Precensing The Heating Sky

Climate & Ecology Crisis and Art & Design Engagement activity and webinar

An Arts Council England funded New Leaf Sustainability and Salt Road project in partnership with the University of Birmingham, and Birmingham City Council. Linking Birmingham and Cardiff with the Basque Country and Wales through the Biophilic City Network and Culture Declares Emergency. Bringing together different schools and departments in the University of Birmingham, the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Cardiff Metropolitan University and the Biophilic City Network.

Webinar and online engagement program:

Planed to run for a week during second week of November 2020, part of Culture Declares assemblies. To:

  • Share and discus case ideas, problems and case studies of art and climate/ecological crisis engagement projects through Birmingham City council and other government organizations, the Biophilic City Network, Culture Declares and related networks.
  • Link academic strands of Biophilic, art and climate/ecological crisis research with partner universities Cardiff Metropolitan University, Birmingham City University, University of Virginia and University of the Basque Country.
  • Launch an engagement art program with young people in Birmingham
Moving image still, Professor Marc Neumann Ikerbasque Professor BC3, Environmental modelling, uncertainty, complexity, mitigation and adaptation, engineering

Content:

1. We will have a series of on-line panel discussions, so that there are natural subjects that occur which resonate with the scientists and artists?

For instance what if we did separate talks themed on the classical elements:

  • Earth
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Air
  • Space

In each element there is a panel discussion in which we invite artists, scientists and other sustainability professionals to present their work, talk together and answer questions.

2. There will be a space foron-line interviews, both recorded and perhaps live by artist Dr. Sally Payen. Films and recordings of climate change researchers sharing a more personal and humanizing story at The University of Birmingham, BC3 Basque Center for Climate Change, in the University of the Basque Country’s campus in Bilbao and other partner universities.

3. There will be a digital gallery space, which may have changing installations recorded live by a webcam. A series of artist collaborations to create installation spaces with BC3 either on campus or if that was not possible then somewhere else in Bilbao, Birmingham, Cardiff and potentially in other Biophilic network cities.

4. There will be a presentation space biophilic, art and climate/ecological crisis art and science collaborations can be shared and take shape.

Background

Listening to the Science is an art engagement visual art and design project (which can utilize the spoken word, film, performance, painted/silent words, physical and conceptual design) to open the poetics and creativity in ‘listening and reflecting’ on the crucial issues in climate and ecological crisis. We will develop and research environmental responsible art, design and climate change work, including our network of leading scientists and researchers in a series of on-line, person to person artist-led interviews. Asking how they came to embody themselves into these subjects; we will discuss beauty, symbols and how they deal with the prognosis of catastrophic climate change crisis and its relationships to human behavior. Our interviews with climate change scientists will also act as a central body of information to inspire further artist biophilia commissions and opportunities for participants to co-create artworks in workshops, seminars and performance events.

We believe that both artists and designers have a crucial role to play in the dialogue of climate change adaption and mitigation, this art project will create a space to pause, be present and sit with the science leading to a series of creative actions. We are collaborating with climate change researchers; who are sharing a more personal story about how they came to embody themselves into these subjects to creatively engage a wide audience. The project with explore Biophilia (love of nature), Biomimicry (learning from nature) and as dynamic ways to engage audiences in the art, design and climate crisis dialogue. Based on a new immediacy amongst a growing network of artists, humanities academics and scientists collaborating across disciplines to bring creative, visionary methods to bear on environmental and ecological challenges. We want to base our project in the creativity of civil society and help amplify the environmental voices of communities through stories, narratives and public imagination projects that can lead to new ideas, questions and visions of a sustainable future. To help people engage with their local nature, Biophilia and the science of climate/ecological crisis. Climate science is linked with a creative focused approach to climate change and biodiversity loss stress & trauma. Using a process of co-production and co-creation of stories people work on through digital platforms and traditional analogue ways of engagement.

Cardiff Metropolitan University student engagement opportunity

Student engagement linked to the research will take place remotely, in the form of a design competition, which will be launched during freshers week, w/c 28th September 2020.

We will email students with a story-making pack and invite them to create a piece of work that listens/reflects on climate change and the ecological crisis. This work will be submitted in time for an CSAD exhibition (virtual and/or physical) to coincide with a webinar to take place w/c 9th November 2020. All students who have engaged in the project will be invited to take part in the webinar.

Community Engagement

The engagement linked to the research will take place online and through posted packs with our project partners the homelessness charity Crisis Skylight, Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Children’s Trust as well as Cardiff based partners. We will work with them identify and work with people who need support with their digital capabilities, and/or are digitally excluded. We will email and post people story- making packs and invite them to return them to us by post or email, practicing safe handling in line with guidance.

We want to base our project in the creativity of civil society and help amplify the environmental voices of communities through stories, narratives and public imagination projects that can lead to new ideas, questions and visions of a sustainable future. To help people engage with their local nature, Biophilia and the science of climate/ecological crisis. Climate science is linked with a creative focused approach to climate change and biodiversity loss stress & trauma. Using a process of co-production and co-creation of stories people work on through digital platforms and traditional analogue ways of engagement.

BC3

A research centre based in the surroundings of Bilbao on the causes and consequences of climate change, who produce multidisciplinary knowledge to support decision making towards sustainable development at the international level. With a multidisciplinary team, connected to the main scientific institutions, networks and socio-economic agents, for a decade, their contribution to research of climate change and to the science-policy interface puts them in a unique position to offer knowledge, tools, new methodologies and cross-cutting proposals, that lead towards action in a collaborative framework with stakeholders, to design and help implement policies aimed at sustainable development.

Biophilic City Network

Biophilic Cities partners with cities, scholars and advocates from across the globe to build an understanding of the value and contribution of nature in cities to the lives of urban residents. As a central element of its work, Biophilic Cities facilitates a global network of partner cities working collectively to pursue the vision of a natureful city within their unique and diverse environments and cultures. These partner cities are working in concert to conserve and celebrate nature in all its forms and the many important ways in which cities and their inhabitants benefit from the biodiversity and wild urban spaces present in cities. Biophilic Cities acknowledges the importance of daily contact with nature as an element of a meaningful urban life, as well as the ethical responsibility that cities have to conserve global nature as shared habitat for non-human life and people.

Dr Sally Payen and Jaime Jackson

Jaime Jackson and Ella-Rose Jones

The project builds on our ACE funded artist-led climate change and art programming over the last 3 years. Including our ‘BioCity and the Fall’ and ‘Treeline’ Biophilic and Biomimcry programs, it will:

1. Develop new ways of embedding art in current crisis dialogues; creating a project which has a symbiotic and complementary relationship at its core between art processes, crisis, trauma and climate change science.

2. Research best practice and collaborating with leaders in crisis research, disseminating high quality practice.

3. Support freelance creative practitioners in the future to develop and utilizing film, performance, paint, digital, symbols, silent and spoken words; to open the poetics and creativity in ‘listening and reflecting’ on the crucial issues in climate change.

4. Link with Queenswood sustianbility centre to provide a young person led digital art and sustainability hub responding to COVID-19, focused on digital on- line engagement with young people. Organise and facilitate an inclusive on-line focus group of young people who will engage with the venue in ways that are relevant to them, leading to a digital art and sustainability portal and youth webinar. We will run a series of engagement artist-led workshops, with the group, where the young people will work with us to test our new empathic art practice in relation to ecological crisis. The focus group of young people that we work with in this project will take part in Arts Award (Arts Connect advised) training.

5. Engage with leading scientists and researchers in a series of on-line artist-led interviews creating a new moving image artwork. Asking how the covid-19 crisis links to climate change crisis, how they came to embody themselves into these subjects; we will discuss beauty, symbols and how they deal with the prognosis

Nurse in Mask 2020 oil on paper, Sally Payen

In order to achive thses aims we will:

1.Work with Queenswood sustinability center to organise and facilitate an on-line focus group of vulnerable young people who do not normally engage in art. Who will work with the artsits throughout leading to a youth webinar. We will run a series of engagement artist-led workshops, with the group, where the young people will work with artists to test our new empathic art practice in covid-19’s crisis relation to the ecological crisis.

2. Run a series of on-line workshops with young people, some will be 1:1; with our partner organizations that support young people including Crisis, FE and HE, so that we reach a broad range of participants.

3. Commission four artists to develop new ways of engaging with participants on-line. By developing, adapting and disseminating new ways for everyone who engages in our work to develop ideas and empathy, creatively responding to Covid 19 isolation using new technology. Which will both increase peoples access to art, and develop the skills and experience of the artists.

4. Engage with leading scientists and researchers in a series of on-line, person to person artist-led interviews, creating a moving image artwork. Asking how covid 19 crisis links to the climate crisis.

5. Publish and disseminate commissioned work through on-line publications – our ambition is to have 3 online exhibitions. Promoting our English-based activities in related art events and seminars internationally through the Biophilic City Network www.biophiliccities.org/. Linking English communities collaboratively with arts and climate science using digital innovation, with communities in Spain through BC3 www.bc3research.org.

6. Develop and implement a digital business plan. Investing in IT and other equipment and software -related costs to strengthen the organization in relation to isolation and the global movement towards digital technologies and AI.

The project will help us respond to the crisis by placing new digital art-making technology with an artist- empathy together approach, linking covid 19 crisis to environmental-based loss and trauma; linking to the importance of global cohesion, personal well-being and the destruction of natural habitats as a risk factor in the transmission of diseases.

Presencing the Heating Sky is an innovative project which explores people’s reaction to the present crisis, with deeper awareness about what is happening. Which includes this disease and its manifold linkages to climate and ecological collapse. It takes an opportunity of reflection to improve the quality of our work and safeguard us in the future. Audiences will benefit by being more creativity engaged, experiencing the artist’s work and co-creating artworks, to articulate and accelerate the engagement with climate change for people, using visual art digitally. It is linked to the combined events of many councils declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency in 2019 and the sudden and direct impact COVID-19 has had on cities and its citizens. The unprecedented actions by governments around the world to the COVID crisis has illustrated how significant step-change is truly possible.

Motion Capture session with artist Jaime Jackson, the project will intregrate MoCap work
(Below) Jaime Jackson MOcAP installation at Manchester Contemporary 2019

Partners:

Homlessness charity Crisis

‘Many of our members have access to the internet (via smartphones at least) and the best way we can interact with them is online.

We are more than happy to work with and support Salt Road to develop content that can support individuals who are vulnerable and to discuss ideas with you about accessibility and sharing content online.

As part of the local councils emergency response they have opened up the Holiday Inn in Birmingham to all rough sleepers and homeless individuals leaving hospital with covid symptoms. This basically means the hotel is now full of rough sleepers who are in lock down. This is a fantastic opportunity for the city to make a real difference to rough sleeping and a chance for us to reach out to those in need. We have sent printed well-being / boredom packs to the hotel but I think there is something we can do digitally there.’

Birmingham City Council:

‘What Precensing the Heating Sky will enable us to do with Salt Road is really accelerate the engagement with people using visual art digitally, over the combined events of the City declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency in 2019 and the sudden and direct impact COVID-19 has had on the city and its citizens. The unprecedented actions by governments around the world to the COVID crisis has illustrated for all to see how significant step-change is truly possible. That much of the negative impact of the COVID crisis has been a boon for the climate and ecological emergency.

Birmingham is a self-declared Biophilic City, setting a generational aspiration to reach this desired goal of every citizen being able to enjoy their daily dose of nature; even in Britain’s second city. The citizens response to the COVID crisis has seen the unprecedented popularity of parks and green spaces, that serve as a de-stressor and health restoring city assets.

The City is engaged with the Future Parks Accelerator project sponsored by The National Trust and Heritage Fund from Lottery, all under the watchful eye of the UK Government’s Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Birmingham’s proposal is to find a sustainable model for the future of its green space and vital nature and to address the environmental injustice across the city. This seeks to address both the climate and ecological emergencies and re-write city policy and practice in response to community need and establish new lines of engagement.

The COVID crisis has compounded peoples fears over the climate emergency and the global threat to nature. This is where Precensing the Heating Sky will link with the City’s efforts to better connect with its citizens, its anchor institutions and its strategic future. This initiative will enable digital engagement across communities of practice, with the freedom of thought that the field of the arts can achieve. The unprecedented actions under COVID have demonstrated the real potential for change in this world. Through this artist- led initiative with Salt Road we want to source and capture people’s feelings and thoughts about their lives, in their city, and what needs to change to best deliver their futures.’

University of Birmingham:

‘We would be delighted to support Salt Road in the development of arts-based community engagement in new on-line formats, including around the topic of climate change. We are excited to explore with you how Salt Road’s research and development ideas might allow us to deliver the outcomes of the proposed workshop through, e.g., exhibiting and presenting work in different digital platforms, engaging the public through activities such as hand-drawn animation, and connecting with researchers and other partners through a virtual seminar or webinar.

Working with Salt Road as lead artists will provide researchers in the School with new experience and skills in delivering public engagement and impact in digital formats.’