Day 1, Stream 2
Jodi Newcombe: Carbon Arts, Australia
Ricardo Dal Farra: Concordia University – Hexagram, Canada
Shabina Aslam & Matti Pohjonen: Ankur Productions / Researcher and Visual Artist, United Kingdom
Nina Czeglady: University of Toronto / Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Pat Badani: Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus, United States
Anne Nigten & Michel Van Dartel: Art Academy Minerva, Hanze University and The Patching Zone / Art Academy Minerva, Hanze University and V2_, Netherlands
Ricardo Dal Farra [e]arts for humanitarian actions? the “art!⋈ climate” initiative
The ‘art!⋈climate’ initiative emerged from the idea to collaborate with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre -and its worldwide network- with specific actions that could support their humanitarian actions
The first step of this multiple-stage project is a call to create sound miniatures that the Climate Centre will use in its activities, such as: workshops, simulation/educational games, lectures and presentations around the world, and eventually in audio-visual material too. We mean by sound art miniatures: “creations of sound art/music made from the use of new technologies, whose products can fit into what is known as soundscapes, electroacoustic /acousmatic music, sonorizations and sonifications.” Several media art forms are currently being considered to be accepted in the following stages.
The ‘art!⋈climate’ project became possible as a creation-knowledge-action proposal to reach those who are already affected or in imminent danger from the consequences of climate change, and also for those who are not directly touched by it yet. It can be seen as a tool but it is not less artistic for being that. On the contrary, the principal idea here grows from a cooperative effort having powerful means based on artistic creations -with a value independently from its potential functionality- and simultaneously, a tangible application in humanitarian actions.
We propose a true collaboration that can have an effect on “real people” while preserving the significance and meaning of each contribution and action. Art can be created with or without a specific goal, and this appears like one of those cases where both situations harmonize.
The ‘art!⋈climate’ project is part of the Balance-Unbalance initiative and has been developed by the Electronic Arts Experimentation and Research Centre (Centro de Experimentación e Investigación en Artes Electrónicas – CEIArtE) at National University of Tres de Febrero in Argentina and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre.
Shabina Aslam & Matti Pohjonen Casino
Technological solutions to climate change have so far focused on the carbon footprint of consumers and corporations in the industrial North. Yet if we look at where a large part of the world still lives – in rural areas in Africa, Asia and South America – most people are too poor to be consumers. Their footprint is that of production, not consumption. They are farmers who grow plants and trees for their livelihood into which carbon dioxide becomes sequestered in complex and often yet unaccounted ways. These hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers across Africa, Asia and South America represent a significant force in our battle against climate change. Yet if plants and trees are the “lungs of the planet,” attempts to include them – both in the compliance and voluntary offset markets – have not been successful. The current system is in shambles.
Based on previous research done in Ethiopia, this art provocation challenges our common sense notion of what climate change is by creating an imaginary stock market based on growth patterns of trees in the developing world combined with economic algorithms on which stock market relies on. The participants of the projects then – similar to the real stock market – speculate on the monetary “benefits” of growing trees based on this data, including how it can be processed into a new language of commerce and interaction between humans and trees. The end result is an open-ended game of buying and selling carbon dioxide and oxygen, dealt by a croupier in a real life casino, situated in an ambiguous container hidden in a clearing in Galloway Forrest Park in Scotland, 300 square miles of diverse landscape. This shows the importance of everyday natural objects such as trees when we talk about climate change and the planets future.
Nina Czeglady re-Framing Nature
This presentation focuses on observations of an historical nature as well as considering emerging patterns in our individual and collective attitude to Nature, ecology and the environment. The dialectics also bring into relat the significance and future implications of a variety of initiatives by environmental art activists. Nature may be considered as the world of living organism and their environment; in a larger sense the shape of Nature can also be understood to include particular extents of space and time. These perspectives form a very specific thread that begins with the earliest depictions of Nature, the oldest theme in the history of art, and manifests today in the radical contributions of the Eco-Activist art movement. Contrary to popular belief, human interference with the environment dates back a long time, well before the advent of the modern period and its ‘new’ preoccupation with ecological harmony. While today the media as well as the general public seem pre-occupied with catastrophic predictions of global warming, – climate change has been a compelling factor for social collapse around the world for many centuries. Since the second half of the 20th century dramatic shifts have occurred in our attitudes and in the arts towards Nature. More specifically, over the past decades there has been a critical transition from passive representation to pro-active movements. Art today not only integrates new technologies and unconventional materials but it also blurs the boundaries between everyday life and art. Case studies will illustrate the new attitudes, to be compared with traditional approaches by indigenous people on different continents. The main goal of contemporary Eco-activist art is to re-Frame complex issues so that they maintain essential meaning while the process itself facilitates attitude changes to the environment – mainly through positive social innovation leading to social change.
Pat Badani On AL GRANO’s “Crop-Cropping” project and agro-cultural erasures
In an evaluation of the idealized vision of scientific and technological progress, the multi-year AL GRANO project questions the rush by agribusiness to produce genetically modified corn to supply the needs of an expanding industry of processed foods without consideration of the potential chain of unbalances: maize’s biodiversity and its extinction, impoverished lands, water depletion, the demise of small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods in Mexico, obesity in the USA yet starvation in developing countries.
The artist has lived in Mexico and in the U.S.A. Corn Belt, and through this experience she has come to see the defense of maize as a fundamental reaction to capitalist interests that instigate the protection of Mexican cultural integrity, specifically by indigenous populations who defend native seeds, their lands and their livelihoods.
Nested within the AL GRANO enterprise, the “Crop-Cropping” work transforms into art the current political, social and economic murkiness related to maize seed debates by drawing from Spanish American literature, and using an iconographic language that conjoins new media codes and ancient Maya codes. The title of the piece plays with the words –crop and cropping– used in agriculture as well as in digital art practices.
“Crop-Cropping” is accessed via an Augmented Reality App. Tagged foodstuffs in U.S.A supermarkets are portals to vision-based augmented reality layers of digital content in context with the real-world objects. Additionally, the AR app links to an interactive piece designed for touch-sensitive screens (smart phones and tablets) with a pictographic interface inspired by Maya logograms. Historical and contemporary elements overlap and are digitally dealt with to address a latent erasure. The spotlight is not only on impending extinction of seeds and of ecosystems, but also on processes of erosion, disappearance, revaluation, and densification in the production of historical narratives.
Anne Nigten & Michel Van Dartel Towards Ecological Autarky
Today’s ecological threats call for far-reaching changes in the way we live. To achieve these changes however, they first need to be envisioned. Art plays a crucial role in such imagination of us dealing with ecological threats. This paper assesses the role of art as a catalyst in climate awareness by analysing artistic scenarios that deal with climate issues. It will focus on artistic scenarios that call for increased levels of self-sufficiency with respect to existing infrastructures and systems, such as alternative energy infrastructures (e.g. the mobile architecture projects Walking House by N55 or The Blind Painters’ World in a Shell project), reflect on agricultural systems (e.g. Christien Meindertsma’s PIG 05049, Sjef Meijman’s Chicken Tractor project, or Claudy Jongstra’s textile projects), or question consumer economy (e.g. Thomas Twaites’ The Toaster Project).
Certainly, science and philosophy also propose scenarios that call for far-reaching changes to cope with ecological threats and increased levels of self-sufficiency. The more radical their proposals are however, the less chance there seems to be that they will lead to concrete experimentation or implementation. In contrast, in the context of art, radical ideas are never merely conceptualized, but always put to practice through art projects, that serve as proof of concepts for micro-ecosystems or as conversation starters. While doing so, art dealing with climate issues often helps establishing constructive dialogue and knowledge exchange among different disciplines, as the artistic scenarios discussed in this paper will illustrate.
The artistic strategies will be discussed in the light of an existing body of theoretical work that proposes increased levels of self-sufficiency as a solution to ecological threats. The paper combines artistic research and theoretical work to sketch the contours of a new version of autarky: An ecological autarky, in which individuals live ‘autonomous’ with respect to existing infrastructures.