Camille Turner reports on the upcoming Subtle Technologies Festival June 4-6

We're fast approaching my fav time of the year, Subtle Technologies, June 4 - 6. I've been involved in this annual festival since its inception in 1996. It attracts some of the most innovative artists, scientists and thinkers from around the world started as an intimate weekend gathering hosted by an arts collective at InterAccess Gallery in Toronto. We were inspired by a project initiated by one of our members who after returning from visiting several ancient sacred sites, wanted to collaborate with us to build one in Toronto. She shared her excitement and wonder, noting that the sacred sites were built with the latest technologies of their time, some of which have now been lost. We wondered what the latest technologies were of our time.

With seed funding from the programming committee at InterAccess, we invited scientists and technologists to inform us and the
Subtle Technologies Festival was born. Our very first weekend event in 1996 was a magical meeting of minds. It was small, intimate, exciting. We had potluck dinners and discussions over pints of beer. We felt like we were at the centre of the universe, rediscovering lost parts of ourselves and discussing issues that were vital to the planet.

Fourteen years later, the festival is still alive with the sense of awe and wonder guided by our original mission. This year the theme is Sustainability. From June 4 - 6 noted presenters will converge on Toronto to share their work and rub shoulders with attendees in an intimate and friendly atmosphere.

Here are a few of the highlights of this year's fest...

Junk to Juice DIY power generation on the cheap May 29th & 30th, 12pm – 5pm at OCAD Learn how to make you own electricity using generators built from trash. The generators will run off simple, non-polluting, sources, such as waste heat and wind. This workshop is by Hacket, director of The Madagascar Institute

Contingent Ecologies May 22 to June 12, 2010. Opening – June 4, 2010.
Unconventional thinkers create the future in this exhibition of build environments in public space curated by myself,
Camille Turner, and Michael Alstad.

In Water Colours, an art and science boat cruise Saturday, June 5th 7:30PM to midnight Come and party with us as we rock the boat with the sparkling Toronto skyline as backdrop. Festivities include a recital by Gordon Monahan on his new instrument, the “Sauerkraut Synthesizer” and Zev Asher performing a documentary film starring his body. The voyage will be the vessel for a program of video and sound art chosen to reflect concerns for the water in and below us.

Community Day Sunday, June 6, 2010 Learn how to create a do-it-yourself garden to grow your own food! See an exciting documentary about two linguist adventurers searching for lost languages! Play in the mud with our interactive seed bombing activity! Explore, create and learn!

Hope to see you at the festival!

You can follow Subtle on Twitter @SubtleTech
or fan them on

Here's a video from last year's fest.

Camille Turner is a Toronto-based artist and cultural producer who uses media and performance to build bridges across cultures and differences. She is a curator with the Subtle Technologies Festival.


What Matters Most? 2010 benefit wrap up

It's hard to believe almost an entire month has passed since our NYC benefit. It was a whirlwind month with exhibitions in three spaces simultaneously as well as two evening events. First for the What Matters Most? exhibition at Exit Art we began hanging the show on April 13th with 200 works which grew to 290 before the final sale date of April 28th. We hung the show in rows of 2 but ended up with a few salon style walls. The works were amazingly diverse and interesting. Some addressed the NY Times dot earth question that we posted to initiate the project - others were more generally about nature and/or art's relationship with nature - and the range encompassed every medium from pencil drawings, watercolors and oil paintings to 3D objects in ceramics and metal - to photography and video. We were genuinely overwhelmed with the generosity of the donating artists and the amount of time and effort that went into creating their beautiful and inspiring works of art.

Midway through
the exhibition, ecoartspace presented a free evening of programs at Exit Art which included the documentary film Crude:The Real Price of Oil by Joe Berlinger, a gripping film about the ongoing and protracted legal battle between Texaco/Chevron and a small community of Ecuadorian indigenous people. Their lands and water have been polluted by these oil companies with high instances of cancer and disease in the local population. Following the screening, artist Jackie Brookner delivered a needed uplifting lecture about the relationship between humans and the natural world with many provocative images. She also read from her recent book, Urban Rain published in conjunction with a major public art project of the same name in San Jose, CA. Closing the evening, Elizabeth Thompson, Director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, presented images and information about the Buckminster Fuller Challenge finalists. The inspirational Challenge finalists project proposals range from natural water irrigation systems, monitoring air pollution, creating neighborhood local food economies, and reversing desertification of the world's savannas and grassland. On June 2nd the BFI Challenge winner will be announced and given the deserved $100,000.00 cash prize to work towards implementation of their proposal.

The following week, for the ecoartspace closing evening party and sale, we hosted over 150 guests who purchased 45 artworks, enjoyed delicious food, IZZE sodas (all donated), wine and beer at the Exit Art underground bar and music by David Rothenberg and Ben Neill in the adjacent theater/lounge. The Exit Art staff were supremely helpful and gracious with their time throughout the 2 week exhibition and during the party. All in all - it was a monumental effort for which we raised nearly $10,000 (not bad for a first time event)!

At the same time, over at Chashama at W. 44th St, ecoartspace sponsored another exhibition by the Habitat for Artists (HFA) team titled "Recycling the Studio." In this very high trafficked block (which was closed off to vehicles the night of the opening) passersby could wander in and experience a mini artist's studio (habitat) with an opening window that looked out to 44th Street, as well as an art exhibition by 15 artists involved with the HFA project including mainstays Simon Draper, Todd Sargood and Chris Manning. Wall Street Journal writer Wendy Bounds spent a day inside the habitat blogging about her experience.

At the opposite end of Manhattan in Battery Park City, another ecoartspace sponsored project was on view as part of the World Financial Arts program. Artists Suzanne and Mathilde Husky installed their miniature "bonsai tree" installation titled Forest, sculptures made from sewn used and recycled clothing. It was installed in a long bank of storefront windows in the World Financial Winter Garden where thousands of people stroll through everyday during their lunch break or as visitors to the riverfront walkway just outside. It was exciting for us and for the artists to be involved in such high profile venues and in conjunction with other 40th anniversary Earth Day celebrations.

Last but not least some nice press and listings f
or the event:

NY Times Dot Earth blog

The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts
Earth Day New York
DadaMail/Exit Art
Hybrid Press
Wall St. Journal on
HFA at Chashama
The Metro NYC on Forest at
World Financial
NYC loves NYC on Forest

images from top to bottom:
installation view of What Matters Most? at Exit Art
David Rothenberg and Ben Neill in performance at Exit Art
Wendy Bounds reporting from Chashama
Forest at World Financial Center


Critical Messages: Exhibition UPDATE by guest blogger Deanna Pendell

Twenty-six contemporary Northwest artists respond to environmental concerns in Critical Messages, curated by Sarah Clark-Langager. Familiar leaders in environmental art, such as Buster Simpson and Chris Jordan, join with emerging artists in Clark-Langager’s invitational exhibit in the Western Gallery at Western Washington University (Bellingham); the exhibit will also travel to the Hallie Ford Museum in Willamette, Oregon, and the Boise Art Museum in Idaho.

Most of the work takes a light touch to the issues, using beauty or even humor to drive home the poignant messages. American Romantic landscape traditions haunt the paintings, prints, and photographs, as fine craftsmanship clashes ironically with subject matter.

The sculptural works are more inquisitive, particularly John Grade’s “Collector." The elegant forms were anchored in seawater for 16 months to grow harvestable oysters and seaweed, then bolted to the front-end of a truck and driven for a thousand miles, then mounted for birds to pick clean.

Vaughn Bell’s “P
ersonal Biospheres,” (wearable ecosystems for one person), Karen Rudd’s “Last Stand” (enormous tree stumps made from cardboard), and Susan Robb’s “Signal Transduction” (electronics which mimic the communications used by plants) are also highlights from this astute survey of works.

Submitted by guest blogger Deanna Pindell who makes ecologically-focused installations and public art. Portfolio and daily eco-art postings at: www.facebook.com


Images/Poster from the recent NYC Benefit for ecoartspace at Exit Art Underground


Go to the What Matters Most Blog to see images of many fantastic works
still available for sale - ONLY $150


Inhabitat report on ecoartspace NYC Benefit 2010


ECO ART: New York Times’ Dot Earth and Ecoartspace Ask ‘What Matters Most?’ 05/01/10