Public Art of the Sustainable City

This panel discussion will address the continuum of public art, clean energy precedents, and contemporary technologies. Within this framework we will outline and illustrate the potential that interdisciplinary teams and communities around the world have to expand both the dialogue and actual change.
Dates: 
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 09:00 - 10:30
Chair Person: 
Elizabeth Monoian
Chair Person: 
Robert Ferry
Presenters: 
Patricia Watts
Presenters: 
Nacho Zamora
Presenters: 
Glen Lowry
2010 LAGI Competition Entry: Light Sanctuary
2010 LAGI Competition Entry: Windstalk
2010 LAGI Competition Entry: PV Dust
Ibn Al Haytham Pavilion
Ibn Al Haytham Pavilion

Chair: Assist. Prof. Elizabeth Monoian
2nd Chair: Robert Ferry

As we endeavor to extricate civilization from fossil fuel dependence, the existential debate over the purpose of art deserves renewed attention in the context of natural ecology and human consumption. Is it possible for works of public art to contribute actively to the solution to the problems that confront us? Can interdisciplinary art inspire, through example, the type of social change required to significantly reduce the negative impact of human consumption on the planet? Papers presented will present examples of projects at various scales that seek to address ecological issues, beyond didactic expression, through the incorporation of technology.

This panel discussion will address the continuum of public art, clean energy precedents, and contemporary technologies. Within this framework we will outline and illustrate the potential that interdisciplinary teams and communities around the world have to expand both the dialogue and actual change.

Paper Abstracts

New Aesthetic Energy Infrastructure and the Land Art Generator Initiative

by Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry

Through a biennial design competition, the Land Art Generator Initiative gathers ideas that seek to create substantive models for change and that address public art within the urban fabric of a sustainable future. The goal of LAGI is to design and construct a series of large-scale site-specific public art installations that uniquely combine art with utility scale clean energy generation. The artworks utilize the latest in renewable energy science and innovate the application of new technologies. The art itself will continuously distribute clean kilowatts of energy into the electrical grid with each land art sculpture having the potential to provide power to hundreds or even thousands of homes, while fulfilling its traditional role—public art as conceptually engaging amenity to our common space.

In this talk we will discuss both the 2010 LAGI competition for the United Arab Emirates and the upcoming 2012 competition for Fresh Kills Park in New York City.
http://landartgenerator.org

Public Art Ecology in North America

by Patricia Watts

How can public art utilize new technologies to create ecological infrastructure that contributes to both the aesthetics and sustainability of cities? In this talk, I will give examples of innovative "green" Public Art Master Plans in North America that have been developed in the last decade, and discuss specific artists and projects that both harness and express the potential of technology to address global resource conservation.

Solar Artworks

by Nacho Zamora

“Solar Artworks” combines art, architecture, design, science, and a common objective: how to make our cities more sustainable through public art. We can find solar artworks in different parts of the world, and their creators generally are multidisciplinary groups of specialists. In this conference we will see some of the most interesting examples of solar artworks studied in the frame of “Solar Artworks” to date, in particular how different the projects can be, and why they have been created. More information available on http://www.solarartworks.com/.

E/merging Publics? Interurban Collaboration and Building Connection across Disparate Notions of Public Space

by Dr. Glen Lowry

Increasingly, artists and scholars seek (or are invited) to create dialogic works capable of captivating and activating publics across disparate geo-political locations. However, in as much as it depends on our ability to transport/translate engagement strategies across borders and between cities, this type of work necessitates careful consideration of underlying assumptions about the cultural political functions of contemporary public art. In the context of new urban spaces and emerging publics, these interurban collaborations challenge the primacy of European or North American models. In an attempt to locate key questions about the global mobility of public art and public art discourses, this paper draws on the example of Maraya, an ongoing international art project that strives to link urban sites in Vancouver, Canada, and Dubai, UAE: http://www.marayaprojects.com. It begins from the notion that Vancouver and Dubai are organized around very different notions of public space, based on different historical connections to a European bourgeois public sphere. From here, my paper will set out to describe key issues involved in thinking or working through international collaborations, specifically around issues of global mobilities, interdisciplinary practice, and bridging publics.

Bios of the Participants

Robert Ferry

Robert Ferry, RA, LEED AP BD+C, is a USA licensed architect and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. His architectural focus is on designing buildings and other public objects that go above and beyond current popular notions of sustainability to achieve complete harmony with their local and global environments and with the people that use them.

While based in the UAE, he has consulted on such projects as MASDAR City and ADNOC HQ. He is the designer of less-than-zero-impact or “positive-impact” buildings that double as a renewable energy power-plants for cities, paying back their carbon debt through the excess clean energy they generate. Robert is co-founder of the Land Art Generator Initiative and Studied Impact Design.
http://landartgenerator.org, http://studiedimpact.com

Elizabeth Monoian

Elizabeth Monoian is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who uses the Internet, public spaces, electronic noise, video, and performance. She is currently working on large-scale international public art projects that both address and expose models of environmental sustainability. 

Her work has screened and exhibited internationally in venues including: The First Biennial of Oran, Algeria; Video’ Appart, International Video Art Biennial, Paris & Dubai; the XXIII Moscow International Film Festival, Moscow, Russia; Anthology Film Archives, NYC; Open Screen Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia; Festival of Actual Kino, Novosibirsk, Russia; The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; and the International Media Art Festival at the Armenian Center of Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan, Armenia.

Elizabeth received an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and is currently Assistant Professor of Art & Design at Zayed University. She is co-founder of the Land Art Generator Initiative and Studied Impact Design.
http://landartgenerator.org, http://studiedimpact.com

Patricia Watts

Patricia Watts has curated numerous exhibitions with site specific installations in the public sphere including a large scale temporary wind energy installation entitled Windsock Currents on Crissy Field in the Presidio, San Francisco, for UN World Environment Day (2005). She has participated on four Americans for the Arts "Green" Public Art Network panels at their annual conferences and a webinar focused on the artist selection process. Watts was Chief Curator at the Sonoma County Museum, California (USA) from 2005-2008. http://patriciawatts.blogspot.com

ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 400 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally.

Nacho Zamora

Nacho Zamora is a Spanish public art researcher who has curated an international presentation and exhibition of solar artworks: renewable energy–focused technology, art and design. He received a Bachelor in Fine Arts at the University of Murcia (Spain), and specialized in public art for a Master of Artistic Production at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). His interest is based on the synthesis between concepts like sustainability, education and innovation within the field of public art.

Nacho Zamora is currently working on a Doctoral Dissertation titled “Solar Artworks”. The goal of this project is to compile a complete report about solar artworks and their creators.

Glen Lowry

Glen Lowry, PhD, is a Vancouver-based writer, editor and educator. His work focuses on creative-critical collaborations between artists and academics, particularly in the context of new and emerging publics. With Henry Tsang and M. Simon Levin, Lowry is a lead researcher for Maraya, a large-scale public artwork linking urban waterfront spaces in Vancouver and Dubai, United Arab Emirates: http://www.marayaprojets.com. Since 2002, he has edited West Coast Line, a Simon Fraser University-based cultural journal, and he is a founding editor of LINEbooks, a micropress specializing experimental, west coast poetry and poetics. In 2009, he published Pacific Avenue, his first book of poetry. Lowry is the Assistant Dean of Culture and Community at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.