March 1, 2015

The Right to Be Lazy

By John Knight and Sigfried Krakauer

Excerpt from essay by An Paenhuysen:

[The piece] goes unnoticed by most visitors because, at first sight, it is very common. The installation of the piece took place in 2009. I was present when the Californian artist John Knight had a simple request for the gardener: the grass in the rondel had to be left untouched from that moment on. The piece is then also titled The Right To Be Lazy. It is inspired by a 1883 manifesto by Paul Lafargue. Lafargue, who was the son in law of Karl Marx, wrote his manifesto as a protest against the dominating working ethics, including Marx’. Only in laziness, so he argued, ideas can come and culture can exist. Therefore Lafargue pleaded for the 3-hour working day: also the worker has a right for his/her own culture.

Thanks, Sarah, for the tip!

 

March 1, 2015

Notes from Art and Environmentalism Panel @ Drew

I greatly enjoyed yesterday’s syposium  at Drew University, organized by Valerie Hegarty. Here are some notes on the final 2 speakers:

 

David Brooks:

“To think in terms of millions of years in the present moment”

“Citizen Science”

Witnessing large dynamics that happen outside of viewshed = what art can do

“Environmentalist Hangover”

“Traces of Real Life Lived”

 

Ideas of Wilderness

Biblical – Where the infidels live

Romantic – Welcomed/fearful infinity of the sublime

American – Manifest Destiny

Garden of Eden to Harvest & Industrial Progress

Proof of God / God’s Cathedrals

Science – Finite / Stewardship

 

 

Natalie Jeremijenko

“Redesign our relationship to natural systems”

Salamander Road of Death in NJ

“Shared Public Memory of a Possible Future”

“Weird Engagement w/ Natural Systems”

The Tree that Owns Itself

Trees as Landlords: TREExOFFICE

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February 22, 2015

Waste(lands) / Junk(space)

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“The Wild, Secret Life of New York City” by Brandon Keim

“We are in the habit of seeing untended nature as a sort of blankness, awaiting human work to fill it. It’s right there in the name: vacant lot. A place where spontaneous life is invisible, or at best considered so many weeds, the term used to lump together and dismiss what thrives in spite of our preferences.”

 

This Is Criminal Podcast: “He’s Neutral”

About a traffic island turned dump turned Buddhist shrine….

“Dan Stevenson has lived in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood for 40 years. He says crime has been an issue for as long as he can remember, but he isn’t one to call the police on drug dealers or sex workers. He’s a pretty “live and let live” kind of guy. Or he was. Before he finally got fed up and took matters into his own hands.”

 

Producing Waste / Producing Space event at Princeton

“This symposium brings together scholars engaging in innovative research on the origins, meanings and repercussions of waste landscapes in conversation with artists and architects conducting design research and interventions in spaces designated as waste or wasted.”

February 22, 2015

Bartertown: Seeds for Weeds

This is an exchange designed for Heather Hart’s Barter Town event Trading Post XIII: The People’s Economy at the Brooklyn Museum last October.

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February 22, 2015

Trade

I recently traded my Window Plants book to Christina Kelly for her fascinating and informative book: A Field Guide to Office Plants.

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A Field Guide for Office Plants is the story of a bored office worker who — after an encounter with the neglected plant in the reception area — is motivated to waste company time by covertly researching the fascinating botanical and social history of the office plant. 2014.  71 pages. 6″ x 6″. With original illustrations and photos.

Each copy is hand stamped and perfect bound inside an office file folder. “

February 22, 2015

Problem Plants Video

Here’s a video of the Weediness panel organized and moderated by artist Ellie Irons at The Center for Strategic Art and Agriculture at Silent Barn in Bushwick, NY on the evening of Monday, January 19th.

Other panelists:

 

 

Dr. Amy Berkov is a tropical ecologist who made a mid-life career change from art to science. She moved to the East Village during the “Good Old Bad Old Days,” when every vacant lot was an unsavory dump full of promise, and her experiences as a community gardener inspired her interest in plants and the finely-tuned interactions that they have with insects. Dr. Berkov is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the City College of New York (CUNY), an Honorary Research Associate at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), and an Associate in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Her research program focuses on the evolutionary and community ecology of neotropical wood-boring beetles— especially those associated with trees in the Brazil nut family, which are icons of old-growth Amazonian forests. She also has an abiding interest in the insects associated with the amazing milkweed that she grows in her garden plot at 6th Street and Avenue B Garden!

Miriam Simun is a research-based artist interested in implications of socio-technical and environmental change. Working across mediums, she makes creative disruptions: objects, images and experiences that that poke, provoke, and re-imagine existing systems. She has exhibited internationally and her work is supported by Creative Capital, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Her most recent project, Agalinis Dreams, emerged from a 6-month investigation into the biology, chemistry, history and politics of the Agalinis Acuta, New York State’s only federally listed endangered plant.

Dr. Sasha Wright is a Plant Biologist and Theoretical Ecologist committed to addressing ecological problems through research and education. She is currently working on several projects involving how plants interact in extreme environments. She is originally from Whidbey Island, WA. She went to Beloit College (WI) and studied Environmental Biology with the guidance of Drs. Yaffa Grossman, John Greenler, and Robin Greenler.  She then worked as a GIS Technician at the National Park Service in South Florida.  She has conducted field research from the Serengeti National Park, to native Wisconsin prairie, to Tropical dry forests in Panama and European grasslands. She loves working with students to reveal the exciting undiscovered elements of the way the natural world works.

January 26, 2015

Plant Polygraph

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Cleve Backster, the inventor of the polygraph. More about his work with plant communication here.

January 26, 2015

142.7 Trillion Problem$

This great panel discussion happened at the CSAA, and Ellie wrote this piece: Problem Plants: Nativeness, Biodiversity, and Urban Flora in the Anthropocene.

Also, Radiolab recently produced this segment: How Do You Put a Price Tag on Nature? which was all about coming up with dollar amounts for the services of nature. As an artist-who-is-also-a-bookkeeper, I imagine balance sheets of “assets” (not sure what the liabilities would be), invoices from swamps to coastal communities for flood prevention services, and bees to Chinese apple farmers for pollination labor…

Apparently the total value of all of nature is $142.7 trillion.

There’s one problem with this, as Jad counter-argues: Nature is priceless, no? Or in deep-ecology speak, living things are intrinsically valuable, not limited to value calculated from only a narrow human perspective.

Weeds, apparently, have a negative value. Some people pay to have them removed.

At the panel, we were all talking quite a bit about various types of value that weeds have…

In one slide, Dr. Sasha Wright proclaimed, “Biodiversity is beautiful.” Aesthetic value. She also emphasized how weeds generally make an ecosystem more resilient in the face of natural disasters.

Miriam Simun told us how the Agalinis acuta flower, the only federally protected plant in NY state derives its value through scarcity, and how loads of resources are spent nurturing and protecting it.

Ellie extracts value in the form of pigments…distilling their essence in a way.

Dr. Amy Berkov told the story of how milkweed is valuable to its beetle, and visa versa.

 

Photo by Donald Cameron

January 13, 2015

Helvetic Power

Remember when those kids took us for a walk in their rice fields? I was just trying to create space on my hard drive and ran across these.

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Actually I have the date from the time stamp on the photo: March 27, 2009.

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I took lots of photos on that walk.

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I just noticed this one….

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But wait. What is the pattern on that guy’s shirt? Let’s zoom in. Wow.

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January 13, 2015

Photoshop

I usually use Photoshop to make sketches for proposals, and I enjoy some of the in process views. Here are some screenshots….

The top two photos are from when I was making the sketch in the previous post. I found images of weeds online and pasted them into the file before shrinking them down, erasing the background, and integrating them into the image. But just when I press paste, they look like billboards and oversized jungle plants.

The two photos below that show my process for Herbarium. I took photos of real weeds laid on white paper. In order to increase the image resolution for the entire plant (so that I could blow them up big without becoming too grainy), I took multpile close-up shots and stitched them together in Photoshop. I then color-corrected and erased the background, and imported the file into Illustrator in order to tile the print across standard size paper so I could create the entire thing with my cheapo desktop inkjet.

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