“Ouroboros Architecture,” in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, Charissa N. Terranova and Meredith Tromble (eds.), (New York: Routledge, 2016), 112-135.
This article explores how and why imagined and real environments in space came to serve as models for ecological design of earthly landscapes and buildings in the 1970s. It claims that life in space came to represent the peaceful, rational, and environmentally friendly alternative to the destructive, irrational, ecological crisis down on Earth. Spaceship management aimed narrowly at the biological survival of astronauts, an ethic which also came to dominate ecological design proposals on board Spaceship Earth. The result was a design programme which was at the expense of a wider aesthetic and social understanding of the human condition. The article reviews the work of leading ecological designers of the period, such as Ian L. McHarg, John Todd and the New Alchemists, Alexander Pike and John Frazer, Brenda and Robert Vale, Ken Yeang, Phil Hawes, and others. It situates their projects in the perspective of ecological research methods of the period and puts forward an understanding of their thinking in the context of space exploration. Today’s challenge is to escape the intellectual space capsule that ecologists have created for environmentally concerned architects.
What is a “creative hub”? And what are the necessary factors to make them happen? Certainly, they don’t come out of nowhere, or do they? If not, what factors are of key importance? One or several of these factors play a role: business opportunities, real estate, cultural life, security, access to capital, know-how and universities, and, perhaps, politics. Why do some cities succeed? And why do some creative hubs fade away? And which role does the digital economy play, if any?
The “Times Square Electronic Garden” project initiated a conversation about climate change, energy use and green urban spaces. Designed and fabricated by New York University students, this earth bomb featured speakers and live sensors among the plants that connected to our URL. The idea was to “re-nature” Times Square so that the public can contemplate new natures within our cities. We invited people to explore soothing living vegetative surfaces and recognize the stark contrast of their hyper-electrified surroundings. The students designed and built an open central sphere for visitors to circulate through so that they could encounter a microcosm of hanging gardens. Around the sphere we created a greenscape of serpentine living benches for rest, gathering, and contemplation. The whole project, start-to-finish, was erected and removed in a 24 hour period on May 10th, 2016. It was a place to reimagine Times Square’s consumer culture into a truly sumptuous environmental future.
Co-Principal Investigators: Mitchell Joachim, Louise Harpman, Peder Anker. Film Media: Keith Miller. NYU ITP: Namira Abdulgani, Kylin Chen, Ella Dagan, Jordan Frand, Michelle Hessel, Renata Kuba, Gal Nissim, Isabel Paez, Tigran Paravyan, Lutfiadi Rahmanto, Leslie Ruckman, Abhishek Singh, Edson Soares, Katie Temrowski, Jed Watson, Yan Zhao, Yang Zhao. NYU Gallatin: Theo Mandin-Lee, Jordan Marks, Max Mezzomo, Valerie Mu, Shel Orock, Alex Selz, Henry Wang. NYU Staff: Karim Ahmed, Jenny Kijowski, Nicholas P Likos, Lillian J Warner, Matthew Tarpley, Shandor Hassan, Shai Pelled.
Last week we witnessed what we as educators love the most: students using their creativity and analytical thinking skills to act politically and support a cause in which they believe. NYU Divest made their case to the administration for why our university should divest from fossil fuels, and why the university should be part of a transparent decision process. Their call was in line with an overwhelming vote by the faculty senate last year and a recent letter signed by over 200 faculty members. They also asked that our new leadership should respect what our former president John Sexton had promised them in writing, namely to let the students present their case at NYU’s board meeting.
The venue they chose was both original and humorous: they staged their protest in the administration elevator in Bobst, tweeting #RiseWithUs. Instead of engaging the students in a meaningful way on issues of transparency and keeping the promise of a meeting with the board, the administration copied the students’ photo IDs, threatened them with disciplinary action (including immediate suspension) and contacted their parents.
While university disciplinary procedure might allow for immediate suspension in exceptional circumstances, this approach strikes us as heavy-handed and unnecessary. In times of conflict, our students should be treated as young adults, not as kids in need of parental supervision. Yet our point is not so much about NYU procedure, but culture. What the administration has created is an atmosphere of fear among our students where there should be safety and tolerance. We, as faculty at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, take pride in our students’ commitment to addressing issues that are important for our university and the world.
Peder Anker, Sinan Antoon, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Paula Chakravartty, Anne DeWitt, Valerie Forman, Andrea L Gadberry, Hannah R Gurman, Louise Harpman, Mitchell Joachim, Ritty Lukose, Amanda K Petrusich, Kim Phillips-Fein, Mark Read, Greg Vargo, Alejandro Velasco
“Art in the Anthropocene,” in Jan Freuchen: Columna Translantica, (Oslo: Press, 2015), 112-121.
Global warming is now at the forefront of public debate, along with a host of related environmental concerns. Indeed, humans are changing the face of the earth so dramatically that geologists use the word “anthropocene” to describe a new planetary epoch formed by human impact. Artists have increasingly begun reflecting on how to engage in the climate debates about the degradation of our shared environment. Jan Freuchen’s Columna Transatlantica may belong within this new school of environmental art.
“A pioneer country? A history of Norwegian climate politics” Climatic Change, (March 2016), 1-13.
The shift away from ecology towards climatology in Norwegian environmental policy in the late 1980s and 1990s was not accidental. A main mover was the Labor Party politician Gro Harlem Brundtland who did not want to deal with unruly and highly vocal Deep Ecologists. Better then to start afresh with a different set of environmental scholars appealing to the technocratic tradition within the Labor Party. Instead of changing the ethical and social ways of dealing with environmental problems as the Deep Ecologists were advocating, she was looking for technological and economic solutions. And she mobilized an international regime of carbon capture storage (CCS), tradable carbon emissions quota (TEQs), and clean development mechanisms (CDMs), all of which eventually were approved in Kyoto in 1997. This move towards technocracy and cost-benefit economics reflects a post-Cold War turn towards utilitarian capitalism, but also a longing to showcase Norway as an environmental pioneer country to the world. The underlying question was how to reconcile the nation’s booming petroleum industry with reduction in climate gas emissions. Should the oil and gas stay underground and the country strive towards the ecologically informed zerogrowth society the Deep Ecologists were envisioning? Or could growth in the petroleum industry take place without harming the environment as the Labor Party environmentalists argued?