Nevada Museum of Art: A+E Conference 2011

As you know, the SNC Gallery Club sponsored five student tickets to the Art and Environment conference at the Nevada Museum of Art from September 29th to October 1st. Out of the submissions, those selected were Anza Jarschke, Heath Pierson, Glen Cheriton, Karl Schwiesow, and myself, with Logan Lape also in attendance. We are planning to do a collaborative piece as a response to the conference, which I’ll post as a follow-up once it’s done, along with more of our thoughts as students attending the conference; in the meantime, here’s a brief rundown of some of the panelists and work that was discussed. As there were quite a few presentations, I won’t be covering them all, but here are a few that really piqued my interest.

Thursday night featured a lecture and performance from Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and four members of the Reno Philharmonic. Miller has created a project that he calls ‘Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica’, or just Ice Music; music composed as an acoustic portrait of Antarctica. He traveled there and set up a portable studio in order to capture and digitally reconstruct the resonant frequencies of the ice. It was a remarkable performance, in which he sampled, looped, composed, mixed, and spoke about the connection between music and information. Below is an example of the project; you can read more about it, and Miller’s book, ‘The Book of Ice’, here and here.

Friday was the first full day of panelists. The first panelist was Alexander Rose, director of the Long Now Foundation. Long Now is concerned with long-term thinking and an expanded sense of present time. Rose discussed the current Long Now project, a large-scale, fully mechanical 10,000 year clock that is currently being constructed in west Texas; the clock will be sealed inside a mountain, and will chime once a year, with a different chime each year, for the next 10,000 years. You can read more about the 10,000 year clock here.

10,000 year clock prototype 1, photo by Rolfe Horn

Next came a series of panels on the Altered Landscapes photography collection at the museum. Edward Burtynsky spoke about his work, photographing the effects of industry on the natural world. He uses images of quarries, tailings, refineries, mines, oil fields, etc., to remind us that we all participate in the degradation of nature:

Oil Fields 19a

Nickel Tailings No. 34

Oxford Tire Pile #8

Chris Jordan, who recently exhibited his ongoing project titled ‘Running the Numbers’ (digital manipulations which demonstrate the massive scale of human consumption), spoke about his work on Midway Island, photographing the decomposing corpses of birds whose stomachs are full of plastic. I won’t post those images here, for the sake of those who would rather not see them, but I would highly recommend taking a look here; it’s some incredibly powerful imagery. While showing these images, Jordan spoke about the need to reconnect emotionally with the ongoing environmental crisis.

There were many more presentations that day; Subhankar Banarjee, Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, Fritz Haeg, Thomas Kellein, Leo Villareal, David Benjamin, Geoff Manaugh, Mark Smout, and Liam Young all presented and spoke about their work and ongoing projects. As this is running a little long already, I’m going to skip ahead to Saturday and talk about a presentation that I really enjoyed, Amy Franceschini’s “This is Not a Trojan Horse”. Franceschini came onstage dressed as a pantomime horse, while Gaetano Carboni, commissioner of the project and director of the Polinaria Arts Center, introduced the project: a large-scale mobile sculpture of a horse, designed to travel through the Abruzzo region of Italy, where traditional farming techniques have suffered due to globalization. Franceschini spoke about how the traveling sculpture was designed to engage locals and farmers into conversation, and to prompt creative-problem solving. As they moved through the countryside, Franceschini and her group, FutureFarmers, collected/documented samples of traditional farming practices (interviews with locals, recipes, tools, etc).

Photos by Daniela d’Arielli

Other presenters on Saturday included Patricia Johanson, who creates functional and sculptural infrastructure projects; Richard Black, John Carty, Mandy Martin, Gerald Nanson, and John Reid, who all spoke about various aspects of water environments in Australia; Jorge Pardo, who gave a pretty fascinating presentation of his work in blurring the line between viewer and participant in design and architecture; and Bruce Sterling, a science fiction author and futurist, who gave one hell of a closing speech about the realities that we’re facing with the world at large.

Overall, I thought the conference was an extremely valuable experience to have as a student. We all appreciate the Gallery Club’s sponsorship of our tickets, and I’ll be sure to follow up with our collaborative response piece.

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