The Angry Blue Planet 

The Harrisons urge us to think big, and globally, now.

The Copenhagen summit may have fallen somewhat flat, but there's little time for teeth-gnashing and garment-rending. Certainly Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, stalwart eco-artists who have focused on global warming since 1974, are unshaken. Their multimedia art-and-consciousness-raising project, Green House Britain and the Force Majeure, marshals an impressive barrage of maps, text, models, and digital animations to present both the unpleasantness that will result from our inaction and thoughtful proposals to save the planet, even now.

Force majeure is a legal term for unforeseeable, irresistible "acts of god" (fire, flood, earthquake). Within the Harrisons' context, that superior force is anthropogenic global warming, with its attendant horrors — rising sea levels, changing weather, disruptions to agriculture and commerce, social dislocation, and resource wars. The prosecution's evidence is impressive. "On the Island of Britain: The Rising of Waters" is a painted plywood relief model of Britain onto which video projectors paint dynamic storm surges. "In Defense of Bristol" is a digital animation proposing the construction of an Avon Gorge dam to protect the city from flooding. "The World Ocean Is a Great Draftsman," a wall relief, posits a Great Britain gradually diminished by various rising sea levels in five-meter increments (pick your favorite archipelago!). "The Mountain in the Greenhouse" is a digital animation outlining the upward migration of alpine plant species as glaciers melt. "Tibet is the High Ground, Part II: The Force Majeure" illustrates the drainage basin of seven Himalayan rivers, home to 1.2 billion people in ten countries, also threatened by glacier melt. "In the Sacramento San Joaquin Drain Basin: The Force Majeure" shows how a three-meter water rise changes coastlines from the San Francisco Bay to Sacramento.

There is a bright side, however: "On the Upward Movement of People: A New Pennine Village" and "The Lea Valley: On the Upward Movement of Planning" are designs for ecologically rational settlements set within "upland streams/riparian habitat/with little dew ponds ... a new form in the British landscape mosaic." "On Eco-Civility: The Vertical Promenade" imagines a "vertical village" of sail-like white spires (designed by the architectural firm ATOPIA), a self-sustaining, funicular-equipped "homeostatic community" that will end the "social alienation of Big Box Buildings." An artists' conversation with Peter Selz takes place on January 30; a panel discussion on environmental art, moderated by Susannah Hays, takes place on February 20; see web site for specifics. Green House Britain and the Force Majeure runs through February17 at Kala Gallery (2990 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley). 510-841-7000 or Kala.org

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Latest in Visual Art

  • Getting to Know You

    Collective Stories at Mercury 20 showcases small works by local artists that form a dynamic narrative.
    • Dec 24, 2014
  • Border Crossings

    As part of the artistic production MobileInTent, Oakland artist Ann Schnake staged a spatial intervention at the U.S.-Mexico border with collaborators from Berlin and Guadalajara.
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Sweater Weather

    Carson Fisk-Vittori and Anna Sagström explore our warped relationships with nature in their new show Hard Weather at Et al.
    • Nov 26, 2014
  • More »

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

  • Free Will Astrology

    Horoscopes for the week of December 25–31, 2014.
  • Only the Lonely

    How to make it through the lonely holidays.
  • Zines of Anarchy

    This weekend, both the East Bay's Alternative Book and Zine Fest and Anarchist Conversation and Book Fair are back, offering counterculture publications, art, and discussion.
  • Gender Solid

    On keeping up with gender identities, and supporting an asexual teen.
  • Quickies

    Dan answers audience questions from a live podcast taping at the Neptune.

Arts & Culture Blogs

Culture Spy -

Crucial Local Music of 2014

Culture Spy -

The Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

What the Fork -

Best Bites of 2014

More from the Blogs

Special Reports

Holiday Guide 2014

Your guide to the best gifts, gadgets, toys, music, and books of the year; plus holiday food and drink, snow sports, winter getaways, and more.

Taste, Fall 2014

Everything you need to know about dining in and out in the East Bay.

© 2014 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation