Eco Bling

owen and fern poster
[Poster by Owen Griffiths and Fern Thomas, Imagination as a Source of Renewable Energy, O&F Poster Series, no.1, 2008]

Here’s a provocative essay by British artist and curator Lucy Gibson, entitled “Eco-bling: why the arts sector needs to lead on climate action”.

Gibson uses the term “eco bling” to describe “gestural actions that are only skin deep”. One obstacle in the quest to reduce the environmental footprint of art is its insatiable desire for attention and visibility, which demands a great amount of travel and freight in order to distribute artworks which might, paradoxically, have as their message “Down With Climate Change” or “Act Local”.

She writes:

One of the biggest changes in the visual arts world, and the rest of the arts sector, would be to cut back on travel. With the emphasis on being ‘seen’, having an international reputation, living and working in more than one country, and for ‘international’ often being used as a by word for quality, we have a long way to go in the visual arts to counter the accusation of eco-bling.

And here’s another provocative article, by artist Paul Matosic, called “Is Art Green”. Matosic discusses the concept of “art miles”, (adapting the term from the more widely discussed “food miles“).

Thanks to Melanie, the MCA’s Conservator, for sending through the links which led to these links… keep ’em coming!

Auditing “Me”

router power adapter

In my thus-far ad-hoc survey of what an audit could be, I’m still yet to find a definition I’m completely happy with.

Take, for example, this one:

Audit: An independent review and examination of records and activities to assess the adequacy of system controls, to ensure compliance with established policies and operational procedures, and to recommend necessary changes in controls, policies, or procedures.

It’s a bit dry isn’t it?

One of the key nuggets within that statement is this bit:

“to ensure compliance with established policies and operational procedures”.

(Let’s leave aside the bit about recommending changes for the moment…)

Now, I expect that an organisation like the MCA does have an existing set of “established policies and operational procedures” with regard to its environmental footprint. So that’s some homework for me – to get my hands on it…
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More “What is an Audit?”

Following on from this post, here are some definitions of an Audit from other sources:

S: (n) hearer, listener, auditor, attender (someone who listens attentively)
S: (n) auditor (a student who attends a course but does not take it for credit)
S: (n) auditor (a qualified accountant who inspects the accounting records and practices of a business or other organization)

Audit (plural audits)
From Latin auditus ‘a hearing’, from audire ‘to hear’.
1. An examination in general.
2. A judicial examination.
3. An independent review and examination of records and activities to assess the adequacy of system controls, to ensure compliance with established policies and operational procedures, and to recommend necessary changes in controls, policies, or procedures
(eg National Assembly audit)
4. (Scientology) Spiritual counseling, which forms the core of Dianetics.

Higher Education Audit
An audit is an independent external evaluation that clarifies whether the quality assurance system meets the objectives, is efficient and fit for its purpose. During an audit, objectives and operating results are not analysed as such. Instead, the audit evaluates the processes used by the higher education institution to control and improve the quality of educational and other activities.

Energy audit
An energy audit is an inspection, survey and analysis of energy flows for energy conservation in a building, process or system to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output(s).

Energy audits initially became popular in response to the energy crisis of 1973 and later years. Interest in energy audits has recently increased as a result of growing understanding of human impact upon global warming and climate change.

Auditors of Reality
The Auditors of Reality are fictional godlike beings in Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld series of fantasy novels. They are one of the major recurring villains in the series, although they lack the necessary imagination to be truly evil.

Democratic Audit of Australia

Since 2002 a team at the Australian National University has been conducting Audits to assess Australia’s strengths and weaknesses as a democratic society.

The Audit recognises that democracy is a complex notion, and so applies a detailed set of questions which has already been field-tested in overseas countries.

The values used by the Democratic Audit of Australia as the basis of assessment are:

  • political equality
  • popular control of government
  • civil liberties and human rights
  • the quality of public deliberation

Saint Auditor, Christian martyr of the 4th century.

What’s an Audit?

audit definitions diagram july 5 2010

My job, until the end of October, is to carry out an Environmental Audit on the MCA’s exhibition In the Balance: Art for a Changing World.

Being that kind of guy who likes to start from the beginning, my first task, I reckon, is to tackle the thorny question:

“What is an audit?”

Yesterday on the train to from Petersham to the MCA, without having done any prior research on the subject, I drafted up the above diagram.
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Glenn’s Questions

I’m at the very beginnings of my project, Environmental Audit, for the MCA exhibition In the Balance.

Ever keen to get down to business, curator Glenn Barkley sent me a slab of questions to consider. I’ve posted them below, interspersed with my answers. But first, this punchy little quote Glenn sent through from inventor Saul Griffith:

I know very few environmentalists whose heads aren’t firmly up their ass. They are bold-facedly hypocritical and I don’t think the environmentalism movement as we’ve known it is tenable or will survive. Al Gore has done a huge amount to help this cause, but he is the No.1 environmental hypocrite. His house alone uses more energy than an average person uses in all aspects of life, and he flies prodigiously. I don’t think we can buy the argument anymore that you get special dispensation just because what you are doing is worthwhile.

– Saul Griffith from the article “The Inventor’s Dilemma”, New Yorker, May 17, 2010 (some comments on that article here…)
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