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Art and Ecology









1)‘Culture Declares Emergency’ Dan Harvey and Heather Ackroyd, XR (photo Louisa Buck)

2) ‘Dandelion Burgers’, 2019, Monika Dutta & Jake Harries


3) ’The Vomiter (Ourhouse)’, Nathienel Mellors, 2010, Animatronic sculpture (photo: Box Gallery, LA)



William Ruskin (1819-1900), thinker, critic and artist urged us to make sense of our environment, by directly by observing every detail, being in and studying nature (some of which took place on his walks in Yorkshire).  

The Renaissance, Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau and much contemporary art and design references natural forms in a romantic way. Even Ai Weiwei a romantic himself in his design for the Beijing Olympic Stadium, references nature in ‘Birds Nest’. Like much of his work natural forms involves roots, trees (often up-rooted) and their displacement as both symbol and metaphor for humans, and a structure which Artists across time have layered observation, curiosity, material exploitation and imagination, to explore our place in the world and find meaning. We look at nature, and the nature of ourselves.

could not have been realised without computer aided design and high-tech construction techniques. We sometimes forget that we humans, are also part of the ecology: it is not something out there, but within us. I also believe it is within art's nature to experiment and challenge the status-quo and am very interested in artists that have made a direct connection

A cave painting in Borneo from over 40,000 years ago depicts a bull. Was the unknown artist scribing those images for identification of animals as food (as a utility) or as an appreciation of the beauty of the beast? What pleasure was derived in making those marks?

to nature as part of their process. Joseph Beuys is a critical figure who amongst many things was co-founder of the Green Party in 1973, planting 7,000 oak trees in Kassel in 1983 as an art ‘action’, and was committed to a synergy between environmentalism and art, as a form of social sculpture or activism.

Contemporary artist duo, Dan Harvey and Heather Ackroyd went on to nurture acorns from Beuys’s original oaks and produce ‘Beuys’ Acorns’, a project which would continue his original aims into a new generation of people and trees. They have made art with natural processes at their core and also as the material itself for a lifetime. Last year in 2019, contributed to an extra-ordinary intervention with Extinction Rebellion, at the Tate Modern when they took horses with riders adorned in grown grass clothing into the Turbine Hall (this was unannounced!).

Crazy temperatures, wildfires worldwide, flooding as close as South Yorkshire, (not to mention a shocking lack of action by leaders worldwide) leads artists like others to intervene, beyond ‘normal’, combining art and protest. Tate have subsequently declared climate emergency. This urgency reflects how many of us feel, wanting to be happy
in nature through making small differences whilst at the same time seeing a climate emergency; a mass extinction juggernaut, hurtling towards us, outweighs, our numbers or timespan compared to other species on earth? Would those early people who did the cave drawings have known that their future relatives might go on from hunter gatherers to farmers (or operatives in agri-business), and in so doing, change a relationship to the land in such a way that might possibly lead to the extinction of entire species of plants and animals? We are part of evolution along with a conflicted relationship
to technology as we mutate into cyborgs, most of us glued to artificially intelligent ‘smart’ phones; future humans, prostheticised with memory enhancement and audio visual extentions. Our ‘natural’ environment is of course now as much, ‘human made’ as ‘natural’ we are in the anthroprecene era, (the geologic period dominated by one, [the human] species). This era when the medium (art, music, film, video, publication, social media) would both rely on and become the message itself. Artists have always experimented with materials and technology, from aquamarine pigment derived from grinding lapis lazuli into a powder, as early the 14th Century, acrylic paint and electronic art in the 1960’s, Nano-art and biologically synthesised art in 2020? Science Fiction? No, new media. As science and technology develop for utility, artists re-appropriate and re-invent for other means, asking important philosophical questions and experimenting
with new processes and materials.

Doncaster born Nathaniel Mellors (consumption and robotics), Jakob Steensen (augmented reality & climate change), Morehshin Allahyari (virtuality & politics), Erica Scourti (social media & identity), are some good examples of artists both employing and questioning our relationship to technology, whilst addressing issues of automation, cultural identity and mental health. Yorkshire artists Jake Harries, and Monika Dutta share a strong commitment to hacking technology and permaculture as an alternative to industrialised farming (For every 1 calorie of food produced by modern agricultural methods, 10 calories of fuel are burned in its production). The result is a hybrid art practice in the form of a community café, serving home-made Dandelion Burgers, food and process as artistic medium. Interested in the relationship between modern, urbanised living and individual health and wellbeing, they utilise the current issues of renewables, rewilding, biodiversity, and sustainable food sources as a means of exploring and challenging contemporary approaches to the natural world. So, as many of us walk about glued to our phones, remember we have a choice to stay curious, draw, recycle stuff, go into nature, grow things and have fun, if we are not happy: the ecology is not happy, we are all part of the same ecology and nature. Finally, to quote William Ruskin: “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.”

by Mike Stubbs
              



    VIDEO EDITING



Lockdown has opened our eyes to different ways of making and showing art. Over at The New Fringe, we’ve already had one online exhibition and we’re getting ready for our second. But as artists, it’s testing our technical skills somewhat!

Editing a video for the first time can be a little like your first experience in the bedroom - if done right, it can be very satisfying. But frankly it’s more likely to be off-putting and disappointing. And just like it’s important to find the right partner, it’s also important to find the video editing program that suits you best.

The factor that influences your choice the most is - which device are you using? It’s possible to edit videos on most of them these days, including phones, tablets, and computers. Just to complicate things further, your operating system also winnows down your choices. Generally, you get more options on a computer, and so more chances to be creative. These are the ones I’m covering below.

The basic process for all video editing apps is quite similar - import the video clips, images, and audio files that you want to use, trim them down to just the bits you need, and arrange them on a timeline. Some editors then allow you to add things like special effects, transitions, and text, to give your video a polished look. You can generally save your project while you’re still working on it, but once finished, you usually need to “export” it, which makes a video file that you can share online.

I tried out several free programs for Windows, Mac, and Linux - read on to see the verdict.



Shotcut


(Windows/Linux/Mac)

After trying out several apps on my laptop, this was by far the one I preferred. It has an easy and intuitive layout, and lots of creative options like filters and transitions. The app neatly arranges all these options along icon-based menus, which didn’t leave me scratching my head or Googling for help at any point.

The import process - where you bring in all your bits of video and other things to edit - can be a stumbling block in some apps. In this one, it’s simple and it’s fast. That’s one of two main reasons this app gets my vote. The other one is the filters. Now they’re using the word filter to mean all kinds of different things here - size, position, rotate, brightness, text, fades, colour filters, and even audio effects. You can apply these filters to individual clips, or the whole track on the timeline. Speaking of tracks - it defaults to just one, but you have the option of adding more, so this qualifies as a multitrack editor.
GET SHOTCUT



Video Editor


(Windows 10 only)

This is the standard video editing app that comes with Windows 10 computers. If you’re running an earlier version of Windows, you’ll probably have its predecessor, called Windows Movie Maker, which is quite similar. It’s not available for Mac users I’m afraid, but you’ve got iMovie instead.

I’ve used Video Editor for a few projects before, and it has the advantage of being incredibly simple and user-friendly. If you’re hesitant around technology then I’d suggest this as the one to go for. But of course, it doesn't have the advanced features that you can get in the more sophisticated programs. For me, the main drawback of Video Editor is that you can’t seem to crossfade between clips or images. The audio options are also pretty basic. But for a free app that comes with your PC, it’s not bad at all.
IT'S ALREADY ON YOUR PC



Da Vinci Resolve 


(Windows/Linux/Mac)

When opening up Da Vinci Resolve for the first time, two things struck me right away - one, this is a more sophisticated app than any others, which makes it a steeper learning curve too. The second thing is that although this version of the app is free, they’ve clearly put a lot of effort into ‘selling’ this program, so I’m wondering what the limitations are of the free version, and how aggressively they’re going to try to upsell the paid version.

You can get around this app using either icons or menus, both of which are very small. I have good vision and I’m struggling, so if I had even the slightest impairment I’d be put off by this plethora of tiny options.

This app isn’t for me, and it’s frankly beyond my skillset to explain its features, so the tutorial video here is just one I found on YouTube. But if you’re a serious filmmaker with high technical skill, and you’re looking for a free app that can rival Adobe’s Premiere Pro, I think this might be a contender. Personally though, I’m sticking with Shotcut.
GET DA VINCI RESOLVE



OBS Studio


(Windows/Mac/Linux)

OBS gives you a way to pre-edit before you even make your video, and to save a template for doing that. So, if you want to make multiple videos, it can really cut down the time it takes to do that. If you’ve ever seen people going live on Facebook or YouTube, but somehow it looks like an edited video, chances are, they’re using OBS to make that happen. It’s definitely worth a look.GET OBS STUDIO



Bandicam


(Windows)

This one is great for artists that make digital work, because you can use it to record whatever is on your screen, as well as recording your voice and the audio from your computer at the same time. The free version does have some limitations, though - you only get ten minutes of recording time, and a watermark will appear on your videos. You can remove this with a one-time payment, which is currently $39 USD (about £31 in June 2020). Note that you can do the same thing in the free OBS Studio (above), but Bandicam makes it simpler.GET BANDICAM

by Holland Morrel 



        

   Doncaster  Art Auction





Following last year's terrible flooding, in partnership with the New Fringe we raised over 4,500 pounds, for those flood-affected in Doncaster Borough by selling artworks of all media generously donated by artists from doncaster and further afield.  Many works purchased were peoples first affordable acquisitions for a fiver whilst one sold for more than 800 pounds. This took place at Doncaster Wool Market in November as a response and funds were directed through the South Yorkshire Flood Relief Fund.


         




Thought Piece

   

During this disturbing Covid19 period, time slows down and our perceptions of the world go through a surreal (if unchosen) shift. For those self-isolating, working from home or resting from delivering essential services, our senses have heightened and we observe that around us through fresh eyes

In absence of traffic, we hear birds sing so acutely, and may have the time to differentiate their shrill tones. Watching a squirrel from a window and observing how it ‘knew’ the branch to which it leapt, could afford its weight, not only reminds heightens observation itself, but is a metaphor for the symbiotic relationship between different species co-existing in the same eco-system. We are part of the ecology as are the squirrels and the trees.

In critical moments, what do our fresh eyes reveal to us about humans place in the world and nature as we count and grieve ? What do we learn about our society which we would like to change or re-imagine as we hang onto these changed perceptions awaiting a supposed ‘new normal’ ?

by Mike Stubbs