Here’s where we share all the cool projects we’ve come across. Ones that inspire, surprise and touch the heart. In all these ways we see how artists open new avenues for change. Click on the categories below to browse our directory of projects. Enjoy!
5 Recent Things
Birding the Future
Birding the Future is a sound and stereoscopic installation that brings extinct birds back to life. Reflecting on the role of birds as warning messengers and their disappearance as part of the ‘sixth extinction’, the project asks: “What does it mean that we can only see and hear extinct species through technology? How can traditional ecological knowledge be combined with technological advances to increase awareness of our role in the environment?”
Artist Jiayu Liu uses wind data from 40 Chinese cities to power a poetic installation that seeks to test the boundaries of data representation at the same time connecting us to a powerful force of nature. An innovative use of city data, we’re excited by what the work of this RCA graduate might bring to the realisation of more sensitive and sustainable urban environments.
Could it take a a synthetic representation of nature to jolt us back into re-appreciating its beauty and our reliance upon it? That’s one the questions Pierre Proske is seeking to explore with his Brickets. So named for their chirping sounds and brickish size, the Brickets reinterpret data from local environmental sources such as the nearest home’s water usage, into animal like calls, which rise and ebb in response to one another, much like a synthesised colony of frogs, cicadas or crickets.
KiloWatt Hours, by Sydney based artist Tega Brain, uses lasers to inscribe in space the fluctuations of energy used by the surrounding building over time. KiloWatt Hours thus converts energy meter data into the readable form of an ‘energy clock.’, and the audience is prompted to consider the invisible consumption of energy in everyday life. Over time the laser light fades, and KiloWatt Hours forgets itself, in the same way we let our own energy use slip from memory.
A simple representation of Sydney’s climate data, Mitchell Whitelaw’s Measuring Cup makes it possible to hold the past 150 years of temperature information in the palm of your hand. Generated and printed using 3D technology, Measuring Cup uses temperature averages, like the rings of a tree, only stacked vertically. The result is delicate and beautiful, like the climate it represents, and it raises the question ‘what shape will it take in 10, 20 or 50 years?’
5 Random Things
Cape Farewell was created by David Buckland in 2001 to instigate a cultural response to climate change. Since then Cape Farewell has organised a series of expeditions of artists, communicators and scientists to the High Arctic. The results are published in a book, on the web in a blog, on a DVD of a show that aired on the BBC and throughout exhibitions where these artists have been invited. Behind the organisation is a belief that artists – with their unique vision and approach – can assist in a cultural values shift that engages the public in avoiding dangerous climate change.
Natural Fuse is city-wide network of units each consisting of a plant, an electrical device (a lamp or radio), a plug, a fuse and water bottles. Designed by artist Usman Haque, the self-sustinaning network of units acts as a very tangible and didactic means for exploring our impact on the global environment in a local way. The units, given to individual householders, are are connected to each other via sensors and a web-based platform. The plants’ individual and collective survival depends on the actions of the set of owners in the way they use the electrical devices that are connected to them. A little like a carbon-trading scheme in reverse, the ability of the network of plants to store carbon is the limiting factor on the extent to which the energy consuming devices, for example, can be switched on. Interestingly, users can also opt to be selfish by continuing to use the device beyond the carrying capacity of the system. If they do so, however, they will kill someone else’s plant. An intricate lesson in science and morality, Usman’s work is still actively employed by a few selfless survivors in New York, USA, San Sebastien, Spain and Sydney, Australia.
Ken Yonetani is a Japanese artist resident in Australia. He explores themes of fragility and consumerism in the context of climate change. Recent works have focussed on the Great Barrier Reef, including an installation that showed at the 53rd Venice biennale, where models served cake at 1pm every day, cake in the form of coral. The pollution of the Great Barrier Reef by sugar cane plantations is only one connection made explicit in this provoking and beautiful installation, all made of sugar.
COALis a Paris-based organisation that stands for ‘coalition pour l’art et le développement durable’, translated as the coalition for art and sustainable development. It brings together professionals in contemporary art with environmental and research professionals. They award an annual prize of 10,000 euros to a contemporary artist proposing an environmentally themed work. They also commission exhibitions, events and generate publications.
The Park Spark project is an urban intervention that questions our waste infrastructure and engages people directly in re-imagining uses for waste products. Artist Matthew Mazotta has created a system that literally transforms dog waste into energy in a New York City park, avoiding waste to landfill. By turning a crank dog-owners power a methane digester and provide the fuel source for an adjacent gas lamp. This ‘eternal flame’ will burn until a member of the public suggests an alternative use for this ‘excess’ resource. Part education, part provocation and part solution, this innovative arts project reconnects people to their environment in a very tangible way.