Eco Sapiens Round Table

Saturday, 17 September, 2011 - 11:00 - 12:00
Ian Clothier
Nina Czegledy
Andrea Polli
Sophie Jerram

We know we have built a civilisation which is unsustainable. How are we developing today the new culture that will allow us to create a sustainable civilisation?

Roger Malina, Astrophysicist and Editor of Leonardo

The great work of our times, I would say, is moving the human community from its present situation as a destructive presence on the planet to a benign or mutually enhancing presence. It is that simple.

Thomas Berry, Cultural Historian And Geologian

The urgency of the environmental crisis facing humanity and the earth requires a radical shift in mind set. It is important that individuals, nations and cultures work together to resolve the crisis.

This Eco sapiens Round Table brings together artists, scientists, and tangata whenua (the people of Aotearoa New Zealand) to discuss environmental issues. Critical to resolving environmental issues is opening up to hear the indigenous voice on the subject of environment.

The complexity of the global ecological crises of today calls for us to engage together in new ways. Deep shifts in our consciousness may be required for long-term cultural changes to occur. In what ways might we encourage a kind of ‘reboot’ and re-imagining of our narratives about ourselves as a species, so to inspire ourselves towards more co-beneficial relationships with the biosphere.

Compounding these issues there is a tendency to perceive our species as a supreme and exceptional creature, able to invent our way through any situation, denying limits of physicality or of our current understandings.

With the term Eco sapiens we take the perspective that it is instead changes within ourselves and our species relationships to existing systems of the biosphere that is most urgently required, rather than a re-engineering of these to suit ourselves. Inventiveness and innovation are crucial, yet must be tempered with the humility that comes with an appreciation of the complexity of the systems that support us.

While the prefix of ‘eco’ is understood as all things green, it originates from the Greek word oikos, meaning home. Ecology can therefore be seen as the study of home. In its combination with the Latin word sapiens (of Homo sapiens) which means ‘wise’, we posit a scenario in which future descendants of ours species have adapted to develop a greater sensitivity to, and understanding of the complexity of ecological systems, in order to survive.

An important innovation of Eco sapiens awareness is responsiveness to indigenous views on the environment. In many ways the culture of the future will have to take a much stronger position on guardianship over resources and indigenous people world wide have a sophisticated relationship with environment. This is a time for all peoples to join together, and that involves opening the mind to multiple views of the environment that we call home.
The panel session is led by Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru with Nina Czegledy, Andrea Polli, Ian Clothier, Te Urutahi Waikerepuru and Sophie Jerram.

Bios of the Presenters

Ian M Clothier - convenor

Ian Clothier is Director of Intercreate Research Centre (, Founder and Co-director of SCANZ residency, symposium and exhibition and Senior Academic at Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki New Zealand. As an artist his projects intersect art, technology, science and culture. Recent creative projects include the integrated systems The Park Speaks and Haiku robots; and the hybrid cultural Making History a project of his internet micronation The District of Leistavia. He has had thirteen solo shows and been selected for exhibition at institutions in twelve countries including three ISEA exhibitions; What if at Puke Ariki Museum New Zealand; ISEA 2009 Belfast Ireland exhibition; Taranaki culture at Puke Ariki; ISEA 2008 Singapore symposium; net.NET at The JavaMuseum; for Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival in the USA (upstate New York); ISEA 2006 San Jose exhibition; Graphite at the University of Otago NZ; the First International Festival of Electronic Art in Rio de Janeiro; Fair Assembly at ZKM; New Forms Festival in Vancouver; ISEA 2004 Tallinn/Helsinki exhibition; ReJoyce in Dublin and Wild 2002 in the Tasmanian Museum.  He was awarded a Converge Artist Fellowship at the University of Canterbury in 2005 for an augmented reality project. Written work has been published in respected journals, Leonardo, Convergence and Digital Creativity and he has delivered papers to conferences and symposia worldwide.

Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru – session lead

Te Huirangi Waikerepuru is a Taranaki kaumatua with a nationally significant record of contributions to the cultural life of Aotearoa including early work in developing Māori Television and ensuring a path for legislation of the Māori language to be held as a national taonga. He is Te Kāhui Kaumātua for the Tertiary Education Union Council, serves as a Guardian of Taranaki, fulfils the role of Cultural Advisor to WITT  and is a prize winning author of childrens books in Te Reo Māori. He holds an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to Māori submissions on the radio spectrum.

Nina Czegledy

Nina Czegledy is an award winning media artist, curator and educator works internationally on collaborative art& science& technology and educational projects. She has produced time based and digital projects and exhibited widely. Czegledy curated numerous international touring exhibitions and she has lead and participated in workshops, forums and festivals worldwide. Her academic lectures lead to numerous international publications in books and journals. Czegledy is  affiliated with KMDI, University of Toronto, Concordia University,  Montreal, The University of Fine Arts, Budapest, is International Research Fellow at Intercreate Org. New Zealand, and member of Observatoire Leonardo des Arts des Techno-Sciences OLATS (2009-) board member of Year 01, Media Arts Collective and is a Member of the Governing Board of Leonardo/ISAST.

Andrea Polli

Andrea Polli is a digital media artist living in New Mexico.  Her work with science, technology and media has been presented widely in over 100 presentations, exhibitions and performances internationally, has been recognized by numerous grants, residencies and awards including a NYFA Artist's Fellowship, the Fullbright Specialist Award and the UNESCO Digital Arts Award. Her work has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art News, NY Arts and others. She has published several book chapters, audio CDs, DVDs and papers in print including MIT Press and Cambridge University Press journals.

She currently works in collaboration with atmospheric scientists to develop systems for understanding storm and climate through sound (called sonification).  Recent projects include: a spatialized sonification of highly detailed models of storms that devastated the New York area; a series of sonifications of climate in Central Park; and a real-time multi-channel sonification and visualization of weather in the Arctic. In 2007/2008 she spent seven weeks in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation funded project.

As a member of the steering committee for New York 2050, a wide-reaching project envisioning the future of the New York City region, she worked with city planners, environmental scientists, historians and other experts to look at the impact of climate on the future of human life both locally and globally.

She has received a Master of Fine Arts in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2000, she was voted Teacher of the Year at Columbia College in Chicago in recognition of her work connecting students to the wider community through collaborative projects.   These projects included performances and exhibitions at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and a large scale public art project connecting 5 neighborhood arts organizations with live web streaming, an exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center and six billboards.   Pause. was featured as the Millennium Community Artwork for Illinois and funded by The Mid Atlantic Arts Council and Ameritech.

Polli is currently an Associate Professor in Fine Arts and Engineering at The University of New Mexico and Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media at the University.  She served as the founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program and as Director of ARTS Lab at the University from 2009-2010. From 2005-2008 she served as the Director of the Integrated Media Arts Master of Fine Arts Program at Hunter College/CUNY.  From 2006-2009 she was co-chair of the Leonardo Education Forum, an affiliate of the MIT Press and the College Art Association of America (CAA) that promotes the advancement of research and academic scholarship at the intersections of art, science, and technology and from 2004-2008 she was co-chair of the New York Society for Acoustic Ecology, a multi-disciplinary group exploring the urban sound environment and a chapter of the American and World Forums for Acoustic Ecology, for which she now serves as Vice-President.

Te Urutahi Waikerepuru

Te Urutahi Waikerepuru is a Director of Cultural Concepts Limited, a division of Tui Global and specialises in the provision of pure indigenous ceremonial rituals and traditional practices, consultancy services and the development of indigenous professional and self development programmes, programme resources, indigenous concept product design and merchandise. Services include translation (Maori-English); whakatauaki-proverbs-sayings; cultural safety advocacy; cultural audit tool; preparation of formal speech presentations in te reo Maori; international cross cultural inter-relationship brokerage; indigenous concept design & development.

Sophie Jerram

Sophie Jerram is an independent Wellington-based artist, curator and writer, interested in inter-disciplinary practice and in working outside conventional museological contexts.

Her work includes Last Grasp and Refined Life for Article Biennial, Stavanger, Norway (September 2010), Refined Life at Green Bench’s BURN Show (December 2010), the animated film Mud People of Tawharanui, Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, Rodney District (March 2010); Oil on Troubled Water at Enjoy Gallery Wellington (2007) and the Water Show, at the Physics Room, Christchurch 2008.  She produced and wrote cult 2005 short film  "Fatty", (directed Colin Hodson). 

As a curator her work has concerned artistic intervention into public sites. This includes the inter0disciplinary lecture series Dialogues with Tomorrow with Dugal McKinnon at Downstage Theatre 2010 and 2011, Letting Space with Mark Amery (2010-2011), Bombs Away (Physics Room Christchurch and Adam Art Gallery Wellington), Posted Love (National Library 1998,) Letting Space (Auckland 1993). Together with Dugal McKinnon she has established an ongoing partnership to examine and promote artistic responses to climate change, Now Future.