DAY 1 / Moderated by Raitis Smits
How can art address questions about climate change, sustainable living and ecology to general public and how do these themes, if it is possible at all to address them as themes, change the language of art and aesthetics.
Can art help shift our mindset from consumer attitude towards building an awareness of a more sustainable development and what would the criteria be for discussing such kind of art?
We have experienced the early net culture which brought various models of gift economy and sharing culture into discussions and which implemented some of those models also in practice.
There have also been very practical attempts to create artists’ own infrastructures run by them and having roots in DIY and open source culture.
These forms of art and creativity can be analyzed and studied in different contexts beginning with social and up to scientific and technological. Furthermore, in many cases the only key to the work is to experience it in various contexts.
Another significant aspect is the processual character of net culture and artworks based in this culture. In other words, the early conceptualist’ idea of making no artifacts has been identified as a one of the criteria also in network based art and culture.
Today we can look at art that deals with climate issues and sustainability as a continuation of the practice of early new media art and network culture. Also, it seeks a deeper engagement with scientific practices and ways of how science determines our reality.
If we look at climate change or the issue of climate it is difficult to evaluate or even to notice these changes in our everyday life. Scientific community offers deeper climate studies and comparison of data collected over time by various kinds of observation equipment. If we consider technology as our extensions, how does this help us to actually gain a deeper understanding of the world and how capable are we to interpret the data received by our technology?
I see these questions being addressed in Andrea'ss Poli work "Ground Truth" - the research and exploration project on meteorology and people observing the weather.
Relationship between man and environment, the limits of our insight of the environment we live in and technology as the determining factor in perceiving our environment – these are one of the most fundamental questions in works by Terike Haapoja.
Creating cultural awareness of particular environmental issue that would lead on to concrete action is what artists and designer Karolina Sobecka proposes with her work “Amateur Human”. Absurd and playful design objects in the form of a smoke cloud get attached to the car exhaust pipe and with the help of iPhone application changes the color from green to red according to the co2 emission exhausted by car.
Through different forms of art it becomes possible to confront us with the new way of looking at climate and sustainability issues. What new metaphors are there and is there a place for ambiguity and humor in the so called climate art?
Leaving his tools for creating art behind, particularly his photo camera Simon Hoegsberg puts himself in a situation of direct engagement with by-passers in his action “Free Advice About Everything +Coffee”. In my opinion the project is about balance, balance between our everyday reality, various desires and deeper questions concerning self-development.
Various design projects by Interactive Institute presented by Tina Finnas provides us with new tools for changing our energy consumption behavior. Objects like “Flower Lamp” and “Energy Aware Clock” are designed with intent to raise awareness of everyday energy consumption with the help of visualizing energy usage.
Sustainable architecture and new ways of designing family houses was presented by architect Ane Dahl from company Helen & Hard. Among various design and engineering approaches for reducing energy consumption and making homes more sustainable the most innovative way to reduce the relatively high costs was the idea of a family using the house for many generations.
I believe there is a significant difference between an artist who engages in social processes and the artist as an outsider in the age of modernity. How big of a role does the artist take as the creator of visions and what is the role of technology in this process and how does this impact society on a larger scale by using climate art projects and can we expect a change of paradigm?
Today art can no longer remain isolated as a form of representation. It must rather become integrated in processes where various disciplines overlap and intercross.
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DAY 2 / Moderated by Erich Berger
Criticism on Consumption – Report – Second day
The second day of the conference continued in the good and discursive spirit of the first day. It was themed Process / In action and collected presentations of artist, researcher and activists coming from very different directions dealing with issues like the global environmental crises, the consumerist attitudes of our society and the dubious approaches of global powers. As the curators put it Something is not quite right, Biennial´s title, refers to a uneasiness which according to them is fuelled by climate change, consumerist attitudes and threatening facts about the future of our planet. Additionally this uneasiness is also a result from a gap resulting from, as individual, not being able to experience these threats as real. The time span of climate change is a good example. On the other hand, it is difficult for an average person to follow the science on which base the alarm bells are rang. There is disappointment in politics which seems not being able to act and there is a constant bombardment of sensationalist media which for whatever reason permanently evoke another new global crisis. It is difficult to keep facts and propaganda apart, especially when there is lack of trustworthy and comprehensible reference. Communication, distribution of knowledge and networks of trust are needed to overcome this uneasiness. In general I was glad that the title of this years Article Biennial and its conference did not follow a trend of festivals which we can see reflected in catchy screaming titles. Instead of jumping on the disaster train the conference took a short cut to practitioners which do not wait and see what happens but act, without much agitation but with determination. What a lot of these practitioners have in common is that they take people serious instead of patronizing them and give them knowledge, tools and possibilities to start to intervene themselves. Besides creating awareness they create an actual culture of responsibility.
Though saying about themselves that their work is not political http://uebermorgen.com `s method of creating thrill media stunts is able to reach far into the political and economical mainstream media. For their actions, they help themselves with whatever seems (un)appropriate; nothing is save when its useful, the least of all art history. They presented their new project www.dotoildot.com commissioned by the Article Biennial.
Unfortunately their kindred spirits of the Yes Men www.theyesmen.org have not been able to attend but would have certainly enjoyed and enriched the day.
Tapio Mäkelä http://marin.cc presented his ideas around Ecolocatedness. He defines this as an art and science practice of situated information design. For him communication and action are entangled as he is emphasizing the importance of turning the invisible into the tangible to be able to construct response-able situations.
Sophie Jerram http://www.nowfuture.org.nz/dialouges presented New Zealand based art projects and initiatives addressing climate change.
Ulla Taipale http://www.capsula.org.es introduced the Herbologies/Foraging Network. Her curatorial work is fresh and interesting as she engages deeply into fieldwork and the production phase of the art works themselves.
Scott Kellogg http://rhizomecollective.org presented hands on solutions for urban sustainable city living and how to reinvent the urban environment. He gently reminded us that it is time now to start to act as long as we have cheap energies at hand as well as that the term sustainability is meanwhile on the list of words with the most miss use.
Michael Bowens http://www.p2pfoundation.net showed new business models and an analysis of possible models with the example of free software development.
The closing discussion centred around practical questions on sustainable business and living and which role art can play to support to establish a response-able culture. I had two fine days in Stavanger and enjoyed the vital conference very much. It was perhaps its manageable size which allowed for a quality interaction with speakers and audience.