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The act and so ecological esthetics. Kind of takes as its premise that everything has an esthetic approach that it perceives in response and react takes an agency in the making of the world and then artists and artworks amplify certain aspects of the world we live in . To bring our attention to them to maybe ask us to behave differently or better with the world around us and then this book takes an esthetic approach to it tells stories about artists and their artworks in order to get us to think with and think differently . With the world around us and so to me an esthetic choice is a political choice in that way .
Your last interview that you had with Bonnie here lake effect you’re talking about your New rig the first scanning , can you give us an update on that at all.
Was it. So I , if I’m remembering correctly . At that point I I take desktop scanner system catch up here . Yeah . It takes I take desktop scanners traditional things that you would you know scan and your license with in order to send off although nowadays people use their phones more than scanners . When I started with the serious scanners were like you and cutting edge . Another kind of quaint , but I take these desktop scanners custom battery packs strap them to my body with a computing device and I go out and traversed the landscape . So I might scam in straight long lines across tables tie the skin around my neck and swing over flowers to public gestures over bricks are just follow the wind over water lilies in a pond . And so what you see in HMO’s are these kind of strips that are actually adjacent times and spaces because of the relation of how I move the scanner across the landscape while the scanner beam is moving across the surface of the class and you can see where this fits in with humans nature in politics moving thinking and feeling with at that point I was trying to build an underwater rig and take the scanner scuba diving off a reef in Key West , I did everything leaked everything broke nothing did what I wanted or expected as must have happened right of course of course that said I managed to salvage a series of 14 images that are just beautiful . I mean really show and feel the kind of movements of breathing and gravity and waves and plant life all there’s a there’s a video about it on my website now and and all the images are there and I was really happy with the outcomes . Although I was invited a number of times . Did you do it again and I just can’t cause it’s all broken and so it was a is a one-time thing . Now I’m still experimenting with the series because I learned so much , all the more I do , and in fact because of the underwater rig , even though I no longer have one that can withstand going underwater I’ve managed to make it more portable and easy to use because of all that research and so although autumn and they’re changing colors of leaves on the really lasts a week or 2 and Milwaukee . I went out a couple of years ago and managed to capture some beautiful fall the edge on the lakefront here in Milwaukee , and I’ve turned that into a New series of modular Prince they’re actually in metal so it uses a process that turns that into a gas and goes into a porous aluminum so the medal is extremely shiny , it’s in the matter rather than on the medal and so it feels almost like a computer screen , but then it’s got these beautiful fall colors that are really earthy to combine that with and that’ll be an exhibition at the James waitress Gallery in Madison , that opens in November and I’ll be up through January I actually be giving a scanner hacking workshop in January . I’ll put some information on my website or send it to you . Yeah , so I can teach people how to make battery packs strapped them to their scanners and go out and make their own compression ist images .
Going back to that. TED talk that you gave , has your idea of ecological esthetics changed at all since then or has anything come out of your work to produce this book .
Yeah , thanks for asking that so it’s interesting. As an artist so much influences me . Perhaps that’s why I work in the ways I do . And so over the years . You know I begin working on something and this is the privilege of being an artist . And I think it’s a great idea and then it doesn’t do what I want at all , but it does something else and whether it tells me that it’s doing something else or someone else tells me it’s doing something else . As long as it’s interesting and calls attention to how we relate to the world , I can try to amplify that further and so it was through reading a number of philosophers that even brought me to call that TEDx talk ecological esthetics and that TED talk was about my own work and I kind of talked about 4 different pieces and how they inter-related and the notion of ecological ascetics emerged from writing that talk , and it was only because of the popularity of that TED talk that I was convinced to write a book about it and when I , as a writer , although I don’t think of these 2 practices as distinct my art making my writing about art , I most often want to write about other artists and art works I never deny the fact I’m an artist in my writing and maybe mention a worker , too , but I’m really interested in the privilege that comes with getting to go out and talk to other artists in the amazing work they do , you know I’m just so fascinated with different practices and approaches to the world and I learned so much . I think once a set out on this journey . Yes , one of the first chapters that I write about is an intervention at an art fair . That’s completely about the commercial art world and completely about politics and capitalism and that is not what the everyday person thinks of when they think about general ecology right we usually related to bio organisms or the environment . But it was precisely because of retirees tying everything to capitalism and the problems there in that I thought let me explore the space about and I found a group of New York artists that had a series of interventions that art fairs and tried to show the problematic we’re here . These artists trying to make things as a gift to trying to teach and learn what in the world and someone else is trying to profit off of it and what do you do in that space , and so it went out from there . Some of the artists are right about Mick very what’s considered every day . Aren’t you know Prince with digital forms and I talk about how electrons have agency there but others and that’s Malcolm work but others like Doonan Ward Jahangir who’s during the South African artist his practice is walking and I talk about how we orient its himself and asks others to think with the world around them , just by going on these walks through dangerous neighborhoods , so yeah it completely changed to me and how I think as an academic . I firmly believe in the peer review process . When I sent the book out it was sent out to one amazing Earth art scholar named Amanda puts guess who I had never heard of before , and the kind of feedback that she gave me on the book really made me think about , well , what are the esthetic choices that I made in this book , so I thought I was talking about this other work as ecological esthetics and she made me reconsider that this book itself has its own style and asks us to think differently and that the thesis really is around storytelling and narratives and giving New life and meaning . And then finally , this inspired me after talking to all of these artists and finishing the book I had a New idea for a whole New body of work called the world after us which imagines what our cell phones and media devices might look like in a million years . And so I’m doing things like working with geo scientists at Cornell University in trying to turn phones into fertilizer or food as a different motive of recycling and grinding phones up into powder extending them with oil turning them into income and making prints some melting down IMAX and the aluminum therein and turning them into hammers and saws I’m turning them into planters . So if you can imagine an iMac turned sideways got it and then we grass glowing out of course . I call that Apple grass .
It’s really interesting that you bring up what might happen in a million years because one of the things that I noticed reading about the artists in the book is the focus on time or the concept of time as an important part. I’m thinking specifically of the street trees of Yevgenia another Chechen overtures grow focuses a lot on time or the concept of it does that have an important role in ecological access time an integral part of that .
Absolutely , thank you so much for asking that and for noticing it if nature and earth and environment are part of where we want to think with then we have to start thinking in Earth time our existence is so minute compared to the clubs and in fact , when we look at our media devices and we think about what’s in them. We have to think about the Earth’s own movements in crusts and core is moving and changing in order to gift us with the copper the pleading in the 10 right it took time for the Earth to move and think and feel and create and give us the potential to make those things . And conversely , in a million years this phone will be and do something . And so to sympathize with and remember sympathize means together feel to sympathize with the world around us we have to attempt to imagine we can’t possibly really understand rationally what that time feels like but we can attempt to feel and I think this is what Arden esthetics can do you imagine if Kenya gotta know Vic amazing brilliant local artist she’s our colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and School of the Arts and the work you’re talking about . She just was really annoyed with those plastic bags that you get , they can say if you want to say thank you thank you thank you thank you make you on they are horrible for the environment and are impossible to recycle and her words really ugly and so she decided no , I’m going to do something with them and so .