This journey actually involves going from London to Toronto to New York with a stop over in Washington in an attempt to make the most out of one transatlantic trip. The following represents one leg of the journey.
Distance: approximately 500 miles
Option 1: Train
Route: Toronto (Union Station) to NYC (Penn Station) direct
Time: 13 hours (approx.)
Cost: $97 US (Coach)/ $127 (Business) -one way
Carbon output: low (~45.1kg)
Option 2: Bus
Route: Toronto to NYC (Port Authority Bus Terminal/Penn Station) direct
I have been spending time in the presence of cyber-dystopians.
Last Tuesday I went to great talk by Evgeny Mozorov at the RSA, to hear Mozorov pour scorn on the idea that the internet is the harbinger of a new democratic personal freedom. He suggests that totalitarians and corporate astroturfers alike love it when we unthinkingly accept the internet as a force for good; it makes their work so much easier for them. Institutions are weakened by social media? Bah! It strengthens their hegemony.
I went to Art of Digital, hosted by FACT in Liverpool, where a great line up includedAndrew Keen rehearsing the thesis he put forward in Cult of the Amateur, namely that the internet is destroying the underpinnings of our culture by making conventional cultural transmission valueless, destroying newspapers and publishers and replacing erudition with Wikipedia. (Actually he’s moved on a little since then – but I’ll come to that in a minute.)
It’s true we have lived in the age of technological positivism for a little too long. When I freelanced for Wired it seemed almost heretical to suggest that some of the things we were writing about might not actually ever happen. A little corrective to that relentless utopianism is no bad thing. However the new public speaking circuit – something which has blossomed unexpectedly in the virtual age – naturally magnifies the extremes of the argument. You’re more likely to be listened to if you say something is either brilliant or crap.
While it’s true that the internet is altering culture fundamentally, maybe it’s time we started being a little more systematic about finding out exactly what it is that’s really going on.Matthew Taylor said this in his blog yesterday; any change produces results that are likely to be both positive and negative; we need to start understanding what they are. So what does this mean for the arts?
The Art of Digital strand has, naturally, been looking into that. I’ve argued elsewhere that arts institutions don’t fully understand the unfolding changes that are taking place – and the various consultants speaking earlier in the day, who didn’t go much further than describe social media as much more than a particularly whizzy new marketing tool, weren’t doing a great deal to change that outlook.
It was, paradoxically, Andrew Keen who pointed out one silver lining for the arts – and one that is going to be undoubtedly very powerful in years to come. We live in a world in which almost anything can now be copied for free. As the financial value of anything that can be copied disappears, so too the cultural value becomes undermined. For instance, recorded music, one of the greatest forms of the 20th century, is in a major slump from which it will never recover. Sure, there is great music still being made, but it’s a lot harder to get paid for it, and as a consequence, its cultural heft is drifting away. We are unlikely to see a cultural force as strong as, say, The Beatles – whose greatest music was never performed live – ever again.
But – sticking with music – we’re living in a golden age for performing artists. Never have as many people flocked to live concerts. The recession hasn’t even begun to put a kink in box office receipts.
As the value of the reproducible declines, the value of the irreproducible rises. A DVD of a performance is relatively worthless. Actually being there is invaluable. We are becoming a culture that wants the experience, as much as the content itself. Keen’s idea is an extension of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. What we want is the “aura” of the work of art, to use Benjamin’s word – and in the digital age, that aura becomes the uniqueness of a single performance. We want the now. We want the one-off. We want to be able to say we were present.
Not only does this mean that all arts that have that specialness of performance, from music, to live arts, to drama, can expect to thrive, but exisiting art forms seem to be changing too – and in the oddest way. For the last decade anybody who’s written a book knows you’re likely to make more money giving readings of the work than you ever receive in royalties. The literary festival – quite the most ungainly of arts events – has become a monster. Even the most tepid reader of their own work gets a look in. Crowds, who more likely than not haven’t even read the book, pay the price of a new book to hear the author read a small fraction of it. The “aura” becomes all important.
Of course that doesn’t mean that the world won’t still be full of struggling actors…
Theatres Trust announced a new three-year programme, called ECOVENUE, to provide environmental advice and assessments to 48 small scale theatres in London. The announcement was made on 14 September, the first anniversary of the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre Initiative.
After the Mayor’s Theatre Plan was announced last year, many large-scale theatres signed up to reduce their carbon emissions by 65% by 2025, but the smaller theatres did not have the budget to participate. With this grant, smaller venues will be able to apply for help to address environmental issues associated with climate change, and to reduce their energy use and to achieve Display Energy Certificates (DECs).
The Trust will be inviting theatres to apply, and details will be advertised in the coming months.
The brilliant Akram Khan’s Bahok is on again at Sadler’s Wells on 25-26 Sept. For a dance piece that’s inspired by the theme of global migration, it is now set against the dark backdrop of the clearance of the so-called “jungle” refugee camp outside Calais, where police moved in this week to clear the 300-odd refugees and asylum seekers who hadn’t already scarpered. To become one of these itinerants, whether justified by circumstance or not, is to put yourself in a limbo as a non-person, preyed on by traffickers. As we know by now, these camps are likely to become a fact of modern life in Northern Europe – as are their periodic clearances.
Here’s some information that is being sent out to explain the aims of Arts For COP15.
Please pass it around if you can.
You may not be involved in anything that’s directly relevant, but maybe someone on your networks is.
Arts for COP15 is a web-based network of artists and arts professionals who are producing work in the run up to and during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 09.
It is a place to:
Publicise arts events that relate to COP15 both on the site, and through the networks of other artists and organisations
Avoid duplicating work where possible
Share knowledge and resources with other artists and arts professionals
Discuss how arts strategy around climate and social change can evolve
Discuss how effective we are in passing messages on to our audiences
Research into the range and success of these projects
Find COP15-related material to pass on to audiences
Use arts to increase the noise around COP15
Encourage artists and arts professionals who are producing work that is about the environment over the next few months to consider using the event as a way of discussing COP15 with their audiences
If you would like to find out more about Arts For COP15 please email@example.com. Arts For COP15 is an open network created by the RSA Arts & Ecology Centre. The RSA Arts & Ecology Centre is an RSA initiative in partnership with Arts Council England.
LDI– the country’s foremost entertainment industry trade conference – and Showman Fabricators– NYC’s largest and most diverse scenic fabrication shop – are teaming together to bring to the forefront sustainability of the Entertainment Technology field.
One method to accomplish this will be to present two Green Awards at the LDI awards ceremony. The two awards are the Best Green Product Award and the Best Green Show/Project Award. These awards, in their inaugural year, will bring a focus to companies who have made strides in the greening of the entertainment technology field.
If you have participated in any shows or projects which have taken steps to create a greener production value, we invite you to nominate the show or project. We are not limiting the award to shows of a specific size, but rather encourage all those involved in shows or projects which have been able to integrate some measure of sustainability into their production to nominate that production.
If you know of a show or event that has made strides, the nomination process is simple. The linked form will need to be filled out. Please be as descriptive as possible, and if you need additional space feel free to extend to a second page. This form is due by October 8th. Additionally we will require a 2 minute or less electronic presentation (either PowerPoint or video) that will be used at LDI. Some presentations may be incorporated into the Green Day panels at LDI, and all events will be on display for three days as part of a Green Technology Today Showcase – a booth about sustainability which will be on the tradeshow floor. These opportunities will give those in the entertainment technology industry a chance to see what you are doing. This presentation will need to be submitted by October 27th.
Projects will be judged on several criteria including their originality, use of green techniques, environmental impact, and message to an audience.
Both awards will be presented at the LDI awards ceremony on November 21st however you do not need to be present to win. LDI will feature the award winners in their magazine and on their website.
Artist and activist, Chris Jordan creates amazing images that portray America’s consumption. Chris’ hope is that his images will have a different effect than raw numbers alone. Since simple numbers no matter how large can be rather abstract it can be difficult to connect with ones impact. Whereas a visual representation of vast quantities can help make meaning of 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds or two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.
Maya Lin, the artist most famous for creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a piece of public work that cut deep in the American psyche, unveiled another memorial last week in San Francisco. What is missing? is a homage to extinct species.
In her artists’ statement she says:
What is missing? is a wake up call and a call to action, showing what is being done throughout the field of conservation and also what individuals can do in their everyday lives to make a difference in habitat and species protection.
What is missing? will make the critical link between global warming concerns and habitat protection: if 20% of global warming emissions are caused by deforestation then What is missing? will integrally connect these issues, asking the question:
Perhaps the piece doesn’t have the right impact when viewed via YouTube, but to my eyes, Lin’s work does the opposite of creating connections between environment and global warming, as she claims. Instead, Lin’s megaphone appears to reduce the natural world to something exotic and far-away at the pointy end of a tube.
Join LDI in going GREEN! A full day dedicated to what the industry is doing—and can do—to reduce its carbon footprint and be environmentally smart! A special full-day conference organized in conjunction with Showman Fabricators, as LDI “goes green.”
Sessions open to all LDI full-conference badge holders, and four-pack or eight-pack tickets.
PLUS: The Green Technology Today Showcase on the LDI Show Floor: November 20-22
9:00am-9:30am: Welcome and Kick-Off
Bob Usdin of Showman Fabricators and the Broadway Green Alliance kick off Green Day with an overview of what’s happening in various aspects of the industry. Featured speakers include David Taylor, Arup;
GD01 Why Bother? A Session for Skeptics!!!!!
Is there a Crisis? The facts are indisputable when you see this evidence. Why is Greening in the entertainment industry important? Beyond just the immediate carbon footprint of an event, talk about the ultimate payoff: Getting your audience to be green in their lives.
Learn about the 4-D’s, and how to deal with skeptics.
GD02 Green Standards: Alphabet Soup
LEED, CRI, Greenguard, FSC, Greenlabel, VOC, MERV, 3 R’s, CFC’s, Carbon Offsets: A whole new language has evolved around greening. What does it all mean? More importantly, what standards are useful for the entertainment industry? We’ll look at how to weigh claims and benefits in materials, products, and practices.
View Green Products from the LDI Show Floor What are manufacturers and suppliers offering that are green? LDI exhibitors are invited to showcase their products that can contribute to making productions greener and more sustainable.
GD03 Breakout Brainstorming Session:
This roundtable discussion will seek out Best/Better Practices being used around the country, in a completely ‘hands-on’ traditional brainstorming session with post-its and white boards. At the end of the session all ideas will be compiled and posted on a website. Bring every idea to the table no matter how crazy.
To focus attention, there will be three separate groups:
* Lighting / Sound / Projections
* Scenery / Staging / Props / Costumes
Buildings / Facilities / General Operations
GD04 Closing Session: The Proof is in the Pudding:
A look at projects from the past year that incorporated some green projects (productions, events, buildings, theatre companies, etc.) followed by a general discussion of where the entertainment industry can and should go to be green.
What are manufacturers and suppliers offering that are green? LDI exhibitors are invited to showcase their products that can contribute to making productions greener and more sustainable; in conjunction with The Green Technology Today Showcase on the exhibit floor, presented by LDI and Showman Fabricators. For information on how to participate in this session and The Green Technology Today Showcase:firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to download the Green Pavilion form