White Light is one the UK’s leading lighting suppliers and as such, their customers use a lot of electricity. This presentation will try and discover what the real impact of stage lighting is and whether the tungsten light bulb should be banned.
The presentation will be followed by a question & answer session with guest panelists to answer some of the questions raised.
I haven’t been posting on the Eco Art Blog recently; as I’ve said before, others are doing a better job at that than I have the time for. Also, the end of grad school has piled on a lot of time-consuming activities, like mounting a thesis show.
But I am happy to announce a new project I’m working on at the 18th Streets Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. It’s called Fine Art 626-394-3963, and I’m inviting you to call or email me to talk about art and what you want from artists and the institutions that show art work.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of art around these days questioning our relationship with the natural world and the creatures that live in it. Arts Catalyst’s extraordinaryInterspecies series last year contained a series of works in which artists “collaborated” with animals in disturbing ways that disrupted our conventional ideas of the co-dependency of the natural and human worlds.
As part of their excellent Flash Point series “How do arts respond to the natural world?”, art:21 blog has just published an essay by curator Nova Benway on the artist David Olsen, whose work explores the toxic impact we have on the natural world. As part of it he adopts the persona of “Vulture”, dressing in bizarre protective handmade clothing to ape the vulture’s adaptive strategy of becoming resistent to the pathogens that it finds in the decaying food that it finds. His attempts to become animal appear ridiculous.
Benway explains how Olsen then suberges pieces of work beneath the polluted waters of Benway Creek in Brooklyn:
The creek is one of the most pollutedwaterways in the country, and the sculptures are, in a certain sense, tools for healing. Made from natural materials like clay, wax, and rope, they employ humble filtration devices to purify tiny amounts of water, or crystals intended to absorb negative forces. One recent work, Witness (2008), is a seal skull with crystals embedded in the eye sockets. A rope attaches the skull to a glass buoy, so when it is lowered into the water it can float through the depths, “seeing” and collecting information or negative energy, until it is retrieved by the artist. Olsen adopts the identity of “Vulture” for these actions, wearing a handmade protective helmet and suit to mimic the bird’s heightened immune system. Of course, these activities have negligible impact on the rampant pollution of the waterway. Olsen’s deliberate mixing of pragmatic and mystical solutions to the problem further obfuscate their effectiveness, while retaining the urgent desire for change.
Its an interesting idea, and I like the idea of art-as-warning, but I confess the Mad Max apocalypticism of this work puts me off. That it revels in the aesthetic of decay seems to dent the point it may be trying to make about the awfulness of pollution.
Tania Kovats’ TREE will be unveiled at the Natural History Museum tomorrow. It’s a special commission for Darwin 200. In an interview with Tom Bailey for RSA Arts & Ecology, she talks about the process of thought that led her to take a thin section from a 200-year-old oak tree. There’s one great section in which she mentions the extraordinary page from Darwin’s notebook, in which he’s written “I think”, then drawn his first representation of the evolutionary “tree of life”, and then about what it makes her aspire to as an artist:
What, if any, other artistic interpretations of evolutionary theory, or natural history, have influenced your work?
The I think drawing is definitely a drawing that I’ve been compelled by for quite a long time, partly because of how amazingly well it describes a moment of conception. It’s like the idea is happening in front of you when you look at that drawing. In drawing there’s an exchange between thought and the mark that you make, the drawing becomes a trace of that moment. So I think that drawing is so exciting, partly because it’s also very simple. The thing that compels me about Darwin’s evolutionary theory is that you have a really simple answer to a very big, complex question. A lot of the artworks that I feel are strongest (and I strive to do this in my own work) are incredibly simple in essence, but may have many complex readings that can be projected onto them. A dumb art work is one that you can usually talk about the longest. An artwork that has something very simple at its core then lends itself to constant reflection, and lots of layering can go on.