Nationalism Under Attack by Localism and Globalism

Posted Sunday June 23, 2013 At 16:06PM . Blog, Eco Issues

Once again, national pavilions are featured in this year’s Venice Biennale,. While approximately 90 countries are participating in the most prestigious of all international art festivals, many of the artists selected to represent their homelands are dismantling conventional ideas about nationhood and national identity. The contribution by Tavares Strachan from the balmy Bahamas, for example, contains ice collected in the North Pole; Stefanos Tsivopoulos’s contribution to the  Greek Pavilion contains footage of an African immigrant pushing a supermarket trolley through the streets of Athens hunting for scrap metal to sell; and at the Pavilion of Chile, Alfredo Jaar has created a scale model of the Giardini (a site at the Venice Biennale)emerging from a large pool of sludgy-green liquid before sinking back into its depths.Nationalism is further tromped by France and Germany because they swapped pavilions. Of the four artists on display in the French Pavilion, only Romuald Karmakar was born in Germany, and he is the son of an Iranian father and a French mother.

Consumer Materialism / Bio Materialsim

Posted Thursday June 13, 2013 At 20:52PM . Blog, Eco Issues

I sometimes envy the ease with which Medieval painters and sculptors laid claim to the public’s attention. The only time people in this era encountered images (instead of tangible things) was during Sunday visits to church!

In an era characterized by a relentless barrage of depictions, two-dimensional renderings and sculpted representations are possibly the least optimal forms of artistic communication today. These conventional art genres and mediums are being trounced by imagery emblazoned on surfaces everywhere - commercial products, printed materials, storefronts, T-shirts, overlays on our computer screens, the walls surrounding baseball fields…...A supersaturated public is not inclined to seek additional visual experiences.

Thus, every day contemporary artists face the problems that male cicadas confront just once every 17 years – how to make their presence known within the cacophonous din created by frenetic competition.

Many eco artists regain the impact that art enjoyed in Medieval times by offering today’s audiences experiences that are as rare to us as rendered images were 800 years ago. They are greatly expanding the inventory of art strategies to provide the opportunity for sensual and visceral encounters with the vast catalog of actual materials that abound on Earth.

Too Many Births Days

Posted Wednesday June 05, 2013 At 02:29AM . Blog, Eco Issues

Increasing knowledge of animal behaviors has been eroding confidence in the uniqueness of the human species. While we  excel in our capacity for cognitive flexibility, innovation, and imitation, other categories of specialness are being discredited. We are not the only species that can make and use tools, nor the only animal with consciousness, with language, with emotions, etc.

But there are two factors that are securely unique to humans. One is that we are the only species that has domesticated fire. The other is that no other species on Earth REDUCE birth rates when food supplies INCREASE! This biologically baffling condition is purely voluntary. No governmental edicts are needed to produce a psychological switch regarding a couple's desire for offspring. They happen automatically when standards of living improve.

Lower births rates across the globe have followed the course of prosperity from North America to Latin America, then to Asia, and most recently to Africa. In each location, increases in income and education resulted in fewer births and lower infant mortality. Unlike the material desires of the newly prosperous, when it come to the desires for children, 'more' is  is not better!

Oil and Water Don't Mix

Posted Tuesday May 28, 2013 At 14:57PM . Blog, Eco Issues

The following quote comes from an interview by Andrew Pendakis with the artist, Ursula Biemann who is contributing to the Maldives Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Both articulate the profound culture-shifting and potentially world-shattering impacts of two basic fluids: oil and water. I hope you will read it. The text brims with consciousness and conscienciousness.

"Oil and water, though not quite opposites, are anecdotally understood as chemically incompatible (‘they don’t mix’). This incompatibility mirrors a very strong associative or symbolic antagonism.

Updating the Hudson River School of Art

Posted Friday May 24, 2013 At 19:17PM . Blog, Eco Issues

Updating the Hudson River School of Art

Sublime beauty is not the only reason why the wilderness inspired Thomas Cole’s most esteemed paintings. He also revered wilderness because it embodied the wondrous workings of nature and the sacred mysteries of God. Cole watched with consternation as the Hudson Valley’s rugged wildness was leveled by railroads, paved by roads, rechanneled by mills, deforested by tanning industries, and tamed by farms. His romanticized nostalgia epitomizes the art of the region, known as the Hudson River School of painting, in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.

Let us EatLet-Us-Eat-the-Colors-of-Na

Globalism vs Localism

Posted Wednesday May 15, 2013 At 18:08PM . Blog, Eco Issues

Despite the surge of initiatives among environmentalists to establish locally scaled endeavors such as local currencies, community gardens, neighborhood recycling facilities, district-based material exchanges, and regional trading partners, contemporary cultural norms still cluster around the glamorous images evoked by being a jet-setting globe trotter. Globalism is apparent in world music, world cups, world wars, world politics, world premieres, the World Wide Web, the World Trade Organization, and the World Bank. It is less apparent, but equally present, in paper clips, shoelaces, peanut butter, and combs. In all these ways globalism evokes the inspiring vision of melding “the ends of the earth” and its “four corners” into a unified sphere.


Posted Friday May 10, 2013 At 16:55PM . Blog, Eco Issues

‘Manifestos assert a call to action to overthrow the status quo and install a radical alternative. For this reason, I have written the following text in the form of a manifesto.


Artists’ commit to examining all by-products of their material manipulations:
GOOD: Reduce energy consumption and waste production during art production
BETTER: Reduce energy consumption and waste production during transportation, packaging, and display of art, as well as art production.
BEST:  Eliminate energy consumption and waste production during transportation, packaging, and display of art, as well as art production.

Artists accept responsibility for the environmental costs of maintaining their works of art after they leave the studio:
    GOOD: The art work minimizes environmentally costly investments in climate control, archival     papers, and storage.
    BETTER: The art work eliminates environmentally costly investments in climate control, archival     papers, and storage.
    BEST:  The artwork is either biodegradable or it is non-biodegradable but recyclable

The CIA: Patrons of Eco Art?

Posted Wednesday May 01, 2013 At 02:18AM . Blog, Eco Issues

Eco artists are engaged in emergency rescue missions to save the beleagured planet. Most of these artist are self-propelled by urgencies that are both pragmatic and psychological. Their drive to heal and restore the planet, however, is frequently diverted by the need to seek funding and opportunities.  

The world would be so much more safe and secure if some enlightened patron provided the resources that would enable eco artists to fulfill their innovative enviornmental schemes.

I propose the CIA!

Is this idea crazy?

Not at all. It follows a documented precedent.

CIA officials just revealed that for more than 20 years the agency directed its vast resources to secretely promote Abstract Expressionism around the world!


The Ethics of Eco-Art Criticism

Posted Wednesday April 24, 2013 At 01:10AM . Blog, Eco Issues

A critical ethical art question was raised in an email I received this Earth Day from my friend Ann Rosenthal: Should artists be held accountable for the waste, extravagance, or pollution associated with creating their works of art?

This question is particularly testy when it is applied to eco-artists who sometimes claim that the damaging impact of the materials used in their works is excusable because their art works awaken consciousness of irresponsible behaviors and may ultimately be redeemed by the reformed behavior of members of their audience.

Blackberry: The Bush is Omitted. The Device is Added.

Posted Tuesday April 23, 2013 At 01:52AM . Blog, Eco Issues

Does anyone you know still doubt the severity and urgency of addresssing the seismic cultural shift away from engagement with life-processes and seasons and waterways and weather?

Does anyone still deny that these interactions with the non-human environment have been replaced by the wholesale adoption of experiences provided by electronics and the material products produced by mechanics?

The substitutions made in the latest version of the Oxford University Press Childrens' Dictionary provides glaring evidence of this trend.

Hunters/Gatherers with Cell Phones

Posted Wednesday April 10, 2013 At 14:07PM . Blog, Eco Issues

The joy that radiates from the face in this photograph seems absolute. It also seems so rare. The smiles of my acquaintances lack such complete joy. Happiness does not define their constant state of being.


The Declining Relevance of Animal Metaphors

Posted Sunday March 24, 2013 At 19:36PM . Blog, Eco Issues

Establishing continuity among entities that are typically presented as contrasting disparities is the principle inspiring Terike Haapoja. In an effort to establish rapport and cooperation, Haapoja dissolves the contrast between 'alive' and 'dead', for example, by displaying the gradual morphing that occurs when an entity is no longer supported by breath and metabolism. Furthermore, she erases the boundaries between human life and bacterial life, highlighting the neglected interdependency that fuels the engines of all forms of life. Haapoja---horse

An article in today's NY Times by Edward Hoagland introduces an ironic twist to this theme. Hoagland points out how many popular phrases and adjectives in the language suggest the correlation between homo sapiens and other kinds of animals, "By our own account we’re pigs, yet bearish, owly but mousy, catty and bovine. We beaver at work, hawk merchandise, and ape others by parroting them. We’re lemmings, wolfish, snakes in the grass, weasels, bucks, hens, leonine or sharks. We’re beaky or tigerish, doe-eyed, raven-haired, foxy, chicken-hearted, slow as a tortoise, meek as a dove, sheepish, dogged, old goats, goosey, sitting ducks or vultures. We butt in, bull ahead, change our stripes or spots, strut like a peacock, weep crocodile tears, ram through or swan about. We’re rabbity, calf-eyed, we beat our chests like gorillas, buzz off, or act like a jellyfish."

Creating a History of Contemporary Eco Art

Posted Saturday March 23, 2013 At 13:55PM . Blog, Eco Issues

Contemporary eco art is a living phenomenon, which means it is responsive, capricious, unpredictable, and evolving. Manifold creative opportunities are available to contemporary eco artists. Such liberties are matched by the creative opportunities available to eco art historians (writers, critics, curators, and instructors). Yet this exhilerating freedom hardly seems conducive to a disciplined scrutiny required of those who engage in art history, a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events.

But we eco art historians are impatient to construct the history of our era. We often begin this task the instant a work of art is presented to the public.  Conducting this process in the absence of formulated theories and identified qualifiers is essentially a creative act. Like contemporary artists, contemporary art historians have been emancipated from the confining rules of established orthodoxies.

Should Humans Eat Rats?

Posted Thursday March 21, 2013 At 14:45PM . Blog, Eco Issues

Subway rats are adding a new dimension to the definition of 'foody'. These nuisance rodents have defied previous poisons and traps set by transit officials. According to an article headlined, "MTA Sets New Tactic In Rat Wart", rats are 'foodies' who are also locavores'. The current extermination tactic is to offer bait laced with birth control medications. This approach has been successful elsewhere, but it has been difficult in New York.


Devising a tempting bait has revealed that city rats have sophsticated regional palates. Rats in Laos like coconut, which did not appeal to rats in Indonesia that prefer fish. What tempts rats in New York city?


Officials are trying food from their regional diets - trash that contains pizza crusts, cold French fries, and the remains of Chinese take-out. The experiment on the rats' favorite Manhattan trash recipe is being funded by that the National Institutes of Health. It allocated $1 million to finance rodent taste tests in NYC subway trash rooms. Preliminary findings: rats prefer pepperoni and chicken nuggets.

The Irrelevance of Nations

Posted Wednesday March 20, 2013 At 01:07AM . Blog, Eco Issues

Nations provide solidarity, protection, and security.  But they also produce disputes, dangers, and difficulties. The entities that are currently passing freely across national borders includes toxic heavy metals from mining operations that travel downstream as far as the waters flow; airborne pollutants from coal-fired installations that ride air currents that encircle the globe; crude oil spilled from tankers that travels up the food chain to lodge in the cells of fish that swim the seas; plastic debris that is washed from shores of one continent to arrive on the shores of another; radioactive wastes with half-lives that outlast disposal technologies intended to prevent leakage; GMO crops that escape the confines of an agricultural site by self-propagating.

While no fortification is capable of preventing endangering leakages, the futility of sealing borders is advantageous when benign and beneficial trespassers cross border patrols unimpeded.