Thursday, December 27, 2007

Green Art

Here's the clandestine work of a group of environmental artists in the UK. I especially like "Moss Graffitti" and "Secret Worlds". Create a "moss paste" and paint a message or artwork onto a wall or a building - eventually your message will appear and last until the moss colony expands and/or takes over.

OR - Create delicate little interventions in public places for others to discover. Here's a little farm crafted into the side of an old brick wall along a public sidewalk. Imagine being the first to discover such a little landscape in a forgotten crack of a building? If I had created it, it would be hard not to stand watch seeing the reactions of people who discover it. Thanks to Megan for this site! This work reminds me of an urban (albeit more kitschy) version of Andy Goldsworthy - who must endure that most of his natural sculpture of twigs and leaves and rocks and water disappears into the wilds of nature once photographed.
Or: Check these folks out -
This club goes around and fixes up forgotten landscape areas - with or without permission - in order to beautify a neglected planting bed, discourage littering, and encourage care and community ownership. There are cases of some of their "secret" interventions being noticed by local residents who take over the care and maintenence of the tulips or sunflowers they start, including these kids who caught the guerilla gardeners planting sunflowers, but then decided to get in on the act right alongside. Cool!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The World Without Us

I love the concept of this book, "The World Without Us". What would happen to the world if all of humanity left the planet? What would happen immediately? What would revert after a thousand years? According to author Alan Weisman, New York City's subways would flood within 2 days, its streets would collapse within 2 years, and Manhattan island would revert to a forest within 500 years. Apparently, he's got the science to back it up. I haven't read this yet, but am currently waiting my turn, and I truly enjoyed the website. Check it out!

How unlike this scientific perspective is from Spielberg's vision of a flooded Manhattan in "A.I.", which includes 15 to 20 stories of buildings, including the World Trade Center, sticking up out of the ocean, some few hundred years from now. How sad and ironic that it didn't take any such thing as global warming to do in those particular buildings. (BTW - Wouldn't tidal forces make quick work of any of these buildings? Think of all of the weight of the water. I'd give 'em mere weeks to remain upright, not centuries. And: were the creatures that re-encounter the perfectly preserved Haley Joel Osment cyborg boy a super-evolved humanity, our own super-evolved self-replicated robots, or extra-planetary visitors? - but I digress...) Things fall apart; atrophy reigns. But in the case of the environment, does healing takes place? I feel a Kansas song coming on. Or perhaps another annual run through Ecclesiastes.

On a related note: my friend Craig just sent me this link where we can witness the sort of atrophy that Weisman surmises would happen if buildings were simply left completely alone. The current article of WebUrbanist takes us to 7 abandoned sites and sees the way nature has already taken over, in some cases a mere 20 years since humanity left the site. This REALLY makes me want to go exploring.

Some of you who know me well - know that I am a huge fan of the subgenre of science fiction labeled as "Dying Earth" - especially Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" and Jack Vance's "Tales from Dying Earth". In both of these series, history hardly exists anymore because it has become ubiquitous. On a world so old that wherever you dig, every shovelful of earth turns up some unknown relic of the past, how do you track or explore or classify history? A relic becomes not a rare find; the ground itself is the Relic. The whole world becomes the museum - a museum can't contain it all.
I already am experiencing a strange quirk of this "overflowing container" effect in my own life. I'm guessing that we've already taken so much video of our kids (only 2 and 4 years old) that with all of the other things I will have to do for the rest of my life, I already question whether or not I will live long enough to ever watch it all.