[-empyre-] Eco Art - prescriptive vs personal

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Fri Apr 4 01:44:56 EST 2008

>Thanks, Britta and Rebecca, for introducing us to your art.  One of 
>the things that struck me and Renate about your installation 
>currently up at Eyebeam in New York  is its blend of didacticism and 
>interactive openness.  We appreciated how  both the design of the 
>piece and the various ecosystems it links together mimed the 
>precariousness of interlinked technological systems and the 
>variability of interactive participation.  In this case, users are 
>required to move through, lean under, bend around various tubes, 
>screens, tanks, and systems in order to experience the piece, as if 
>a materialization of the online linkages we navigate daily.

I'd welcome hearing more of your thoughts about the interrelation of 
technology and systems in your work that's so provocatively reflexive 
about sustainability.



>Hello, This is Rebecca Bray, one of the Empyre guests for the month. 
>I am one half of the team, along with Britta Riley, who created an 
>installation that is currently on display at Eyebeam in New York. 
>The piece deals with questions of how our bodies relate to wider 
>ecosystems. More specifically, how our waste - our urine - effects 
>the ecosystem and then eventually comes back into our bodies. The 
>installation is accompanied by a DIY kit that allows people to 
>transform their own urine into fertilizer.
>Over the course of developing the exhibition, Britta and I had many 
>conversations about how to express these concepts without being 
>overly didactic or prescriptive. Our other work together involves 
>creating interactive media strategies for science museums, so we 
>spend a lot of time working on creating meaningful educational 
>opportunities around ecology issues. The context of art installation 
>versus science museum is an interesting contrast. The art 
>installation allows for a less formal experience. We created the 
>installation with the intention of provoking more question-asking 
>than providing answers. And, we exposed our own narrative voices. It 
>was also important to both of us that while we talk very clearly 
>about problems - in this case water pollution - we also talk about 
>solutions that are actionable.
>Art that is about or approaching sustainability issues tends to 
>appeal to me more when it is more personal - when it is clearly 
>driven by a unique passionate perspective. I also feel that inducing 
>guilt is problematic and am more drawn to pieces that create a sense 
>of possibility. Some of the work I'm thinking of includes Nils 
>Norman's intervention art, Edible Estates, SEED Collective and 
>others who are creating work aimed at personal action. This is not 
>to say that work which is exposing large systemic problems is not 
>extraordinarily valuable.
>Looking forward to a discussion with all of you,
>Rebecca Bray
>Co-Founder, Submersible Design
>empyre forum
>empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

Timothy Murray
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature
Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Video
285 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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