Sunday, 17 May 2009

Under Way

The exhibition began on May 8th with a short guided meditation session in the cloister.

Each day there were 20 minute guided sessions, and spaces with cushions provided for individual contemplation at other times.

Since I was not there in person I wasn't able to keep an accurate record of how many participated, although I can work out approximate totals. The plan was to keep an exact note of how long people stayed, so a notional 'total' could be calculated of the amount of CO2 exhaled, but my on-the-spot helpers had exams and classes. So we will have to compromise this time with an approximate calculation based on the classes run.

Thanks to Cris Guell for this photo.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

On the hidden costs of digital media

For another article on the hidden costs of our electronic media click here

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Internet Footprint

I read this article in yesterday's Guardian

Guardian Online Link

which gave me pause for thought.

According to the article, the energy footprint of the web is growing by 10% a year, and will soon overtake aviation as a source of CO2 emissions. The data centres that store the billions of pages of information which we view online are enormously energy-hungry. According to this article, it is estimated that US data centres alone used 61bn kilowatt hours of energy in 2006 - enough energy to supply the whole of the UK for two months. It is estimated that every Google search has a carbon footprint of 0.2g CO2, which doesn't sound like much, but when there are 200 million Google searches per day it starts to have a real impact.

And that doesn't take into account the footprint of the physical materials of the billions of computers, or the domestic energy used to power them.

So even the decision to use Skype and email to collaborate with local partners in Girona, and to set up this blog, has a definite and definable impact. There is no room for feeling righteous.

Sometimes all this feels like a profound loss of innocence. There is so much I would rather not know, and now that I know it, I don't really know what to do with the knowledge. At the university where I work, I mention to colleagues that I'm working on a project in Girona, and they assume I'll be flying over - it seems to be expected of academics that we clock up airmiles as a token of professional acheivement. When I say I am not going, and that is the point of the exercise, I feel like a crank, or a spoilsport. And on a day like today, when a cold, wet front is blustering in from the west here in Glasgow bringing driving rain and a leaden sky, while Girona basks in spring sunshine, and I could be hanging out there with some new friends, I think I probably am a spoilsport.

But on the other hand, challenging my own assumptions about how I work, and how I want to operate in future, is a good shakeup.

I've been reading Suzi Gablik 'The re-enchantment of art' again. Published in 1991 it now seems extraordinarily prescient. Writing more about this is for another day, however.

Monday, 27 April 2009


This way of working 'remotely' is quite challenging for me - I have to learn to let go of the kind of control I would have if I were present and I have to trust that things will get done even if I'm not there.

The students I am working with in Girona are really the people making this happen. They are busy making phone calls, visits, meetings, sourcing materials, finding cheap and ecological ways to do things that require ingenuity and calling in favours, and all of this in between classes and exams. Contacts have been made with local yoga and meditation centres and we will be able to have several free sessions and classes running every day, with a whole range of techniques and approaches.

So a big thank you to Elisa Brandi, Serena Dandrea, Anna Simon Olle and Cristina Guell Agut, who are the people who are really making this project happen.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Carbon Connection

Click here to view a short film made by communites in Brazil and Scotland who are at opposite ends of the international trade in carbon emissions.

And click here to find out how to offset your sexual infidelities with 'Cheat Neutral'

Rising Tide Conference

Rising Tide : The Arts and Ecological Ethics

California College of the Arts and Stanford University are hosting this conference on the intersections between ethics, aesthetics and environmentalism. Speakers, events and exhibitions are taking place on both sites, and Natural Balance projects are currently featured in an exhibition at Stanford University.

click here for info