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The intersection of contemporary art with ecology, climate change, and environmental activism – Call for papers

Cogent Arts & Humanities welcomes submissions of research articles, critical and curatorial essays to a special collection on “Seeds of fierce engagement: Creative work at the intersection of contemporary art with ecology, climate change, and environmental activism”. Artwork, films, audio pieces, datasets and other multimedia files can be submitted as supplementary material.

Humans are having an unprecedented and devastating impact on the earth. Our way of living is causing disastrous climate change, unsustainable levels of toxicity of the water, air, and soil, and shocking extinction rates of organisms that form the fabric of life. We have made decisions that led us to this current situation and we can make decisions to change course. What we need is fresh vision and collective will. Artists, activists, political and cultural theorists, philosophers, curators, architects, designers and others are doing creative, unconventional, and ambitious work to expand our vision in ways that cultivate positive change.

Although we welcome a variety of approaches, authors and artists are invited to consider the following questions in preparing submissions:

  • What are the possibilities for and limitations of artistic and curatorial models that respond to climate change and ecological crisis, including the massive depopulation of non-human life on the planet known as the sixth extinction?
  • In this time of climate crisis, what role is contemporary art playing in advancing an understanding and valuation of biodiversity, in shaping the relationships between people and the non-human world or in advancing rights for non-human entities?
  • The Global North is largely responsible for the environmental problems at the heart of the climate change crisis. How are artists, activists and theorists working between the Global North and South to generate harmony and collaboration with the goal of environmental justice?
  • How are creative practitioners and cultural theorists constructively troubling definitions of “nature” or “sustainability”?
  • How are creative practitioners engaging ideas of energy futurism in relation to alternative structures of living and locality in production and consumption?
  • How are artists, media producers and other visual culture practitioners catalyzing positive changes toward solving ecological concerns (a “Great Transition”) and against the paralyzing narratives of disaster capitalism?
  • How does environmental activism function within the spheres of art / creative practice?
  • How is the art historical field framing work by artists and artist activists engaged with issues surrounding climate change and political ecology?
  • How does work in aesthetic fields join with activism and Indigenous philosophies to suggest a future of increased environmental justice?
  • How might art recover environmental understandings held by indigenous populations that are lost or nearly lost?
  • What role does art have in interrogating our assumptions about agricultural and industrial revolutions and about pre-modern peoples?
  • What historic creative or scholarly works inform contemporary art as it grapples with climate and ecological crises?

To submit your work, and to view our author guidelines, please visit the journal’s website:

The deadline for submissions for this special collection is 15th August 2017.

During the submission process you will be able to confirm that your work is intended for the special collection on art and environment.

We look forward to working with you to bring exciting new scholarship to the widest possible audience.

Zoé Strecker, Senior Editor for Visual and Performing Arts, Transylvania University.

An energy primer to increase energy literacy! from Energy Reality

This website has an overview of basic energy concepts: net energy, energy density, embodied energy, energy slaves, and peak oil.

You can go on a tour of the energy terrain reviewing the major energy resources and their transportation methods, including conventional and unconventional oil, offshore oil, natural gas, shale gas, coal and nuclear, as well as renewables such as hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, biomass, wind and solar energy.

And you can make an examination of globalized transport for moving fuel (pipelines and powerlines), and of emerging energy technologies (including hydrogen) and micropower (small-scale distributed energy generation).


Ben’s Strategy Blog: Culture/Shift: Working with the Arts for Mitigation & Adaptation

Ben Twist is Creative Carbon Scotland‘s Director and he has a brilliant blog. This article is copied from from Ben’s strategy blog which is well worth following!

17th October 2016

CCS Director Ben Twist invites people working on climate change and sustainability to think about how the arts can help them deliver their aims.

Over the summer Creative Carbon Scotland focused more than we have in the past on talking to people and organisations working on climate change and sustainability about the role of the arts in their field (as opposed talking to people in the arts about climate change).

We’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and I’ve covered some of this in one of my other blogs) about the particular role of the arts in working on carbon reduction and adaptation to a new society. My part of this has been to do a number of talks to various groups, from an event at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation during the Edinburgh Festivals to a TEDx talk at Heriot Watt University.

I’ve refined my talk over the summer and the structure now goes something like this:

  1. We’re facing a major social change: either we achieve the carbon reduction targets implicit within the Paris Agreement – in which case our relationship with energy and fossil fuels will have to change radically – or we don’t achieve them – in which case issues such as migration, changing food supplies, resource related conflicts and so on will bring about major social change (as they are already).
  2. The Mexico City Declaration by UNESCO provides a useful definition of culture in a broad sense as effectively the way we live in the world.
  3. Using that definition, climate change is as much a cultural issue as a scientific or technical one: it is a function of our culture, our way of living in the world, which is a culture of consumption. We dig up resources, use them and throw them away, and this latter stage is a major cause of climate change. In order to avert more climate change, we need to shift to a culture of stewardship.
  4. This would have useful implications not only for environmental sustainability and climate change but also social sustainability (climate justice but also equalities more broadly) and economic sustainability (perhaps abandoning the search for endless economic growth and following up some of the principles of Tim Jackson’s Prosperity Without Growth, for example).
  5. So how do we achieve this cultural shift?
  6. Culture in a narrower sense – what we generally call the arts, but this includes design, film and media, museums and heritage etc – is the expression of culture in the wider sense used above. Art has often been said to ‘hold a mirror up to society’. But it is also therefore a way of understanding, interrogating and changing the wider culture.
  7. The German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote, ‘Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it’!
  8. Working with the arts is therefore a useful way to work on achieving the cultural shift.
  9. There is often an assumption that the role of the arts in areas such as these is to communicate complex ideas more effectively and particularly to engage the wider public emotionally rather than factually. This is indeed a useful role of the arts, but they can do much more. I have a slide which provides a (non-exhaustive) list of ways in which the arts work.

Some examples


I think there are interesting ways in which artists can contribute to addressing climate change through making artistic work – CCS is involved for instance in a project led by the RSPB on developing awareness of the importance of the peat bogs in the Flow country as carbon sinks.

And there are also ways in which artists can use their skills, knowledge and ways of thinking in non-artistic projects and settings. After one talk, someone who has been attending the meetings of the Local Advisory Committee of the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference in 2017 came up to me. ‘I realise that’s what you’ve been doing at the meetings,’ she said. ‘You’ve used your role as an artist to make us think about and discuss things we wouldn’t have discussed otherwise.’

This was encouraging, as that’s what I do, although I hadn’t really thought of it as such in that particular situation. And in a way, that’s the point: I was being a member of a group and using the skills I have as a (former) theatre director, just as others in the group use their skills as academics, project managers etc.

This is all part of a strand of our work at CCS called Culture/SHIFT: the artistic and conceptual work that we do alongside, and inextricably linked to, our more practical and technical work supporting cultural organisations to reduce their carbon emissions. There’s more information about this here.

We’re always interested in more people working on climate change and sustainability attending our Green Teases and other events – following our most recent Arts & Sustainability Residency we’re thinking about reserving places for non-artists next year.

Our message must be getting through: we’ve been asked to run a session on this subject at the SSN Conference on 1 November. We’ll run through some of the ways in which we think the arts can support climate change and sustainability work and help participants to think about how this could be useful in their work. Sign up now!

Image: Ed Hawkins:Spiralling global temperatures from 1850-2016 

Climate Writing Group

A message from Mark Goldthorpe

I thought that this new group – organised by Deborah Tomkins (Weatherfronts 2016) – would be of interest to anyone in Bristol and surrounding areas. Please contact Deborah direct – and of course, if you know of others who might be interested then I’m sure she would be happy for you to pass this on.

Climate Writing Group (Bristol)

If you write about climate change and/or the environment (or are interested in doing so), and would like to meet up with other writers exploring these issues, please get in touch!   Monthly meetings starting in 2017: discussion, critique, sharing information, support. All types of writing welcome – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama.

Deborah Tomkins

There is also the original writing group that emerged from this year’s Weatherfronts, which meets monthly in London. For further info, contact Darragh Martin on

You might also be interested to know that on 14th November at Free Word in London, Brit Bildoen – Danish author and participant in Weatherfronts 2016 – will be reading from her latest book (Seven Days in August) and speaking about the relevance of climate in her writing.

Mark Goldthorpe


Art and Energy inspires a drawing class in Crediton, Devon

by Naomi Wright



It is the beginning of term and we stand about discussing our theme for our classes ahead. I suggest art and energy, it interests me for all sorts of reasons. I say I am helping with similar themed workshops with some college students outdoors as part of Regensw’s art and energy programme. I wonder whether it will interest the class. We think about the wide range of meanings for energy. Energy is everything, I say, remembering a recent workshop. In a physical sense, binding the molecules of our being, energy fixed from the sun, in the movement of a river, the heat from a fire, in our food, in the every-day. We have our own energy, in the spirit of the land, in leylines, in happiness, in despair.


So the term at Crediton arts centre has taken this as a theme…. A couple of us are working with an old luccombe oak that has had to be cut down in the local park. We think of the power within, the height and weight of it, the history in it, the energy held beneath in the ground. The dying energy, used by fungus, the last of the leaves to be photosynthisising.

powerculture2 powerculture3

The tree………..


Eileen’s tree

Others in the class discuss their drawings through the eye of an energy lens. Lines are energetic, directioned, growing. The still life is far from still as vegetation takes on a new meaning, pots spin, and all the senses are enlivened.


Rebecca’s pots

We’re all curious in how this will progress…  Pat especially, as she has ideas for some new installations.


Naomi Wright is an artist who collaboratively researches the benefits of being outdoors in the elements.  In sunshine, wind, or rain she maps and constructs places, things and conversations that make the most of our ecological interplay.