Organizational Rhythms: A Sonification Perspective

Bilal Abdul Kader, Catalin Ratiu and Paul Shrivastava

Abstract: The current paradigms of management are primarily rational, logical, and scientific, focused on highly cognitive approaches to managing organizations. These paradigms ignore the role of emotional engagement, its role in decision-making, and need for engaging passion. To achieve environmental sustainability, organizations will need emotional and passionate connection to nature. This can be accomplished thru the arts (and particularly music). The arts offer a very useful and necessary complement to traditional scientific methods used by organizations.

In this project we seek to understand organizations from natural & aesthetic perspectives. It is based on the assumption that just like many other entities in nature, such as, people, bio organisms, and ecosystems, organizations also have natural “rhythms”, To uncover rhythmic patterns of organizations, we undertook two exploratory studies using acoustic sonification. As a first step we converted stock price data for publicly traded companies into audible acoustic frequencies — an increasingly used method in life and social sciences. In the first study, we focus on organizational rhythms of publicly traded corporations. We use stock market data (price variations, volatility, etc.) as expressions of financial rhythms, because the financial dynamics are good proxies for a corporation’s heartbeat. In the second study, we used a focus group setting to investigate emotional reactions to sonified stock market data, and to test pattern recognition among an eclectic group of musically trained individuals.

In this presentation we will report on these studies. We will offer a continuous stream of audio — an ambient music-like presentation — which tracks ongoing stock market data. The pattern may well present itself like a drone, a cacophony, or it may be symphonic (Schaffer, 1993). The semiotic of the current stock market is akin to an abstract (non-representational) painting; it cannot make sense to the representational eye because the intellect refuses to engage in patterns other than what is expected or anticipated. In our multimedia presentation we invite the audience to listen to these sounds and be the interpretive guides who can point the way into a non-representational aesthetic.

Bio: Dr. Paul Shrivastava, is the David O’Brien Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal. He also serves as Senior Advisor on sustainability at Bucknell University and the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong, India, and he serves on the Board of Trustees of DeSales University, Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Shrivastava received his Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He was tenured Associate Professor of Management at the Stern School of Business, New York University. He has published 15 books and over 100 articles in professional and scholarly journals. He served on the editorial boards of leading management education journals including the Academy of Management Review, the Strategic Management Journal, Organization, Risk Management, and Business Strategy and the Environment. He won a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award and studied Japanese management while based at Kyoto University. He founded the Organization and Natural Environment Division of the Academy of Management. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, and on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour.

Dr. Shrivastava has 30 years experience in management education, entrepreneurship, and as a consultant to major multinational companies. In 1976 he was part of the management team that launched Hindustan Computers Ltd., one of India’s largest computer companies. In 1985 he founded the non-profit Industrial Crisis Institute, Inc. to mediate the industrial crisis between Union Carbide Corporation and the Government of India, and published the Industrial Crisis Quarterly. In 1998 he founded, and was President and CEO of eSocrates, Inc., a knowledge management and online training/education software company. He has served as consultant to AT & T, Baker Hughes, FMC Corp, Johnson and Johnson, Ketchum Communications, Scott Paper, Wartsila, Oy, and MEC RASTOR, and Elea-Olivetti. He designs and presents strategic summits and training workshops for upper management focused on corporate and competitive strategy, sustainable management, and crisis management.

Catalin is a PhD Candidate in strategic management and a full time lecturer at the John Molson School of Business. In his research, he explores the development of valuable capabilities that allow organizations to operate and develop sustainably. Cata’s research has been published in peer reviewed journals, books, conference proceedings, and the business press. Cata has been associated with DOCSE since the Fall of 2009, primarily for work linking sustainability, management, and acoustics.

Bilal Abdul Kader, a PhD candidate at JMSB, has got his MBA in 2006. His main research interests are: asset pricing, corporate cash management, micro-finance, and sustainability in finance. He has taught and assisted in various undergraduate courses in the department of Finance and MIS. He is committed to integrate active learning experience into his classroom in order to empower and engage students using recent methods, technologies, and activities. Bilal has accomplished several consulting assignments for start-ups in Canada and Lebanon.


Mapping 7 rivers in Cali, Colombia

Mariángela Aponte Núñez

Abstract: 7 rivers in 49 images is a collection of 49 photographs of the seven rivers (Aguacatal, Cali, Cañaveralejo, Cauca, Lili, Melendez and Pance) crossing the city of Cali, Colombia.

This project focuses on the relationship of Cali’s people with their water. Like most of colombian territory Cali is rich in clean water resources, but the environmental crisis of our globalized era can be seen here too: Cali’s waste has been reaching a point that today most of those rivers have no drinkable water after they pass through the city. The photographs explore the movement and color change of the water passing through the city of Cali.

The 49 images forms a sequence from the Pance river, the one with better conditions, to the Cauca river, the dirtiest and one of the major rivers in southwestern Colombia.

Bio: Mariángela Aponte Núñez, born in Cali, Colombia. With a Visual Arts degree obtained at the Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia in 2007, I am currently completing my Master in Aesthetics and Technology of the Electronic Arts at National University of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2005 I have been showing my artwork in solo and group exhibitions. Some of my works are: TACTOSCOPIO, that addresses issues related to art and blindness; SONOSCOPIO, an experimental sound installation; and the photographic exhibition 7 RIVERS IN 49 IMAGES that explores the color change of Cali’s rivers from their birth through its mouth. I am actively collaborating in Colombian publications, among them, with the ARTEFACTO section for the “Pandora’s Box” radio-cultural series in Javeriana Stereo Cali as well as several other transdisciplinary projects.


The role of visual art in environmental discourse

Emma Arnold

Abstract: While visual art may often be excluded from scientific disciplines, science and environment frequently figure prominently in the work of many contemporary artists. From paint brushes to knitting needles, from the gallery to the street, visual artists are approaching environmental issues in new, exciting, and engaging ways. Artists worldwide are tackling environmental issues in diverse ways, from the choice of their media to the subject matter they address to the intentions of their work. While these pursuits are not novel, they remain relatively untouched as topic of research within environmental disciplines.

This paper explores the work of various visual artists, examining how artists are addressing environmental issues in their audiences, intentions, materials, media, message, and in the spaces in which their works are found. In examining how artists are exploring these issues, the potential roles of visual art in environmental discourse are expected to emerge. Such roles are likely varied and multifaceted. Art may help us to understand our place in nature, question our values and behaviours, communicate ideas, or may be used as propaganda. Art may provide insight on the environment itself, providing historical information on past environments; may serve to document current environmental challenges; or may promote regard for the space in which it is found. Art may even contribute to the development of solutions to environmental problems by innovating new technologies or approaches. Understanding why art has remained absent from environmental discourse, despite these potential roles, may provide insight into why its inclusion may be important now.

Bio: Emma Arnold is a dual Canadian and British citizen who has lived and studied in Canada, Hungary, and Sweden. Her background is in environmental geography, environmental impact assessment, and environmental policy. She holds a Master’s of Science in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management from a consortium of four European universities: Lund University, Central European University, University of the Aegean, and the University of Manchester. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Impact Assessment and an Honours Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Geography from Concordia University. She has previously worked as a policy analyst developing environmental legislation and regulation for the Canadian government, as a design consultant for the design agency SNÖGRAFX, and as a freelance illustrator. She will be commencing doctoral studies in 2012 at the University of Edinburgh in the Institute of Geography, where her research will focus on the role of art in environmental discourse. She is also the founder of The Institute for Art and Environment, a think-tank generating knowledge and providing expertise on issues relating to art and the environment, promoting more holistic approaches to sustainability.


Sustainable agriculture / sustainable culture

Pat Badani

Abstract: The paper discusses “Al Grano,” a transdisipinary project-in-progress that examines the politics of food and GM technology using as lens: maize cultivation, technology, trade and border crossings at the intersection of ancient and contemporary sciences and technologies. The focus is on the livelihood struggles of maize growers in Mexico – center of origin, domestication and biodiversity of maize – and the balance/unbalance created by environmentally sustainable and exploitative agro-practices today.

Maize agriculture is seen as “culture” where unevenly shaped opinions and meanings are formed in engagement with wider economic and political structures in Mexico, the USA and Canada. The complex foundational issues and convoluted stakes derive from history, ethnology, sociology, biopolitics, law and intellectual property, agronomy, ecology, science, and technology of maize.

The “Al Grano” project delves into new structures for life for the 21st century, seeking to re-define ‘growth’ for a sustainable agriculture / sustainable culture. The intention is to set in motion receptivity by intertwining research methodologies used in ethnography into my new media artist’s tool-kit. These strategies allow the development of various narrative grounds about issues related to this contested grain and its contested spaces in North America.

Bio: Pat Badani is an internationally exhibiting artist, researcher, educator and writer. Her essays on new media and interculturality have been published in English and Spanish in books and in journals. Currently, she Editor in Chief of “Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus”.

Badani’s work and research have been showcased in venues such as ISEA (France, Ireland and Turkey); FILE – International Electronic Festival & Symposium (Brazil); Watershed Media Center (UK); MECAD Media Art Center (Spain); New Forms Festival (Canada); Espacio Fundación Telefónica (Argentina); The Tarble Art Center; and I space (USA); Canadian Cultural Center; and Maison de l’Amérique Latine (France).

In 2002 she was awarded a major one-year Canada Council Research Grant to develop her multi-sited new media project “Where are you from?_Stories”. Currently she is working on two projects involving transdisciplinary research and exchange. She is director of “Al-Grano” investigating biodiversity issues in Mexico, the USA and Canada (a feature article analyzing the project, written by Catherine Bédard, will be published in November 2011 in “Nouvelle Revue d’Esthétique”, Paris). Badani is also international network research partner in the collaborative project “RhyCycling – Esthetics of sustainability in the Basel border area”, funded by The Swiss National Science Foundation.

Badani has lectured and occupied full-time academic positions. She created and taught the first Integrated Media program in the School of Art at Illinois State University and was full time lecturer and Acting Director of the Interdisciplinary Media Arts MFA program at Columbia College in the USA.


Shifting Paradigms: Artist as Agents of Change

Leah Barclay

Abstract: The global ecological crisis has become a catalyst for interdisciplinary collaborations at a time when a shift in thinking is urgently required. World leaders are now looking towards the validity and possibilities of creative methodologies as tools for change. This presents both a challenge and an unprecedented opportunity for creative practitioners to gain a critical understanding of the situation, and devise new processes for a sustainable future.

Bill McKidden recently said; “When art both of great worth, and in great quantities, begins to cluster around an issue, it means that civilization has identified it finally as a threat.” He views artists as the “antibodies of the cultural bloodstream” and fundamental to social change. But is the role of the artist purely to comment on the crisis? Or can provocation extend beyond expression to create a behavioral shift in deeply engrained unsustainable ways of thinking? Can artists confront the roots of the ecological crisis to facilitate the necessary shift? If the answers are yes, then how can these intangible, and often subjective, creative processes be measured?

This paper explores these questions and introduces a multi-platform methodology that could provide a framework to facilitate the paradigmatic shift required to initiate cultural change. The core of this methodology pivots of a site-specific creative project embedded in a multi-layered community cultural engagement process developed in response to the specific community. This evolving model is implemented by the artist, acting as a change agent spiraling between contextualized theory and practice. Rigorous methodologies to measure the results are explored through three case studies of multi-platform projects implemented in Australia and New Zealand. These projects are acting as a catalyst and represent an unparalleled opportunity for artists as agents of change in environmental emergency.

Bio: Leah Barclay is an Australian interdisciplinary artist and curator recognised internationally for her distinctive sonic language. Her work has been commissioned, performed, and exhibited to wide acclaim across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, India, China, and Korea. Barclay creates immersive performances and multi-sensory installations at the intersection of art, science, technology, and the environment. Her work spans film, theatre, and dance to hybrid performance, interactive media, data sonification, and site-specific installations. Her adventurous nature has led her to complete projects on the floor of the Australian ocean, desolate lava caves in New Zealand, and the evocative backwaters of South India. Barclay’s dynamic work has resulted in numerous awards, including the Premier of Queensland’s inaugural National New Media Scholarship, the Asialink Performing Artist Residency for South Korea, and the HELM Award for Environmental Art. She has directed and curated environmental projects across Australia, India, and Korea and serves in an advisory capacity for a range of arts and environmental organisations including Noosa Biosphere (UNESCO) and Ear to the Earth (New York). Barclay is currently engaged in a series of collaborative research projects addressing the value of creative methodologies in ecological crisis and is completing an interdisciplinary PhD under Gerardo Dirié and Kim Cunio at Griffith University in Australia.


Citizen Sensing in the Canadian North

Matthew Biederman

Abstract: The paper will discuss recent activities of the Arctic Perspective Initiative, a non-profit, international group of individuals and organizations, founded by Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman, whose goal is to promote the creation of open authoring, communications and dissemination infrastructures for the circumpolar region. Its aim is to work with, learn from, and empower the North and Arctic Peoples through open source technologies and applied education and training. By creating access to these technologies while promoting the creation of shared communications and data networks without costly overheads, continued and sustainable development of autonomous culture, traditional knowledge, science, technology and education opportunities for peoples in the North and Arctic regions is enabled.

In light of the current trends of ‘citizen sensing’, the paper will discuss the development of the Tatsipaaq environmental mesh network in the Foxe Basin area of Nunavut and its potential within communities facing pressures of climate change. Built from entirely open-source hardware and software, the Tatsipaaq has the ability to geo-locate environmental conditions, and augmenting the data with audio and visual material by recording voice, audio or images. The system propagates its data through open mapping toolsets, allowing for the free dissemination to the rest of the community. The network was designed and built by API through consultation with communities of Nunavut, and will be openly distributed as a toolset allowing for the local communities to direct their own ‘ambient’ research and data collection.

Bio: Matthew Biederman has been performing, installing and exhibiting works, which explore themes of perception, media saturation, and data systems since the mid nineties. Biederman was the recipient of the Bay Area Artist Award in Video by New Langton Arts in 1999, First Place in the Visual Arts category of Slovenia’s Break21 festival, and has served as artist-in-residence at the Center for Experimental Television on numerous occasions. He is a co-founder of Arctic Perspective Initiative, an international non-profit group of individuals and organizations whose goal is to promote the creation of open authoring, production, communications and dissemination infrastructures for the circumpolar region.

His installations have been exhibited in the US, South America, and Europe, in a variety of festivals and venues such as 7 ATA Festival Internacional (Lima, Peru) As a film and video maker, his works have been included in the FILE festival (Sao Paulo), New Forms Festival (Vancouver), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Paris/Berlin International Meetings, and the Chicago Underground Film Festival. His public works have been shown at the ZeroOne2006 Festival, the SCAPE Biennial in New Zealand.


Tracking Indicators of our Environmental Crisis by Means of Art: A Psycho-Historical Account

Nicolas Bullot

Abstract: Research seeking a scientific foundation for the theory of art appreciation has raised controversies at the crossroads of the social and cognitive sciences. Though equally relevant to an inquiry in the nature of art, the psychological and historical approaches to art developed independently and continue to lack a common core of theoretical and methodological principles. Historicists have argued that psychological and neuroscientific theories overlook the fact that artworks are artefacts produced and appreciated in the context of unique historical situations and artistic intentions. After a presentation of the debate, I introduce a psycho-historical theory for the cognitive science of art appreciation. According to this theory, an essential task of a science of art appreciation is to explain how the ability to appreciate a work of art depends on the appreciator’s sensitivity to and knowledge of the historical context of the work. Drawing from research on essentialism and the societal functions of artefacts, the psycho-historical theory predicts that appreciators understand an artwork when they succeed in deploying an attitude termed ‘artistic design stance’ that guides their historical inquiries into the original context and making of the work. Drawing from case studies, I demonstrate the relevance of this psycho-historical theory to assess how artworks engender awareness about the current global environmental crisis. Specifically, I argue that works of art can manipulate audiences’ emotional sensitivity to and contextual knowledge of usually-hidden facts and mechanisms that cause ecological perils.

Bio: I am a philosopher of Cognitive Science committed to multi-disciplinary research. I am currently developing a research project titled ‘How do we keep track of others? A philosophical and multidisciplinary theory of the tracking of persons and objects.’ The aim of this project is to develop and test a philosophical theory of the human ability to keep track of other persons and environmental facts. The epistemological goal of this work is to analyse how our knowledge of individuals and states of affairs is determined by linkages between our varied perceptual, conceptual and technical abilities to track them over time. The methodology I adopt is aimed at bridging the gap between the psychology and anthropology of tracking and philosophical issues in Aesthetics (How do we track artistic or cultural agency?), Epistemology (What are the connections between knowledge and tracking?), Ethics (How should we regulate the power obtained from tracking individuals?) and Philosophy of Biology (How did our tracking abilities evolve?). In the past, I pursued my doctoral research in the Philosophy of Cognitive Science at the Institut Jean Nicod (EHESS, CNRS, Paris). I was subsequently awarded short or long-term grants to develop my research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris, France), the Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey), the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), and the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada).


Wild Weather

Damian Castaldi

Abstract: My paper presents the prototype for the installation of a networked public sound sculpture planned for the Australian, Newcastle CBD. It includes five light weight transparent acrylic resonators, (approx 2200mm high X 110mm in outside diameter) suspended side by side and mechanically controlled to oscillate in response to the file transfer of media (audio & text files) from a website to the sculpture’s interface. The public installation will provide a transmission interface for the general public to privately reflect on their experiences and relationships with their local weather environment and where possible share meaningful content that might describe the social and physical impact of weather on their communities. The project sits at the intersection of sonic art, networked media, human ecology and remote user interaction. It addresses the intense and dangerous relationship Australians have with the weather and focuses on the recent and devastating affects of floods and storms on our environment and it’s population. One of the ecological concerns central to this work is described by Professor of natural hazards at James Cook University, Cyclone chaser Jonathan Nott who this year warned that, “town planners have become “very, very complacent” about the dangers of wild weather which is likely to increase during La Nina weather patterns and a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which will warm the east Pacific ocean and possibly fuel severe cyclones.” (Bita 2011).

Bio: Damian Castaldi is an independent sound and digital media artist based in Sydney, Australia. He works in the areas of sound design, installation and electronic music production and has an interest in gestural and sculptural interfaces for sound synthesis. He currently lectures in the Bachelor of Audio Production program at the SAE Institute and has previously lectured at the University of Technology Sydney in Media Art Production (MAP) and the University of Newcastle in Foundations of Media Art Production. Recently Damian co-directed Loop Space, which ran as a Sound & Digital media artspace as part of the Renew Newcastle project.


The Biopolitics of Milk

Natalie Doonan

Abstract: In this paper, I establish an artistic and socio-political context for the work of artist Miriam Simun, who is currently producing a variety of local, ethical, nutritious, boutique cheeses…made of human milk. I argue the significance of this experiment through trespass — a notion that exists only in relation to territorial distinctions, which are troubled in productive ways through the manufacture of human cheese. This project provokes a visceral reaction, and triggers conversation around biotechnologies that are usually relegated to the dubious domain of so-called ‘experts’.

The French word, terroir, refers to the earth, land, or territory that can be detected in the savoring of a food. This project raises questions such as: What do the eating habits of these women reveal about their origins, their land? The flavours of what mother has ingested are prominent in her milk. And yet Simun’s City Funk Gorgonzola reflects the complex processes of miscegenation at play in this unique and irreproducible taste. Tracing terroir in the production of human cheese reveals the fault lines in the constantly shifting earth (or pavement) of Manhattan. In addition to provoking questions around globalization and sustainable food production, exploring this experiment through the notion of trespass also highlights human rights issues. This project draws attention to the female body as a production unit and a site of desire whose performative functions are tightly regulated. It reveals the complications of ‘closing the loop’ even in returning to this very first and most primitive form of nourishment.

Bio: I am a multimedia and performance artist, currently based in Montreal, Québec. As a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University, I spent six months this year conducting research on artists who perform in public space, incorporating tours and tastings into their work. Through this exploration, I am setting out to test my suspicion that the sub-economies and slow practices employed by these artists offer a certain education in the cultivation of taste. Through these works, I argue that taste can potentially collapse the distance between producer and consumer. Specifically, I am interested in artistic mapping and agricultural works that reveal the contested nature of ‘landscape’. This is an extension of my own performance work in so-called ‘public’ space, which I create for broad audiences of locals and tourists by appealing to sensory-affective registers. Through my work, I am interested in remixing alternative and unofficial narratives with the more pervasive heroic and monumental tales that often serve to silence the seedier sides of tourism and city development. I am a co-founder of The Miss Guides, a cultural walking collective based in Vancouver, BC ( Most recently, I have founded le/the Sensorium (, a platform through which I am curating a seasonal menu of artists who will lead participatory community events focusing on the ethics of eating. As a PhD Humanities candidate in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies at Concordia, I am working in the fields of Sensory, Performance and Urban Studies.


Oceans in Distress

Joseph Ingoldsby

Abstract: All life is interrelated; woven of the water, of the Earth, and of the air. We must listen to the story of Mother Earth told gently to her children. We must listen and cooperate as one people to survive for we live in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources, and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate. Artist’s can play an integral role in the raising of the public consciousness through advocacy. Art can be used to communicate complex ecological and scientific principles to an audience outside of the confines of the academy or science museum. Oceans in Distress documents the three main drivers which are sickening the global marine environment, and all are a direct consequence of human activity: global warming, acidification and a dwindling level oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Pollution and global warming are pushing the world’s oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years. These symptoms, moreover, could be the harbinger of wider disruptions in the interlocking web of biological and chemical interactions that scientists now call the Earth system. Oceans in Distress is a collaborative work that showcases the science behind the issues of chemical, biological, acoustic and industrial change that is affecting the world’s oceans and in turn ourselves.

Bio: Joseph Emmanuel Ingoldsby. I stand before you at a unique vantage point, which bridges art, science and technology. I research, collaborate, write, exhibit and install my work in the field. Joseph Emmanuel Ingoldsby initially trained in art and landscape architecture with Ian McHarg, who mentored me on Design with Nature at PENN. The focus and methodology involved a comprehensive analysis of the geology, hydrology, soils, vegetation, and the cultural overlays of both local and regional landscapes. An integral part of the work involved interviews with scientists and local experts. Projects included analytical overlays of the Schuylkill River based on the incremental industrialization of an urban river; and the Natural and Cultural Landscapes of the Pine Barrens, NJ in text, aerial patterning and photography. This methodology provided the foundation for current collaborative work, as I transitioned to exhibitions and installations, and to digital media and film. I combine art, science and technology to advocate for vanishing landscapes and endangered species and the role of the artist in the 21st century as a translator and communicator of science. My work is focused on the natural and cultural landscapes of America. I practice what I preach.


Two philosophical approaches to animal suffering: finding the balance in moral life

Sheila Mason

Abstract: In this presentation I compare two radically different approaches to the problem of animal suffering with the aim of showing how one way of framing our relation to animals enables us to achieve a fine balance in our moral lives. The first approach made famous by Peter Singer appeals to the rational Utilitarian argument that we ought to expand the circle of moral concern to include the greatest number of sentient beings by giving up eating meat. The alternative approach is spear headed by the writings of Nobel Lauriate J.M. Coetzee and several philosophers writing from a lyrical/literary perspective that calls upon a different sensibility by refusing to accept the gap between reason and emotion that underlies Utilitarianism. These writers raise the perspective of an enhanced sensibility that is often cut off at the root by standard philosophical appeals to abstract principles and reasoning which too often eclipse the emotional understanding necessary for real ethical change and growth. I add a further grounding of this view by appeal to Aristotle’s concept of practical wisdom, wherein a wise person gains the capacity to assess the salient features of specific situations without assuming that there are universal principles to be applied algorithmically to our moral dilemmas.

Bio: Sheila Mason, PhD, Purdue University, has taught philosophy at Concordia University since 1969 with a brief stint as a visiting professor at Murdoch University, Perth, West Australia, where she taught environmental ethics. She has published numerous articles in the area of moral theory, environmental ethics and feminist ethics as well as in the philosophy of leisure. She is currently teaching an Advanced Seminar in Virtue Theory and is Undergraduate Student Advisor in the Department of Philosophy at Concordia University. She is the Ethics Coordinator for the Canadian Philosophical Association annual Conference held at the 2011 and 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Photographic Power: Ethics and aesthetics in environmental crisis

Karla McManus

Abstract: Photography is the quintessential medium of modernity, situated at the intersections of art and science, technology and nature. As the history of photography can attest, photography is the classic medium used to document and reflect on the perpetual changes that take place in the modern landscape. American photographer Mitch Epstein’s series American Power (2003-2009) has garnered international acclaim for its evocative look at the relationship between energy consumption and the human impact on the landscape. Most recently, he was awarded the 2010 Prix Pictet, created by the Swiss banking firm to honour photographic art that confronts issues of sustainability. By reflecting on the impact of Epstein’s work, and the various ways that these images have circulated through institutional and individual structures of acceptance, I will consider the ethical and aesthetic implications of photographing environmental crisis. While photography has often been critiqued for beautifying the horrific and for aestheticizing the mundane, this paper asks the question: can photography help to promote human responsibility and positive action towards the environment through the representation of modernity, development and ecological crisis? What role does the medium itself play in communicating these issues? And how do the ways that photographs are disseminated to the public, through institutional frameworks and popular formats, shape and influence the viewer’s perception of the medium and its subject?

Bio: Karla McManus is a PhD student in the Interuniversity programme in Art History at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec and a part-time lecturer in the department of Art History. Her research focuses on the presentation and interpretation of landscape photography as environmentalist and the intersection of meaning and context in contemporary photographic visual culture. Her proposed dissertation title is: Witnessing the Future and Exhibiting the Present: the ecological turn of contemporary landscape photography. Karla is a 2010 recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Ecosystem complexity and adaptative art practices

Perdita Phillips

Abstract: I propose to present a visual essay tackling the apparent lacuna between many artists’ ideas of ecology (and the balance of nature), and contemporary scientific ecology’s conception of the world as a network of dynamic ecological circumstances. The presentation will discuss ecological complexity, resilience and advances in adaptive management and counterpoint these with existing artworks and artists and with potential directions for critical future creative works. Starting with Taylor and Haila’s (2001, p. 521) identification of the challenge to conceptualize ecosystems as simultaneously encompassing ‘particularity, contingency, and structure, and for such structure to be internally differentiated, dynamically tied to its context, and subject to restructuring’ and concluding with the ethical implications of an unbalanced world, the paper will invite action in the face of the inevitable uncertainties inherent in an ecological world view.

Bio:  Perdita Phillips is a Western Australian artist whose work encompasses installation, walking, sound art, photography, book and digital art. Whilst materially diverse, underlying themes of ecological processes and a commitment to a resensitisation to the physical environment, are apparent in her work. She convened and curated the Unruly ecologies: biodiversity and art symposium for SymbioticA (2010) and curated the ArtSource Newsletter issue Resilience: on Art and Environments, which included her essay, The trouble with sustainability (2007). Recent publications include The case of the lengthening legs: cane toads in northern Australia (2011 in Jacob Bull’s Animal Movements • Moving Animals) and Clotted Life and Brittle Waters (2010, for the Landscapes journal). Her practice-based PhD thesis fieldwork/fieldwalking (2007) explored the relationship between art, science and the field. Phillips has undertaken a number of art and science residencies including Green, Grey or Dull Silver: art and the behavioural ecology of the Great Bowerbird, Chlamydera Nuchalis (2007-2008, SymbioticA) with notable exhibitions including Visceral: The Living Art Experiment (2011, Science Gallery, Dublin), The System of Nature (2007, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, The University of Western Australia), Chart (2006, John Curtin Art Gallery, Curtin University), fieldwork/fieldwalking (2006, Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery) and Zoo for the species (2003, National Review of Live Art). Phillips is currently working on The Sixth Shore, a spatial GPS-based soundscapes as part of SymbioticA’s Adaptation project. The project brings together the sounds and stories of different human and non-human stakeholders in the complex issues surrounding Lake Clifton in southwest Western Australia.


Floating Land – Cultural Change through Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Jessie Roberts

Abstract: Floating Land is an ongoing conversation about creativity, culture and the environment pivoting on a dynamic ten-day event in the UNESCO listed Biosphere of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Conceived in 2001 as an outdoor sculpture exhibition, Floating Land is now solidified as one of Australia’s most significant green art events sparking the imagination of artists, scientists, politicians and conservationists globally. The biannual project is framed around a thematic site-specific artist residency and offers a platform for creative responses, provocations and interactive experiences that can underpin new ways of thinking and inspire change. The diverse creative responses of Floating Land become embedded in a rich program of community workshops, forums and interactive labs designed to confront and challenge a spectrum of environmental issues across disciplines. The event delivers engaging experiences for the local community, and harnesses the energy of these conversations, ideas and visions across virtual platforms that explore new paradigms for our collective future.

The 2011 Floating Land theme ‘Water Culture’ saw collaborative projects deliver multi-sensory ephemeral installations, incorporating projection, light and sound in the natural environment. Artists worked alongside scientists engaging with and drawing upon the community.

This paper presents Floating Land as a methodology for cultural change through deeply engrained community processes and multi-disciplinary collaborations. Floating Land 2013 is drawing its thematic framework from Biomimicry; bringing the science of nature and the scientific mindset deeply into the conversation and providing a platform for the creative industries, science, technology and culture to enter the conversation simultaneously.

Bio: Jessie Roberts is a dynamic sustainability strategist, biotechnologist, educator and arts manager who has worked in a diversity of positions across Australia and Spain. Most recently, she has held the position of Project Manager for Floating Land (2009 – 2011); one of Australia’s leading Green Art events. Previous project include investigating sustainable water technologies that resulted in successfully building a water efficiency consultancy that serviced the drought effected areas of South East Queensland, Australia in 2005 to 2007. Jessie played a key role in the development and research for the Edgeware Creative Entrepreneurship program and through her current position of Educational Designer and Facilitator at the QUT Innovation Space, within Queensland’s University of Technology, she is conducting action research into alternative educational models and platforms/environments that facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations. Jessie is the co-founder of InterRhythm, a dynamic interdisciplinary company dedicated to facilitating innovative projects for a sustainable future and she is currently working on the thematic development for Floating Land 2013 through her position on the curatorial board. 


Mapping Meaning

Erin Smith

Abstract: As part of the workshop “Mapping environmental issues from above & from the ground,” I will offer an artist’s talk along with a group project. I will introduce a figurative concept of mapping, outlining a methodology for relating locally to an environmental crisis that often seems to be occurring elsewhere–in drought-ridden Africa, for instance, or on the polar ice caps. In literary analysis, “mapping” is defined as “a conceptual (mental) connection between elements” (Johanna Rubba, “Terms and concepts for metaphorical and metonymic analysis”). Aiming to forge this connection between elements in my visual practice, I adopt the literary trope of metonymy, which substitutes a part for the whole. My visual metonyms map the concrete to the abstract, the knowable tothe incomprehensible, the intimate to the estranged. Statistics and reports about global environmental threats can overwhelm and alienate. Incapacitated by the “big picture,” I seek intimate relationships with my local surroundings in order to connect more firmly to the global scale. For me, the crumbling edges of the city metonymically represent a peripheral knowledge of global entropy. A depiction of urban decay in Griffintown provides a figurative conduit to a phenomenon, like melting ice caps, which registers demise on a more portentous scale. Participants will document their own metonymic readings of sites around Concordia, responding in photography, writing, or another form of expression to convey what the sites mean to them (e.g. how it “maps” onto something weightier). We will compile the imagery and writing into a montage or a simple artist’s book tracing Montreal’s implication in a global network of environmental threat.

Bio: Erin Smith is a visual artist who uses book arts methodologies, intaglio printmaking, drawing, collage and installation techniques to construct poetic homages to the precarious state of human existence. She draws on the urban landscape, positing it as the existential backdrop of daily life. Born in New Hampshire, Erin received her B.A. in Studio Arts and English at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Her passions include running and biking, organic gardening, cooking, and reading, all of which in one way or another feed her written and visual artistic practice. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Print Media at Concordia University.


Aparato – second life equipment –

Andrea Varela and Natalia Pajariño

Abstract: Proyecto AbRiGo (Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero) is implementing MAGnetismO – reuse program of technological and industrial discards – that returns to the field of use all that obsolete technology that is discarded within the University. Students and teachers at the career of environmental Engineering develop impact studies with the technology which scholars and teachers in the career of Electronic Arts, work on creative processes made reusing that technological discards for new useful objects or pieces of art. Magnetism shows UNTREF´s interest in lower levels of technological garbage produced, taking over the entire path of the equipment that acquires, investing in research and documentation of procedures for reuse to be replicated in other institutions. In addition to strengthening the institutional consciousness, Magnetism seeks to reach homes of our community with the same ideas and so enhance their objectives. To achieve this, we develop training workshops where we call on the families of the community to reach out with some old technology to learn what specific actions they can perform on it. Across these workshops, we share the knowledge gained about the environmental impact generated by this technology and extend our recycling techniques, adapted to enable them to develop both adults and children. We propose a series of creative work on technologies for the end of the day they can return home with a new object that carries a new value.

Bio: Proyecto Abrigo -art, fabric and technology- works since 2006 at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero. It provides workshops open to the community and develops research on the relationship between fabric and technology. It received two subsidies from the University Volunteer Program of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Argentina in 2006 and 2009. It exhibited their products in UNIART -Design exhibition of the National Universities, CCJL. Borges- in ENLACES – Design and Art Festival, UNTREF- La Toma Gallery – Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina-. Since 2010, it implements Magnetism – reuse program of technological and industrial discards-.

Andrea Varela: Director of Proyecto Abrigo since 2006 and Professor in the Electronic Arts career at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero – Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Since 2002) Chairs: Audiovisual Narrative, non-linear narrative, Electronic Image 1. Visiting Scholar at the Hypermedia Studio. 2000-2001, UCLA (University of California – Los Angeles) School of Theater, Film and Television. E.E.U.U. European Master of Art in Image Synthesis and Computer Animation. 1999, Universitat de les Illes Balears. Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Natalia Pajariño: Degree in Electronic Arts. Since 2006 works as an assistant management in Proyecto Abrigo, where she also teaches. Assistant Professor in the Electronic Arts career at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero. Chairs: Electronic Image 1, and non-linear narrative. She is member of CEIArtE from same University. She is part of ‘IQLab’, an artist collective that experiments, researches and creates, operating with electronical media and new technologies.


The temporal animal

María Whiteman

Abstract: My paper/presentation has two aims. First, it offers a record of a mode of visual-scientific practice in order to provide evidence of a form of knowledge production that is quickly becoming consigned to history. The photo-series I am presenting focuses on animals in the zoology laboratory at the University of Alberta. I record and examine the various modes of the visual in relation to animals in the lab, and consider how this form of animal display participates in and informs on-going discussions of animals and posthumanism. In order to think about how contemporary art plays a role in the posthumanist discourse, I draw out a coherent reading between Cary Wolfe’s claim around “contemporary art and philosophical representationalism” that speaks to refiguring our relationship to the animal. I discuss the connections between animal displays in the natural history museums and scientific practice on animal bodies to a philosophical inquiry to modes of knowing by looking at preserved animals in comparison to living and breathing animals.

In the second part of the paper, I will discuss what I describe as the “sublime animal” by showing a few photographs and a video of what appears to be an ontological passage in the environment of captivity: pickled animals that are preserved for science, but which are also placed in a quasi-embryonic fluid that positions the animal as a figure of fetal growth, as though the animal is still developing rather than persisting in the static form of death. One experiences a loss/absence and dissonance when looking at the eternal sublime space in which the jarred animals float: it places the spectator in a peculiar paradoxical position. This experience can be analyzed through an examination of the similarities between autopoiesis and Samuel Todes’ interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s notion of “making sense” of the object/subject, which he does through the example of interiority in relation to the animal. Interiority is the organic unity of the percipient—the body’s internal structural system (i.e., blood, vessels, organs)—a system that converges and responds in a manner similar to the spatiotemporal world that we share with the animal. The way in which the animal reveals its existence through phenomenological awareness, which is located ontologically in breath, form and time, can be understood as another form of embodiment. I will show (in the video) how breathing encompasses and embodies our way of “being in the world” through autopoiesis or biological systems in the animal.

Bio: MFA, Pennsylvania State University, 1999. Maria is Assistant Professor of Drawing and Intermedia in Fine Arts at the University of Alberta. Her current art practice explores two main themes: relationships between industry, community and nature; and the place of animals in our cultural and social imaginary. In addition to her studio work, she conducts research in art theory (especially with respect to photography), animal studies and cultural studies. Her most recent exhibition was De Anima at FAB Gallery (2010) and one of her pieces was selected for the Canadian Landscape Juried Exhibition. She taught previously in Multimedia, Studio Art and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.


Separate paths of the same forest – artists inspired by principle of responsibility

Magdalena Worlowska

Abstract: Artists, philosophers and scientists tread the paths of the forest. They are all concern with their relations with natural world. In this perspective, ecology is no longer solely a branch of biology. It is closely related to human problems, and it turns to arts in order to express relations between man and its environment, and vice versa, ecology is also a source of inspiration for visual artists following the principle of responsibility towards nature.

The Polish artists presented in the paper, as versatile and diverse as they are, have one common characteristic- they are all inspired by the principle of responsibility. Additionally, they all like to attract viewers attention to the significance of tree in our life.

For example, Magdalena Abakanowicz made design of monumental buildings in form of trees. Her Arboreal Architecture is not only bio-morphical, but also is supposed to perform eco-mimetic functions-production of the oxygen and absorption of the energy from sun.

Another works discussed, such as installations and performances, are ephemeral and as such, they become similar to the fragile world of nature.
The series Arboretum of Aleksandra Mańczak is spatial composition made up of withered trees enclosed in cardboard cases. They are like sarcophagi, created for the protection of the beings close to us- the trees.
Cecylia Malik in performance entitled 365 days climbed one tree every day for one year. Her unconventional action was a tribute to each individual tree enabling her sensual and emotional dialogue with nature.
Ecologically responsible artists, in subtle and emotional way, create the model how we should deal with our natural surroundings. They show how the environment could become man’s partner, and not the object of his manipulations.

Bio: I graduated from Tischner European University in Krakow in Poland with BA degree in Applied Linguistic and from Jagiellonian University in Krakow in Poland with MA degree in Art History. Currently I am PhD student in Institute of Art History at Wrocław University, Poland. The subject of my thesis is Ecological artists in Poland. I participated in international conferences concerning environmental issues, such as: 7th Society for Ecological Restoration International Conference in Avignon in 2010 or Third International Conference on Environmental Management, Engineering, Planning and Economics (CEMEPE 2011) & SECOTOX Conference at Skiatho., as well as concerning visual arts: ATINER 2nd Annual Conference on Visual and Performing Arts in Athens in 2011 with presentations linking two domains: ecology and art. My publication includes:

1. Worłowska M., Marko-Worłowska M. 2010. Ecological art in Poland – can worksof art shape respectful attitude towards nature. Chemia- Ekologia-Dydaktyka – Metrologia 1, 15 15-21.

2. Worłowska M., Marko-Worłowska M. 2010. The role of visual arts in ecological education – works of art shaping social sensitiveness to ecological problems. Proceeding book X RISK FACTORS OF FOOD CHAIN, 13-14.IX.2010, Nitra 355-361

3. Worłowska M., Marko-Worłowska M. 2011. Discover of the principles of nature- biomimetic architecture. Nature and culture symbiosis. Proc. Of the Third International Conference on Environmental Management, Engineering, Planning and Economics (CEMEPE 2011) & SECOTOX Conference. 1285-1290

In 2010 I carried out a few lectures with students of both biological and artistic departments concerning ecological education through art. Currently I work as a guide and art educator at the International Centre of Culture in Krakow conducting ecological and artistic workshops.