CONTEXT

TOWARDS A DIFFERENT AESTHETIC – the Aesthetics of Sustainability

 

VITAL SIGNS

It seems to have been painfully slow progress from Theo Crosby, who, in 1974, published 'How to Play the Environment Game' along with an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. This was the first time that I was alerted to connecting factors in the degradation of the eco-system, and the first time that I saw that art could have anything to say about it.

Before then, in 1972, John Fox recalls in 'Eyes on Stalks':
“'The First Going Away' (as opposed to The Second Coming) was a processional style of theatre; a month-long ironic comic pilgrimage through south-west England… … We were dissident clowns urgently seeking for meaning in an England where the whole pattern of work was shifting away fom heavy industry to the service sector … …The heady symbolism of waywardly interpreting Christian and Arthurian legends bundled together with our own myth-as-real envelope in a touring terrace of yellow caravans…led to creative mayhem.”

This is the starting point for my contextual practice

(click on the links below to go to different sections, or scroll down for the full content)

ART & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

THE NEED FOR A DIFFERENT AESTHETIC PT 1

THE NEED FOR A DIFFERENT AESTHETIC PT 2

TOWARDS A DIFFERENT AESTHETIC

PROMOTING THE AESTHETICS OF SUSTAINABLILITY

SUBVERTISING

NAVIGATING THE GLOBAL VILLAGE


 
world hands

It is an attempt to take a different view of what we need for our wellbeing as citizens, creatures, and as a planet.

It is a view of what role art may have in making our future sustainable.


 

 

A DEFINITION OF SUSTAINABILITY

“Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
Brundtland Report to the UN, 1986

Sustainable development occurs where the three spheres of social, environmental and economical activity overlap. The closer the spheres, the greater the overlap, and therefore, the greater the sustainable development.


 

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ART

How can art respond to, and make sense of, the period of rapid change that we are experiencing?

  • Climate change
  • Seismic cultural shifts, brought about by demographic change, technology and the digital revolution
  • Commodification of our selves
  • Objectification : Increasing dislocation between ourselves and the planet

 


 

 

THE NEED FOR A DIFFERENT AESTHETIC

Our current dominant cultural paradigm exacerbates inequality, injustice and environmental degredation.

How can we subjectivise, reharmonise and reconnect ourselves through sustainable means? How will we thrive once the oil runs out? How will we find what we have lost?


 

a brief history of time as we know it…

'...fully modern behaviour appeared in a relatively sudden burst in Africa around 50,000 yrs ago. Such behaviours encompass the manufacture and use of complex bone and stone tools, efficient and intensive exploitation of local food resources and, perhaps most significantly, symbolic ornamentation and artistic expression...allowing for improved cultural transmission of ideas...this "cultural great leap forward" tipped humans over into modernity.' ( New Scientist Oct 2006 pp. 40-41.)

“There has never existed a people without narratives…narrative is international, transhistorical, transcultural; it is simply there, like life itself.” (Barthes R, 1996)


 

 

This is the only known medieval manuscript of the epic saga of 'Beowulf', the most important surviving work of Anglo-Saxon poetry. The manuscript dates from the early 11th century, two generations before the Norman Conquest - though the poem itself is probably even older. Written in Old English, it tells of a thrilling struggle between the hero, Beowulf, and a bloodthirsty monster called Grendel. Part history and part mythology , the saga is set during the sixth century. Beowulf is a royal son of a Scandinavian clan, whose fame 'far flew the boast of him', according to the poem.

For many winters, the court of the Danish king, Hrothgar has been terrorised by a fearsome monster called Grendel, who comes at nightfall to devour men in their sleep. Beowulf slays the monster and is fêted as a hero - but joy turns to horror when Grendel's mother arrives to avenge the killing of her son. Some see this story as a reflection of the constant cycle of warfare during turbulent times, when alliances were as quickly broken as forged, and peace was never more than fragile. Beowulf also slays Grendel's mother, but is himself condemned to a bloody end. Fifty years later, he is mortally wounded in a last conflict with a dragon.

The heat and scorching from a fire in 1731 made the manuscript's pages very brittle, and In 1845, they were mounted in paper frames to save them from further damage. Further conservation used digital imaging to enhance damaged and obscured letters.

The second image shows a page from the Lindisfarne Gospels. These were manuscripts written and illustrated by monks, showing a real understanding of how animal movement and human emotions can be expressed through ink and vellum.

The intertwining of forms illustrates their belief in a world where all forms of life are connected in what we might call today, the ecosphere; what they called the Kingdom of God.