Blog

Climate Change: The Fatalism of Force Majeure?

Posted Tuesday February 28, 2017 At 23:25PM . Artists, Blog

A 'force majeure' refers to occurrences beyond the reasonable control of any human, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, hurricane, flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc. It is the name of an ambitious body of work by Helen and Newton Harrison, and the title of a book that was just published.THE TIME of the FORCE MAJEURE: After 45 Years Counterforce is on the Horizon.

The Harrisons have added to the conventional examples of  'force majeures' one that is unique to the current era - the pressure of human-generated climate warming on the Earth's systems that are affected by rising temperatures, shrinking icepacks and changing in weather patterns - all of which are potentially catastrophic.

Newton explains why this force is major, "....the changes in the environment are both inevitable and happening. We have experienced at least 5 past mass extinctions related to environmental shock. Unless wefind effective ways to mitigate the impact of greenhouse gases and industrialization, the 6th mass extinction now in evidence will resist mediation."

Artists Offer Three Views of 'Science': Fact, Speculation, Religion

Posted Thursday February 23, 2017 At 01:31AM . Artists, Blog

Science as truth:

Hans Haacke’s demonstrated the scientific success of his art and ecology intervention in Rhinewater Purification Plant. The success of his experiment was evident in the clean basin filled with healthy goldfish. His innovative experiment relegated viewers to mere observers of a system that excluded their participation, their understanding, and their support. His mode of address manifested the factual and pedagogical authority that characterized one view of science. 

Science as speculation:

Natalie Jeremijenko disagrees.She objected to the authoritative stance of science and its inaccessibility to the public. Although Jeremijenko earned several advanced degrees in science, she switched careers in order to pursue her experiments within the category of art. She comments: ‘The artist’s view is invaluable precisely because artists are not experts and do not have the authority granted by science. They are only as persuasive as their images. As nonexperts—though interested and knowledgeable—they stand in for the view of Everyman. They transcend boundaries; they transcend disciplines, issues, and expertise. With art, the viewer knows that she has a license to interpret and critically evaluate the work and that her opinion matters. The same can’t be said of science. Scientific arguments are presented in the public imagination as faits accomplis. When definitive terms such as “discovered” and “understood” are the norm, science is often a one-way conversation.”[1]

Science as Religion:

Critical Art Ensemble not only concurs regarding the power of science; they identify this power with the power of a religion. "Science is the institution of authority regarding the production of knowledge, and tends to replace this particular social function of conventional Christianity in the west. In keeping with this position, science has slowly but surely become a key myth maker within society, thus defining for the general population the structure and dynamics of the cosmos and the origins and makings of life, or, in other words, defining nature itself. Much as religion once



[1] Viewer Discretion Advised. Review by Natalie Jeremijenko http://www.conservationmagazine.org/2010/05/viewer-discretion-advised/

 



[1] Viewer Discretion Advised. Review by Natalie Jeremijenko http://www.conservationmagazine.org/2010/05/viewer-discretion-advised/

 

Cosmological Grandeur of Tomas Saraceno's Vision

Posted Wednesday February 01, 2017 At 15:44PM . Artists, Blog

By merging his art practice with physics, biology, cosmology, and engineering, Tomas Saraceno's visions may seem too grand to be contained within the confines of any museum. Furthermore, his dedication to constructing the principles upon which a utopian future can be orchestrated seems anachronistic to the time scales of museum exhibitions. In addition, museums seem ill-equipped to provide a suitable setting where the particular future he is constructing because it locates humans and all other forms of life beyond our planet; it situates us in the vast expanses of the cosmos. Nonetheless, an exhibition evoking the enormity of this vision is currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art where it will remain through May, 2017.

 

Installation view, Tomás Saraceno: Stillness in Motion—Cloud Cities, 2017

From Landscape to Xeriscape to Mindscape

Posted Wednesday January 18, 2017 At 15:38PM . Artists, Blog

Mel Chin is back in eco action, this time to address the severe water shortages in California. Acting as a kind of 'Johnny Appleseed', he is installing living paintings throughout the city, each takes the form of a 15 square foot xeriscape (drought tolerant) planting.

To realize this goal, he created eight demonstration gardens, which he sited along the LA River at the Clockshop Bowtie Project. Then he pitched the gardens to art collectors to select one design to create for themselves in their own backyard or community space. Participants received a blueprint and an installation manual to execute the gardens.

Chin also created duplicates he calls “mirror gardens” in the yards of private homes in neighborhoods throughout the city, and public spaces at Occidental College and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In this manner he is engaging the public in a collective action that addresses their own water issues. As Patricia Lea Watts states, "This call to action, combining aesthetics and nature in a way that mimics our interdependence, is a “watershed” strategy for ecological art."

Down with the Anthropocene. Long live the Aerocene!

Posted Friday January 06, 2017 At 18:30PM . Artists, Blog

Never at a loss to discover new ways to disrupt social norms, Tomas Saraceno has announced an AEROCENE EXPLORER: BETA VERSION project. He describes the goal of the project, which is nothing less than challenging the Anthropocene and build a new epoch, the Aerocene.

The project proves that human exploration can proceed without fossil fuels, helium, rare gases, or batteries. It is:

Inflated by air,

Lifted by sunlight,

Carried by the wind.

Saraceno describes the project as "an open-source, Do-It-Together flying sculpture for solar-powered atmospheric exploration." He has announced an "Open Call" in which he invites members of the public to "be in the first Aerocene Explorer MOVIE - Share a 1-minute video of your Aerocene experience"

The Aerocene Exploer movie is a collection of 1-minute videos documenting the xperiences of people around the world. Along with the instructions provided at    , participants are encouraged to ‘hack’ the device's pack, and create their own sensors.

Turning Corpses Into Compost

Posted Sunday November 27, 2016 At 23:23PM . Artists, Blog

Described as “a startling next step in the natural burial movement”, the Urban Death Project proposes to recycle human corpses into compost. What is startling? I submit that it is the fact that people are startled that is startling, not the concept itself. Unfamiliarity with the truism that the human body consists of organic molecules that continually recycle throughout ecosystems is evidence of how drastically we humans have become divorced from the ecological systems in which we are imbedded.

Of course, humanity’s physical organisms are candidates for composting, just like dairy cattle and road kill. Bodies are nitrogen-rich. Combined with carbon-rich materials like wood chips, they constitute the ideal recipe for a fertile medium. Microbes do all the work. Temperatures rise to around 140 degrees when the decompose materials are decomposed. In the process, most pathogens are killed whle no odor is produced.

This project received a ‘finalist’ commendation by the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Challenge in November 2016. It is in its infancy. No bodies have yet been successfully composted. Jae Rhim Lee’s approach to human burial is more highly developed. Perhaps it is also more acceptable to contemporary norms and attitudes since the corpse is still laid in the ground where the mycelia do their decomposing out of sight.



Maya Lin Returns to Washington Triumphant

Posted Tuesday November 22, 2016 At 15:42PM . Artists, Blog

The behind-the-scenes story of Maya Lin's renowned Vietnam Memorial on the great Mall in Washington DC may surprise those who consider this work a moving testimonial to those who died in this pursuit. The response, at the time in 1982, was mixed. Those who celebrated the honor bestowed upon this young Asian artist were pitted against those who maligned the choice and its outcome. Maya Lin was caught in the fray, discredited because of her race, gender, and age.

Now, the dust has settled in favor of her supporters. This week she received The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the ultimate honor bestowed upon artists in this country. 

 

Haapoja Wins a Prestigious Award for Putting Humanity on Trial

Posted Friday October 28, 2016 At 16:27PM . Artists, Blog

Terike Haapoja wins the ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art

Terike won the ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art on 29th October. The Prize underlines the importance of live art and her significant contributions to this vanguard arena of contemporary artistic expression.

The chair of jury, Eva Neklyaeva, described Haapoja's work: "At its heart her work is fascinated with how we perceive and apprehend and  - perhaps more importantly - how we are perceived; how does the non-human feel our human presence – the animal, the mineral, the light and the life of the world, what is the real nature and impact of our footprint, our mark, our own signs of life. We know this one of the fundamental questions, one of the fundamental problems, of our age."

Terike Haapoja dares to challenge an entrenched social construction by stripping privileged humans of the power to parcel out the protections they demand for themselves. This lop-sided concentration of power has produced a civilization that supports brutal slaughter houses for animals, and mistreatment and genocide for un-empowered humans. Terika Haapoja is their self-declared spokewoman. Her latest art projets counter the anthropological institutions and attitudes that function like machines of targeted and willful abuse by declaring these'voiceless' beings to attain the status of political entities. Besides cattle, she has reached out to humans who are categorized as “others”: convicts, asylum seekers, children, foreigners or the mentally challenged.

 

 Haapoja-The Trial

Her drive for structural changes to common decision-making procedures and institutions aspires to incorporates these mute members of the planet's living populations a role in social decision-making processes.

To counter the violent logic of such political divisions, Haapoja created Party of Others in 2011. The "Statement of Principles” articulates the party’s platform. Significantly, it was formulated from a collection of interviews: “The Party of Others speaks for all those who don’t have a voice in social decision-making but who are nevertheless affected by the decisions: production animals, pets, wild animals, natural diversity as well as ecosystems such as rivers, swamps, mountains or forests.”

Haapoja launched the Party during Helsinki’s 2011 parliamentary elections, demanding inclusive representation and the values of social equality, diversity, and inter-species understanding. While the initiative raised much interest and garnered appreciable media coverage, it didn’t receive enough support to register the party officially, which required 5000 signatures. Perhaps she will try again in the future.

 

 

Fernando Garcia Dory Campaigns of Agro Reform in Korea

Posted Tuesday October 25, 2016 At 00:40AM . Artists, Blog

"Lament of the Newt" transferred FErnando Garcia Dory's campaign for agrarian preservation from Spain to Korea. His contribution to the Gwangju Biennale from August to September 2016 consisted of collective performances staged on the last surviving rice field in Gwangju. Once a common site, rice fields are being steadily usurped to create space for towering apartment blocks. Thus, instead of being the mainstay of Korean sights, the rice field has become a quaint anachronism  threatened with extinction.

Throughout the biennale, this field served as a stage for a collective performances examining the tenuous relationship between the city and the ecosystem in which it is located. Dory's title announces which of these competing forces has earned his loyalty. The work is a 'lament', meaning a loss has occured and it is being mourned.

Vanguard performance of contemporary sync pop choreographies and lip-dub were scheduled along side traditional village mask rituals honoring the seasonal cultivation of rice, as well as farmers unions' demonstrations. Combined, these events placed real estate development and economic growth within the context of their victim - a functioning ecosystem. In this manner the field itself contributed to this narrative by presenting irrefutable evidence of what was being lost: streams, plants, and other non-human organisms coalescing into a community of cooperating residents.

Rights of Nature: A Post-Anthropocentric Inevitability?

Posted Tuesday October 18, 2016 At 13:54PM . Artists, Blog

TREExOFFICE transforms the 'Rights of Nature' movement from a utopian desire to a functioning prototype. The artist, Natalie Jeremijenko, created this 'co-working' space in which the 'co' refers to two kinds of co-workers: human and trees. She equipped the space with all the requirements of a contemporary office (high speed internet) as well as the requirements of environmental conservations (locally generated renewable energy). The work elicits a parallel consideration regarding the tree. What inputs do trees need to function? How will these needs be converted into rights that are protected by law?

Tjeremijenko---tree-officehere are legal precedents for her action. In recent years,  rights granted to nonhuman entities have taken two forms. Corporations recently became the beneficiaries of a Supreme Court ruling that provides organizations the identical privileges as humans, and these rights are guaranteed by law. 'Nature' is gradually emerging as the other recipient of inherent 'rights'. New Zealand, for example, granted an 821 square mile forest the legal rights and status of a person. Other legal precedents include the Bolivian Rights of Mother Earth document. and the larger contemporary Rights of Nature Movement.

 

Marjetica Potrc's Art - Confirmed and Reaffirmed

Posted Thursday September 22, 2016 At 02:05AM . Artists, Blog

Shanty Mega-structures

There is little doubt that there is a problem regarding the overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and disease-prone environment that prevails in the sprawling shanty slums throughout Lagos, Nigeria, Rio De Janiero, and elsewhere.

The standard solution involves evicting the inhabitants and demolishing the ad hoc dwellings that are cobbled together out of scraps and debris. Marjetica Potrc proposed a revolutionary alternative by retaining the positive social aspects of these ramshackle neighborhoods, while altering the infrastructure, thereby providing on-site improvements without disrupting the social fabric.

Another radical approach was documented in 2015 at the Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism as part of the Maker Maker exhibit. It was presented by Olalalekan Jeyifous who explains, "I am proposing a series of digital images of ad-hoc assemblages as urban “super-structures”. These “super-structures”, whether towering or sprawling, combine attributes of improvised settlements with the scale of imposing hi-end commercial developments in an attempt to amplify some of the inherently sustainable aspects of many “impoverished” communities existing throughout the world. The images focus on the organic expansion of these highly self-organized spaces into privileged real estate, while considering how these ramshackle infrastructures might reconcile environmental and socio-economic issues."

So in this instance the dispossessed are given prominence and visibility albeit through a somewhat Dystopian vision that speaks to the fact that these communities often suffer from a lack of appropriate sanitation, electricity, medical services, and modern communications.

The Point of Pointless Effort: Simon Starling Ventures into Theater

Posted Wednesday September 07, 2016 At 02:36AM . Artists, Blog

POINTLESS EFFORT underlies the diverse, complex, and mystifying projects that have earned Simon Starling respect renown, as well as the prestigious Turner and Boss prizes. His signature projects, such as “Shedboatshed,” “Autoxylopyrocycloboros,” and “Tabernas Desert Run” all focus on effort that is physical. Each required that Starling undertake a task that was both grueling and unnecessary. These works mount an implicit critique of the contemporary cult of ‘labor-saving’ devices, from dish washers and automatic toothbrushes to backhoes and derricks.

Starling’s current project, entitled “'At Twilight: A play for two actors, three musicians, one dancer, eight masks (and a donkey costume) shifts what some might think of as POINTLESS EFFORT from physical muscles to brain muscles. Unraveling the conceptual effort he invested in orchestrating this work is required of the audience if they are to appreciate his artistic undertaking. By obviating the abundance of contemporary devices that streamline mental tasks, such as labor-saving programs and apps, the hard work of deciphering this work left to brains.

Whether he is addressing physical or mental labor, Starling offers opportunities for the sheer pleasure of exertion and the feats we humans are capable of achieving without the aid of modern technologies. But Starling always complicates this simple deduction by adding an ironic twist. In this instance, the theme of the play is summarized as "the pointlessness of waiting for a dream."


 

 

EXORCISM of a TOXIN: You are Invited

Posted Friday July 22, 2016 At 16:17PM . Artists, Blog

Reverend Billy's tweet today announces a great example of his socially inciteful antics. I'd like to share it with you. He states, "There is no Scenic Area with the Sweeping Grandeur of a Monsanto-free Local Park!"

The Reverend fiddles with the spelling of the chemical responsible for Roundup's lethal power that is guaranteed to decimate unwelcome plants. He transforms GLYPHOSATE to GLYPHO-SATAN! As Satan, the chemical is eligible for exorcism to thwart its power over the ecosystem.

The history of glyphosate is brief. Farmers quickly adopted it because Monsanto made it possible to kill weeds in a sweeping, undirected application because they also developed Roundup Ready crops that resisted the herbicide. Suddenly, farmers were granted the ability to kill the weeds without killing the crops.

In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States' agricultural sector and the second-most used in home and garden, government and industry, and commerce.[4] A 100 fold increase between 2007 and 2016 is largely explained by an irony Monsanto could not have anticipated - the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds![5]

Updates on M.Mandiberg and T.Strachan

Posted Thursday July 14, 2016 At 18:28PM . Artists, Blog

Michael Mandiberg is celebrating his receipt of a substantial Art + Technology Lab at LACMA to develop new work, with the support of the museum, private industry, and academia. The museum provides opportunities for the public to observe works in progress as they unfold.

Michael Mandiberg's project is called Mechanical Tramp because he will recreate the 1936 Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times. Instead of the showing the workplace as it existed in Chaplin's time, with massive gears, grinding machinery, and thick oiled joints churning relentlessly and frenetically, Mandiberg will show digital labor sourced from Amazon's Mechanical Turk marketplace. His version will both mirror the original, frame by frame, while simultaneously showing how the workplace has changed with the advent of the digital age. 

Mechanical Tramp

 

"Orthostatic Tolerance" by Tavares Strachan was new when my book, TO LIFE!, went to press. Strachan's more recent work maintains his signature "Wow!" factor, but it introduces an entirely new context, medium, and scale. The Pierogi Gallery is exhibiting a diptych. One side displays the modesty of a simple pain of glass from a neglected industrial building. It was broken. The double crack runs in meandering lines from the base to the edge. What is remarkable about his work? Strachan violated all probability by creating another glass and breaking it to generate the identical crack! In a flash, what was presumed to be random is transmuted into a refined act of intentional crafting. It shocks the system.Where, What, When (Dislocated remnants from simultaneous events, #s 8 and 9, Providence, RI)

Where, What, When + Passage Ways

 

 

 

 

"Solastalgia": An Environmental Malady of the Spirit

Posted Saturday April 02, 2016 At 15:43PM . Artists, Blog

The word 'solastalgia' has not yet appeared in any dictionary, but that omission is likely to be rectified when the next editions are produced. The word was invented by Glenn Albrecht, a Professor of Sustainability at Murdoch University in Perth. Specializing in the intersection of ecosystem and human health, he had no word to describe the unhappiness of people whose landscapes were being transformed by the damage wrought by contemporary technologies and human behaviors. Thus, he invented one. "Solstalgia" describes this new version of homesickness.

Robert Macfarlane, in an article in today's Guardian, provides a compelling explanation of the word's timeliness. He states, "Where the pain of nostalgia arises from moving away, the pain of solastalgia arises from staying put. Where the pain of nostalgia can be mitigated by return, the pain of solastalgia tends to be irreversible.....Solastalgia speaks of a modern uncanny, in which a familiar place is rendered unrecognisable by climate change or corporate action: the home become suddenly unhomely around its inhabitants." In other words, the new wor connectis ecosystem distress and human distress.