summary of chat session 23.07.2012

Sustainability and art in a digital environment


chat on Monday 23 July 2012 – I summed up at the end with this:

1. I will summarise this chat into a blog post

2. list the key questions that have come up today (final output – advise website – tips for artists to be more sustainable? a collaborative artwork?)

3. outline the idea of looking at the micro to help understanding of the macro

4. next week (Monday 30 July) you continue the exploration in the 2 groups

5. keep in mind the possible objective of a collective art work engaging with these issues



so summary of last chat 23.07.2012

check the interesting links on diigo –

and the blog –

sustainability in relation to an archiving art work, particularly digital work

sustainability is about the whole life cycle of an artwork

anything ‘digital’ has a power footprint, an impact whether using fossil fuels or renewable

An artwork could be very heavy on resources in production – eg film – But in many ways it’s more sustainable then digital images because they physically exist in perpetuity

The question in one of the papers is – is digital moving quicker than we know how to deal with it as a medium – to store it and protect it. Therefore is it the most unsustainable of any mediums?

comparing the digital and physical — thinking about a installation that used natural materials that will eventually ware away compared with a digital counterpart in second life for example that can potentially exist forever

Kiers –  posted on the wordpress site – there are 3 categories that relate to sustainability in art according to some interesting chap

    • the ecological (electricity usage for example),
    • the social (raising awareness),
    • and the cultural (not mass producing)


Second Life – last forever? – Are computers arguably decaying faster than any other viewing medium

‘decay’ is an essential part of the world market – without it there is not enough desire for new stuff – for me this is key to sustainability.. more than just electricity usage


We could all create artworks with the life cycle built in – ie artworks that are built to die in  year

art that will die in a year – but also I wonder if we need to borrow ideas from other creative practices like theatre and music – the creator is a ‘playwright’ or a ‘composer’ – the ‘artwork’ exists as instructions (script or score) and then it is reinterpreted each time it is recreated

the idea of a script/score moves the art work away from just this one fixed physical thing that can only ever be shown as the artist first made it – it moves to something that can be remade, reinterpreted for a new audience – just a thought?

So by producing in this way we hit issues of ownership of the work by the curator and transmediation as works change form – some aspects of sustainability could arguably therefore be about handing control over?

Certain forms of sustainability demand ownership in order to preserve

not sure if sustainability really questions ownership


Sustainability itself is arguably a loaded term — By defining anything as sustainable or not you draw a political line – it was a ‘word’ of the 90s right? Sustainable development etc

do you think it is necessary that we attempt to define sustainability at this point? after doing some reading and thinking is it important to do this???

I don’t think you should – it too broad — Instead you should look at the key aspects that define sustainability

Have to deal with the micro to make sense of a macro term like sustainability

production/materials, exhibition, archiving, remediation, curation



Sort of conclusion:

look at some of the micro elements to understand the macro concept of sustainability in art

eg. consider one or more of the following:

production/materials, exhibition, archiving, remediation, curation


but look at these with a purpose — maybe:

create a life cycle of an artwork

a group collaborative artwork


(Not something too practical but something that conveys they key findings)

(the 2 groups idea was just to help focus discussion into a smaller setting but it is not vital, if it comes out in one artwork, no problem, but 2 is great as well)


so this is the idea of sustainability relating to the idea of continuously increasing what we have and what we keep – not strictly tied to energy use


Chat on Monday 30 July:

I suggest you split into the 2 groups, this allows for more variety of discussion and it will be interesting to feed back to each other later.

Look through the summary of the chat above, read some of the stuff on diigo and the group blog — use this as a start point for your further discussion.

Key issues to discuss:

  1. don’t define sustainability – instead look at one or more of the micro elements listed above and consider those in some detail
  2. start exploring a possible output from this, see above for some of the thoughts from last week
  3. summarise your chat and post it on the group blog


25. July 2012 by JonathanKearney
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