Free Soil
Art + Activism
DIY / Homebrew
Film / Video
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Virtual Soil



Joni Taylor
20 Jan 2008
architectural + urban + ecological design
US, New York
Archinode is Mitchell Joachim (who together with writer/architect Michael Sorkin also formed Terreform.)If only all their designs, such as the Fab Tree Hab, were actually built. A modern day Archigram.

Architecture / Urban/City
01 Dec 2007
Two city kids quit their jobs, pull up stumps and journey to a remote, empty, block of land to start an ultra low impact lifestyle from scratch.

DIY / Homebrew / Education / Sustainability
31 Oct 2007
Club of Pioneers
There is currently a special on sustainable architecture and green building on the Club of Pioneers website. The general focus is future mobility and sustainable lifestyle, but the discussion forums are a great way for urbanists and green thinkers to get their ideas out there and be challenged.

Architecture / Sustainability / Urban/City
24 Oct 2007
A political history of the Fire Coast
US, California
This arcticle, written by Mike Davis in 1996 about the last great fires on the Southern Coast of California, makes for interesting, if not a bit gruesome, reading.

24 Sep 2007
Calling for contributions
decentre is a book about artist-run culture that hopes to describe the breadth and quality of artist-initiated programs, projects and events, the issues we face in this milieu and how effectively we deal with them, that aims to both celebrate artist-run culture and demonstrate the vital role artist-initiated activity plays in the larger cultural scene.
They are asking for contributions.

Books / Calls
30 Aug 2007
Sep 21
PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.

Art + Activism / Urban/City
18 Jul 2007
Until Sep 16
The exhibition traces the theories of the Situationist International in contemporary architecture and urbanism. INSTANT URBANISM creates a conceptual link with the historical show on the Situationist International at the Tinguely Museum in Basel, by drawing upon the radical propositions made by the Situationists with relation to transforming architecture and city spaces.
With a documentation of interventions and actions within urban and public spaces of the city, INSTANT URBANISM brings together the work of Lucy Orta (France), Santiago Cirugeda (Spain), EXYZT (France), Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss (Belgrade, Basel), NL architects (Netherlands) IAN+ (Italy), PPAG (Austria), amongst others.

Architecture / Art + Activism / Exhibitions / Social Practice
27 Jun 2007
Program Gallery
Einar Thorsteinn's geometric proposition for a green community in the center of Iceland.

Exhibitions / Urban/City
07 Jun 2007
Some stand out exhibitions

A Better World
Architecture Institute Rotterdam
While the Kunsthalle chose to focus on large scale urban projects for the exhibition "Power - Producing the Contemporary City", the Architecture Institute (new director Ole Bouman) presented the inspiring "A Better World - Another Power", focusing on subversive and bottom up approaches to buildings and the urban condition.
The 4 projects/groups were
Center for Urban Pedagogy (NY)
. (interview coming up)
Jeanne van Heeswijk and Dennis Kaspori (The Maze Corp)
Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory. FAST
Santiago Cirugeda
Ends October 21

Wimby - Welcome into my backyard!
Interesting Dutch regeneration project.
For 6 years Crimson Architectural Historians and Felix Rottenberg immersed themselves in the Hoogvliet suburb, the biggest demolition project in the Netherlands and tried to transform it into a vibrant urban area, socio culturally and ecologically. Projects include School Parasites (re designed temporary classes), new parks and plans to restore the ancient tidal stream that were filled in. Many events planned for 2007.

A competition to create spectacular follies for the Heijplaat port of Rotterdam harbour.
20 site-specific designs were chosen to be exhibited for the year of architecture. A folly is traditionally an architectural object built to purvey a concept rather than be functional.(like gardens of delight, fake ruins etc.).
They are wild - giant mushrooms, inflatable kissing clouds and portable hottubs!

Runs until September 9.

Architecture / Exhibitions / Public Projects

05 Jun 2007
Part 2
Here are the ten art projects that deal with the subject of Climate Change, including us.

1 Halliburton SurvivaBall

‘The SurvivaBall is designed to protect the corporate manager no matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way,’ said Fred Wolf, a Halliburton representative at the Catastrophic Loss conference held in Florida. ‘This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate change’. It will include a sophisticated communications systems, nutrient gathering capacities, onboard medical facilities and a daunting defense infrastructure. The only problem is, the SurvivaBall was a fake, and so was the Halliburton representative. The Yes Men are pranksters/performers who assume other identities - ‘identity corrections’ - to make fun of and bring attention to the serious issues of corporate accountability and global greed. They are invited to events and TV shows through their various websites and present ridiculous and unbelievable corporate strategies. No one seemed to doubt their appearance in Florida, and fellow representatives even asked about the SurvivaBalls anti-terrorism capabilities. Other stunts have included the fake GWBush site and apologising on behalf of Bophal for their chemical spill disaster of 1984.

2. Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell was conceived by artist/filmmaker David Buckland and during the past five years he and a varying team of artists, writers, choreographers, filmmakers, environmentalists and scientists have worked on a 100-year old Dutch schooner called The Noorderlicht. Located in a fjord near Longyerben, Svalbard, just north of the 79th parallel, they respond to the environment and reflect the earths change where its most sensitive, the arctic circle. They draw attention to the role ocean currents play and the effect that rising CO2 levels and changing weather patterns will have. The team have already developed a major exhibitions programme, a book Burning Ice - Art & Climate Change and the DVD Art From A Changing Arctic. On his last mission, Buckland invited novelist Ian McEwan, playwright Caryl Churchill, artist Antony Gormley and choreographer Siobhan Davies. Turner prize winner Gormley worked in conditions of -32 degrees to complete an ice sculpture that lasted only three months.

3. Hehe: Nuage Vert and Pollstream

Across a number of projects, the French collective Hehe create a sense of constant rather than delayed feedback. Pollstream is an intervention in environmental ethics. It creates a series of interactive environments in which the audience are in a process of monitoring localised pollution at the very same time that they produce it. The audience is required to conceptualize themselves as responsible - collectively and individually - for their emissions. Using visual, kinetic and sonic technologies, it undermines these typical defences of disengagement by speeding up the normal time it takes for our actions in and on the environment to have consequences. Another project, Nuage Vert, uses lasers and a camera tracking system to project colour coded information onto a waste burning plant/power plant within a local area that is visible to all residents.

4. Translator II: Grower by Sabrina Raaf

Humans also produce carbon dioxide. Sabrina Raaf is a Chicago-based artist working in experimental sculptural media and photography. Translator II: Grower is a small rover vehicle which moves around the gallery drawing vertical lines up and down on the wall with a green crayon. The height of each line is determined by the level of carbon dioxide present in the room, which the robot reads via a small digital sensor mounted on its shell. The carbon dioxide, of course, is generated by gallery visitors, This piece makes visible how art institutions depend on their visitors to make them 'healthy' spaces for new art to evolve and flourish within. Watching the artistic output of a machine that is so sensitive to its environment makes people in the space more sensitive to their environment and its conditions.

5. Canary Project

By photographing landscapes throughout the world that are currently undergoing dramatic transformation or are vulnerable to predicted changes, Canary Project conveys the urgent reality of global warming. Their team of scientists, writers and artists aim to present these images in ways that speak to diverse audiences and foster positive action. Project co-founder Susannah Sayler will be photographing 16 landscapes selected in consultation with leading climate-change scientists and journalists, showing that global warming is already affecting the world in a variety of ways and affecting every place on earth. In the second phase of the project, they will photograph solutions to the problem, such as sources of alternative energy, preparations for already predicted changes and various green products. Sayler has travelled to ‘hot spots’ and her haunting images include glaciers in Austria and bleached and dead coral in Belize. So far the images have been shown on buses in Denver with the words ‘This is what Global Warming looks like’ and online publications such as Polar Inertia.

6. Precipice Alliance and Mary Ellen Carroll

The Precipice Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness about global warming through the visual arts. They believe visibility is the key to positive action and that artists can give form to the intangible and deliver a powerful message. They commission projects that specifically address climate change in order to direct public attention to the urgency of the issue. Large-scale contemporary art will be executed in public venues. The first commission is by New York-based conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll. It consists of a 900-foot-long window display in the buildings of the former American Can factory, comprised of eight-foot-tall neon letters proclaiming, ‘IT IS GREEN THINKS NATURE EVEN IN THE DARK’. It is ‘indestructible language’, focusing on the fluid, open-ended nature of words. The organization hastens to note that the art piece is ‘carbon neutral’, employing low-wattage transformers and lead-free glass tubing, as well as using solar panels to offset the energy consumed.

7. Free Soil

Free Soil is an international collaboration of artists, activists, researchers and gardeners who take a participatory role in the transformation of the environment. Members have developed art projects about greening cities (The Hot Summer of Urban Farming, Copenhagen); the pollution of the Baltic Sea and resulting ‘Red Tides’ of toxic algae (Selective Memory, Starlsund) and F.R.U.I.T, a travelling installation examining how the city is connected to the surrounding agricultural areas. For ISEA 2006 in San Jose, Free Soil conducted a bio diesel bus tour of Silicon Valley, pointing out the environmental consequences of the Hi-Tech industry, and offering alternatives, such as mycoremediation - cleaning soil by using mushrooms. They also foster discourse and give support for critical art practices that reflect and change the urban and natural environment via features and projects on their website. Free Soil believe art can be a catalyst for social awareness and positive change. F.R.U.I.T is currently touring as part of Beyond Green: Towards a Sustainable Art.

8. Andrea Polli

Andrea Polli is a digital media artist living in New York City. She is interested in global systems, the real time interconnectivity of these systems, and the effect of these systems on individuals. She currently works in collaboration with atmospheric scientists to develop systems for understanding storm and climate information through sound (a process called sonification). Her Queensbridge Wind Power Project presents a vision of a future when meeting energy needs can enhance the beauty of a city by investigating how clean, renewable wind power could be integrated into the landmark architecture of the Queensboro Bridge.

9. Platform

For over 20 years the London based Platform has been engaging in making transparent that which corporations and companies wish to remain hidden. 90% Crude is a sustained investigation into the power and impact of transnational corporate trade and business. Other projects include a research campaign and cultural intervention project on Shell and BP oil companies (Gog and Magog); a series of experimental interventionist walks in the London's financial district (Freedom in The City) and Desktop Killers which links corporations to genocide. In Unravelling The Carbon Web, Platform works to reduce the environmental and social impacts of oil corporations, and And While London Burns is a downloadable audio tour of London - a soundtrack for the era of climate change - in their words ‘a requiem for a Warming World’ . Their latest initiative is Remember Saro-Wiwa and will be Britain's first Mobile memorial. It is in honour of Ken Saro-Wiwa, and his colleagues who were executed after anti oil campaigns in the Niger Delta.

10. Natalie Jeremijenko

Jeremijenko is an inventor and engineer whose work focuses on the design and analysis of tangible digital media. She bridges the technical and the art worlds and her mission is to reclaim technology and apply it to the messy complexities of the real world, often with disquieting results. Her project, One Tree, features the planting of 2,000 walnut trees in sensor-equipped planters around San Francisco. The condition of the growing trees will reflect the region's surprising discrepancies in climatic, environmental and socio-economic conditions. Another project Bit Cab inserts geospecific data directly onto New York City taxi display units. Her much acclaimed Feral Robot Sniffer Dogs were hobbyist kits made to modify commercially available toy dogs to potentially detect toxic substances in the air.
Fade to Black is a network of webcams oriented skyward. The images on the webcam fades to black as pollutant film accumulates on the lens. It provides visual and empirical information on air quality.

Commissioned by DAMn Magazine

Photos thanks to the Canary Project

Artists / Sustainability
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In January 2006, UNESCO appointed Berlin as a “City of Design”, a title it now shares with Shanghai and Buenos Aries. Not by chance, “Designcity” was ...
Joni T


The project intersects with recent public debate in Copenhagen about air pollution in the city. In collaboration with Senior Scientist Jørgen Brandt from The National Environmental Research Institute in Denmark a first prototype is developed for making an indicator that can be placed in the city and display local levels of pollution as well as pollution forecasts on individual streets. The project holds an open source script for displaying data from the Internet in a variety of forms.
Link of the Week:  
Interview with Fritz Haeg by Nato Thompson

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