Designing Environments for Life

Posted in Texts by chrisfremantle on October 22, 2009

For the next event we have been asked “…we would like to invite and encourage you to prepare a very short presentation (5mins max) on a single reading. Please choose one text which has had a profound influence on your thinking and/or practice, and review it with the very specific brief of Designing Environments for Life in mind.”

So I’ve been thinking about texts…

Jane Jacobs’ Nature of Economies is a definite possibility

Helen and Newton’s piece for Structure and Dynamics pdf

Looking through books:

Vivienne Westwood’s Manifesto

Merle Laderman Ukeles Manifesto of Maintenance Art

(actually I have a lot of manifestos and statements by artists)

James Turrell talking about needing to continue Ranching whilst making Roden Crater

Robert Smithson’s Collected Writings are always good.

Renwick’s report “The land we live on is our home” pdf

Patrick Scott’s Stories Told about the impact of the Berger Inquiry on First Nation Politics and the importance of storytelling.  Or Alistair McIntosh‘s Soil and Soul.

I could also suggest Distance & Proximity, a book of Thomas A Clark‘s poems, and then I could just read a few!

(e.g. “In the art of the great music, the drone is eternity, the tune tradition, the performance the life of the individual”

or “”The routines we accept can strangle us but the rituals we choose give renewed life”

or “A book of poems in the rucksack – that is the relation of art to life”

And I should certainly consider Gary Snyder who I was reading over the summer.


Posted in CF Writing by chrisfremantle on June 8, 2009

Whilst working at the University of the Arts Berne, had the opportunity to meet and speak with George Steinmann.  His work From-To-Beyond highlights what was missing from the discussion at LANDWORKERS.  We heard about wonderful cultural projects in Samiland, in Dogribland and in Scotland.  All these places continue to suffer the environmental and social impacts of extraction.  Steinmann went to the Kola Peninsula in Russia (part of Samiland) and saw the massive environmental destruction:

“In the autumn of 1995, after thorough preparation, and having contacted scientists in Norway, Finland and Russia, I headed for Murmansk to travel the Kola Peninsula with a Russian Guide.  The itinerary included a visit to Severomorsk and the nuclear submarine base there, as well as excursions to the nickel smelting works in Montsegorsk, Apatity, and Nikel, and a trip to Teriberka on the Barents Sea.  I have never travelled in a region so scarred.  It is one huge pathogenic zone caught between primal nature and industrial exploitation.  This vast region is fatally polluted and damaged by the huge amounts of nuclear waste in the Barents Sea and on the island of Novaya Zemlya, and by the gigantic sulphur-dioxide output of the smelting works. “

(p.166, George Steinmann: Blue Notes, Helmhaus Zurich, Verlag fur moderne Kunst Nurnberg, 2007)


There is a real danger in focusing on the art, and the art focusing on aspects of the cultural, and thus missing the real environmental, social and economic dimensions of extraction and pollution in these remote places.

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