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Domestic (Meaning the Entire Planet) Catastrophe: HeHe

Imagine an aquarium containing a rotating plastic globe, a motor to turn the globe and electronic valve which releases a fluoresceine tracing dye onto the sphere. As the sphere turns, the green dye wraps itself around the sphere, enveloping Earth and filling the atmosphere in a lurid green gas. Created by the collaborative group HeHe, the work presents an actual example of a human-induced emission in the context of global disaster, linking what many believe to be a ’cause’ with its ‘effect. The work is entitled “Domestic catastrophe #3 La Planète Laboratoire, 2012.

HeHe-Domestic-Catastrophe-1

A second ‘catastrophe domestique’ was entitled Plane Jam, is a site-specific art project by HeHe in which a miniature airplane flew out of the Theatre Royal in the historical centre of town. The small plane emitted a tremendous amount of white smoke, a disproportion of scale that always evokes alarm.HeHe-Domestic-catastrophe-2

Plane Jam, a site-specific art project by the Paris-based collective HeHe. It involved flying a miniature airplane out of the Theatre Royal building in the historical centre of Norwich. The small plane emitted a disproportionate cloud of white smoke. The project belongs to a series of HeHe works entitled ‘catastrophes domestiques’.

These works encapsulate the two great catastrophes that are looming prospects in the current era: global climate change and global terrorism. HeHe insinuates both of these gigantic threats into the lives of individual citizens by using the word ‘domestique’ in their titles.

 

 

 

Plane Jam, a site-specific art project by the Paris-based collective HeHe. The plan was, as promised by the press release sent out in advance, to fly a miniature airplane out of a theatre building, the Theatre Royal in the historical centre of town. The small plane was to emit unusually big — for a plane that size — clouds of white smoke, thus producing a strange and possibly estranging variation on what must be a pretty routine occurrence in a town like Norwich as in many other places, the passing of a plane. The project was intended as a next chapter in a series of HeHe works provisionally called ‘catastrophes domestiques,’ a title whose meaning wasn’t exactly clear to me, but which invoked a range of things, including a number of publicity campaigns initiated by governments and business in recent years, which sought to bring global crises like climate change down to the level of everyday experience, in the process ‘taming’ or ‘domesticating’ these crises, robbing them of their more disturbing features, as well as, quite possibly, their capacity to disturb. (One recent example is a Renault tv commercial which features various very mundane scenes – a dinner in a restaurant, a trip to the supermarket – except that all appliances featured in them – the portable PIN machine; the cash register – are powered by small combustion engines emitting small clouds of smoke.) But HeHe’s project had caught my attention also for a more specific reason, namely as a possible instantiation of a technique that I call – for the moment – ‘environmental method.’ – See more at: http://www.csisponline.net/2012/03/05/on-hehes-environmental-method/#sthash.T4yTkd3l.dpuf
Plane Jam, a site-specific art project by the Paris-based collective HeHe. The plan was, as promised by the press release sent out in advance, to fly a miniature airplane out of a theatre building, the Theatre Royal in the historical centre of town. The small plane was to emit unusually big — for a plane that size — clouds of white smoke, thus producing a strange and possibly estranging variation on what must be a pretty routine occurrence in a town like Norwich as in many other places, the passing of a plane. The project was intended as a next chapter in a series of HeHe works provisionally called ‘catastrophes domestiques,’ a title whose meaning wasn’t exactly clear to me, but which invoked a range of things, including a number of publicity campaigns initiated by governments and business in recent years, which sought to bring global crises like climate change down to the level of everyday experience, in the process ‘taming’ or ‘domesticating’ these crises, robbing them of their more disturbing features, as well as, quite possibly, their capacity to disturb. (One recent example is a Renault tv commercial which features various very mundane scenes – a dinner in a restaurant, a trip to the supermarket – except that all appliances featured in them – the portable PIN machine; the cash register – are powered by small combustion engines emitting small clouds of smoke.) But HeHe’s project had caught my attention also for a more specific reason, namely as a possible instantiation of a technique that I call – for the moment – ‘environmental method.’ – See more at: http://www.csisponline.net/2012/03/05/on-hehes-environmental-method/#sthash.T4yTkd3l.dpuf

Marjetica Potrc – Take Only What Conditions Provide

‘On demand’ conveniences that our ancestors could never have imagined are becoming the norm. Pervasive demands are regularly applied to quantity, tempo, duration, design, and quality. The principle driving many new technologies asserts the assumption that we humans can and should always get what we want. Two projects are bucking this trend by only providing what the fluctuating conditions of an eco system can supply. This means that when the ecosystem is allowed to dictate the resources available to us, we may not always get what we want. 

Of Soil and Water: King’s Cross Pond ClubContemporary , London (building materials, soil, water, plants, natural filtration, 2015) was designed by Ooze Architectural Firm (Eva Pfannes & Sylvain Hartenberg) in collaboration with Marjetica Potrc. Located on a construction site, this temporary artwork is a micro-ecological environment with a natural swimming pond at its center. Visitors can take a swim in the water that is purified through a natural, closed-loop process using wetland and submerged water plants. But that opportunity is not provided for every visitor who may desire to take the plunge because the daily number of bathers is restricted by the amount of water the plants are able to clean. The project embodies the principle of living in balance with nature!! In this instance, the focus is directed to the delicate balance of conditions that emerge from the relationship between plants and water.

 

 

 

Guests? Competitors? Migrants? Invaders? Tue Greenfort Wonders

 

greenfort-worldly-house-2

 

Guests? Competitors? Migrants? Invaders?

How do you refer to the critters who comprise a succession of occupants of a humble shed that was constructed in the 1950s?

Black swans were the original inhabitants of this picturesque building in the Baroque Karlsaue Park in Germany? The shed was built just for them, despite the fact that they were far from their native habitat in Australia. Presumably these gorgeous birds were introduced as an ornamental feature for the park. The shed designers did their best to provide them with the wetlands they require. The shed is surrounded by water. Nonetheless, when Tue Greenfort arrived in Kassel to plan his contribution to the prestigious dOCUMENTA 13 exhibition in 20102, there was not a swan in site. The last one disappeared in the 1970s.

Since the swans were not native to the region, their disappearance constituted the elimination of an introduced, non-native creature. Was this a loss or a gain in environmental terms???

But the shed did not stand vacant all these years. The saying, “Nature abhors a vaccuum” was confirmed when wild raccoons moved in. According to the eminent environmentalist, Daniel Simberloff, even racoons are native animals. Thus, the question is complicated regarding how their presence should be interpreted. If they are invaders and interlopers, when did they acquire this status? Or, since they got to Germany before the swans, were they claiming their rightful space????

For the exhibition, Greenfort continued the line of succession by inviting humans to enter the shed via a wooden walkway.

 

Black Swan - Alistair Young

 



 

 

Simon Starling Radiates like the Desert Sun

The titles of artworks that are a little confusing are more likely to discourage viewers from prolonged consideration than those that are totally baffling. Simon Starling‘s installation entitled C.A.M. Crassulacean Acid Metabolism is an example. This baffling verbal construction sent me rushing to Wikipedia where I discovered that Crassulacean acid metabolism is an adaptation among plants to increase efficiency in the use of water. Thus, it is typically found in cactii and succulents growing in arid conditions. Specifically, C.A.M refers to the process of reducing water loss because the leaves of the plant curl up during the day, which helps them retain water, then open at night. This CO2 is then used during photosynthesis. 

simon Starling - Crassulacean acid metabolism

 

SUPERFLEX – Join a Cockroach Tour of a Science Museum

Would you like to take a look at contemporary humans from the wisened perspective of the planet’s true survivors?

SUPERFLEX provided this opportunity by organizing “Cockroache Tours of the Science Museum” in London from 2011 to 2013. They announced, “Having outlived the dinosaurs, what will they make of our obsessions with speed, time… and burning things? Put yourself in their shells. Sign up with your friends and family for A Cockroach Tour of the Science Museum and get an inquisitive take on the human race.”

SUPERFLEX cockroach

Let’s Be Bold!

Dear Colleagues,

Let us not be timid regarding eco art and aesthetics. It is through aesthetics that eco artists can rise above the roster of today’s hot artists and assert their eligibility for acclaim in the future annals of art history. Why? Because most of the artists attracting market hoopla are merely perpetuating the speed, power, and convenience of push-button technologies that originated fifty or more years ago. This is old news.  By addressing this era’s key concern – the faltering of the planet’s systems and functions – eco artists are truly eligible for master-status. They fulfill a hallowed qualifier of ‘great’ art by creating art that is not only innovative; it is also timely.

 

Mel Chin: From Determination to Despair to Hope

The following words appear in the title of a delicate and mysterious drawing by Mel Chin:

An endosymbiont is any organism that lives within the body or cells of another organism. This hypothesis was put forward by Lynn Margulis in 1970. It declares that communal and parasitic relationships among bacterial cells are responsible for the evolution of complex life on Earth, not competition. 

A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue projecting from a mucous membrane.

Mel Chin, Endosymbiont Flight, Polyp Death, 2015. Graphite, colored pencil on paper. 10 1/2 × 8 inches. Courtesy the artist.

 

The drawing accompanies a bleak elegiac tome written by Mel Chin that is titled, Before the Storm Clouds of the 21st Century.

In the essay, the language of rapture and the sublime is reconceived to describe the planet’s dismal prospects as if they have already been fulfilled. Chin composes excrutiating descriptions of the sordid conditions that have emerged:

Back to the Drawing Board – Marjetica Potrc

Philosophy. Ethics. Aesthetics. Utility. Instruction. Each of the preceding words applies to Marjetica Potrc’s building and water reclamation projects. They coalesce in her drawings. A sample of these instructive and appealing works of art follows. They address such compelling topics as the dissolution of political borders, the collapse of modernism, the delusion of stability, and a borderless society.

Art. Science. Pigs Wings.

A compelling argument advocating the dissolution of boundaries separating art and science was expressed by Oron Catts in an interview with Piibe Piirma.

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Recreating Climate and Drone Bees

John Roloff demonstrated an increasingly popular approach to environmental woes when he constructed Seventh Climate (Paradise Reconsidered) in 2006. The project was located under design for I-5 Open Space freeway site in Seattle, WA. Three freeways passed overhead. The artwork occupied 7.5 acres.  This zone has been blocked from all the elements that comprise the patterns of weather and diurnal rhythms since the 1960s when the freeway was constructed.   Roloff recreated these conditions by reintroducing the specific amounts of rain, light, shadow and topographic properties existing at that time. Roloff is repeating a long art tradition by ‘re-creating’ what actually existed in the physical world. This representational work of art simulates the external Seattle climate. Everything is artificial: rain, sun and even moonlight.

 

    Roloff - Seventh Climate Paradise Reconsidered