Since the beginning of his history, man always tried to push his life and his environment to an upper level.
From archeological manufacts, Paleolithic cave paintings, rudimental pieces of jewellery, passing through megaliths and stone circles, buildings, statues, canvases, gardens and so on, we want it all and we want it better. This restlessness of having it better and bigger and brighter took us in an ecological break even point. And we still create non-needed needs. Well: we all know at what point we arrived.
Plastic Change: Poseidon attacks litterbug, 2016 (TAW Denmark)
Lucky us, quite recently, Art started to take the sorrounding environement no more as an inspiration, but as a medium of expression, and got involved in what we now call Environmental Art, with lot of shades (Site-specific art, Land art, Arte povera, ecological art…). Since the early sixties, this has been the first posed stone to the rebirth of the hearth and the renewed artists’ social weight.
From wikipedia: “the term environmental art often encompasses ecological concerns but is not specific to them. It primarily celebrates an artist's connection with nature using natural materials. The concept is best understood in relationship to historic earth/Land art and the evolving field of ecological art”.
Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing, City Hall Square, Copenhagen, 2014 - Photo Anders Sune Berg.
Eliasson and Minik Rosing installed ‘Ice Watch’ in City Hall Square, Copenhagen, from 26 to 29 October 2014 to mark the publication of the UN IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change. Twelve large blocks of ice that had calved from the Greenlandic ice sheet were harvested from a fjord outside Nuuk and brought to the centre of Copenhagen.
Landform at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art created by Charles Jencks. Photograph Arcaid-UIG via Getty Images
'Landform' creates a visual link between the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art's Modern One building and Modern Two, which is situated directly across the road. The work is a combination of sculpture, garden and land art: a striking backdrop to events at the Gallery and a platform for viewing the gallery's outdoor sculpture collection. The shapes of 'Landform' are inspired by nature, where they can be seen in waves, clouds and geological formations. The work also has a social function, as visitors can walk and sit on the terraced paths. 'Landform' won the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year, 2004.
In the first period of this movement, artists often worked with a question in mind: “what can I get from the nature”, in order to use land and nature as a medium for self-expression; but then, in less than a decade, the question changed in “what can I do with nature”; the answer to this question is a co-living respectful situation between man and nature. Man records his thoughts and desires mixing it with the sorroundungs environment.
Here it comes the contemporary idea of environmental art, often used as an ensign for ecologistic battles.
Leaving their structures exposed to the elements, Land artists emphasized the ephemerality of their works.
Within environmental, land and site-specific art, there is a crucial distinction between artists who do not consider the possible damage to the environment that their artwork may create, thinking only about aesthetic merits, and those who do. This distincion pushes current artists to practice their wotk in a more sustainable way.
There is discussion and debate among ecoartists, if ecological art should be considered a discrete discipline within the arts, distinct from environmental art. A current definition of ecological art, drafted collectively by the EcoArtNetwork is "Ecological art is an art practice that embraces an ethic of social justice in both its content and form/materials. Ecoart is created to inspire caring and respect, stimulate dialogue, and encourage the long-term flourishing of the social and natural environments in which we live. It commonly manifests as socially engaged, activist, community-based restorative or interventionist art."
We Transformed a Lifetime of Electronic Waste into Art (4/4), 2018, Benjamin Von Wong
The ecologic theme, nowadays, is profoundly involving contemporary artists, and we feel like they are invested of a mission. They do have the voice, and they do have the visibility to (try to) change our future. In our panorama, Artists have back their power to educate pepole and make it think about something higher and deeper than a brand new telephone or an exclusive jacket.
Artists can do it!
Talking about landscapes and ecology, it's impossible not to mention the hydric urgence that clasps the planet. The problem is not just the missing drinking water for millions of people (circa 880 all over the planet, with dramatically huge concentration in the African continent).
The problem is that water resources are highly contaminated. Contaminated water is easily understandable undrinkable, but also most of the time is helpless in agricolture.
Thanks to new technologies, we reached several projects in order to be able to supply water:
the project AWG (Atmospheric Water Generator) which is a device that extracts water from humid ambient air. Watervapor in the air can be extracted by condensation - cooling the air below its dew point, exposing the air to desiccants, or pressurizing the air. Unlike a dehumidifier, an AWG is designed to condensate water making it potable. This device is disposal even for domestic use, and it is on the marketplace already;
Aquamagic is a collapsible pull-behind camper which pulls air directly from the area surrounding it. Inside the machine, the air is cooled via a refrigerated coil. The air condenses, and the water is collected, purified, and released through a spigot. The AquaMagic machine costs about $28,000 per unit and can produce up to 120 gallons of purified water in 24 hours, and since it's small it can be toted to disaster sites and Sub-Saharan Africa alike. To produce this much water, AquaMagic requires about 12 gallons of diesel fuel.
Whisson Windmill: it is essentially a wind turbine, connected to a refrigeration compressor. A compressed refrigerant cools the blades of the wind turbine, after which it is returned to a compressor. Wind drives the cooled blades of the turbine and water is then condensed from the ambient air. This water is then collected. Whisson Windmill costs about $43,000 per unit and it's totally green: it runs exclusively on wind power.
MOF: it is a water harvester which can collect drinkable water from desert air each day/night cycle, using a MOF that absorbs water during the night and, through solar heating during the day, releases it to be condensed and collected. The device can produce nearly 3 liters of water per day for every kilogram of spongelike absorber it contains, and researchers say future versions will be even better, because right now the sponge-contained micro powders are extremely expensive.