This is a guest piece by artist Ruth Hardinger on artist Aviva Rahmani’s Pushing Rocks blog.
“The global warming potential of CH4 has been upgraded by IPCC to at least 86 times stronger than CO2 during a 20 year time frame of this gas, and 105 times stronger over a 10 year time frame. Methane, grouped with other near-term climate forcers such as black carbon, hydrofluorocarbon and aerosols, is the most likely greenhouse gas escalating the planetary heat now, because there is so much of it being released. There have been few measurements of gas leakage from gas wells and pipelines.”
If you are wondering why artists are engaging with science and engineering at this level, and where the art is,
“In recent art installation exhibitions, Hardinger has used abstraction from the methane measurement work for The Basement Rocks and The Basement Rocks – LOUDER. The materials and sensitivity of constructions encourage awareness of the underground. These exhibitions are accompanied with “Grounding” a sound of the underground, by rock musician Andy Chase, and letters for the visitors to take that convey her conversations with scientist, Bryce Payne, PhD and professor Ron Bishop, PhD regarding damage that is happening to the underground, the place of the most biomass in our planet.”
The image is a rendering of fugitive emissions spatialised data overlayed on the landscape. Read full article here,
Posts Tagged ‘climate change’
Rachel Duckhouse was Associate Artist engaging staff at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art around issues of climate change, in response to Ellie Harrison’s Early Warning Sign that the gallery has been hosting.
The image above, part of a suite of images in SYSTEMS BREAKDOWN is the result of conversations with staff about their relationships with each other and with the institution. She says,
I became aware of patterns, relationships, connections, disconnections, motivations, hierarchies, agendas, preoccupations and passions that shaped each individual’s perception of the institution and how it related to wider environmental and social issues inside and outside its walls.
I attempted to map out and draw the infinitely dynamic, multi layered and intangible relationships between people and the systems they work, live and think within.
In the process of making the drawings, I better understood the difficulties in addressing a community of individuals each with their own relationship to that community and ultimately to climate change; and I’m beginning to understand how they act as a metaphor for the challenges we all face as a global community.
It’s worth looking at these drawings and this process in relation to the irational.org project The Status Project. That also used visual methods to explore individual’s relations with bureaucracies in a social context.
Dahr Jamail, staff reporter for Truthout and known for his work on Iraq and Afganistan, speaks to scientists working on Anthropogenic Climate Disruption about their emotional responses in this important piece. Thanks to Truthout for permission to repost extracts. Jamail starts,
I have been researching and writing about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) for Truthout for the past year, because I have long been deeply troubled by how fast the planet has been emitting its obvious distress signals.
On a nearly daily basis, I’ve sought out the most recent scientific studies, interviewed the top researchers and scientists penning those studies, and connected the dots to give readers as clear a picture as possible about the magnitude of the emergency we are in.
This work has emotional consequences: I’ve struggled with depression, anger and fear. I’ve watched myself shift through some of the five stages of grief proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I’ve grieved for the planet and all the species who live here, and continue to do so as I work today.
Anne Douglas, during her Mcgeorge Fellowship at the University of Melbourne, Australia, visited with Lyndal Jones and The Avoca Project in Avoca, Victoria. In this guest blog she highlights some of the ways in which Lyndal and her collaborators have been demonstrating an art of sustainability, through a house and a garden.
The Avoca Project draws together art, place and climate change in a unique configuration. Nine years ago, Lyndal Jones, one of Australia’s most renowned artists, funded the purchase of a derelict house in Avoca, a rural town in the State of Victoria, Australia. The Avoca Project became a ten year commitment (2005-2015) to environmental issues and something of a counterpoint to the form and practice of international art biennales. It would inspire future work as an engagement between art and the public in relation to climate change and challenge the idea of place as physically stable.
The house is an early example of a two storey timber framed prefabrication of Swedish design, found in Australia in the 19th century among the middle classes during the period of the gold rush (1851 –late 1860s). The kit was imported from Germany as numbered planks and costructed as accommodation for one of the hotels in the town. This was a period that trebled the population of European and Chinese immigrants in the area. In 1852 the house was moved, in order to enlarge the hotel. It had been situated higher up the hill on the main street and was beautifully re-sited to overlook the Avoca river.
What makes a house an artwork?
There is a conceptual simplicity to this work that belies deep complexity. First and foremost there is a particular intelligence and sensitivity towards the building as a place to inhabit in 21st century, based on an awareness of the impacts of industrialisation on the social, cultural and environmental. Once a dwelling of grandeur, the house had suffered from the harshness of climate and decreasing wealth in the rural areas. In response to these issues, the project embodies an openness to questioning current modes of living and increasing awareness of actions that we can usefully take to create more sustainable living environments.
This is perhaps best explained in an example: the house was flooded in 2010. This event ironically took place three weeks after the production of a performance piece, Rehearsing Catastrophe: the Ark in Avoca (described below). Jones’ work in repairing the house had included making it ‘flood friendly’ in response to hearing it was on a ‘1 in 100 year’ floodplain (with use of rugs rather than carpets, solid wood rather than chipboard, few whitegoods…). The waters may now enter in and exit out of the property, with only minimum damage. This approach to living ‘with’ rather than ‘against’ nature is an ethos, a way of being, that underpins the most simple actions in everyday life in this place.
Important to the quality of this work as art is the way Jones conceptualises her role as ‘custodian’ and ‘restorer,’ as opposed to ‘owner’. An owner would perhaps renovate by drawing the house into his/her taste and life style. As custodian, Jones mediates the past, present and future of dwelling, judging what is appropriate and inappropriate intervention. The house has been re-roofed, re-plastered, re-wired and re-glazed using found timber to render it fit to live in but more than that, a beautiful place to inhabit ethically. Much of the work is Jones’ own labour, assisted by volunteers, and undertaken at weekends and free personal time. Guests are invited to participate at their own pace but never onerously, contributing to an ongoing performance of sculpting a ruin back into existence.
Beneath this careful restoration of the traditional infrastructure lies a particular sensitivity to energy and water resulting in a quite different, parallel infrastructure from the historical fabric. Focused decisions have emerged out of a process of trial and error, a process of intense learning about which technologies to use and which to avoid, in developing a light ecological foot print.
This second infrastructure constructs a series of virtuous circles between availability and usage of natural resources. Within the garden under the lawn is constructed a water tank that can contain up to 90,000 litres of water. The tank consists of an underground trough lined with a geotextile, a rubber membrane, into which are inserted a series of plastic crates which provide a shape through which the water flows. The trough is filled with water. Local water is high in salt and requires to be desalinated so this storage of rainwater provides an important alternative. Heating is provided through a slow combustion stove using timber from the property and the underground water tank within a closed water system. Visitors are aware of water usage in part through the subtle visibility of the water gauge close to one of the main entrances to the house and also through encouragement to collect excess domestic water where possible to sustain the prolific plant life of the site, including a kitchen garden walled by rosemary bushes. In this way we are gently persuaded that ‘living well’ means ‘living ethically’ through intimate daily habits working with the available resources, mindfully. In the same way the photovoltaic cells on the roof of one of the outbuildings act simultaneously as a functional and as a visual and symbolic reminder of how energy is acquired and used.
In April 2014, the community of Avoca will witness the planting of a Chinese Garden. The Chinese Garden at Avoca has been developed by three artists: Lindy Lee (a Sydney based Chinese-Australian artist currently developing a Chinese Garden in Sydney in parallel with Avoca) is lead artist; Mel Ogden (a landscape artist and expert in stone, who designed and laid out the gardens of The Avoca Project) is Designer and Project Manager; and Lyndal Jones as Artistic Director. These artists are working in collaboration with a formally constituted Committee that represents the different interest groups that the project has catalysed.
The idea of building a Chinese Garden emerged through a number of discussions and gathered traction as a concept. The Chinese community had been very present in the period of the Gold Rush and the chosen site was close to the original Chinese graveyard.
The privately owned site, adjacent to the house and also on the flood plain of the river, has been negotiated across private/public interests with a long lease under the condition that the community undertakes long term maintenance of the garden as an artwork. The nature of the task is detailed as part of the contract.
It is important to note the artist-led nature of this development. Although funded through a national cultural tourism initiative, requiring significant organisational experience, this project has emerged from the arts community rather than business, offering confidence and a model for future community focused projects.
The insistence on the garden as an artwork instils very high production values led by experienced professionals. The site runs from east (high ground) to west (low ground) with the river running south to north and will deploy a number of aesthetic/ecological tactics that have been tested in The Avoca Project.
Chinese gardens are traditionally constructed around four elements including pavilions, water, rocks and plantings representing the seasons of the year. This garden will feature such elements interpreted through current material modalities and their potential for new meaning across the past, present and future, significantly acknowledging an inter-cultural dynamic. Underpinning the whole is a strong ecological thread. The site, in particular its water, is developed with the same technologies of an underground storage system that here cleans the town’s water using plants and the crate system used for The Avoca Project. It is also based on sensitive plantings that can accept local soil conditions, such as River Red Gums, and developed through seasonal and aesthetic judgements.
Significant to the whole development is a series of events, effectively new rituals that mark each stage of development in relation to seasonal changes. The starting moment on site was in October 2013 – a procession to the site by children with lanterns they had made, where they met Lindy Lee. Chinese New Year at the beginning of February was marked with a Chinese Dragon. Winter planting will follow the installation of the main infrastructure in late April and the official opening in October 2014.
This sense of ritual will continue into the way the site will be open for use for public events. The Avoca Project is contributing a tea ceremony that intermingles the Chinese Tea Ceremony with the more implicit rituals of tea drinking within Australian culture as a means of coming to terms with any important or social moment. The aim is for the garden to be able to host tea ceremonies that draw on the visuality and materiality of one culture in order to throw light on another in a small town where a history that had become hidden – its Chinese history – might provide a means for the town to prosper in the future with the envisaged pilgrimages of Chinese tourists to the area.
The Avoca Project reverses and questions many of the tropes of how we expect to live.
It is simultaneously a public and a private project, owned and shared. Individuals – artists from outside of Avoca and members of the Avoca community – are invited to engage in the project in different ways. The point is to be influenced by its histories, its current values and reasons for being and to be creatively challenged to make sense of this encounter as a responsive and responsible individual. Those who choose to participate are invited in to imagine, to reflect, to make new work, to talk and exchange experiences and thoughts. The undoubted courage, stamina and joy of such a commitment is frequently tested in an emotional and personal grappling with the distance between environmental sustainability and practices of land ownership, between expectations of art and issues of everyday life.
It is important to remember that the Avoca house was described as ‘beyond repair’ at the point of purchase. “Beyond repair’ acts as a metaphor for the way climate change is publicly imagined. By implication, it is ‘beyond hope’. This metaphor takes us to the core of the Avoca project as artwork. Framing acts of repair in relation to everyday life, the project becomes a means to grasp the ‘beyond hope’ and confront its implications. Jones describes this as ‘rehearsing catastrophe’. It is at once a metaphor and an artistic and performative strategy.
Rehearsing catastrophe is an imaginary that underpins a number of Jones’ works within a series led by Jones with other artists, Propositions for an Uncertain Future. Each piece leads participation through a strong conceptual frame that focuses the circumstances of potential disaster. The Ark of 2012, for example, focused the requirement to leave the land as a consequence of flooding, marshalling pairs of species (participants in masks) resonant of Noah’s Ark (see video here). Poignantly each participant was allowed one suitcase. The project powerfully evokes experiences of forced migration, of boat people, of evacuees from a war zone, of competing for resources and of being forced to encroach on other people’s land through sudden retreat from one’s own. The projects ‘name grief and loss’ (Lyndal Jones in conversation 12.3.2014).
If we think of The Avoca Project as an encounter in and through art, we might see that it is unforeseen in the way that art in normally produced. It is neither forced through the kind of shared thematic that frequently underpins public commissions nor is it easily categorised as emerging from a ‘social’, ‘situational’ or ‘relational’ genre of practice. The project is volunteered, not predetermined. It emerges out of a kind of exploratory questioning in which each new discovery accumulates knowledge. The necessity to classify falls away because of the clarity of the work as art in the form of a lasting encounter in which one insight and action builds upon another in the construction of a new world.
In the meantime Rehearsing Catastrophe: The Ark will be reimagined in Mons, Belgium in June 2015 as part of its fesitval as 2015 Cultural Capital of Europe.
Should we adapt to a world of Strange Weather, or attempt to prevent it? How can we model, control and even generate weather? How can we sustain our planet and human culture into the future?
“Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” ― Mark Twain
Calling all future forecasters, weather hackers and planetary visionaries: Science Gallery is seeking project proposals for our upcoming summer exhibition STRANGE WEATHER. To apply, read on or visit the STRANGE WEATHER website. The deadline to submit your ideas is 14.02.14.
What is really going on with the weather? How can scientists and designers help us understand weather systems? How can we understand and respond to climate change? STRANGE WEATHER is a curated exhibition that will bring together meteorologists, artists, climate scientists, cloud enthusiasts and designers to explore how we model, predict, and even create weather.
How has the human experience of weather changed over millennia, and how will it change in the next 50 years? Will future weather be more, or less predictable and controllable? Should we attempt to prevent a future of STRANGE WEATHER, or embrace it? From hurricanes to droughts, from cloud-seeding to greenhouse gases, weather is of greater concern than ever. What consequences and opportunities will arise from the changing weather of our planet?
Curated by CoClimate, this exhibition will challenge audiences with novel visions of a global culture adapting to extreme weather, and zooms in, to explore how STRANGE WEATHER will affect daily commutes, the governance of our cities, and even our fashion choices.
We are interested in works that offer a participative and interactive visitor experience for a broad age-range of visitors, especially those aged 15-25. We seek projects that inform, intrigue, provoke dialogue and engage audiences directly, making the complex and emotional topic of extreme weather and climate change more relevant to everyday experiences. In particular, we are looking for projects that connect massive planetary-scale systems to personal, localised and individual lived experience.
We are interested in receiving proposals on a wide variety of topics including, but not limited to:
- Tools for predicting and preparing for severe weather, climate change, and environmental change.
- Climate change and the everyday: projects that respond to the consequences of climate change. e.g. how will climate change affect fashion, entertainment, transportation and education?
- Examples and critiques of weather manipulation and GeoEngineering.
- Tools for mapping the planet: from satellites, to ocean drones and weather balloons.
- Designs that mitigate environmental change: architecture for migrating species, water management for more severe flooding, smog and air quality detection and prevention.
- Future scenarios for cities, governance and culture on a changed planet.
- Works that show how weather information is collected, compiled and disseminated.
- Exhibits that speak to the social, cultural and political implications of strange weather and climate change.
- Participatory experiences, field trips, site visits and workshops.
- Scientific experiments that utilise data/participation from visitors.
- Forecasting, not just of weather, but of many kinds of environmental patterns and change.
- Your amazing project that is relevant to the theme ‘Strange Weather’.
CURATORS & ADVISORS
- CoClimate, a think tank that studies the technologies and tactics used for sculpting the biosphere of planet Earth
- Michael John Gorman, Founding Director of Science Gallery and CEO of Science Gallery International
- Martin Peters, Computational Scientist at the Irish Centre for High Energy Computing
- Gerald Fleming, Head of Forecasting at Met Eireann
The open call will close at 12 midnight on Friday February 14th 2014. To apply visit our open call site. If you have any questions about the application process, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. The curators tell me that there is a budget for selected artists to make the work. Thanks to Aviva Rahmani for highlighting this call.
Subhankar Banerjee, who’s recent book Arctic Voices, highlights the oil business in the North from the perspectives of the people who live there, has written a piece for ClimateStoryTellers.org on humour.
Arctic Voices was well received,
“One of the great strengths of Arctic Voices is that it shows how Alaska and the Arctic are tied to the places where most of us live. In this impassioned book, Banerjee shows a situation so serious that it has created a movement, where “voices of resistance are gathering, are getting louder and louder.” May his heartfelt efforts magnify them. The climate changes that are coming have hit soon and hard in the Arctic, and their consequences may be starkest there.”—Ian Frazier, The New York Review of Books
In the piece Laughing Matters he highlights the long history and importance of humour as a means to shame otherwise impervious politicians.
The Summer Heat project, in addition to the Creative Action Cookbook, has a really interesting list of links to videos, tactics, essays and organisations. Well worth checking out.
Following up on Louis Helbig‘s presentation at Edinburgh College of Art comes Suzaan Boettger’s review in Brooklyn Rail of three books of photography of oil landscapes, Burtynsky’s Oil, J. Henry Fair’s The Day After Tomorrow: Images of our Earth in Crisis, and Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s Petrochemical America.
The review addresses the approaches of the three photographers and comments on their aesthetic and art historical context. There is a larger piece of work which would encompass, for instance, the also important books by James Marriott/PLATFORM including Next Gulf: London, Washington and the Oil Conflict in Nigeria and The Oil Road: Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London.
These books provide a counterpoint because rather than focusing on the visual in the context of the industrial, they narrate the relationship between the impact on the lives of people living with the oil industry and our lives in London, or Scotland, or wherever and how we are complicit through financial investments, whether that’s JP Morgan Chase or Royal Bank of Scotland.