Posts Tagged ‘extinction’

Open Call for Entries: Biodiversity/Extinction

July 21, 2015

Art Science Inspires

ASCI (Art Science Collaborations Inc) is currently calling for works for an exhibition in the New York Hall of Science (deadline 23 August 2015).  ASCI has involved two really interesting jurors – Elizabeth Corr from the Natural Resources Defence Council and Paula J Ehrlich from the E.O.Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. The exhibition announcement highlights key themes and issues,

The Paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux, France are a magnificent record of early man’s portrayal of the biodiversity of his surroundings. Artists have continued this long tradition, finding endless inspiration from the shape, color, pattern, texture, movement, and sounds of our natural world to create art in all expressive media. Taking the example of birds: Leonardo keenly observed and drew the flight pattern of birds in an attempt to invent a flying machine; Alfred Hitchcock used bird sounds as a psychological metaphor in his film, The Birds; Audubon’s self-published opus, Birds of America, proved his dual genius as a naturalist and artist; and a growing number of contemporary artworks are being created in reaction to avian species extinction, such as Rachel Berwick’s “may-por-é,” “Zugunruhe,” and “A Vanishing: Martha” installations.

Today we are learning the importance of the conservation of Earth’s biodiversity for more than its innate beauty, capacity to inspire art, and to lift our spirits. It is acknowledged by scientists and even governments around the world, as the key indicator of the health of our planet’s ecosystems. And, a rich biodiversity underpins ecosystem “services” (such as recycling of nutrients, purifying water, removing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen to our atmosphere, and sustaining habitat for animals and organisms like trees, and seeds that produce food), that are essential for human sustainability on our beautiful planet.

In his 1998 book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, the esteemed Harvard biologist who coined the term “biodiversity,” E.O. Wilson, argues for a return to the ideals of the original Enlightenment, including the bridging of the sciences and humanities. It is in this spirit that Art & Science Collaborations is organizing the “SCIENCE INSPIRES ART: Biodiversity/Extinction” exhibition at the New York Hall of Science. We hope to demonstrate the wide diversity of visual tropes that today’s artists are employing to reflect upon the crisis of biodiversity loss and species extinction. We are seeking images of original art executed in any media for this international show.

Further information including guidance on submissions is on the ASCI page.

Fallen Animals cfp

December 13, 2014

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 and Dr Áine Larkin

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

Sharing video Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl

December 1, 2014

We have previously covered the subject of collapse and recently talked about extinction. This beautiful short film, part of a larger project, takes us to a zone where one of the major ‘collapse’ events, the meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor, has meant that we can see one of our potential future: the one where the planet recovers from our presence. (Of course it is still our eyes and our aesthetic communicating the story, and our emotions are still manipulated by our music in the background.)

Only Human? Thom Van Dooren on Vultures and on Snails

November 19, 2014

Last Sunday Thom Van Dooren spoke about extinction at the first Only Human? Festival in Glasgow, part of the nationwide Arts & Humanities Research Council Being Human Festival.  Previous posts have highlighted key quotes from his book Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction.  Thom very kindly agreed to us sharing recordings of his narratives of Vultures (which features in Flight Ways) and of Snails, which is as yet unpublished.

Thom Van Dooren on Vultures and Snails (link to SoundCloud playlist)


A few other links that might be useful:

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List

Scottish Natural Heritage Advisory Note 48, Priority Species in Scotland: plants

Scottish Natural Heritage Advisory Note 49, Priority Species in Scotland: animals

Bird Life campaign to ban vetinary Diclofenac

Scientific American blog Extinction Countdown

Only Human? and what of autonomy?

November 14, 2014

Thom Van Dooren quotes (p. 141) Val Plumwood saying,

When we hyperseparate ourselves from nature and reduce it conceptually, we not only lose the ability to empathise and to see the non-human sphere in ethical terms, but also get a false sense of our own character and location that includes an illusory sense of agency and autonomy. (Plumwood 2009:117)

Van Dooren is seeking to challenge the idea of human exceptionalism – that we stand above nature. He highlights aspects of the philosophical tradition particularly referencing Heidegger, though the trajectory is at least 400 years (Descartes would be another figure, but wouldn’t we need to go back to the Greeks) – Western philosophy has insistently sought the distinction between man and animal.

But for a moment I want to focus on the artistic tradition, and in particular Val Plumwood’s word ‘autonomy.’

In the modern tradition, artists’ autonomy has been linked with criticality and has authorised the artist (across artforms but for the purposes of this argument thinking through visual art) to reflect on society, whether that is Manet, Picasso, Kaprow or Jeremy Deller. In the practice of art this autonomy, this ability to reflect, comment and critique society through art is important, but in broader cultural terms we might want to question whether the artist becomes the poster child or flag bearer that has contributed to a wider idea of human autonomy?

Thinking of Van Dooren’s long history of human exceptionalism, Giorgio Vasari‘s construction of Michelangelo’s life might be a key point, in parallel with the philosophical tradition. Vasari asserts Michelangelo’s genius as being so great that he can break any rule,

So Michelangelo produced a design of incomparable richness, variety, and originality, for in everything he did he was in no need of architectural rules, either ancient or modern, being an artist with the power to invent varied and original things as beautiful as those of the past. (p.397)

That this genius could surpass nature,

To be sure, if the enmity that exists between fortune and genius, between the envy of the one and the skill of the other, had allowed this work to be completed, then art would have demonstrated that it surpassed nature in every way. (p.369)

That Michelangelo releases artists from limitations,

In this all artists are under a great and permanent obligation to Michelangelo, seeing that he broke the bonds and chains that had previously confined them to the creation of traditional forms. (p.366)

And finally that the artist is categorically exceptional,

Moreover, he [God] determined to give this artist the knowledge of true moral philosophy and the gift of poetic expression, so that everyone might admire and follow him as their perfect exemplar in life, work, and behaviour and in every endeavour, and he would be acclaimed as divine. (p.325)

Perhaps in questioning human exceptionalism, artists need to question the way their autonomy reads as part of wider dominant Western cultural assumptions? Perhaps criticality needs to be turned on autonomy and exceptionalism? There is a long history to our culture which now finds itself extinguishing so much with so little thought.

Van Dooren reframes the situation through mourning (p.144),

In this context, mourning with crows is about more than any single species, or any number of individual species, but must instead be a process of relearning our place in a shared world: the evolutionary continuities and the ecological connectivities that make our lives possible at all.

Join us on Sunday 16 November for Thom Van Dooren‘s session 12.30-14.00 James Arnott Theatre, Gilmorehill Halls, part of the Only Human Glasgow programme.

Van Dooren, Thom, Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction, Columbia University Press, 2014

Vasari, Giorgio, Lives of the Artists, Penguin 1982/1965

Only Human? 14-16 November

October 29, 2014

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.

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