and then the heartfelt joy when I read about people being innovative like this
follow the link to find out why
I have discovered a rather wonderful new environmental organisation and gallery in Brighton – http://onca.org.uk/ ONCA currently have a call-out for artists interested in creating work examining our relationship with plastic for the exhibition INorganic – this got me thinking about oil and our obsession with it, and how we are willing to ravage nations, start wars and decimate wildlife in our pursuit of possession of the liquid gold.
What are your thoughts?
I took this photograph of feathers washed-up by the tide earlier this year – the imagery struck a cord with me, although at the time the reason was a mystery to me. It now forms the foundation for my research into oil slicks and how our fixation with oil transcends all others.
Good sources of information about the effects of oil on seabirds can be found here http://bird-rescue.org/our-work/research-and-education/how-oil-affects-birds.aspx
I have been experimenting with found feathers embedded in dyed resin to simulate the blackness of oil. The samples above show how the resin beautifully envelopes the feathers echoing the slick’s deadly characteristic. The left sample suggests how the marauding oil flows into clean water and the birds, abstracted to feathers, gradually become saturated and submerge.
The photo-manipulation below evokes the kind of visual message I am aiming at.
George is on excellent form here – worth two minutes of your time – please let me know what you think about his points.
Highly respected journalist Naomi Klein reveals that some so-called eco companies, charities and movements actually invest in fossil fuels thereby supporting the very stuff we all give them money for to fight against.
This article is well worth five minutes of your time to read her findings.
A dystopia is an illusionary perfect world where the Authority maintains its totalitarianism through systematic discrimination that is geared to enforce its doctrine. Political oppression supersedes personal freedoms and blatant bias is inflicted on the basis of: sex or age or race or faith or intelligence or ability or some or all of these. A fear of the outside world and a mistrust of the natural is instilled in the dystopian society to control dissent and individuality – there is constant surveillance to keep each citizen in a dehumanised state. A dystopian society is considered a futuristic notion – is it?
Dimensions: 125 x 130 x 50 cm
Materials: polymer plaster, recycled glass, found metal rod and pipe, abandoned blackbird nest, paint
Many thanks to Rob Fraser for a wonderful set of photographs.
Next solo exhibition, Beautiful Dystopias, opens in PR1 Gallery, Preston next Monday 8 April – open to the public 9 to 5 till 26 April.
10 April 2013
2.15 – 6.15 pm
Adelphi Lecture Theatre, University of Central Lancashire, Preston
To book your place at this free seminar telephone 01772 893210 or send an email to email@example.com
Beautiful Dystopias exhibition private view
After the seminar the PR1 gallery will be open till 7.30pm for a private view, and complementary refreshments to seminar participants, of Jac Scott’s exhibition Beautiful Dystopias.
The seminar and exhibition format promises to balance the dual purposes of presenting visually powerful imagery and intellectual critical analysis, to stimulate, provoke and create new dialogues.
Art and Science
The intellectual curiosity that both art and science share about the world is to be explored in the Art and Science Seminar: Hidden Dangers. The seminar aims to stimulate discourse between science and art through presentation and debate of environmental issues focusing on the dangers of the hidden impacts we humans have made on the planet.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science”. Albert Einstein
Art and Science Seminar: Hidden Dangers Programme
Presentations from: Richard Bright (Director of The Interalia Centre, Bristol), Professor Richard Hull, (Professor of Chemistry & Fire Science), visual artist Jac Scott ARBS and Professor Glyn Morton (Emeritus Professor of Microbiology).
Richard Bright Director Interalia Centre, Bristol http://www.interaliacentre.org
Keynote Lecture: Uncertain Entanglements? The renowned keynote speaker Richard Bright will unite the disciplines with his presentation Uncertain Entanglements? Richard Bright will reflect on thirty years of exploring and observing the connections and interactions between art and science, from the viewpoint of both an artist and Director of The Interalia Centre. He will ask, ‘Can creative understanding be extended through exploring and equating these diverse fields of knowledge?’ and ‘Are there hidden dangers involved?’ An understanding of their imagery and language might go some way in recognizing the similarities and differences between these two dominant forces in our culture.
Professor Richard Hull Professor of Chemistry & Fire Science
We are surrounded by new materials, structures and devices. Many have appeared so quickly we are unaware of any problems or hazards associated with them, let alone developed strategies for protecting ourselves and our environment. For example, our homes contain polyurethane foam furniture and environmentalists urging us to clad them in polyurethane insulation materials. Polyurethanes burn readily, producing a lethal mixture of thick smoke, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. To reduce the flammability, halogenated flame retardants (HFR) have been added; this makes it harder to ignite your sofa with a cigarette or a match, but when it burns the HFRs increase the toxicity of the smoke. Worse, some HFRs leach out into the environment where they are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). On the other hand, unwanted fires do untold harm to the environment – they have been estimated to release a comparable amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to those from the diesel engines of lorries; they leave buildings contaminated with potentially carcinogenic soot; and fill the atmosphere with a cocktail of toxic effluents. We do not have the tools to decide which is the lesser of these two evils.
Life would not be the same without the luxury of affordable furnishings, warm comfortable homes and modern electronic devices. Fire safety is important, and the tragic loss of life has to be avoided. A robust, transparent methodology is needed to balance the long-term damage to the planet against the human loss and suffering of short term disasters, such as fires, and the overall cost of their prevention.
Jac Scott ARBS Artist-in-residence 2012-13 at UCLan http://www.jacscott.com
Lecture: ? = us + stuff + planet Jac Scott will talk about her sixteen-month residency, Beautiful Dystopias, in the School of Built and Natural Environment, UCLan. Working with scientists and geographers her research focused on the hidden imprints on the planet that our embedded sense of reality conveniently obscures. She investigated the complex labyrinth of the psyche being further skewed by the reconfiguring of boundaries of the scale of the issues. Geologists have issued compelling evidence that the ‘anthropocene’, a term conceived in 2002 by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, marks a geological age – a new epoch of a human related geological footprint. The strata will evidence such activities as: radioactive fall-out from nuclear tests, increased carbon dioxide levels, concentration of nitrates in the oceans, extensive plastic pollution, mass extinction of species, large scale mining, significant river damming and deforestation.
Beautiful Dystopias exhibition Jac Scott’s lecture is complemented by her exhibition Beautiful Dystopias in PR1 Gallery. The exhibition will showcase selected works from the Beautiful Dystopias Collection created in response to her residency findings. The exhibition is open to the public on weekdays 8-19 April 2013.
Professor Glyn Morton Emeritus Professor of Microbiology
Lecture: Microbial Apocalypse Soon? Microorganisms have a simple approach to life; they use whatever is available as a food source, attach themselves to practically all surfaces, multiply and build up biomass. Everyone is familiar with the phenomenon of rotting – the natural decay and recycling of materials by a wide range of organisms. This process is termed biodegradation and it is perceived as a beneficial process. In contrast, biodeterioration may be defined as “the deterioration of materials of economic importance by microorganisms”: it is perceived as a deleterious process.
This lecture will present an account of the degradation of a range of materials that occur in the domestic, natural and industrial environment. The presence of microorganisms on some materials is perhaps to be expected; but their ability to colonise materials assumed to be biologically inert, is often surprising: with negative effects on the aesthetic appearance of the materials and upon their structure and/or functioning. There are often considerable financial and health implications associated with biodeterioration. The control of biodeterioration and the problems that this can generate will be discussed.
Open debate Chaired by Director of The Centre for Waste Management Dr Karl Williams
This article connects with my toxicology research thread.
Last December I accompanied MSc Waste Managers on a research visit around a waste incinerator in Bolton. My post on 9 December 2012, beautifuldystopias.wordpress.com, recalls the mixed messages I was struggling with that day. The science seemed to stack up in favour of the furnace: the technologies to deal with the polluting emissions has been significantly improved, the calorific value of the waste varies according to the nature of the rubbish being burnt, so the amount of power it generates is variable, which is logical. In the UK we can no longer dump our unwanted possessions in the ground, as we have already filled in holes with our materialistic habits, so we need to seriously take a look at alternative methods. OR we could value what we have, buy better stuff that lasts longer, mend things, respond less to fashion and marketing drives to dispose and replace everything regularly. I wonder what will happen?
Until our priorities change stories like the one here are going to increase.
If we want to end this then we must stop expecting an endless supply of energy- that means walking home in the dark, sitting by candlelight in the dark evenings, making only a few journeys by car or plane and enjoying warmth from a fire or central heating system on very rare occasions and of course not having the air-conditioning on when its hot, and not using the fridge, oven… you get the picture. It sounds medieval doesn’t it?
It’s interesting to note that in a lecture at uclan I heard that if all the lands currently used for food production were set aside for growing bio-fuels there would still not be enough fuel to ‘power’ the world. Oh yes, and of course most people would be starving!
Meanwhile, there is snow outside – I have my electric lights on of course because its dark, and the oil central heating is making my home nice and cosy, plus my husband has just driven home in his car, I used my hob and oven to cook dinner, but I don’t have an air conditioning – I live in England we never need it! I consume with a conscience, but I still consume. Difficult.
We all like to travel – the carbon footprint when we do is usually much more significant than we might think. Have you ever measured your carbon footprint? You can easily do that online and it is a wake-up call to the impact we are all making.
NASA has awarded huge research funds for making flying, (the worst culprit for carbon footprint size), a more environmentally friendly way to travel. Emissions of nitrous oxide and CO2 will be cut down considerably if the aviation industry succeed in reducing fuel use and emissions by 70%.
In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive funds to research, design and develop more environmentally friendly aircraft. Lockheed Martin, MIT, GE Aviation and Boeing have been charged with the challenge to create a commercial plane that would expend 75% less emissions and consume 70% less fuel. Not a small undertaking but significant progress has already been made, especially by Boeing who have a promising hybrid aircraft in development stage.
The concepts for Sugar Volt (Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research) report massive improvements in both operational and environmental performance which are due mainly to the inclusion of a propulsion system run on an electric battery gas turbine. This technology can reduce the total amount of fuel burnt by more than 75% and total energy used by 55%. Hybrid electric propulsion can also lessen the distance required for takeoff and decrease noise pollution. In addition the emissions…
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The pride of an ex-miner is something special to witness. Recently, I was privileged to listen to Gerald McGlennon talking about his work with the mining rescue service in West Cumbria. I was at the Haig Mining Museum in Whitehaven researching the historic utilisation of canaries to identify dangerous gases in the mines. The little yellow birds were excellent sentinels who saved many miners lives.
The birds being acutely sensitive to the odourless, tasteless and colourless carbon monoxide and methane gases were invaluable in monitoring air quality. The canaries were originally carried down the mines in rudimentary cages, but later their value was illustrated in the implementation of a special protective carriage. The ‘bird reviver’ carriage (pictured above with Gerald), enabled the creature to not only be monitored through an acrylic screen, but also if it was seen to be showing signs of distress, a valve could be opened and fresh oxygen was released from a miniature tank attached to the top of the cage. The oxygen bottle doubled as a handle. An example of this charming artefact is housed in the museum – it is well made and its style has a resonance with diving equipment.
Gerald stated, “It was our priority to monitor the canary closely and to never lose a bird through neglect.”
In the 1980s the canaries were replaced with electronic devices called ‘self rescuers’. The rationale for the change being; the technology was more reliable and cheaper to run and did not conflict with ethical policy.
It’s interesting to contemplate that many people in the world benefit from coal in some aspect of their lives, (for fuel, electricity etc.), that we all owe a great deal to such a pretty little yellow bird.
The news that out our sea level is rising is not news but the increased speed of it is – the rise of 20 cms in 100 years is about twice the predicted amount. Whether the increase remains at that rate or increases is probably a mixture of what we decide to do and what impacts we have on the planet that are yet unknown.
If you want to find out more this article is worth reading.
West Antarctica is warming almost twice as fast as previously believed, adding to worries of a thaw that would add to sea level rise from San Francisco to Shanghai, a study showed on Sunday.
Annual average temperatures at the Byrd research station in West Antarctica had risen 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) since the 1950s, one of the fastest gains on the planet and three times the global average in a changing climate, it said.
The unexpectedly big increase adds to fears the ice sheet is vulnerable to thawing. West Antarctica holds enough ice to raise world sea levels by at least 3.3 metres (11 feet) if it ever all melted, a process that would take centuries.
“The western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought,” Ohio State University said in a statement of the study led by its geography professor David Bromwich.
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