Week 3 Response: Artists and Ecology

Being an artist, to me, used to mean making “pretty things.” I thought the sole purpose of art was purely romantic. However, it is quite obvious to me now that art plays a big role in raising awareness. A lot of art is political which is important in raising questions about current practices and making society think about what is right and wrong.  Art can be a great way to show audiences different ways to look at ideas and to encourage change. For example, an art project I was involved with looked at how we communicate through technology and social media and whether we are becoming further removed form each other or if it is more unifying due to the access we never had before.

In the reading I like how the book links artist and scientist showing how their roles often intersect. Artist are always experimenting and trying new things or combining different ideas and objects. As mentioned in section, artists can create positive change where normally nothing would have been done because there was no financial gain. Even in science areas of study get ignored due to the lack of funding because the end result may not be profitable. It is these situations where artist come into play and get involved because they are interested in what is important rather than financial gain.

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Mierle Landerman really stood out to me in the reading because she took interest in the New York City Sanitation Department. Mierle uses her art with “research into the technical and scientific aspects of waste management and recycling” (Information Arts pg.138). To me this is someone who makes sure that waste management, which is something many of us might take for granted, is continuously developed and improved so that things like the environment and resources are constantly looked after. In addition to the waste management itself she made sure that the people who do the work are appreciated and exposed to the publics eye. In her piece Touch Sanitation she shook the hands of each sanitation worker in New York.

Artists like Landerman led me to the interest of Remediation Art which are projects “that reclaim or restore polluted and disrupted environments – these artists often work with environmental scientists, landscape architects and urban planners” (Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_art). Some examples are the following:

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7000 Oaks by Joseph Beuys. Beuys and volunteers plane 700 Oak Trees in Kassel, Germany for the point of highlighting the condition of the local environment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7000_Oaks

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AMD&ART – “AMD&ART is a nonprofit organization created by artist and historian T. Allan Comp in 1994 to address the environmental hazard posed by abandoned coal mines” (Wikipedia article http://greenmuseum.org/generic_content.php?ct_id=240).

– Chad Goss

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