Symposium Explores Art and Green Movement

Lindsey Jacobson

On Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9 Colgate hosted an art symposium focusing on new media technologies and sustainable futures. Organized by Carry Peppermint, Christine Nadir and Bob Turner, the event focused on bringing art as activism to Colgate.

“Environmental Art & New Media Technologies brought together artists from diverse backgrounds who are all committed to imagining non-primitive, sustainable futures,” Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Cary Peppermint and Lecturer Christine Nadir said in an e-mail to the Maroon-News. “We were impressed by the level of interdisciplinary involvement from both students and faculty. We felt the symposium was a huge success in the way that it brought together students from across campus as well as from our Arts 285 “New Media Art: History & Theory” course.”

In keeping with momentum of last week’s Focus the Nation conference, the symposium included artist presentations from those featured in Nature Version 2.0, which opened in Clifford Art Gallery on January 31. The artists included are re-imagining the relationship between the environment and technology. For instance, Natalie Jeremijenko, the keynote speaker, is exhibiting a duck that can be controlled via remote control and interact with other ducks. The operator can see what the duck sees on a screen and can even make the duck quack at other ducks. Ms. Jeremijenko is trying to change the way that people interact with so called “nature” and realize that we as people are a part of nature.

Amy Franceschini is working to bring nature back into people’s lives by incorporating gardens into cities. For one of her projects, “Victory Gardens 2007,” Franceschini selected a few living spaces in the San Francisco Bay Area and turned their backyards into gardens. The project will eventually send the participants a kit with soil, planting tools and seeds so that he or she will be able to grow his or her own food and live more suitably. Mrs. Franceschini said she hoped that the project will help people who might not be able to afford places like Whole Foods gain access to foods which are wholly nutritious while still helping to create a more sustainable environment in the cities.

“Amy Franceschini’s work is a great example of new media artists taking the technology available to them and creating a powerful but also effective art piece,” Maroon-News Photography Editor junior Cat Naclerio, who spoke at the event, said.

The piece featured in Nature Version 2.0 by Colin Ives brings technology and nature together in a very interesting way. In the installment, videotaped images of foxes that thrive in the urban communities of California appear as if they are crawling out from under a fence. However, it is set up so that if a person comes near the foxes, the foxes become frightened and run away. If the person stays for a while, the foxes will come out to explore the viewer. Mr. Ives is trying to show how technology does not have to separate us from animals, and perhaps nature.

The art presented on Friday and Saturday came from a new place of media technologies. Modern art has evolved from painting to sculpture and now the internet, a combination of everything. Andrea Polli’s 90 Degrees South used video and audio interviews combined with sound and digital images to convey the splendor and significance of Antarctica.

“It was inspiring to see how the audience engaged internationally acclaimed contemporary artists working at the edge of art in a discussion of environmental ethics relate to the creative applications of digital and new media technologies,” Peppermint and Nadir said.

Artists Joline Blais, Jane D. Marsching, Brooke Singer, Alexander R. Galloway and Tom Sherman were also featured in the symposium. By using art as activism, these innovators are working to change the cultural ideas about environmental action. The symposium inspired people not only to think outside the box, but also to destroy it completely and therefore destroy the culture of consumption. And then recycle it.