School of Art, Media, and Technology

Fall 2019, Advance Practice: You, the Artist, and Our Planetary Future Jane Philbrick

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Advanced Practice: You, the Artis, and Our Planetary Future

PGFA 5303 (CRN 4291)

Thursdays 4:00pm – 6:40 pm

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 Special Report is unequivocal: our window of opportunity for limiting extreme impacts of a warming planet will soon be lost.

By 1961, there was sufficient consensus among scientists about the possibility of system-level climate interference to warrant mention in a federal memo to President John F. Kennedy. Four years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson highlighted the risk of long-term impacts of fossil fuel emissions in an address to a Joint Session of Congress.  

Administrations up to President Barack Obama have been aware of human-driven climate change; yet in 2018, even before consequences of the Trump administration’s 2020 withdrawal from the Paris global climate agreement take effect, carbon saturation of earth’s atmosphere hit a record high

Our takeaway from more than half a century of the highest offices of American government failing to meet the climate change challenge?

A top-down approach doesn’t work.

We have to move down the political food chain and scale solutions laterally, from the expansive bottom, rather than the narrow peak — and do so now. 

The 20th-century artist collective Société Anonyme offers a model, both visionary and practical, for a new millennium of ecological uncertainty and extremes of financial precarity and concentrations of wealth that rival pre-revolutionary France

The primary mission of Société Anonyme artists, including founders Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and artist and collector Katherine Dreier, was education: teaching the American public about the art of their day — then European modernism.

These artist-educators didn’t teach “about” art but were artists making art.

Today’s science community — especially young scientists — have initiated a similar project, building scientific literacy at the community level with the global community bio lab movement. Their mission is to empower local people to more fully engage the scientific basis of social transformations already underway and anticipated from climate change impacts to innovations in synthetic biology and artificial intelligence.

Astrophysicist and NPR commentator Adam Frank cautions that science can only take us so far — society has to “metabolize” issues in order to engage and fully participate.

Art is cultural metabolism.  

The challenges of planetary ecology, financialization, scientific and technological innovation ask for system-level re-invention that some have called an “imagination revolution.”

Artists at work in their communities are the revolution’s vanguard; the art of our day asks, “How do we sustain the growth machine of human civilization on a warming planet of finite resources?”

“You, the Artist, and Our Planetary Future” is organized in two parts. Part I is a week by week overview of the discrete systems that output our built and natural world, from finance and ecology to regulatory frameworks, law, and policy.  Seminars include readings, screenings, and presentations by public and private sector practitioners in community and real estate development. In Part II artists apply their new knowledge to a real world site, producing a viable visionary proposal for community engagement and site development, to be realized in 2D, 3D, and/or time-based media, with supporting narrative.

Enrollment limited to 9 students.  

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