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Art For Nature From Nature With Nature

From the Interspecies Newsletter

Interspecies.com promotes an aesthetic that calls attention to environmental issues. We rely on art to present the issues in an unforgettable and incontrovertible manner, continually encouraging artists to create works that include natural processes in their manifestation. Here's three conceptual art projects we think more people need to hear about. If you know of a project that is conceptually provocative and ecologically helpful, we'd like to hear about it. If we like it, we'll add it to this page.

1. No Oil Please

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is sometimes called America's Serengeti for its immense size and concentration of wildlife. Located in northeastern Alaska, it is the largest block of wilderness lerft in the entire United States, containing 1/5 of all land in the Federal Refuge System. This wilderness is in jeopardy as the American congress and the oil companies greedily eye it for new development. The industry already has its machinery in place to start drilling test wells in the hope of locating the next temporary boom site. Temporary is a good word for it, since even the best estimates place the supply at fulfilling US oil needs for 100 days. Many Republicans are in favor of drilling. Al Gore is on the fence. We propose the production of a music video that lets the caribou speak for themselves. These animals are naturally attarcted to salt. Laying out salt in some simple pre-determined pattern, such as the words NO OIL PLEASE will prompt the caribou to gravitate to the salt and spell out the message. Let's make it large enough to be filmed from an airplane flying high over the earth. Is it possilbe to make it large enough to be seen from space? If these images of the caribou and the people laying out the salt are joined with a song describing the situation, and performed by some well-known rock group, the consequences of of the drilling, would affect far more people than if the issue were merely framed as an item of news. Artist Daniel Dancer has been sculpting zeros out of found materials in National Forests all across America, as part of his Interspecies Inc. sponsored Zero Circles Project. Daniel has suggested the alternative of laying out the salt in a circle, which engages the caribou to create a zero, which serves as their political declaration for zero drilling within their pristine habitat. 

2. Tuning the Aurora

The geomagnetic pole in west-central Greenland is the centerpoint of a large oval area within which the Aurora Borealis originates. It operates like a funnel through which vast electro-magnetic energies are generated by the solar wind becoming charged as it passes through the Earth's magnetic field. The result is a light show of nearly global magnitude. Although the Northern Lights are best known for visual pyrotechnics; they create sounds as well. There are literally hundreds of accounts of native people reporting rustles, crackles, and hissing during a display of the Aurora. So far, scientists have been unable to makle recordings of the phenomenon. All their attempts were made with microphones pointing towards the sky. We'll try a different approach suggested by the audio artist, Michael Theroux. A wire is soldered to a length of rebar, with a phone jack soldered tro the wire so it can be plugged intova tape rtecorder. The rebar is then pounded into the ground, which in effect, turns the Earth itself into a giant microphone. Theroux has had good luck using the device to record earthquakes as well as other sounds not yet idenitifed. He hypothesizes that the Aurora probably makes the ground vibrate. We are currently exploring various musical instruments that can be "played" or modulated by the Aurora's energy. For instance, envision three tuned wires, each one several hundred yards in length, each with its own pickup, strung on fence posts in such a manner as to create sympathetic vibratioins when placed in a magnetic field like the one generated by the Aurora.Another instrument seems a more ancient version of Theroux's rebar. According to several Confucian sources, the ancient Chinese constructed Lu pipes, which were tubes of bamboo or bronze pounded into the earth to channel Ch'i energy powerful enough to blow out ashes packed in their ends. If any reader of this page has other ideas for recording or playing the aurora, email us, we'd love to hear about them.  

3. The Planting Spiral

Desertification is the term invented to describe the desert's encroachment on arable land. It 's effects are most visible in North Africa where the Sahara has moved southeard 100 kilometers in just the past seventeen years. Planting trees to stop the desert is not a new idea, what is new, is designing these plantings to optimize the result. Like all the other projects outlined on this page, The Tree Spiral design for planting the minimal amount of trees that grows to achieve the maximum effect. It not only draws upon classical geometry and botany, but also upon the modern sculptural movement of "earthworks" exemplified by Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, constructed at great Salt Lake. This piece was created and developed by Alan Armstrong of the Tree Brigade. In his efforts to promote the concept, Armstrong was in correspondence with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in the year before the leader's death. The original spiral planting was designed to originate at the Nile delta and spiral through Egypt, across to Sinai and the Arabian Peninsula, terminating at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Armstrong believes that in order to stop desertification, the planting would have to be large enough to be viewed from space.

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