40°, 73° Brooklyn, New York

On October 5th, Amy participated in a panel discussion at the Canary Project in Brooklyn. The event was titled 40°, 73°: WORKS AT THE INTERSECTION OF ART & ECOLOGY and the selection was juried by Tricia Watts of ecoartspace, Nathan Elbogen, Director of XO Project, Marisa Jahn, artist and co-founder of Pond: art, activism and ideas, Jeffrey Kastner editor at Cabinet Magazine and Ed Morris founder of the Canary Project.

The panel discussion included, Amy Lipton of ecoartspace, artists Charles Goldman and Paul Benney discussing their public fountain project, Adopt-le-Font, Andrea Williams from The New York Society for Acoustic Ecology (NYSAE) and Tom Angotti, Director, Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development. A film was screened of Benoît Maubrey’s One Week in the Life of a Solar Ballerina. Ed Morris from the Canary Project moderated the discussion.

What became clear in the presentation and following discussion was the connecting thread of sound in all three public projects. Though he was not mentioned publicly, John Cage was clearly the historical antecedent to these projects, most particularly in NYSAE’s “Sound Walks”, hour-long walks throughout various places in Brooklyn where participants can listen to the environment and become aware of of the immediate surroundings. Audience members who had been on the sound walks spoke about their experience in terms of how relaxing and slowed down time became, how they enjoyed the quiet sounds of weather and crickets and how unusual this was in a normally noisy urban environment. Tom Angotti spoke about sound in terms of noise pollution due to a lack of regulation and enforcement in NYC. In extreme contrast to this were Benoit Maubrey’s Solar Ballerinas. Though effective as social sculpture and aesthetically interesting and visually provocative, the sound effects produced little more than irritating noise. The audience seemed anxious for the noise to end. How much more effective this performance would have been, if the sound produced literally reflected real sounds of the natural environment and drew a connection to this artist’s innovative use of solar cells mounted on plastic tutus. Instead it was sonic feedback. Most interesting and effective were Goldman and Benney’s fountains. These works brought focus to recycling by using every day consumer industrial materials, stacked 5-gallon plastic buckets with tubing and water. The fountains set up on the Brooklyn street in front of their respective adoptee’s homes, create a temporary commons and social space for dialogue, engagement and entertainment. The fountain’s adoptee becomes an active steward whose performance or maintenance sustains the project. I spoke with Goldman briefly about the project’s continuing life and the possibility of longer- term adoptions. Stay tuned to hear more about that.