Monday, March 26, 2007

It's a big small world

It has been interesting to work on a project within the specific realm of arts and environmental issues. Is it a subculture or a genre? There are both a lot of people working on these issues and at the same time relatively few.
As I talk to more people about High Water Line, I find more crossover and you start to hear the same names over and over again. I was meeting with a friend at Eyebeam the day after my friends at Solar One were there, then my partners at Canary Project were meeting with Solar One the same afternoon that I was attending the Sea of People fundraiser. An advisor of mine had suggested that I look up Jane Marsching just a couple of days after another friend had put us in touch. Jennifer Monson of iLand and I keep crossing paths, and my designers at Pratt Design Corps are friends with CP's assistant... The list goes on.I had heard the name Alexis Rockman mentioned by the Precipice Alliance, and then again by Cynthia Rosenzweig. Most recently a friend of mine brought up his name after having met with LMCC about her own independent projects. Finally I took a few minutes (in between drawing maps and writing grant applications), to look more in depth at his work. A google image search brings up a huge list of fantastical images. I found some good articles on his work in the NYTimes, Wired and Orion Magazine. He paints this rich and luscious paintings of romanticized demise of the earth from the efforts of man (genetic alteration, global warming, etc). These paintings are layered with imagery of great and small creatures (rarely are humans in the picture - although on occasion). I love the bright colors and the detail and lighting which are imbued in the work. It is an interestingly fantastical image of human degradation of the earth and what comes after. I can't help thinking about how fun it would be to work with him on a 2-d 3-d version of Courses of Empire (the Acadia to Utopia series) that I have wanted to do for a long time. Don't be surprised if in between the next few public projects that I want to do, I squeeze in some time to do a sculptural interpretation of one of his works.
Top image: Dancer in iLand performance
Middle image: Jane Marxhing's Arctic Listening Post
Last three images: Alexis Rockman

Friday, March 23, 2007

Oh and--

If you want to contribute to the High Water Line project (money that is!) you can do so here!

From where I am sitting

A lot going on out in the world including: Ouch! and some good self promotion - this op/ed comes on the heels of me reading more about Brooks' report on "Who Really Cares." And addresses something I have been thinking about ever since seeing the photos of the retreating glaciers. It's something I have been guilty of (am working towards remedying that now) and that I see my friends all around me doing. We believe strongly enough in something to dedicate time and money (despite Brooks' report most people I know give quite generously to charities) and even heated discussions and an occassional rally or march. BUT, how many people are really willing to change their lifestyle, or make sacrifices, or put forth a great effort towards that thing about which they are so passionate?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Making the change -- we only *think* it's hard

Ever since writing this post, I've been thinking about my own efforts to reduce my impact on the world. As g-pup says, "don't we already have a lower impact than most people?" The answer is yes, we certainly do (we buy locally and seasonally, shop at goodwill for things we need - if we shop at all, we use CFL's, we compost, bring our own canvas bags to the store and recycle, turn off lights, don't run water, won't buy drinks in disposable containers), but I responded, "that doesn't mean we shouldn't do more." So, inspired by the No Impact Man and the book Gone Tomorrow, The Hidden Life of Garbage, we are working to a greater reduction in impact. We are cutting way down on the t.v. that we watch (we don't watch a whole lot already since we hate regular t.v. but we are reducing our watching by about 75%), reducing (trying to get to 0) the packaged goods that we purchase (I will be doing more and more farmer's market shopping since that drastically reduces the packaging and helps with the local buying), and deciding not to buy anything this year - and if we *need* to then we will do some environmental volunteer work to offset that purchase.

I am most looking forward to the efforts towards different types of entertainment, I think we might regain some of the time we seem to be so short on. G-pup is looking forward to doing more homebrewing for his beer consumption. We will still have to rely on transit for getting around (we live in Brooklyn, I work in Manhattan and he works in Jersey), but now that spring is on its way, we will be back on our bikes for most of our shopping and weekend commute needs.

It seems like a lot to take on with the ongoing work on the project, but in a way it all kind of makes sense to do it now...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I had fully intended to really track the entire process of this project in this blog back when I started. It's possible (very likely in fact) that I might have been a little naive at that point about how much work this would actually take. Now that I am well into the thick of it I hardly have time to think about it, much less blog.

So why this rare posting? I am on a train ride back from a community board meeting in Coney Island, it's after 9 so it's a long local ride. On the way to the meeting I was thinking about the project in the context of fear. Because let's be frank here, I have never done anything even near this scope and scale - this is my first public work, my first funded work (other than stipends for gallery shows, which is nowhere near the scale). Why would I not be a little afraid of taking on this project? Honestly, I was, and at times I still am. Sure I have fear, but the cool thing is by pushing through the fear, that's where one can achieve great things. And thinking about that while riding the B train through a vast array of neighborhoods (where it is elevated) and thinking about walking around this city that I love, talking to so many different people about something that I care deeply about? Well that is really really freaking cool.

So I have been contacting Community Boards and attending meetings to present the project and the response has been resoundingly supportive. Now if i could just get those pesky permits in place...

Monday, March 12, 2007


Sometimes this project seems pretty big and overwhelming. I keep myself inspired by these two women, Majora Carter and Wangari Maathai. This morning I watched Marjora's TED speech online. I use a quote of Wangari's on my emails.
Both of these women are amazing in their strength and vision. They fully understand the interconnectedness of environmental issues and social justice.
Wangari's tree planting program associated planting trees to empower women and local communites. Majora's has fought against NYC planning policies that unjustly and unevenly placed the most detrimental industries in the South Bronx. Her projects have built community and opportunity while reinvigorating the waterfront and creating new green structures throughout the neighborhood.

For more information:
Sustainable South Bronx
Green Belt Movement

I certainly dedicate this project to these two amazing visionaries!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bearing witness...

I have been wonderfully, crazily impossibly busy with the High Water Line project, things are falling into place and it has been a great process - more on that later. First a few musings....

I was just reading Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe. I am in the first chapter which is relating stories from the Arctic - stories about physical and dire changes that are taking place in the landscape and having direct impact on people's lives. This got me to thinking about the process of bearing witness (I've been thinking about it a lot lately in relation to HWL), and the act of relating stories of experience. Clearly the people living in the arctic have many first hand stories to tell of the changes their world is undergoing, what do we, in NYC have to tell? I am seeking to find stories about people and their own experiences with climate change. I am offering to bear witness and carry these stories on. It may be direct stories, people displaced by weather occurrences, it may be stories about their own thoughts and feelings about climate change, and it may be stories about not having any stories - people who don't know or talk about climate change - and why is that?

It's an interesting thing how much we can put things out of our minds (war, global warming, financial difficulties, etc) and go on living our lives without thinking about it. We are a stubborn species. Because I am working on this project, I think about climate change ALL the time. I look around me and wonder if anyone else is thinking about it. I am hyper aware of the things that I do. (And the things I have not done - yet). The fact that someone like me who is so aware, hasn't changed ALL my light bulbs to CFL's (most of them though) - all the people who aren't thinking about, how much (or little) are they doing?

The changes are going to have to be on a massive scale. We will all have to make big changes in our lifestyles to reverse the trend, and given our capability to deal with great change in the face of great need (think of the rationing during previous wartimes) I think we can do it. But I do think we will need a little bit of a push.

I also think it is important for each individual person to feel like they have the ability to have an impact. So this project is about getting out there, having the difficulty conversation, listening and provide the resources for people to make their own action.