Author Archive

Creative Carbon Scotland Embedded Artist #artopps

December 12, 2018

opportunity-cultural-adaptations-seeks-embedded-artist-800x450

Creative Carbon Scotland is the lead partner in an EU-funded project Cultural Adaptations. As part of this we are seeking an experienced artist to be ‘embedded’ within and to influence the work of Climate Ready Clyde as it develops and implements a climate change adaptation strategy for Glasgow City Region.

Deadline 5pm on Friday 11th January 2019.

This is an exciting, paid opportunity for an artist or cultural practitioner interested in exploring the role the arts can play in shaping how our society adapts to the impact of climate change. It offers the chance to participate in an action-research project taking place at the European level, and contribute new knowledge to the local and international sector.

Read more and download the Brief.

Creative Carbon Scotland’s Library of Creative Sustainability.

PhD by Practice – The Ecological Turn: Living Well with forests to explain eco-social art practices

November 22, 2018

From Cathy Fitzgerald and congratulations to Cathy

The Hollywood Forest Story : An Eco-Social Art Practice | Co. Carlow Ireland

Celebrating with a NZ tree fern at UCD, 19 November 2018. Cathy Fitzgerald celebrating with a beautiful NZ tree fern at University College Dublin, 19 November 2018.

I’m delighted to announce that this week I was conferred with a PhD by Practice in Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design at a ceremony at University College Dublin. There are so, so many people to thank and I’m delighted to start to share some of my practice and research, FINALLY!

Sincere, heartfelt thanks to all who have supported me in a journey that covered many years and some unavoidable breaks for health and family reasons. A PhD is never created by one person alone and I wish to acknowledge my husband Martin, Holly (our late dog who kept me company on this adventure), my incredibly supportive family in Aotearoa New Zealand, my supervisors, examiners, friends, and people from many fields and places and of course, all who reside at…

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Valuing Nature: what do artists contribute?

November 12, 2018
Serpentine Lattice catalogue, courtesy of the artists

Image from Serpentine Lattice catalogue, courtesy of the artists

Artists have been valuing nature probably since we first marked the wall of a cave or whistled like a bird – artists have always rendered nature visible. Artists valuing nature have explored human ‘value’ (Monet’s Haystacks and Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed both render human use of nature visible), but they have also articulated human meaning imposed on nature (Shakespeare’s King Lear thinking the storm is nature mirroring his mental state). ecoartists over the past 50+ years have focused not so much on the literally visible but on making visible the relational and systemic. Their motivation is often the destruction caused by our extraction of value from nature without regard to health or sustainability.

Most art, including the historical precedents mentioned and in particular ecoart, might be seen in juxtaposition with other forms of valuing nature such as ecosystem services. Dave Pritchard articulated the deeper history underlying the emergence of the ecosystem services in an email to the ecoartnework listserve on 9 April 2011. He wrote,

For a time, in the 1970s-80s, there was some of the kind of “reconsideration” you describe [referring to a previous post], with the “deep ecology” of Naess, Bateson, Berry et al. But if you analyse the evolution of the actual policy and advocacy discourse at 10-yearly intervals, for example from the 1972 Stockholm Conference to the 1982 World Conservation Strategy to the 1992 Rio Conference to the 2002 Johannesburg Summit (and then maybe in advance of the Rio+20 summit in 2012 look at the Aichi targets adopted last year), it has swung completely away from any ethics of “existence value” for the non-human component, to a forced justification (in adversarial arenas) in terms of “sustainable development”, “wise use”, “evidence-based conservation”, “ecosystem services” and (largely monetary) valuation of those services. The environmental movement (of which I am a part) congratulates itself on having found better ways of expressing the critical nature of ecosystems within broader mainstream audiences and processes, in this way. But this has all been done by becoming MORE anthropocentric and utilitarian; not less.

Dave Pritchard’s drawing out of one vector of the trajectory of valuing, away from the intrinsic and into the instrumentalised, provides a useful frame for understanding that what we see now as oppositional – arts and humanities approaches versus social and natural science-based methods of valuing nature. His marking of the moments in the intergovernmental conferences and his articulation of the key phrases is the beginning of a cultural history of environmental policy.

However, in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b. 1932), known as ‘the Harrisons’, this split isn’t necessarily the case.

Professor Emeritus Anne Douglas and I have been writing about (and working with) the Harrisons, the pioneering post conceptual ecological artists, for some years now. Sadly, Helen Mayer Harrison died this year (aged 90), but we continue to work with Newton Harrison. You can find out more about that work by checking out The Barn website, and by searching this site http://ecoartscotland.net.

We are just in the process of finishing a new essay which focuses on the ways in which the work of the Harrisons might address calls for epistemologies other than the positivistic one which has increasingly dominated our understanding of the natural world. This builds on two other essays we have published recently on their practice and in particular their poetics.

The Harrisons’ work focuses on the lifeweb and in particular on points of inconsistency and contradiction saying,

We have come to believe that inconsistency and contradiction are generated by the processes of cognition, thinking and doing, and have the important role to play of stimulating and evoking creativity and improvisation, which are inherent in the processes of the mind that have led us to do this work.
Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, ‘Public Culture and Sustainable Practices: Peninsula Europe from an ecodiversity perspective, posing questions to Complexity Scientists,’ (Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences: Vol. 2: No. 3, Article 3), p23

In our essay ‘Inconsistency and contradiction: lessons in improvisation in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’ published in Elemental: An Art and Ecology Reader, we look particularly at the ways that the artists use moments of inconsistency and contradiction as points of intervention. We explore the way they engage imaginatively with metaphor – for them it is dysfunctional metaphors (such as calling places to live ‘developments’ rather than ‘settlements’) which underlie the inconsistencies and contradictions. The works take the form of policy proposals, manifest in poetic texts and images, installations and films, which offer alternative ways of imagining life where we put the health of the lifeweb first.

The second essay, ‘What poetry does best: the Harrisons’ poetics of being and acting in the world’ published in the Harrisons’ The Time of the Force Majeure, a survey of their collaboration over 50 years, focuses on their language, in particular dialogue, and their understanding of improvisation. We explore the way that the works open up the possibility for the audience to imagine living differently, as part of a healthy lifeweb.

The Harrisons’ overarching project, which they have pursued for something like 50 years, is to put us humans back into the ecosystem. This is an underlying refrain in all their work, for example in Serpentine Lattice (1993) they said,

THEN
A NEW REVERSAL OF GROUND COMES INTO BEING
WHERE HUMAN ACTIVITY BECOMES A FIGURE
WITHIN AN ECOLOGICAL FIELD
AS SIMULTANEOUSLY THE ECOLOGY CEASES T0 BE
AN EVER SHRINKING FIGURE
WITHIN THE FIELD OF HUMAN ACTIVITY
Harrison, Newton and Harrison, Helen Mayer, Serpentine Lattice, the Douglas M Cooley Memorial Gallery, Reed College, Portland, Oregon 1993

Within this the Harrisons have taken on issues of water, soil, forests and brownfield. They have worked in watersheds and bioregions as well at the scale of the European Peninsula and the Tibetan high ground. The climate crisis – which they define as having three aspects – sea level rise, heatwave and biodiversity loss/extinction, is the manifestation of our dysfunctional relationship with the lifeweb. In essence their message is the message of Deep Ecology.

Yet Serpentine Lattice, created at the invitation of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in addressing the destruction of the Pacific Temperate Rainforest, includes a proposal for redirecting a proportion of Gross National Product to the restoration of the forest.

In Peninsula Europe (2001) they enumerate the amount of water that falls on the European peninsula annually (1,430 cubic kilometers per year and that’s just on the high ground). Based on this they propose a Water Tax to pay for the restoration of the soils and the reforesting of the land above 360 meters.

This might seem superficially similar to recent approaches which have moved from analysis of ecosystem services to natural capital accounting. These latter moves have resulted in statements such as the Great Barrier Reef is an asset worth $42 billion dollars to the Australian economy, or bees are worth £651 million annually to the UK economy.

Our essay addresses both how these figures and proposals operate as part the Harrisons’ poetics, contributing to the repositioning of human systems within the ecological systems. The Harrisons’ approach to valuing nature does not start with a financial given (eg the value of UK Agriculture, and then identify the importance of bees, quantify bees, and financialise bees). The Harrisons’ works start with an ecological reality, an intrinsic good, such as the Pacific Temperate Rainforest. Often this is an already damaged ecosystem. The art work makes visible the value of the whole ecosystem and offers quantification in order to propose new human systems (such as taxes) that begin to remedy the impacts of extraction.


Chris Fremantle will be presenting a case study on the Harrisons’ Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (2007-09) in the ‘Valuing the Arts Valuing Nature’ session at the Valuing Nature Conference 2018 this week.

Reviewer needed: Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure

November 1, 2018

As part of the #art4wetlands programme we are looking for someone to review Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’ film Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure.

The film is distributed by Juno Films who have kindly given us access for the reviewer.

Contact chris@fremantle.org if you are interested in doing this review. Please tell us why you are interested, if there is an angle you imagine taking, and also provide us with links to other pieces of review writing you have done.

Check out the ecosexual manifesto.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Kerry Morrison #art4wetlands …the way I view mosquitoes

October 27, 2018

Reflecting on being part of the WetlandLife team and how interdisciplinary working has shifted the way I view mosquitos
Kerry Morrison
11.07.18

The interdisciplinary nature of WetlandLIFE
The openness and inclusiveness
Has broadened my understanding
And my views
Of wetlands
Of mosquitos

Information exchanged
Put out there
Into the group
Relating to the collective research
Offers insights that we can delve in to
Or not
As we choose

Peter posted: in praise of the midges pestering footballers in the world cup
Gay responded:
…best of all for me is link at the end of the article to a study on the flight behaviour in swarms, which is what my colleague, Lionel, and I are working on in mosquitoes.  It is an amazing study – so thank you for many reasons!
I hit the link and read the paper: Collective Behaviour without Collective Order in Wild Swarms of Midges [1]

Some time later
Out on Alkborough Flats
In July
At dusk
Helmut and I found one of the mosquito traps
Well hidden in the dank, yet humid, undergrowth
Well surrounded by flying mosquitos

Venturing in I witnessed what I now know to be male mosquitos
Flying in a swarm
Out to attract females
With this little knowledge,
gained from conversations with the team entomologists
and from reading the paper
I felt partly safe
Male mosquitos don’t bite
(though the females will likely be somewhere nearby)

Informed by me read of ‘Collective Behaviour without Collective Order in Wild Swarms of Midges’ (2014)
I watched the swarm
Intently
Paying attention to the individual’s movements
and
The swarm as a whole
Looking intently
I observed
More than a twilight swarm in a disordered phase
I saw a male mosquito gathering

Collective behavior became visible
As if in a choreographed dance
.
.
.
The small swarm
To start
Disorderly
Then
As two came into close proximity of one another
Millimeters apart
Their movements synchronized and mirrored
Two darted sideways in unison
Three spiraled upwards at an angle in unison
then together semi circled downwards
Two more spiraled upwards and outwards
then back into the swarm
When all came together
In close proximity
The whole swarm
Spiraled down
As one collective mass
As if a murmuration

Beautiful
Awe-inspiring
Experience
Walking into mosquitos
For the first time
Seeing
Male mosquitos Dance
No longer misunderstood as biting beasts
But seen as dancing males
Moving in murmurations
Waiting for females
to charm with their songs

My vision might not yet be clear
My understanding still murky
and not yet fully informed
Yet
What I see has shifted
And in shifting
My views have expanded

[1] Attanasi A, Cavagna A, Del Castello L, Giardina I, Melillo S, et al. (2014) Collective Behaviour without Collective Order in Wild Swarms of Midges. PLoS Comput Biol 10(7): e1003697. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi. 1003697


Kerry Morrison is an artist, a Director of In-Situ, and has completed a Phd in Cultural Ecosystem Services.

On Sunday 28th October (18.15 in Room 7) the WetlandLIFE team will host a side event at the Ramsar Intergovernmental Convention on Wetlands13th COP in Dubai. The event focuses on ‘Sense of Place & Wellbeing in Wetlands: Using Film & the Arts to achieve SDG3’.

Helmut Lemke art#wetlands Thoughts on scientists, artists, collaborations

October 26, 2018

Helmut Lemke is one of the artists working with the WetlandLIFE project, part of the Valuing Nature Programme. As part of the #art4wetlands leading up to the Ramsar Intergovernmental Convention on Wetlands’ COP (Conference of the Parties) we are highlighting the role of artists in environmental research. In this piece Helmut offers his “thoughts on scientists, artists, collaborations”.

On Sunday 28th October (18.15 in Room 7) the WetlandLIFE team will host a side event at the Ramsar Intergovernmental Convention on Wetlands13th COP in Dubai. The event focuses on ‘Sense of Place & Wellbeing in Wetlands: Using Film & the Arts to achieve SDG3’.


to be curious

to observe with senses and minds

to develop questions

to create ways n methods to answer those questions

to enjoy a playful rumination of models of inquiry

to gather knowledge

to share knowledge

all of the above is human – none of the above is specific to one gender, one cast, one religion, one race, one profession

all of the above happens in time – none of the above has an end result

there is no answer following from the above that does not lead to further questions

all of the following (in no particular order):

 ownership, copyrights, the notion of the ‘genius’,

research profiles, impact & esteem

are expressions of artificial hierarchies and

the result of a system that values any increase in knowledge

in terms of financial/monetary profit & status

however, because neither ‘artificial hierarchies’ nor ‘financial profits’ or status

have so far contributed to the development of

the understanding and acceptance of us humans

as equals in the ecological system we are part of

or to the creation of a fairer society,

it is of crucial importance to replace

artificial hierarchies with equality

and

the thrive for capital gain and status with the joy of sharing

therefore

ONE SHOULD NOT ASK, ‘WHY TO COLLABORATE?’ BUT
‘WHY NOT TO COLLABORATE?’

and, by the way, I assume that knowledge and understanding reaches beyond the rational

 


MY ROLE IN THE WETLAND LIVE PROJECT

 

wherever I work I communicate,
that might be with people, with the environment or with (and through) my material and equipment.
I have learned to understand that my role as an artist is not that of a creator and maker, but to be promoter and advocate of what is very often already there and more often neglected, over’heard’ and/or over’looked’.
the process of communication and sharing has replaced the obsession with the product.
therefore when I am asked, “what (do) you think you can contribute and also what (do) you actually do to connect, ie your approach to connecting with the scientists and their research, wetlands and mosquitoes…” my answer is quite simple: I do what I always do.

 

I meet,

I share……….thoughts
…………………observations
…………………impressions
…………………experiences
…………………knowledge
…………………emotions

I wait for shared……thoughts
…………………………..observations
…………………………..impressions
…………………………..experiences
…………………………..knowledge
…………………………..emotions of others

I share through……..talk,
…………………………..listen,
…………………………..draw,
…………………………..write,
…………………………..read,
…………………………..sound,
…………………………..image
…………………………..poetry

some of the above is everyday medium
some is attributed to artists
all is interchangeable.

 

by being in a collaborative environment, where all participants through untested communication processes aim to create new, sometimes unpredicted outcomes those processes will flow on all levels in diverse directions. wherever communication media (language, image, other) need translation the collaborators will do so.
my contribution will be ‘me’ – where and what aspects of ‘me’ are useful will be determined by a collective process and by demands of the project group.


Helmut Lemke Is a German sound artist who moved to the UK in 1996. His international, and enthusiastically ecumenical practice, has lead him to work everywhere from the frozen seas round Greenland, to a palace in Venice for the 55th Biennale. Along the way he has collaborated with other Sound Artists and Musicians, with Dancers and Scientists, Visual Artists and Architects, Poets and  Archaeologists, Performance Artists and Wildlife Rangers.

Since 1995 he has taught at art academies & universities in Germany, France, England, Finland, Thailand.  From 1997 until 2000 he was lecturer at the pioneering Phonic Art  Course in Hull He was Research Fellow in Interactive Arts (Media Events) at Manchester Metropolitan University in 1997 and hold an AHRC-Fellowship at the University of Salford from 2004 to 2007.


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