This conference explored engagements between visual art and the material environment. The environments in question are various: natural and fabricated, interior and exterior, urban and rural, and include a range of sites, spaces, places and landscapes. The visual arts in question are historical and contemporary and in a range of media.
The conference considered how the making and meaning of artworks engage with various environments, in time and space, with events, processes and narratives of environmental development, including those before and beyond current framings of global climate change. Art and Environment explored issues for the history, theory and practice of art and for aesthetics, criticism and design, and more widely for ways environments are experienced, described, imagined and created. The conference considered relations between arts and humanities approaches to the environment and other forms of knowledge and practice, including science and policy, in wide ranging cultural reflections and speculations on the place of art in the material world and its transformations.
The conference began on 25th June with a session on 'The Future of Landscape and the Moving Image'. An enlightening opening by Iain Sinclair was followed by the Future of Landscape project team in conversation with clips shown from Robinson in Ruins the soon to be released film by Patrick Keiller.
The next day consisted of five themed panels:
Panel 1: Spectacle and Space
Panel 2: Imaginative Geographies
Panel 3: History and Memory
Panel 4: Waste and Wastelands
Panel 5: Weather and Atmosphere
The panels were made up of a range of experts in the field: artists, curtors, authors and academic researchers, including art historians and cultural geographers.
The event was hosted by Tate Britain who are a major award holder in the Landscape and Environment Programme.
The conference was well attended over the one and a half days. Here are a few delegate comments following the conference:
I came out of every session with some new set of problems to think about and discuss, as did many of the other delegates with whom I spoke.
I thought it was a terrifically stimulating conference, with some excellent panels and a good mix of artists/academics on each.
The structure I found very good as was the organization. I felt like the panels were the right length and there was some good engagement with the audience. I also felt like the event in general was well-managed without being heavy-handed. The atmosphere was good and it seemed fairly easy to chat to people in a relatively informal way.
...the content, structure, organisation and atmosphere were all very good. the balance of artists/academics worked really well. it felt open and inviting and I had interesting conversations in the breaks and made some good contacts which I've followed up.
The level of debate was of a high standard and appropriate to the research projects undertaken.