evolution of, for example, the albatross becoming itself as a species, and its-selves as individuals. We have a role in challenging human exceptionalism.  Face it, we need to talk about it.

Maintenance and Care Signage: Ukeles and Beckett – Creative Carbon Scotland

October 29, 2014 by

Artists Jonathan Baxter and Sarah Gittins have designed Maintenance and Care signage inspired by Samuel Beckett and Mierle Ukeles, to be displayed at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop and downloaded via the Creative Carbon Scotland website.

A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene

October 23, 2014 by

Originally posted on Discard Studies:

The Anthropocene is a term of art for the geologic epoch that began when human activities had a global, lasting impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. While it’s exact origin date is under debate, we know that hundreds and thousands of years into the future the geological strata will be full of plastic, signs of nuclear fall out, increased quantities of carbon dioxide and other permanent signs of planetary alteration. “The Great Acceleration” refers to the past century where many of these planet-altering practices are increasing in frequency, magnitude and intensity.

Image based on data from Steffen, W., Crutzen, P. J., & McNeill, J. R. (2007). The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature. Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment, 36(8), 614-621.

Image based on data from Steffen, W., Crutzen, P. J., & McNeill, J. R. (2007). “The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature.” Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment , 36(8), 614-621.

The externalities of economic and industrial systems–waste and discards–play a major role in both creating the Anthropocene and in marking its place in…

View original 551 more words


October 23, 2014 by

The Guardian published an article on the Extinction Marathon which took place at the Serpentine Gallery in London last weekend.
Cultural spaces (galleries, museums, concert halls) can make space for challenging subjects and the Serpentine Marathon is a great mechanism, but this feels behind the curve – the extinction issue is something scientists have been asessing and analysing and publishing on for a good while now. Just because the Serpentine got some big names on a platform to speak about the issue for 10 mins each doesn’t make it news.

Fertile Ground in Dunbar 25 and 26 October

September 30, 2014 by

NorthLight Arts Fertile Ground Conference Poster 25 and 26 October 2014

Fertile Ground takes place on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 October in Dunbar, East Lothian.  The event will nurture a conversation exploring creative ways to engage communities in the potential for change through public art with an environmental agenda.

Saturday 25Oct
Morning 9am: conference speakers; with refreshments and lunch
Afternoon: Sustaining Dunbar’s ‘Gathering In’ community event followed by artists presentations till 6pm
Evening 7pm: ‘Celebration of the Sea Performance’ with a starter by a foraging expert, this locally sourced starter is the opener to our seasonal supper by The Ridge. The performance will include music, poetry and readings and conversation with local marine specialists. Buy your tickets early for this event please £12.

Sunday 26Oct
Morning 10am: collective journey to the Belhaven Hospital Community Garden & Polly Tunnelfor a sensory walk; Guided Geology walk on the fossilised walk at Whitesands
Afternoon till 4pm: buffet lunch at Dunbar Town House followed by an open discussion on how environmental public arts can work for us in our location, led by Chris Freemantle.

To book follow this link

Free creche and children’s workshop for delegates to the Saturday morning talks: please book early. Discount for EH42 postcode

For further information email:

Contents of Fertile Ground event leaflet including programme Fertile ground A5 leaflet inside2

Could an artist do this?

September 24, 2014 by

Another in our occasional series derived from Public Contracts Scotland.  The Scottish Government, through it’s agency Marine Scotland, is seeking environmental consultancy to provide,

“A two way conversation with the people of Scotland on the social impact of offshore renewables”

2.2 Description of the goods or services required:
The aim of this project is to engage with the people of Scotland in areas of renewable energy potential, through a series of public dialogue sessions to explore the social impact of renewables development.

NOTE: To register your interest in this notice and obtain any additional information please visit the Public Contracts Scotland Web Site at

Location:   All Scotland
Highlands and Islands
Aberdeen & North-East
Tayside, Central & Fife
Glasgow & Strathclyde
Edinburgh & Lothians
Scotland South

2.4 Total quantity or scope of tender
The contract will begin on 27 October 2014 with a final report expected on 13 March 2015.

The Dark Outside

September 22, 2014 by

 A 24 hour Radio Broadcast of Unheard Sound Noon 27th September - Noon 28th September 2014  Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park. Murrays Monument, A712, Dumfries and Galloway   Sound artist Frenchbloke, curates 24 hours of previously unheard music donated exclusively for this project by musicians and producers from all over the world. The site-specific transmission will be of specially composed work, forgotten recordings and alternate versions of existing work, none of which have been heard in public before. These sound works will be on air for the duration of the broadcast, then deleted. They may never be heard again.   Listen in your car, or on a portable radio. Visit The Dark Outside HQ at the top of Murray's Monument for a friendly chat, a comfy sofa and a fantastic view, then sit back, relax and hear the transmission at The Dark Star Lounge deep in the Forest. Contributing artists (as of September 12th 2014)  And theres more...  'Enclosure' Large scale light installation   'The Dark Outside'  Lecture by Innes Smith, Vice President of the Scottish Society for Psychical Research - 9pm  Experimental sound and visual works from:      :Zoviet*france - Newcastle      Ruaridh Law and Dave Fyans  - Glasgow      Unicorn Diagragm - London      Rupert Lally and Espen J Jörgensen - Norway  Visit the Rosnes Benches at Mc Moab. Info HERE   See full programme : HERE   Other Information:   Bring a radio and torch  Food by The Green Tea House on 27th  Camping - Basic camping available for tents and camper vans. Bring breakfast and drinking water. Portaloos on site.  Free Event  The Dark Outside FM is part of Sancuary 2014 - A site specific art event.  Sanctuary is a creative space for experiments in sound, light and space, located in the stunning landscape of the Galloway Dark Skies Park To contribute sound:  Send links to Also see :

After the People’s Climate March, Flood Wall Street | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

September 21, 2014 by

Flood Wall Street – isn’t this what happened during Hurricane Sandy? Tomorrow it will be a direct action following today’s People’s Climate March. Today will be properly licensed and marshalled with an approved route. Tomorrow will be different.
Worthreading this article to understand the argument about the depoliticisation of the mainstream climate justice movement versus the activism of the continuing anti capitalist movement.

Content of Nothing :: Part 8 :: ….it moves, actually, in a Reticulum

September 17, 2014 by
Judy Spark, Untitled, digital print (300 x 140mm approximately) 2013

Judy Spark, Untitled, digital print (300 x 140mm approximately) 2013

Judy Spark: You remarked earlier that you feel that for you it’s “important to keep a lightness to creative work” and I would certainly agree with you on this and I think that this does bear even more import for visual than for written work. Other than the ‘academic’ aspect of some written work, I’m not sure that I can articulate exactly why I think this just yet, but it is something I think about. You also quoted Rebecca Solnit – that “the ‘results’ or ‘outcomes’ of creative work are nonlinear and unpredictable” and I would certainly agree with that, but again, this for me, seems to stand particularly for visual over written work. Perhaps is just the way that I go about a piece of writing: I know roughly what I am setting out to say, but probably not, at the beginning, how I will say it. Whereas with visual work, I think that I almost deliberately set to one side what I think I want to say, in order to allow the work to ‘make itself’, to borrow Carol Becker’s term. Then, I work out through a sort of retrospective process exactly what it is I’ve been doing. The whole process is a little bit more under my control than that might make it sound, but it is a process that I have had to learn, and in fact am still learning, to trust.

Samantha Clark: Yes, the retrospective view is when we get to figure out what was actually going on. It’s intrinsic to the reflective process, and here we might get bogged down in definitions of ‘practice-led’ or ‘practice-based’ – ‘practice-following’ research feels most apt sometimes – we do it and then figure it out later. I had a conversation with a colleague who is a social scientist recently. She seemed very surprised that we don’t figure it all out first, assemble all the theory, work out the method, and then just carry out the process we planned. The practice follows a hunch, or launches from a familiar point of departure and sees where it ends up. As you say, it can be quite instinctual. You make a leap, take a bit of a chance (it might not work), and then the research fleshes it out. I think we can become too apologetic about this. I take heart when I read about scientists and the so-called scientific method and find that it’s not so very different sometimes. Kekule saw the structure of benzene in a dream. CTR Wilson built the first cloud chamber on a bit of a whim, to recreate some of the mists and coronas he’d seen walking on the hills – he had no idea his apparatus would reveal the tracks of subatomic particles. According to Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock, ‘you work with so-called scientific methods to put it into their frame after you know’. (Rosen, 1994: 486) Agnes Arber recognised this thought process not as a linear progression but as a reticulated network of associations, analogies and resonances, which were translated into words and equations only with a struggle, after the original, nonverbal and empathic insight. ‘The experience of one’s own thinking suggests that it moves, actually, in a reticulum (possibly of several dimensions) rather than along a single line…A reticulum.… cannot be symbolized adequately in a linear succession of words.’ (Arber, 1854: 18) And here’s the mathematician Poincaré: ‘It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover…logic teaches us that on such and such a road we are sure of not meeting an obstacle; it does not tell us which is the road that leads to the desired end. For this it is necessary to see the end from afar, and the faculty that teaches us to see is intuition.’ (Poincaré,1914: 130)

JS: Yes, for a while I think the notion of ‘intuition’ in art making was very unpopular, was regarded as something that only happened in ‘women’s art’! The next time I hear anyone slight the part of intuition in making art, I’ll most certainly produce that Poincaré quote, it’s perfect! I sometimes wade into the practice ‘led’ / ‘based’ / ‘following’ debate by stating that I have a ‘research led practice’; the argument behind this will be stronger once I’ve worked out exactly what I mean. In any case, it has something to do with listening and with trust. I’m really interested in this notion of waiting, of listening / active listening or attentiveness in making – you touched on this earlier when we were talking about drawing. Heidegger talks about the poet’s primary role as one of listening before anything is made of that experience. This waiting is as much a part of the process of making as gathering and focus are; all play a part in solving what arises, until the thing is re-solved. But the waiting/listening is difficult; I’ve used the notion of tuning a radio in relation to this, the idea of being on the best frequency and the act of deliberately re-tuning attention – back to Buddhist contemplative practice, or it’s western equivalent, mindfulness. But what about the consequences of not listening, pouncing before things are ready; that desire to fill gaps or absences, to have the art work, poem, writing take a familiar shape….and by a deadline?!


Becker, C. (2004) “Intimate, Immediate, Spontaneous, Obvious: Educating the Unknowing Mind” in Baas, J. and Jacob, M.J. (eds) Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, Berkley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press

Rosner, M. (1994) Journal of Advanced Composition Vol 14:2 Values in Doing and Writing Science: The Case of Barbara McClintock [Available online. Accessed 4.12.13]

Arber, A. (1954) The Mind and the Eye: A Study of the Biologist’s Standpoint, Cambridge Science Classics

Poincaré, H. (1914) Science and Method, London and New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons

Heidegger, M. (1971) On the Way to Language, New York: Harper & Row


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