January 5, 2012
Photographer Mitch Epstein won the third annual Prix Pictet, the recently established Geneva-based photo prize for excellence in environmental photography. The Prix theme in 2011 was “Growth.” (This year, it’s going to be “Power.”)
"Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia, 2004," Mitch Epstein
Epstein’s epic images of energy consumption in the United States are truly breathtaking, in all senses of the word.
December 14, 2011
L.A. Urban Rangers
When many people (including Angelenos) think of L.A., they think of smog and unending stretches of traffic. But one playful group of artist-environmentalists wants to open its neighbors’ eyes to the natural wonders of the City of Angels.
How do they do it?
The Los Angeles Urban Rangers develop guided hikes, campfire talks, field kits, and other interpretive tools to spark creative explorations of everyday habitats, in our home megalopolis and beyond.
Join their mailing list, check out their toolbox, or take a peek at their field site projects and find out about how easy it is to engage with some pretty amazing nature in Los Angeles.
December 14, 2011
My spiritual cousins, The Birdwatchers
This sounds like a pretty neat group art exhibit about observing nature. It’s called “The Birdwatchers.” Opened not too long ago in some fancy gallery in New York City. It’s gonna be going on until January 22nd.
On display. Makes you think.
First off, did you know that people who’re bird watchers actually call themselves “Birders”? Well, they do. Insider jargon, I guess.
The equivalent doesn’t really work for ship spotting, because then I’d be calling myself a “shipper,” which really just reminds me of a FedEx label. Not much romance in that.
Anyhoo, I liked something they said about their art show:
Artists have always used nature, as subjects of inspiration or objects of manipulation. Art that engages nature can establish connections to a wide range of scientific, historical and philosophical concepts. Advances in biological and telecommunication technology make our interference with natural systems both sophisticated and substantial, modifying the way we look at and represent nature. It is human nature to compare, describe, and sort in order to form our own explanations of the world. We strive to acquire better understanding, prognostication, and control of our surroundings. But is there a purpose to observation if action is not taken?
That said, I wish somebody would make an art exhibit called “Ship Spotters.” Maybe they could serve some nice piping hot Sanka and make everybody wear slippers as they walked around.
I can dream…
November 28, 2011
Who’s talking about climate change? Now there’s a way to track the conversations taking place on Twitter via an achingly lovely visualization tool. The “information aesthetics” blog Infosthetics has a great post today about CNN’s brand new Ecosphere. It’s a real-time Twitter 3D visualization which aims to illustrate how the online discussion is evolving around the topic of climate change. It aggregates all Twitter messages hashtagged #cop17 (which is an abbreviation for ”The 17th Conference of the Parties [COP17] to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]“).
The online visualization is an interactive globe described by its creators as a “lush digital ecosystem” in which the #cop17 Tweets look and act like actual plants and trees. Each Tweet about climate change feeds into a plant representing that topic or discussion, causing it to “grow” – a fascinating real-time representation of how the world “sees” climate change at any given moment. Try clicking one of the Tweets and see for yourself.
CNN’s Ecosphere works best with Google Chrome or Firefox, but if you use Safari, you can enable WebGL in your preferences.
November 27, 2011
DAS RAD (“The Wheel”)
A while ago I watched a short film by three Germans called “DAS RAD (The Wheel).” Now, before you say “German films? Nein, danke” and run into a cave, let me tell you, my friends, that it is quite entertaining and was even nominated for an Academy Award.
The stars are two rock piles, observing life on a hillside from ancient times through the present, and into the future. The little film moves through time at high speed, like a time-lapse version of geological eras. When the modern world comes into view, the buildings appear and disappear in an instant, and was my favorite section. And sometimes it switchesto real time and shows the inhabitants and objects in motion in their day-to-day existence.
If you have about nine minutes, check it out. It is — how do you say? — “my cup of tea.”