The Material Ecologies Research Network gathers to kick off plans for 2017 at the Wollongong Botanic Garden with our second network picnic lunch en plein air.
New members joined MECO in 2016 from our diverse spread of collaborative research projects, partnered events and individual practices.
Come and meet old and new friends.
The Robert Woodward Mercury Fountain is a short walk from the Northfields Avenue pedestrian entrance to the gardens opposite the main UOW campus. SEE MAP:
Directions for travellers outside Wollongong
Driving: When driving from the north or south take the F6 Freeway and exit at the Keiraville exit then follow the signs to the Wollongong Botanic Garden.
Parking: Main car park is on Murphys Avenue, Keiraville; other possible parking in Northfields Avenue on the university campus side.
A circuit linking the Botanic Garden to the city, the beach, the University, Innovation Campus and Fairy Meadow. The service operates between 7am and 10pm from Monday to Friday. Every 10 minutes during peak (7am – 9pm & 3pm – 6pm) and every 20 minutes off-peak.
[Bare-nosed Wombat photograph and invitation design, top: Jo Law]
MECO and Global Challenges Seminar and Workshop
16th September 8.00am- 3.00pm
From data to drawing to writing and collections of material culture, scholars and practitioners have long developed a suite of ways to think and imagine the landscapes and environments in which we, and those we share the earth with, live. This day-long event will bring together interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners to explore and experiment with ‘thinking landscape’.
Landscapes are complex environmental, cultural and social entities, and artists, scientists and others continue to seek means of thinking and representing landscapes that can engage with and celebrate landscapes’ multi-dimensionality. This has made for centuries of practices of writing and painting, land and earth art, as well as contemporary advances in digital and geo humanities that focus on the evolution of data visualisation and sonificiation practices. The creation of immersive landscape experiences has expanded from the reflective performance within the landscape or gallery spaces to generative and critical data aesthetics.
In an era where global environmental change and social injustices are framed as ‘wicked’ problems requiring interdisciplinary solutions, and in which ‘creative experiments’ are framed as offering potential solutions to the temporal and spatial challenges of apprehending the changing conditions of our landscapes, this symposium suggests it is necessary to ‘think’ the landscape again. Such expanded senses of experimentation redistribute the sites, spaces, practices and subjects of knowledge—whether that be through the tools of environmental science or cultural histories and heritage; they make space for hybrid research practices and collaborative efforts, as well as redistribute expertise making new spaces for seeing, hearing and accounting for others in the representations and imaginations of landscape that are produced.
‘Thinking Landscape’ features a workshop exploring a range of practices of engaging with data about landscape, including visualisation and sonification data, as well as talks by Mitchell Whitelaw (School of Art, ANU http://mtchl.net/) and Harriet Hawkins (Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, www.creativegeographies.org).
To book a place and to see the full schedule please visit the eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinking-landscape-data-geography-arts-and-interdisciplinarity-tickets-27370917150
We are really excited to announce that MECO is working with the Space, Place and Country research cluster from Sydney College of the Arts, and Cementa Inc. to stage Futurelands II, a public forum to take place in Kandos, NSW, November 11 to 13, 2016. The weekend will bring together artists, academics, agricultural innovators, ecological scientists, environmental activists, Indigenous custodians and the broader community to explore our changing relationship to land and the emerging art forms that are engaging with it. Among the confirmed speakers is Bunarong, Tasmanian and Yuin man, Bruce Pascoe, whose historical account of pre-contact Indigenous farming practices and aquaculture, Dark Emu, was recently awarded NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Book of the Year.
Futurelands II will also mark the establishment of the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation (KSCA), a collaboration between Alex Wisser, Ian Milliss, Lucas Ihlein, Diego Bonetto, Gilbert Grace and SPC member, SCA’s postdoctoral fellow Laura Fisher. Having recently been awarded an Australia Council grant, KSCA’s first project will be a landed artists’ residency that grants artists who work with ecological phenomena and agricultural innovation access to land to make long term projects. Gilbert Grace (SCA MFA) will be resident artist at Maloo in 2016/2017, a farm that is currently being rehabilitated by farmer and educator, Stuart Andrews, using the Natural Sequence Farming method developed by his father Peter Andrews. Grace will be growing a crop of hemp for the production of hempcrete, an alternative to concrete, formerly the key industry of Kandos.
Information about KSCA and Futurelands II will be updated on http://cementa.com.au/ and http://ksca.land/. If you are interested in attending Futurelands II or want further information, please write to email@example.com. MECO contacts for this event are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Agnieszka Golda | 1 June 2016
The sound of a familiar voice directs my attention towards my favourite movie. The opening narration to the cinematic rendition of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings told by the elven Lady Galadriel of Lothlórien:
The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was, is lost…
surely strikes a chord in all those particularly sensitive to climate change and shifts in ecological conditions. It’s uncanny how Galadriel’s poetic expression of lament evokes Paul Crutzen’s important remarks: “The world has changed too much… we are in the Anthropocene.” While Tolkien’s fantastical Middle-earth exposes the devastating impact of industrialised modes on nature, the geologic concept of the Anthropocene warns of an approaching climate tipping point. Lets hope, that it becomes an affective device, as the Last March of the Ents (urged by the most unlikely creatures imaginable, the Hobbits) for shifting beyond a state of human centred perspective.
I’m yet again captivated by the view outside my studio window. There, in close proximity, stands an ancient mountain called Mt Keira. Lush and green, its peak surrounded by a crown of puffy white clouds, serves as a timely reminder of forests’ extraordinary capacity to influence local weather and stabilise regional climate. This remarkable ability to manage water has earned forests the prestigious status of being the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. In fact, while more than two thirds of all terrestrial species survival directly hinges on forests, the ecological resilience of forests depends strongly on their biodiversity. Sadly, the long-term, cumulative effects of anthropogenic impacts on forests have brought about their colossal disappearance and therefore equally irreversible loss of the diversity of life on Earth.
My recent collaborative projects are driven by a strong interest in deep ecology, mindfulness and unearthing ecocentric strategies for responding to the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. This ecological crisis raises important questions for artists: how can artistic actions and imagination, bolster and safeguard Earth’s energies? Even though, portrayals of diminishing ecosystems give rise to feelings of dread, collaborations often instigate unforeseen alliances and resistances that can instill feelings of hope – a desire for change in a particular place. As Galadriel reminds us: Yet hope remains while the company is true.
On the 4th March 2016 we held the MECO picnic, a chance for members of the network to share recent projects and plan for the year’s activities. We discussed the involvement of members of the network with international conferences, and celebrated the successes of 2015. We resolved to expand the listings of people on the MECO blog to highlight the participation and input of HDR students. We extended our congratulations to Lucas Ihlein for his DECRA.
Future plans include
- a make do workshop focused on critical and creative use of drone technology
- the third MECO research camp that will examine Future Archaeology
- a collaboration with Cementa in Kandos to hold a public forum ‘in the field’
From the Wollongong Botanic Garden website:
Succulent Collection #8
The diverse selection of succulents primarily from Africa and America provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor functions all year round in the clearing between the Dryland Mound and the Succulent Mound. A massed display of Mesembryanthemum makes a stunning presentation in spring and summer, with Aloes flowering profusely from June to August.
For the full list of speakers, papers and abstracts for our upcoming symposium, please click here: symposiumprogramme Hope to see you there!
In partnership with the FEMINIST RESEARCH NETWORK, MECO has invited Dr Yvette Watt to present a lecture on her current research, all welcome.
10 February 2016 10.15am research hub, bldg 19, UOW
Animal Factories and Anti-Duck-Shooting: Negotiating Academia as an Activist Artist
Dr Yvette Watt
This paper will begin by giving an overview of a major art project that involved photographing large- scale industrial animal farms around Australia from publicly accessible vantage points. The images aimed to capture the ‘internment’ or ‘concentration’ camp style layout of these industrial farms, with the total absence of animals in the imagery serving to highlight the hidden and secretive nature of the unnatural and restricted environment endured by the animals housed inside the windowless sheds. The Animal Factories project, which received research funding through the University of Tasmania, pursued an ongoing interest in the role of art in communicating issues surrounding the ethics of human-animal relations. However, the intersection of art, activism and academia can provide challenges – a matter that will be addressed through a discussion of a project that I am currently working on, which involves staging a performance of Swan Lake at the opening of duck shooting season in Tasmania. While the two projects differ dramatically in their methodologies, both are concerned with visibility and invisibility; of the animals, of the farming/hunting practices, and of the projects’ profiles within the academy. The paper closes by speculating on whether it is possible for the “artivist” academic to resist the kind of institutional compliance that can deaden the creative response to animal suffering.
Yvette Watt is a Lecturer in Fine Art at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania, where she also completed a MFA and a PhD. She is a committee member of Minding Animals Australia and Co-Director of the UTAS Faculty of the Arts Environment Research Group. Yvette’s art practice spans 30 years. She has held numerous solo exhibitions and has been the recipient of a number of grants and awards. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections including Parliament House, Canberra, Artbank and the Art Gallery of WA. Yvette has been actively involved in animal advocacy since the mid-1980s, including being a founder of Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania, and her artwork is heavily informed by her activism. She is a contributor to and co-editor (along with Carol Freeman and Elizabeth Leane) of the collection titled Considering Animals: Contemporary Studies in Human-Animal Relations (Ashgate, 2011). Other essays by Yvette include ‘Artists, Animals and Ethics’ in Antennae (2011, issue 19) and ‘Animal Factories: Exposing Sites of Capture’ in Captured: The Animal Within Culture (Palgrave McMillian, 2014, edited by Melissa Boyde).
The Material Ecologies (MECO) research network is a research network for critical and creative practices in the Environmental Humanities. It is a collective of scholars investigating entanglements across the social, cultural and political contexts of the Anthropocence. The network’s interdisciplinary focus is beyond the human: material intersections of the animal, the technological, the animate and inanimate, material and immaterial objects. Adopting an ecology of practice approach, MECO is a vehicle for transdisciplinary exchange, research generation, support and collaboration across intersecting theoretical, disciplinary, and methodological interests based in the broad fields of Contemporary Arts, Media and Humanities.