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About the course:
In this lesson, Es underscores the need for sustainable art and the importance of using art to communicate imperative truths. She talks about some of the many ways she is starting to incorporate sustainability into her work.
I would say that if you are at a conference full of designers, and you ask them all, please put your hand up if you want more stuff, nobody will put their hand up. And yet, every designer goes home and designs more stuff. In 2013, I read a book called “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein. And she begins the book by saying, we think about climate change, and then we don’t. We think about it again, and then we don’t. And as the years have progressed between 2013 and now, the intervals between thinking about climate change have grown shorter for all of us, I think, and specifically for people who make stuff and for people who make stuff internationally and travel to make stuff and then send stuff around the planet. And designers want to design systems that are beautiful. They don’t want to design systems that are destructive to their environment. And yet, there is a contradiction. The invitation to make anything is in itself an invitation to contribute to the problem which we’re all in. So how does a designer deal with that? That’s become an ever more burning question to me, and I think to pretty much every designer that I know.
In my practice, I start from ideas. The ideas lead to geometry, and finally the geometry leads to material choices. And what I’ve begun to do– and it’s been a big shift for me as I think it will be for you and for so many other designers– trying to take this step, what if you start from the materials first? And you make your choices based on materials that are considered in terms of the beginning, the middle, and the end of their lifespan. And as designers, we work to parameters. You give me a parameter. I’ll work to it. If you tell me my stage is this wide, and there’s a concrete wall here, and I can’t go beyond it, I’ll respect the concrete wall. If you gave me the parameter that I need to not only design a touring show that will blow your mind, but it needs to be entirely carbon neutral, if that were my parameter, then surely I and all my colleagues would work to that parameter as we do to so many other challenging and difficult parameters. So what we’ve tried to do in the studio is set ourselves new parameters. Do a carbon audit on our practice. Really look down the barrel. Instead of having this fearful sense of a black, ominous stack of information that we’re waiting to discover about the trace that we leave, look down the barrel of it. There are plenty of people who can offer this service who will come into your studio. And there are actually things you can find online that will help you calculate that. Just look at it honestly. How much carbon did my practice deposit? And what do I need to do a, to diminish it and b, where I can’t diminish it to offset it in some way? Offsetting– a difficult term, but it’s better than nothing. So that’s my invitation to you. Don’t be scared to look down the barrel of what trace you’re leaving because …
About the Instructor
For more than 20 years, Es Devlin has sculpted immersive experiences for opera, drama, and performers like Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and U2. Now the artist and designer shares her process so you can cultivate creativity in any form. From sketching to collaborating to creating powerful visual stories, learn how to turn the abstract—your ideas and imagination—into art you can see, feel, and share.
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