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Re: <nettime> "We Wont Fly for Art" pledge....
marc garrett on Tue, 16 Jun 2009 17:13:29 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> "We Wont Fly for Art" pledge....

Hi Flick & all,

Thanks for your response & I apologise for not getting back to you
sooner. It has been rather busy here in the UK with various projects
needing time, for instance the opening of Feral Trade Cafà by Kate Rich
at furtherfield.org's HTTP Gallery this weekend -
http://www.http.uk.net/exhibitions/FeralTradeCafe/index.shtml - An
excellent turn out. Thankfully, it was a beautiful sunny day.

Firstly, I agree and disagree with your comment "gotta be rich in the
first place to think like dat." I'm sure you're not including myself in
this equation as 'rich', If one makes an effort in trying to choose
alternative forms of travel instead of plane flights (which are
extremely cheap) it is almost impossible. I know from personal
experience how difficult it is. I was asked to go to Italy for a
conference and I had by then signed up to the pledge âwewontflyforartâ
by this time. I checked to see how I could get there and how much it
would cost - it was 3 times more expensive than if I had gone by plane.

Now, we are not just talking about our precious money here, we are also
talking about our precious time. If I had gone by plane it woild have
taken between 2-3 hours in actual flight, in total about 7 - 8 hours if
we include customs, boarding and getting to the airport. The alternative
route would of taken 28 hours, which of involved sleeping on a train,
travelling across the sea by boat or train from the channel tunnel. So,
yes it is difficult when faced with everything all geared up towards
people having to choose plane travel due to it being quicker and cheaper.

The âwewontflyforartâ project is meant to highlight our dependency not
say that we are bad. There was much discussion about the project on the
Netbehaviour.org list a little while back, when it all started. It was,
as you can imagine quite a heated debate. One important thing to note is
that generally within an art context, the dialogue of how we as artists,
curators, academics deal with it personally in our own everyday lives
has not actually been that deeply explored. Yes, as a subject for all to
look at, at a distance or an object has been considered many times, but
not as a question which explores the actual significance and relevance
of the art-world infrastructures and its dependencies on air travel,
more deeply.

21 people share the pledge with us who have decided to - not fly for
their art, and this means that there are 21 less flying for 6 months. A
small number not flying and not contributing to the greater sum of our
planet's downfall. If that just so happened to be a much larger amount
of people what complexities and influences would it contribute to the
issues around climate change? What would it do to the infrastructural
dependency in regard to the regular influx of visitors, travellers for
international conferences and the institutions that rely on them?

Can media artists, curators, academics and peer collaborators take on
the challenge to (collectively) put forward alternatives that not only
offer proposals to change 'real' things in our everyday lives, but also
offer the world possible routes out of this complexity in which there is
'actual' serious engagement allowing room for a culture to thrive,
expand and grow into a more environmentally conscious, responsible and
workable way of surviving, around and within these art related
frameworks? One of the reasons we put the project out there was not
because we had a solution. but because we knew that we all had a
problem, and a problem shared is problem aired, scuze the pun ;-)

>From furtherfield, only Ruth Catlow and myself decided to go through
with the pledge so we opened it up for others to see if they wished to
also grapple with the issue. The call was made within the social
utility, Pledgebank; to collectively intervene in the workings and
relations of international art infrastructure in the context of an
environmental crisis. By nature the digital network supports both
exponential growth and diffusion: action, discussion and deflection.
Responses describe the range of pressures experienced by artists and
institutions as they grapple with the economic and social demands and
implications of the pledge. They reveal an array of biases,
contradictions and alternative approaches already being developed.

Here are a few responses to the âwewontflyforartâ project from the
Netbehaviour list.
In total, there are 100 statements and they can be found here -

1) This is too challenging. Artists will always choose their careers
over the planet's safety.

9) While personal action has a role to play in motivating collective
change, your emphasis on the carbon footprint of individuals is problematic.

10) Anthropogenic climate change is primarily caused by the production,
energy and transportation systems imposed by a heirarchical economic
system designed to generate private profit for capitalists & governments
who also control decision making processes.

13) Those responsible for building an economy of overproduction need to
be held to account. I did not design the public transportation system,
nor did you.

22) What can I do? Stop showing art? Stop making physical installations,
move my work online, quit those responsibilties that require me to be
physically present somewhere else?

30) One of the main problems is that flight (to conferences, exhibitions
etc) equates to success; perhaps this will change in the future.

31)Some thrive by travelling the world to conferences and having
exhibitions everywhere, whilst there are those who rarely travel.
Perhaps, some re-evalution process will allow the smaller groups or
individuals to be seen as equal in the future, if things change, doubt
it though ; (

36) Aeroplane travel is necessary to the lives of artists living in
places like New Zealand and Iceland- both for importing cultural
diversity and in order to earn a living and get feedback and critique
for their work

37) It's easier for those in highly populated areas to imagine doing
without long-haul flights.

46) I don't fly because I can't afford to, but it's very painful to have
to pass on opportunities to actually meet those bundles of text out
there and to have a warm human interpersonal experience and see what
others are up to.

53) I assume long haul flights are less harmful than short flights. But
how does travel by bus really compare to flying if you factor in the
number of passengers and all of the fuel used to maintain the roads.

59) If your local scene is a bit flat perhaps you should put energy into
revitalising the local scene rather than surfing for cheap flights to
new york.

62) Only so much can be done via the internet and, as has been pointed
out, that is possibly a false economy anyway (bandwidth has a carbon
footprint too).

63) The creative arts are international and should be, people everywhere
should be able to place their work before global audeinces and those
audiences able to access art from anywhere.

64) Won't this mean a return to a time when we were all provincial and
could only see as far as our own local interest, as far as our own nose?

74) everyone else is finally going net....newspapers, stores, banks
etc.....so why is it the art world is backing off.....?

75) I would love to meet others....in person...Why haven't we all
developed easier ways to meet up send files, do chats, play here from
where we are...I would be overjoyed to not travel.....to have more
venues and exhibitions (funded ones) that allow us to simply send files,
do chats, and play here...where we type.mouse.

85) The global carbon habit was seeded in the UK through the techniques
and processes of industrialisation. We need to understand the
consequences of for the future or our actions today.

86) We need to broaden the frame of action and influence, to stay alert
to the complex interrelations of all manner of things and processes
across time and space.

much thanks.


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