Blogging from the Edge

signals, reports, and creative responses


field trip: "Art + Environment" live blog

Over 550 people have visited our Art + Environment Conference live blog. Click "replay" below to view the live blog archive.

Related links on the EMS main site:
Art + Environment web exhibition
Creative Contagion FLASHPOINT

The Conference included over 14 panels and events from 7 p.m. (PDT) Oct. 2 until 7:30 p.m. (PDT) Oct. 4.
Download PDFs of the conference schedule and panelist bios.

OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2008

We arrived at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno mid-day on Thursday . . .

. . . and they were expecting us--our seats are ready and the wifi is strong. We look forward to blogging the first session on Friday morning.

We met one of the Conference presenters, Michael Light, while we were viewing the current exhibition of his work ("Some Dry Space") at the Nevada Museum of Art.

This installation of Light's work (above) was accompanied by wall text (below) that includes the following sentence: "The classic American road trip is a kind of horizontal falling into possibility, away from known limits." Light's "Vertigo"--both its image and its text--activates themes, emotions, and sensations that we expect to experience at the Conference and on the "Testing Ground" field trip:

Chris Drury and Michael Light gave gallery talks tonight and each one left us with thoughts that we expect to build upon in the coming days.

Chris Drury ended his remarks with a stark declaration, softly spoken: the environmental changes now taking place are catastrophic. He references his experiences of creating his installation at Winnemucca Lake, what was once a lush, marshy wetlands area used by Native Americans until the late 1800s. The Lake dried up after the Newlands Project diverted its waters for other uses in the early 1900s, with severe consequences for the Paiute people who depended upon it and considered it sacred. Drury said it may already be too late to turn today's environmental changes around. His comment reminded us again of a sense we've been picking up while preparing for Testing Ground: that artists and scientists are being drawn to collaborating with one another now because they share a kinship. Scientist and artist each sense the urgencies and depths of the environmental "crisis" in ways that the recognize in one another.

During his gallery talk, Michael Light said his images of contemporary, altered landscapes are an attempt to insert modernity into geologic time and space. We're left wondering what this attempt by a contemporary artist might lend to our explorations during Testing Ground. It seems to call us to see ourselves as contemporary AND in the context of a moment that requires us to insert ourselves and work within a much longer sense of time.


smudge said...

We just received an email from Chris Taylor (Professor of Design and co-founder--with Bill Gilbert--of the Land Arts Program).

He writes:
"My notes have Matt ending his presentation [at the Art + Environment Conference] with an image of a combination lock on a door of a CLUI (Center for Land Use Interpretation) exhibition space in Wendover and closing with the question: "wondering what's on the other side of that door?" to summarize the ambition of CLUI to encourage people to explore the other side.

And from Smithson's 'Hotel Palenque' lecture (see a description of that work here:
(courtesy of Ann Reynolds from a quote she included in her essay in the forthcoming book Land Arts of the American West):
"Now this is the last shot. This is ah, this is sort of the door. [laughter] At first, you noticed right off the bat that it's green, huh? There's not really much you can say about it. I mean, it's just, it's a green door. We've all seen green doors at some time or another. It gives that sense of universality that way, a sense of global cohesion, let's say. So the door probably opens to nowhere and closes on nowhere. So we leave the Hotel Palenque with this closed door and return to the University of Utah, Okay."

While Smithson was using the door to bring the audience back to Utah from the Yucatan, and while Coolidge was using it to take the participants of the conference in Reno out into the world, the parallels are multiple. Talking to Matt later that afternoon I pointed this out to him he said any coincidence was purely subconscious and not a part of the script.... I believe him. --Chris Taylo

Haley said...

My immediate thought after leafing through the live blog and some of the comments was of a video I was recently shown on YouTube.

These videos are not necessarily directed towards the changing environment, but to the lack of control we, as citizens of the world, actually have over our own lives, and about what we are not being told, and should be. The videos (I believe there are 5 of them) take some time to watch, but I think that they are worth seeing.

Very interesting work! The pictures of the landscapes are amazing.


Haley said...

Designs on the Land: Exploring America From the Air by Alex S.MacLean

This book is amazing- it has aerial shots of the United States that look like manipulated photographs or something designed on a computer. These photographs highlight our consumerism and dependence on cars and strip malls, and our beloved suburbs. It is worth owning- a fabulous addition to your coffee table and library. I love leafing through this book, even though it is, at times, unsettling.


Haley said...

Now that I am really thinking about it, I'd like to hear what people think about writing as a medium for change in our landscape. The presentation showed plenty of artistic responses, but what other than a science fiction novel constitutes as a written medium response to these drastic environmental changes? Is there a Burning Man for the writing world?


DeSiree' Fawn said...

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a screening of Religulous, a Larry Charles documentary with Bill Maher. As the documentary deconstructs and criticizes organized religion, a major theme was the unprecedented destruction of our planet because much of the population believes the end of the world and ultimate salvation is near. Was the aspect of religion and its affect on the environment explored during the event, any particular art works addressing this topic?

-Desiree (New School student)

Haya Kramer said...

Haya Kramer
I was really struck by Chris Drury’s use of the word catastrophic in explaining the environmental crisis we face in the world. I agree with Drury that in the last few years the public’s consciousness has been heightened in terms of acknowledging that we do have an environmental crisis. However, how many of us really understand the crisis we face? Without understanding the real causes of the environmental changes our world is facing, I have to wonder is it too late to turn the environmental situation around? In my opinion, no. Through art and science, two very complex and important fields, we can hopefully somehow turn this gloomy forecast around.

Haya Kramer said...

Haya Kramer
I think this article I have copied and pasted symbolizes how art and science have fused in recent decades, especially at the turn of the 21st century. Haya Kramer

Anonymous said...

Re: "5:01
Gordier starts by quoting the author Wallace Stegner: the place you grow up in your first 13 years is imprinted on the rest of your life. He asks the panelists: How does the place you grew up in inform your work today? "

I find it very fascinating how locations and the conditions surrounding them influence aesthetics, especially musically. Entire genres of music have been generated by the conditions and aesthetics of a place at a given time. The outsourcing and general economic turmoil of 1970s detroit coupled with its alienating factory architecture practically invented the sound we now know as Detroit techno. Likewise, the apocalyptic, arson-rampant, recessed atmosphere of late 1960s/early 1970s New York gave birth to punk rock(the London-born aesthetic of which, in turn, was influenced by the turmoil and cultural surroundings of London).

Anonymous said...

She[Katie Holten] spent a great deal of time walking through Belfast and as she did this she collected weeds from parking lots and along the sidewalks.
Part of her work is to "transplant" weeds that she has collected within cities in natural landscapes."

While I respect her intention to place these urban weeds into more hospitable environments, I'd argue that these weeds are almost as important to the urban landscape as the architecture, if not the denizens themselves; a strange, jumbled ecosystem of rats, weeds, flies, pigeons and pavement is still an ecosystem. As annoying as they can sometimes be, they still add a certain color to something predominantly manmade. As someone who went to elementary school in Greenwich village ( a very plant-rich section of New York), I found that the city weeds and plants sparked my imagination as much as the buildings. Removing those weeds removes a bit of that color.

Anonymous said...

Will Bruder's "Waste Energy" image is very striking. It feels like a Flavin piece on a much larger scale with a more ethical bent.

There's something frightening about it; how much energy, whether it be in the form of "waste energy" or of radio waves of varying frequencies, is passing through our bodies this very second? Sure, only if one was directly underneath a power line would there be enough of a charge to power a fluorescent directly, but how much waste energy are we being exposed to in the course of 10, even 5 years?

Anonymous said...

I actually read an article by Joel Towers titled "Learning Deficiency" which discussed the importance of creating sustainable design programs in art and design schools. I feel that possibly by discussing the "environmental crisis" in all types of schools starting with early education it may be a small solution to the teaching of the situation we are in, anyone feel differently?

Anonymous said...

"Lita says she begins her work from the connection between sky and earth. And her work then becomes more of a mapping, mapping the connection between sky and earth. Something, she says, astronomers have told her they're not interested in.
Bill says that stonehenge and other archeoastronomers mapped sky to earth.
Drury: he worked with astronomers who were very eager to map the stars onto the earth and he had an email dialogue with them for a year about how they might do that."
I personally found this part of the discussion to be very intriguing. I never considered that mapping the sky would be related to the mapping of the earth. It is curious to think about now, because in high school I took an astronomy class and it would be very interesting if we considered both mapping the earth and the stars to be a normal part of how we learned.

Anonymous said...

After digesting all of the information from the A+E Conference, I have to say that I am astounded by the talent and dedication from all of the presenters. I am excited to discover this thriving community that are dedicated to using their creative skills to impact the future.