Illustration

The new bucolics: Caught by the River


Illustration by Jonathan Newdick from Caught by The River

In our industrial societies,  nature comes to represent the escape from the business of our lives. Caught by the River (“the antidote to indifference”) has been around a while; it’s an interesting collective of people who have come together to reflect on the luxury of taking time out in by a riverbank.

It’s a website less inspired by environmentalism than a kind of gentle refusenik-ism – something more to do with Tom Hogkinson’s and Gavin Praetor-Pinney’s The Idler than anything more strident – but it’s growing into a great online repository for new ways of looking at the British countryside.

Co-founded music entrepreneur Jeff Barrett and including a contributor list of artists, writers, photographers and songsmiths it claims the late Roger Deakin as its patron saint. Deakin’s brilliant Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain is becoming a handbook for a kind of half-mystical, half-historic neo-Romantic approach to the world.

The site is full of gems. Last week they featured a timely reappraisal of the work of Richard Brautigan; today they start to feature a series of pieces of music influenced by birds. They begin with a song from British Sea Power called “The Great Skua (Plover demo”) which you can listen to here.

Last year they published an anthology:  Caught by the River: A Collection of Words on Water.
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Climate change = culture change: the hugeness of the challenge


We tend to talk about the idea of cultural change without thinking through what that means. The size of the job of retooling society to achieve an ecological age by 2050  is immense.

Emerging from the 20th century, it’s hard not to see this as a fundamentally Orwellian task.  However, if we do embrace the idea that culture has a responsiblity to move forwads, we have to start thinking in practical cutural realities. I recommend reading the working paperCulture|Futures Cultural Transformations for a Cultural Age by 2050 edited by Olaf Gerlach-Hansen which was released yesterday. It begins the ambitious process of evaluating if we even have the means by which we get from here to there.

The degree and scope of the cultural challenge is … exacerbated by how little time we have to bring about change. The transformation must be completed globally in 40 years, which in terms of comprehensive cultural transformations is an extremely short period – just a generation or two at most.

The time factor adds to the number of challenges concerning identity, lifestyle and habits to be addressed, since the entire world will vividly remember its old version, while developing the new.

That’s only a quick flavour of the paper which served as a working document to kickstart yestereday’s symposium…

Download the PDF [2.43MB] here.

Illustration: Glowing Climate

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Wind turbines and the failure of markets

twometers
Monometer by Michael Pinsky, July 2009, Kortrijk

The Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, under occupation by a handful of workers, is set for closure at the end of this month, citing “lack of demand”; that this happened in the immediate aftermath of Ed Miliband’s Energy Transition White Paper is ironic, to say the least. Three years ago, as Seamus Milne points out, Nicholas Stern nailed climate change as “the greatest market failure the world has ever seen”. It’s time to nail the myth that “lack of demand” is a natural state, to which everything must submit.

The illustration is from an installation by the British artist Michael Pinsky at this July’sKortrijk annual all-night arts festival. The four supporting columns of Belgium’s tallest wind turbines were transformed into giant meters, monitoring the ecological impact of Kortrijk’s all-night event. The consumption of energy and water, the production waste, and noise levels were all metered by two rings of projectect light moving up and down the turbines, as if, to quote the artists’s statement, the festival was “feeding” Monometer.

http://www.michaelpinsky.com/

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