Artur Van Balen
By: Artúr van Balen / Tools for Action
At first it was windstill. Then the wind blew over the hills. With a kite, some elastic strings, a smartphone and a plastic bottle we made aerial photographs of the landscape and ourselves. This low budget technology is inspired by public lab, an open source network of artists, scientists and engaged citizens who promote "civic science". Balloon and kite mapping was first used by them to document the the BP oil spill at the Gulf of Mexico as the existing governemental data were under representing the environmental catastrophe. Manuals how to do balloon and kite mapping can be found here: http://publiclab.org/wiki/kitemapping
Artur Van Balen
Virals, Latex, Carbon Bubbles
Thinking about the success of the Standing Still action during the Gezi park protests and how in a matter for hours, thousands of people stood still next to Erdem Gündüz, the originator. What conditions are needed to let something go ́viral How can virals be used for creative campaigns? The carbon bubble is a new idea for a campaign with inflatable sculptures made from latex. The carbon bubble also designates a complex, abstract financial investment mechanism perpetuating the continued use of fossil fuels. When I first saw a graphic image of the carbon bubble, showing how much fossil fuels we are allowed to burn, if the world would globally agree to keep emissions under 2 degrees global warming and how much fossil fuel reserves are known by fossil fuel companies to be in the earth, I understood the massive interests for keeping a ́businessasusual ́approach to climate change policies. We fabricated a carbon bubble of latex. It will be used for marches and actions in London and New York during the peoples climate march in September this year. The remaining latex has been used to make latex clothes and possibly lingerie. More info how to make an inflatable carbon bubble is here: www.toolsforaction.net/tutorialcarbonbubble/
Karin Bahler Laver & Thomas Bush
Fermentation as Model
A workshop for 2 – 30 participants.
Two sessions, at least 3 days apart. (min. time 90mins for part 1)
Ideally outdoors, but a water source is essential.
As a naturally occurring process, fermentation happens all around us. Over the past ten thousand years, humans have learned to utilise the potential of microbial activity as an extremely effective way of making common foodstuffs more digestible, safer, longlasting or potentially delicious (intoxicating?). Through these practical functions it can clearly be seen how fermentation should play a central role in any kind of sustainable living. Simultaneously, we wish to use the workshop to view the process itself as a model for other systems, both political and philosophical. We see the process of organic transformation as an ideal to be followed, and will introduce this as the motivational thesis of the activity.
The accompanying booklet is intended to serve as a resource of bare facts, and as a openended guide into some of our thinking, and directions for discussion. Going through it is a good way to start. To understand the fundamentals of the biological and chemical process can immediately provide redirections of thought, as each person sees the process in relation to themselves. Each participant (or small groups) should then choose (or find) the material they want to ferment. There are essentially three elements required: a vessel (jars, bottles, hollowed out pumpkin...), the plant (or plant derivative) to be fermented, and the other ingredients chosen to create the environment for controlled fermentation to take place (salt, water...). We will work only with the bacteria and yeasts naturally present in/on the local flora. Basic material requirements:
Fruit, vegetables, herbs
Sugar / honey
Vessels (pref. with lid)
Bottles with airtight seal
The number of fermentations is only limited by the resources provided! Once the fruit/vegetables have been prepared, the groups then need to name / label their vessels. This is a good opportunity to reproject any of the issues discussed earlier. The vessels should then be stored somewhere relatively warm, any open buckets or jars covered to prevent insects.
After 2 days, if the conditions are warm, there will most likely be noticeable signs of fermentation, so any time beyond this the groups should reconvene, with the fermentations. Each group can introduce their creations to the rest, and potentially taste them. The discussion should then continue, exploring how each group or individual has conceptualised the process, and how it can inform action in many different spheres..
This session took place in the South Downs Natural Burial Site, located
on the grounds of the Sustainability Centre. We sat in a beautiful
spacious beech grove. The first part of the afternoon was spent
exploring the place and discussing people's responses to it in the context
of the question of how to grieve for the ongoing, complex death we all
face: that of biodiversity and intact ecosystems.
Building on this free-flowing and personal conversation we talked about our relationship with the more-than-human world, and used a method refined by Marcus Coates from the shamanic writing of Michael Harner, as a tool to ask questions to the animals and landscapes in our unconscious minds. Eyes closed, lying, sitting or standing, we followed a simple script (that I spoke aloud at first, and then people just followed from memory) to journey into our imaginations and encounter images and inspirations that might cast new light on our questions. We ended the session with an experiment: we devised a question together - How can I make the best use of what I bring home from SummerLab? and all journeyed into our imaginations together in service to that larger question.
Post workshop thoughts
Firstly I came away thinking how interesting the differences were, in how each of us explored relativity. And if/how we implicated ourselves/bodies in the equation.
It got me thinking about how we understand the world through the relative understanding we have of ourselves, and for some the self (explicitly at least) is more central than others.
Made me think this project, is perhaps more about relativity than I appreciated before - or about creating relative relationships between two disconnected points, where previously there was none/only abstracted concept/numbers.
So, I think what we were doing (perhaps) was exploring the relative relationship between things, people, objects, connecting up points that were previously disconnected, eg; previously there was no relationship between twigs and a metre and now there is...
The process of comprehensions the group went through to make the amount they where dealing with went something like this:
The 50 acre forest at the sustainability centre sequester 32.5 tonnes (32500kg) of carbon each year.
An average British person produces 9.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year if you times this by the 30 it would be 291 tonnes.
So approx. 3.3 people are accounted for by the forest at the sustainability centre year by year.
To account for all the artists attending the Summer Lab we would need 8 more sustainability centres.
The group then went on to work out how much carbon we each breath out and how many tree's we would need to account for the breath of all 30 artists that attended the summer lab. The answer was 5 trees. They tied a string round 5 trees and cleared a space within it for blankets to be laid. It was a space that all 30 attendees could sit within.
I don't know their exact maths and I'm also not suggesting that breathing contributes to CO2 buildup in the atmosphere but it was a great way to comprehend carbon. The amount of it, what space it might take up and how it’s stored. That evening it became a space where we could all sit and talk about these facts the consequences of these facts as well as everything else that came up during our time at the lab.
The idea of making a communal space within a representation of an amount of carbon was an amazing step in my thoughts about the project. A space where you can be still and know that just at that time your carbon output is being accounted for, just for that little bit of time.
In my future thinking it's an incidental space where solutions or actions might be thought of. You experience the amount, you can understand it and feel it relatively to yourself for maybe the first time and this communal space can be the place where you process that information, work out if it means something to you and how it relates to your life and if you want to do anything with it.
Listening to the Anthropocene: Sounding the 'Natural' World
What is the sound of the political and
How are we affected by them, and how do we listen and respond to them?
The workshop began by looking at our understandings of nature and the social, and their sounds, affects and spaces. Central to this is how we feel different aural architectures and atmospheres enable and disable particular kinds of collectivity and conviviality. Following from this participants experimented with various methods for paying attention to how and where we are through a series of ear cleaning and mindfulness exercises. This was followed by individual and collective sound walks, with notation and documentation through body, sound and terrain mapping to chart our experiences of the environments we move in and through.
The workshop culminated in a final conversation where participants explored how paying attention to the nuances of their environments and their own responses to them might be translated into collective, rather than individual, practices of solidarity and care.
The key to my wider practice is how sound and communication is shaped by, and shapes, our relations to one another, to the architectures and infrastructures around us, to our atmospheres and ecologies, and to the forces of power and governance that we experience and intervene in.
Within this session, the intension was to extend these listening practices to focus on the sonic geographies of urban and non-urban environments, particularly our imaginaries of what 'nature' sounds like and our speculations of how our anthropocenic futures may sound. Of interest to this inquiry are the deeply embedded fetishes we maintain toward the natural world - the biophonies and geophonies from which we eliminate the human. The workshop looked towards the complex assemblages of human and more-than-human within these sound worlds with the intention to contest the Nature/Social divides that impede our capacities to recognise the natural as an always produced, contingent and entangled ecology.
Coming out of these sonic geographies, the workshop encouraged participants to develop a more intimate approach to listening to the world around us in order to think through how we might develop more respectful and careful ways of being within our everyday worlds. Drawing as much from deep listening and acoustic ecology as philosophical and geographical approaches to the more-than-human, this sound walk introduced participants to a range of exercises and skills for individual and collective listening.
What does artistic strategies/creative production offer towards collective survivability?
From morning until night, each day is our world is packed with education rich experiences. For example,
riding the train to work is an education in social norms, politeness, movement and dance, public
transportation policy and so much more.
The thing is, we don't think about the rush of experiences as a classroom
because of the way in which society has sectioned off "learning time" from productive time, caring time, fun time etc…
In truth, Its all just time. Often, this results with people knowing something as "brain learning", but not knowing it at the right time,
not connecting it to its active place.
I approached planning for this session with a perverse homeopathy, understanding that a pedagogical, body-based workshop mixed with a lecture is an opportunity to deliver healing stress. Body work suggests health and play, a lecture suggests something akin to its opposite. The subject of the lecture;
the limits of what body, bodies and mind can take was delivered sincerely (with charts). Yet the time for either was not comfortable, there is no apparent time for synthesis. The class is left with confusion, a few words, questions.
Feeling something until it no longer is giving.
On collapse and its benefits.
Cultural strategies in the heart of climate chaos.
Thoughts on materiality, disobedience and culture as an ecological substrate.
Affordance, Niches, Materiality, Ethical Ecology.
Slowlo: Performance and workshop
Nic Green's performance was intended as a gift to the lab and a point of focus to initate the lab. It became the context of the idea of embodiment, in which we were asking participants to engage both with their disciplinary expertise, but also their sensory perceptions and sensibilities.
Slowlo is a performative reponse to a year of living quietly in the Scottish countryside. Episodic anecdotes, effortful, pounding dances, wailing song and the cleaning of bones- Nic seeks recall the year and unveil the wildness within and without.
Workshop to accompany Slowlo.
Beauty Arises in the Stillness of Your Presence
1. Intercept materials destined for landfill: ply offcuts, old nails, timber batons, sash, etc.
2. Create a bird table that can be balanced, attached or held on your person.
3. Find a place in the woods where surrounding birds can hide easily in , trees and shrubs around you.
4. Find a comfortable position in which you can remain still.