Monday, March 9, 2009

Van Sprang strikes again!

Patty van Sprang has replied my previous post on her own new blog with a thesis called 
I like it! I would be quite happy being called "one of those Satartists" However, as I explained on her site and my previous post I will hang on to Google Earth Art as a title for my blog. Anyone else care to join the debate?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It seems that names are going to be what this blog is about - so far. It's been a while since my first (and last) post, I was a little too busy. But there's a chalenge out there I must meet. On my Google Earth Art site I received a reply from Australian GE artist called Patty van Sprang. She agrees that us satellite image- inspired artists are forming the likes of a new movement. I would love to agree with her!  Hovewer, how do you call such a movement? A question which is closely linked to the name giving question in my previous post. Patty put forward a few ideas, here's her original comment.
And here's my first reaction:
  • Creatism: sounds too much like creationism, something I certainly don't want to be associated with! To me Charles Darwin was the greatest scientist ever, and certainly part of my inspiration. Apart from that: I don't really understand the idea behind the name. All artists create one thing or another don't they?
  • Urbanism: I would accociate this with man- built things, buildings, city's, cars, etc. I'm interested in these things, but mostly in relation to the rest of the planet. What is our impact on the planet, and will we survive the changes (in climate, loss of biodiversity, loss of foodproduction capability, etc). The term Urbanism doesnt cover all that.
  • Planetism: That's a good short and powerfull phrase. I like it. However, in my opinion it's not enough to just like a name: it also has to be pretty much unique, so I checked the internet and came up several interpretations:
" A planetist, on the other hand, puts the Earth ahead of the earthlings -places society's responsibility for the individual ahead of the individual's responsibility for himself. The planetist sees the world whole, as if from space; this ultimate outsider discerns global danger with great certainty and demands supranational solutions at any cost to avert nothing less than extinction." 

"In Economism or Planetism,  John B. Cobb, Jr. (Herman Daly's coauthor in For the Common Good, Beacon Press, 1989) suggests that it is time to reassess our current "non-ideology ideology" of consumerism. Cobb argues that we ought to address both consumption and production as part of a broader whole that interrelates the human economy with the larger natural economy functioning in the biosphere. One aim is to encourage values in addition to, and sometimes in conflict with, consumerism-especially those associated with human community and a sense of belonging to the larger world."

"Planetism is the idea that Earth is a organism, where plants and animal species make up the different oragnisms and individual animals make up the cells. It continues on like this in an analogy to the human body. For instance, the plantlife would be the respiratory system, bacteria and fungi would be the digestive system, and viruses and disease could be the white blood cells, I geuss. The other part of this idea, perhaps the most interesting part, is that the human race could be the reproductive system. We humans are likely going to take plantlife and animal life to other planets, to make them hospitable, and thus create new Earths."

"This is not the end of capitalism as we know it. With the right political will and social conscience, it is the beginning of a planetism as we need it"

"Planetist values are the values we need to create sustainable prosperity and a sustainable society on Spaceship Earth"

Some personal observations on these quotes: The term Planetism has been used in the past with several different meanings, our relation to the planet is in one way or another part of it. Most of these quotes are quite old (late 1980's early 90's) and seem a little out-dated. The term Planetism isn't used much lately if Goolging for the word is any measure. The quote about the planet as an organism is usually refered to as "Gaiaism" these day's. Gaiaism is quite a different philosophy to "spaceship earth", also quoted. The spaceship earth idea sees the planet as no more than an inert carrier of life, whereas Gaia theory (and an increasing body of scientific evidence) shows that life is impossible without the complex interaction between life and the biosphere. Gaia theory is certainly part of my inspiration. My problem with the word Gaia is that it has been hyjacked by the New Age movement (or whatever they like to call themselves these days). I don't believe in elves, pixies, healings or reincarnation. I don't mind if people do, it's just that I don't want to be associated with such ideas.

  • Environmentalism
I've called myself an environmentalist for over 30 years, but my Guru James Lovelock has made me rethink about this. James Lovelock of course is not a Guru but a scientist who had a revolutionalry new idea: the earth is is a living system controling things like the climate, the acidity of the seas, etc. In other words, the creator of the Gaia theory. Much like Charles darwin before him, his ideas were not taken very seriously by the academic world when he first put them forward. Although his theory and its concequences) are still contraversial, climate research has found several of his predictions from theory to actually exist in nature. I am convinced James Lovelock will be remembered by future generations as one of the great scientists of the 20th (and 21st) century. Well, I intend to write more about the ideas of my hero, but for the sake of this argument I would like to repeat what he says about environmentalism. Environmentalism (being green as a way of life) is not enough. We should look at the bigger picture and take drastic measures, just so that we can survive. There's simply too many people on this planet already, so we have to find ways of decreasing our impact on the atmosphere and biodiversity FAST. If this means we have to use nuclear energy untill we can harness enough solar power, than so be it: the hazards are far less than that of climate change. It also means we have to stop destroying and start regenerating ecosystems which serve vital functions of the planetary ecosystem. The consequence is that we have to make do with less space to grow our food and other crops. We might not be able to afford the luxury of bio-organic farming: there's not enough space, instead we might be forced to intensify our industrial farming methods. Well, I hope Lovelock is wrong about this, but I should certainly take heed of what he is saying. So the term environmentalism just doenst do it for me any more. Other than that the term is used by many others, so it might not make much of an impression as an art movement.
  • Preservationism
Preservationist is probably a reasonably accurate description of what I stand for. However, it has the same practical draw-back as environmentalism: it's already being used extensively by others. An other draw-back is that is basicly a conservative idea: keep what you have. With the oncoming climate change preservation just won't work: species that belong in one climate will be forced to migrate towards the poles as the planet heats up. We need a planet wide approach to preservation, and a new name to go with it.
Getting back to the question of a good name for our new art movement, so far "Planetism" scores best in my book. But I have one or two of my own to add to the list:
  • Gaiaism
I would love to honour James Lovelock in naming our art movement after his brilliant idea, but I've already discussed the draw-backs. In his latest book "The revenge of Gaia"  Lovelock makes his peace with those that embrace Gaia as the new religion. That would seem a decent gesture, but it also means that Gaiaism is quickly associated with a new religion rather than a science, let alone a new form of art. I have nothing against such a new religion, but I would rather have a movement that is free of any religios dogma's, however sympathetic they may be.
  • Satellism
I believe the term "satellite art" is probably the most used for the sort of art we make. Must we have an "ism"? Satellism sound weird, and aparantly has something to do with a rare blood desease. No good, I guess. So why not just keep
  • Satellite Art
I have no answer to the question about isms. Not all new art is called some sort of ism (COBRA for instance), so why not keep Satellite Art? For me it has a few small draw backs. Satellites could be seen as being a little cold (somewhere near absolute zero in fact), distant and detached. My art is emotional and hot. In fact, before I started painting Google Earths, I called my paintings "emotional landscapes". Google Earth Art is a crying out, a wake- up call, not a distant observation. 
  • Google Earth Art
I chose "Google Earth Art" over "satellite art" because of the freedom Google Earth creates. Any-one with a computer and internet can use it to go anywhere on the planet. Satellite images are not new, specialised companies were putting out satellite images years ago. Of course an artist could have chosen to make his own interpretation. But is was someone else who made the original shot. With Google Earth you as the artist can chose what shot you take, from which hight, angle, position, etc. So Google Earth as a programme is an essential tool for the artist, just like a camera for the photographer. What you do with the image is your own choice as an artist. You could just print it, or you could interpret it and make it your own by painting (digitally or physically) or moulding or whatever. My other reason for chosing Google Earth Art is the importance of the internet in connecting us people to each other. Google Earth is in my mind the first step to connecting us to our planet. And that is what my art (our art may I say) is all about!
  • GE-ism or GEA-ism
You could of course start looking for letter combinations comparable to COBRA, stick ism on the end or what not. Well, that's fine with me, but not up to me. In many cases its been outsiders who have coined the name (the first use of the term "Impressionism" was certainly not meant as a complement....). 
I hope this gets readers to reply. I'm all for a Movement with a great new name!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Google Earth Philosophy

For those who follow my other blog: Goolge Earth Art , this new blog won't come as a surprise. They will know Google Earth is both a source of inspiration and a tool to make my particular kind of art. Maybe they 'll have explored the art of fellow Google earth artists from the included links. They may have read the short bits of information, ideas, etc. accompanying my paintings. Of course a picture says more than a thousand words, but I can't help it: I just have to write about it as well. And I'd love to discuss my ideas with those of other people interested in the planet we live on. My practical problem was that all those words would clog my art blog. Being pretty much an amature when it comes to building websites, I could'nt find a way of just adding a separate page to my blog. So the practical solution is to start a new blog and just keep on linking the two. It still amazes me that I can do all this for free, zilch, nothing at all. Good on you Google!

So there's my practical reason for starting this blog. For me however, that's  not good enough. For a start: why not just add a new thread on the Google Earth Community? Why call it "Google Earth Philosophy" when it could for instance be: "Earth Philosophy", "Deep thoughts concerning Gaia" or "Landscape art at the end of the earth as we know it". 

Well for one, I'm not going to give all the answers right away. Give me  some time!
More important; I hope to start a real discussion, I hope you will react. In fact, if you're interested in becoming an author on my blog, please let me know! To be continued.......