The ‘awesome’ and other environmental art clusters with potential to inspire the climate movement – Laura Kim Sommer



A global festival of cultural activity on climate change, called ArtCOP21, took place parallel to the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris. It included 163 artistic events and the idea was that art and creativity inspire change and involve the public into a global climate movement.

The goal of this study was to investigate what kind of psychological effects the artworks had on their spectators, and in case they had one, which characteristics of the artworks were responsible for it. In order to answer these questions a survey was conducted.

874 random spectators of 37 artworks responded to a questionnaire on their perception of one of the artworks. Cluster analysis of the artworks assigns them to five clusters. The clusters were named after the emotional profile they elicited (“the awesome”, “the surprising”, “the positive”, “the negative” and “the neutral”).

The results furthermore showed that the perceived importance of having climate change on the political agenda was influenced by whether the spectators rated the artwork to be relevant for them personally, whether the artist was perceived similar to them and if participants perceived themselves as global citizen.

The effect of a number of psychological variables like environmental attitude and intention to act were analyzed, however those variables were not significantly influenced by the artworks.

Finally, we suggest for climate change communication via art and to overcome climate change denial that environmental art should aim to elicit a sense of awe, surprise its audience, be participatory and relevant for daily life.


Laura K. Sommer

Psykologisk institutt


You can find out more about this research at the Feeding the Insatiable summit later this year



The Nature of the Machines – Judy Spark


The energy related infrastructure that sits around the periphery of our living environments that is of such fundamental importance to the functioning of our daily lives, seems to give rise to attitudes that shift between their not being seen at all, and their being regarded as visual intrusions. If we bury cables, hide the hardware, we lose the means by which we may understand our dependence on and connection to these things and the natural phenomena that they are related to; storing, receiving, transmitting. We are in the grip of a failure to understand how our energy dependent apparatus relates to, and is a part of, the natural world.

Judy will be speaking about the our relationship with energy at Feeding the Insatiable in November later this year.

The philosophical starting point of this work is Martin Heidegger’s 1954 claim that modern technology ‘enframes’ the earth and its natural energies so that they are understood merely as ‘standing reserve’. This enframing hides the other possible ways that things in the world might ‘reveal’ themselves, to the extent in fact that it can also be argued that technology has become the defining characteristic of human being in contemporary times. The purpose of her talk is to encourage philosophical debate around human attitudes towards ‘energy’. It is difficult for humans to step out of the paradigm of technological intertwining and dependence enough to gain any understanding of this position and of the natural phenomena that literally fuel our existence. But we may hope that our comportment can be shifted; this paper will explore the possibilities within that shift

Image: Judy Spark: “Aerial Coil” (B/W print Courtesy of BT Archives) and “Of Origins Unknown; the Galena Radio” from Tuning to the Ether, Cupar Festival of Visual Art, 2009


A Compass Rose for the Anthropocene: new maps for old – Beth Carruthers


Beth Carruthers is a philosopher, artist, researcher, curator, consultant, and collaborator among disciplines and sectors, Beth’s work has for more than 2 decades focused on the transformative capacity of aesthetic experience in cultural change to future flourishing.

Much research on the impact of the arts in sustainability focuses on tracking such things as raising awareness of environmental problems, and encouraging personal acts such as recycling. If we seek to understand how the arts are transformative we must also see past the rhetoric of artist as detached observer and ironic critic, or as earnest commentator, conveying abstract and smartly crafted messages of social change, politics, social justice, or even ethics for public consumption. The true transformative capacity of the arts has not to do with the content we may want the arts to deliver, no matter how cleverly or carefully devised; it has to do with the capacity of the arts to deeply engage and transform us in ways we cannot fully control, or readily comprehend.

Beth will present her research and delve into the subject of why and how artists can lead us from known ontological territory, to future flourishing. She will consider how the deeply engaging and transformative capacity of aesthetic experience, focused by way of the arts, can be our compass rose as we navigate winds of change, sail off the map of the known world to a new world as yet unknown; a world feared by many (here be monsters), but welcomed by others as world of possibility, rich and strange.

Come along to here this presentation and others from thinkers at the Feeding the Insatiable summit in Dartington in November



Don’t miss Land Art Generator Initiative in the UK in November 2016


There are two keynote events at Feeding the Insatiable (see programme for times).


The opening keynote will be given by Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian (The Land Art Generator Initiative) who are based in Pittsburgh (USA), with Chris Fremantle (eco/art/scot/land) from Aberdeen (Scotland). Chris is also Senior Research Fellow with IDEAS at the Robert Gordon University.

Title: Powering Places: wild, wonderful, and sexy energy landscapes

What if the path to our postcarbon future was equitable, empowering people everywhere to improve their lives on their own terms and in harmony with nature?

The “gloom and doom” narrative of climate activism (rising sea levels, increasing storm intensities, corral bleaching, mass extinction, desertification), while based in scientific fact, can be polarizing and paralyzing. By presenting examples of utility-scale renewable energy infrastructures as public art and considering community energy projects as community art projects, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is helping to inspire the general public about the beauty of our sustainable future with the aim of influencing accelerated climate action.

The presentation will showcase what can happen when thousands of creatives around the world respond to an open call to design our clean energy landscapes. The global conversation that LAGI has initiated on the shifting aesthetics of sustainable infrastructure has created a collective force that is resonating with governments, universities, design professionals, corporations, and the public.

We will discuss the influence of renewable energy design on city planning and public policy, and demonstrate the potential for community energy infrastructure projects to be positive cultural contributions to neighborhoods and towns—new civic landmarks for the twenty-first century, economic development drivers, and educational venues—all while helping to power the new energy grid.


The Land Art Generator Initiative has become one of the world’s most followed sustainable design events and is inspiring people everywhere about the promise of a net-zero carbon future. LAGI is showing how innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration, culture, and the expanding role of technology in art can help to shape the aesthetic impact of renewable energy on our constructed and natural environments.

The goal of LAGI is to design and construct a series of large-scale site-specific public art installations that uniquely combine art with utility scale clean energy generation.

follow LAGI @poweredbyart

Chris Fremantle founded eco/art/scot/land, which describes itself as a ‘resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers’. It has become recognised as one of the foremost purveyors of knowledge within the escorts sector.

Chris has been working with LAGI on the LAGI Glasgow project


Read Robert and Elizabeth’s 2010 article ‘Public Art of the Sustainable City‘ from 2010.
Read more about Chris Fremantle and his work

Follow @chrisfremantle

Beauty and power: how Norway is making green energy look good


Re-blogged from The Guardian –   @stuartdredge

Ovre Forsland is a big departure from the hulking power stations that traditionally served our energy needs. It looks more like an elegant, custom‑built home from TV show Grand Designs.

Located in the Helgeland district in northern Norway, it’s a small hydroelectric power station capable of supplying 1,600 homes with power.

Designed by Norwegian architecture firm Stein Hamre Arkitektkontor, it sits on a riverbed at the edge of a forest, with an exterior that aims to reflect the irregular shapes of the spruce trees forming its backdrop.

“It’s a small plant. The biggest stations in this region were built in the late 50s and 60s to serve industry, but in the last 15 years it has been much smaller projects,” says Torkil Nersund, production manager at the plant’s owner, energy company HelgelandsKraft.

“It’s a small plant. The biggest stations in this region were built in the late 50s and 60s to serve industry, but in the last 15 years it has been much smaller projects,” says Torkil Nersund, production manager at the plant’s owner, energy company HelgelandsKraft.

“It’s the perfect place; the environment is fantastic. This region is known for its spectacular nature, so we thought the building should try to live up to the surroundings.”

The station benefits from a 157-metre drop in the Forsland river, and uses two Francis water turbines to turn the flow of water into electricity for the surrounding community. It produces about 30 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy, with the flexibility of its storage system ensuring it can meet surges in demand.

“Øvre Forsland does not only serve hydropower to people in the region. Its purpose is also to bring attention to hydropower, the history around it and the benefits,” says Nersund.

“You can say that hydropower will play a main role in renewable society in the future, so we want more attention on the hydropower business.”

Øvre Forsland is also angling for the attention of people who come to Helgeland for its hiking trails and beautiful scenery. Those visiting the power station can look through a tear in the building’s exterior that reveals its innards: the turbines.

The emphasis on this harmony, and on renewability in general, can be seen in the fabric of Øvre Forsland itself. The architects used Kebony wood, sustainable softwood that has been treated with a bio-based liquid to make it more like hardwood.

Kebony has been used for projects from beach houses at Camber Sands in East Sussex to a restaurant in Hawaii, but in Helgeland it’s one of the key elements in a power station that’s as much a picturesque hotspot as it is a vital community utility.

“The power plant has brought a lot of attention to hydropower and we have the impression that many people see the values of it. We hope that the Government also sees that hydro power has a great future ahead and that they facilitate the development of Norwegian hydro,” says Nersund.