Posts Tagged ‘sustainability


Exhibition: ‘Climate Capsules: Means of Surviving Disaster’ at Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 28th May – 12th September 2010


Many thankx to Michaela Hille and Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



Haus-Rucker-Co (Laurids Ortner, Günter Zamp Kelp, Klaus Pinter) 'Flyhead (Environment Transformer)', Vienna, 1968


Haus-Rucker-Co (Laurids Ortner, Gunter Zamp Kelp, Klaus Pinter)
Flyhead (Environment Transformer)
Vienna, 1968
Helmet consisting of two transparent green, symmetrical, hemispherical plastic fragments partially covered with foil. Inside the helmet, with the aid of a metal construction, audio-visual filters are arranged by means of which the normality of the surroundings is acoustically distorted and visually faceted.
Photo: Ben Rose, New York


Ingo Vetter. 'Adaptation Laboratory' 2004


Ingo Vetter
Adaptation Laboratory
Exhaust-operated greenhouse with tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Ingo Vetter
© Ingo Vetter for the Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop, 2004


Lawrence Malstaf. 'Shrink' 1995


Lawrence Malstaf (Belgian, b. 1972)
Performative Installation
© Lawrence Malstaf/Galerie Fortlaan 17, Ghent (B)



In view of the advancing climate change, the exhibition Climate Capsules: Means of Surviving Disaster at the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg poses the question: “How do we want to live in the future?” and draws attention to the socio-political consequences of coexistence under new climatic conditions. In view of the fact that the politicians are hesitant to enforce strict measures for climate protection and the citizens very sluggish about changing their habits, the change appears inevitable. The world community is accordingly confronted with the challenge of investigating various possible means of adapting to the climate change. This exhibition is the first to bring together historical and current climate-related models, concepts, strategies, experiments and utopias from the areas of design, art, architecture and urban development – pursuing not the aim of stopping the climate change, but envisioning means of surviving after disaster has struck. More than twenty-five mobile, temporary and urban capsules intended to make human life possible independently of the surrounding climatic conditions will be on view – from floating cities and body capsules to concepts for fertilising sea water or injecting the stratosphere with sulphur. A symposium, film programme, readings, performances and workshops will revolve around the interplay between design processes and political factors such as migration, border politics and resource conflicts, and investigate the consequences for social and cultural partitioning and exclusion.

The public discussion on the climate change concentrates primarily on preventing change by reducing climate damaging emissions. This reduction is to be achieved through new means of obtaining energy as well as the optimisation of energy consumption. The consumption-oriented lifestyle of the industrial nations is also to become more “environmentally friendly”; the citizens are called upon to change their habits. Emerging nations are admonished to avoid the mistakes made by the West from the start. There is not the slightest guarantee, however, that enough nations and enough people around the world will participate in such reductions, and that a “low-carbon culture” will become the globally predominant lifestyle. Nor does anyone know for sure whether the reduction goals presently being discussed will suffice to delay or stop the climate change, which is already measurable today. In the search for alternative solutions, there is a category discussed substantially less often in public: adaptation. Here strategies are developed which aim not to slow or stop the climate change but to adapt to its expected consequences. They include protective measures against flooding and overheating as well as geo-engineering, i.e. large-scale interventions in the global climate.

These technologies are usually subjected only to critical discussion with regard to their technical feasibility. Until now, their possible socio-political effects have for the most part been ignored. Their impact on the structure of the global society, however, can hardly be overestimated: in the endeavour to make life possible independently of outward climatic conditions, these strategies encourage spatial, social and political isolation. Ostensibly motivated by climate-related considerations, they could well lead to inclusion and exclusion on all levels of life, from the interpersonal to the global. They create the conditions for social segregation and global polarisation.

The exhibition Climate Capsules: Means of Surviving Disaster will focus primarily on application-oriented projects for climatological capsules from the areas of design, art, architecture, urban development and geoengineering. The show will reflect on the (political, cultural, socio-spatial) impact of these current adaptation strategies on society by means of contemporary artistic approaches and avant-garde concepts of the twentieth century. Historical projects in the context of the climate change will thus assume new meaning. The current artistic projects question the positivist perspective of their counterparts of the past, and offer the exhibition visitor a further level of sensory experience. The exhibition objects can be divided into five types: body capsules, living capsules, urban capsules, nature capsules and atmosphere capsules …


Pablo Reinoso. 'La Parole' 1998


Pablo Reinoso (Argentine-French, b. 1955)
La Parole
Fabric and electrically powered ventilators
length. 620 cm, diam. 200 cm
Pablo Reinoso
© Pablo Reinoso Studio


Lucy Orta. 'Refuge Wear – Habitent' 1992


Lucy Orta (English, b. 1966)
Refuge Wear – Habitent
Polyamide encased in aluminium, polar fleece, aluminium tent poles, whistle, lantern, compass
125 x 125 x 125 cm
Galleria Continua
Photo: Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Courtesy Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin



Body capsules

The exhibition begins with the interactive installation La Parole by Pablo Reinoso. Two visitors at a time can poke their heads into the inflatable textile construction and share the air they breathe as well as a common visual and audio space. The experience of this work raises the question as to how people can protect their bodies from contaminated air, pollutants, storms and aggressive solar radiation. Again and again in the course of the show, the visitor encounters “body capsules” addressing the topic of clothing as bodily protection from climatic conditions.

Living capsules

The objects belonging to this group extend the encapsulated space from the body encasement to the immediate living space. Utopian designs for mobile capsules of the 1960s such as the Walking City by Ron Herron (Archigram) still figured in the discussion emphasising temporary and mobile structures as experimental free spaces after ideas introduced by such architects as Constant or Yona Friedman. Today mobility is no longer just a question of freedom – the counterpart to voluntary mobility is flight, the spatial equivalent the temporary camp. The visitor thus stumbles across Michael Rokowitz’s paraSITE, for example, an inflatable tent which the artist developed in collaboration with the homeless person Bill Stone. Like the other tents in the series, it is designed for use in an exhaust air shaft. It can dock onto a building as a temporary parasite. In this context of precarious modi vivendi – brought about not least of all by global inequality (which is further aggravated by the climate change) and the resulting mass migration – what were once visionary temporary living concepts appear in a new light. They are not spaces of liberation, but of isolation.

Urban capsules

Cities are the largest energy consumers, and urbanisation continues to increase worldwide. Zero waste, zero emission, zero energy are the creeds of the present. Already in the 1950s, Richard Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao sketched the utopia of a climatically self-sufficient reorganisation of the city with their Dome over Manhattan. In this vision, a huge dome covers a large proportion of the island. Today, these encapsulations from the outside are already being realised in conjunction with the design of internal climate worlds, whether on the scale of large building complexes or energy-self-sufficient cities such as Masdar by Norman Foster. Other concepts show that, against the background of imminent climate disasters, the urban system is conceived of increasingly as an autarchic unit, sealed from the outside world, and confronted with the need for the self-contained management of its ecological resources. This debate is carried to the furthest extreme by Vincent Callebaut’s conception for a floating city – Lilypad – intended as a haven for climate refugees.

Nature capsules

Just as the city is to be protected from the climatologically changing environment, nature is also to be elevated into a sphere of safe artificiality and preserved in nature capsules. Ecosystems are replicated by human hand on the micro level and sealed off from the outside. A concept which initially presents itself as a protective mechanism robs the flora and fauna assembled within it of their connection to the macrolevel ecosystem: Earth. The question arises: can that which is being protected inside such a capsule still be thought of as nature? Or is it a deceptively genuine human artefact? These considerations are made very vivid in Ilkka Halso’s photo series Museum of Nature, consisting of digital montages which insert forests, lakes and rivers into imaginary museum buildings.

Atmosphere capsules

The maximum scale of adaptive design strategies is reached with geo-engineering. With chemical or physical interventions, attempts are made to control climatological, geochemical and biochemical systems actively on the global level, and thus to moderate the climate. The historical forerunners of this development are psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich’s para-scientific Cloudbusters and the U.S. Army’s Project Cirrus, both of which sought to influence the weather technically by different means. Today, various well-known scientists and research institutes are working on large-scale interventions aiming to protect the global climate from negative influences. Utopian proposals are juxtaposed with feasible projects such as endeavours to reduce global warming through the use of reflective white paint on roofs and streets. To date it is impossible to calculate the consequences of such far-reaching interventions, and they are nowhere near realisation. Yet the fact that they are discussed seriously indicates how close climatological developments have already come to the point where emission-reduction strategies become obsolete.

Participating artists, designers and architects: Anderson Anderson Architecture (US), Ant Farm (US), Richard Buckminster Fuller (US), Vincent Callebaut (B), Juan Downey (US), David Greene (GB), Tue Greenfort (DK), Ilkka Halso (FI), Haus-Rucker-Co (AT), Ron Herron (GB), Kouji Hikawa (JP), Christoph Keller (D), Lawrence Malstaf (B), Gustav Metzger (D), N55 (DK), Lucy Orta (GB), Michael Rakowitz (US), Pablo Reinoso (ARG/F), Shoji Sadao (US), Tomás Saraceno (planet earth), Werner Sobek (D), Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag (D), Matti Suuronen (FI), Ingo Vetter (D).”

Press release from the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe website [Online] Cited 17/08/2010 no longer available online


Vincent Callebaut. 'Lilypad, A Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees' 2008


Vincent Callebaut (Belgium, c. 1977)
Lilypad, A Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees
Digital rendering, dimensions variable
© Vincent Callebaut Architectures


Richard Buckminster Fuller, Shoji Sadao. 'Dome over Manhattan' c. 1960


Richard Buckminster Fuller, Shoji Sadao
Dome over Manhattan
c. 1960
Silver gelatine print
34.9 x 46.7 cm
Courtesy the Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller


Ilkka Halso. 'Museum I' 2003


Ilkka Halso (Finnish, b. 1965)
Museum I
from the work Museum of Nature



Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Steintorplatz, 20099 Hamburg

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 6 pm
Wednesday and Thursday 10 am – 9 pm

Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg website


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Exhibition: ‘Sawdust Mountain’ photographs by Eirik Johnson at Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco

Exhibition dates: 21st May – 27th June, 2009


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974) 'Freshly Felled Trees, Nemah, Washington' 2006-2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974)
Freshly Felled Trees, Nemah, Washington from the series Sawdust Mountain



Not much joy in this melancholy tone poem, but there doesn’t need to be. Masses of history, memory, anxiety, isolation and death, all reinforced by Johnson’s photographic perspective, which seems to flatten out the pictorial plane. Some stunning photographs and others that don’t hit the mark, but overall a very strong body of work. View the complex, environmental, social documentary photographs of the Sawdust Mountain series on Eirik Johnson’s website.


Many thankx to Rena Bransten Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



“When I was a young, my family would hunt for mushrooms in the forests of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Some days we would spend afternoons along the shallows of a river watching salmon fight their way to spawning grounds upstream. These were the icons of the region: forest and salmon, pillars of Northwest identity. These photographs address the complicated relationship between the region’s landscape, the industries that rely upon natural recourses, and the communities they support.

‘Sawdust Mountain’ is a melancholy love letter of sorts, a personal reflection on the region’s past, its hardscrabble identity and the turbulent future it must navigate.”

Eirik Johnson



Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974) 'Junked Blue Trucks, Forks, Washington' 2006-2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974)
Junked Blue Trucks, Forks, Washington from the series Sawdust Mountain


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974) 'Elwha River Dam, Washington' 2006-2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974)
Elwha River Dam, Washington from the series Sawdust Mountain


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974) 'Stacked logs in Weyerhaeuser sort yard, Cosmopolis, Washington' 2006-2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974)
Stacked logs in Weyerhaeuser sort yard, Cosmopolis, Washington from the series Sawdust Mountain
2006 – 2008



“Eirik Johnson’s colour photographs chronicle his study of Sawdust Mountain, a once idyllic patch of the Pacific Northwest now in decline after a century of human encroachment. The story is a familiar one – early settlers attracted by the sublime beauty and abundant natural resources – of Washington state in the case – began local nature-based industries that eventually depleted the natural resources. The romance of lumberjacks and fishermen taming the wilderness and living off the land has been replaced by the hardscrabble reality of those now trying to eke out a living as well as conservationists and ecologists trying to save and restore the landscape. Johnson presents a well-rounded portrait of a town and country struggling to find solutions to these conflicting demands. His photographs capture the history and legacy of the industries, the landscape at the centre of the vortex, and the changes undertaken to staunch the economic and ecological declines so all can survive.

Johnson was born in Seattle, WA and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, Seattle and with a Master of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. Sawdust Mountain photographs will also be exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington who co-published the accompanying book with Aperture. Other Johnson book and exhibitions include Borderlands from 2006 and Animal Holes from 2007. Johnson is currently living and teaching in Boston at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.”

Text from the Rena Bransten Gallery website [Online] Cited 11/06/2009 no longer available online


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974) 'Weyerhaeuser sorting yard along the Chehalis River, Cosmopolis, Washington' 2006-2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974)
Weyerhaeuser sorting yard along the Chehalis River, Cosmopolis, Washington from the series Sawdust Mountain


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974) 'Stacked alder boards, Seaport Lumber Planer, South Bend, Washington' 2006-2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974)
Stacked alder boards, Seaport Lumber Planer, South Bend, Washington from the series Sawdust Mountain
2006 – 2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974) 'Adult books, firewood and truck for sale, Port Angeles, Washington' 2006-2008


Eirik Johnson (American, b. 1974)
Adult books, firewood and truck for sale, Port Angeles, Washington from the series Sawdust Mountain
2006 – 2008



“A culmination of four years of photographing throughout Oregon, Washington, and Northern California, Sawdust Mountain focuses on the tenuous relationship between industries reliant upon natural resources and the communities they support.

Timber and salmon are the bedrock of a regional Northwest identity, but the environmental impact of these declining industries has been increasingly at odds with the contemporary ideal of sustainability. In this, his second book, Johnson reveals a landscape imbued with an uncertain future – no longer the region of boomtowns built upon the riches of massive old-growth forests.

Johnson, a Seattle native, describes his photographs as “a melancholy love letter of sorts, my own personal ramblings.” Through this poetic approach, Sawdust Mountain records a region affected by historic economic complexities, and by extension, one aspect of our fraught relationship with the environment in the twenty-first century.”

Text from the Aperture Foundation website.

The book Sawdust Mountain by Eirik Johnson is published by Aperture Foundation and is available on their website.



Rena Bransten Gallery
1275 Minnesota St.,
San Francisco, CA 94107

Opening hours:
Tues – Saturday, 11.00 – 5.00pm

Rena Bransten Gallery website

Eirik Johnson website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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