Art and Sustainability: Connecting Patterns for a Culture of Complexity

Art and Sustainability: Connecting Patterns for a Culture of Complexity by Sacha Kagan:

What is the cultural dimension of sustainability? This book offers a thought-provoking answer, with a theoretical synthesis on »cultures of sustainability«. Describing how modernity degenerated into a culture of unsustainability, to which the arts are contributing, Sacha Kagan engages us in a fundamental rethinking of our ways of knowing and seeing the world. We must learn not to be afraid of complexity, and to re-awaken a sensibility to patterns that connect. With an overview of ecological art over the past 40 years, and a discussion of art and social change, the book assesses the potential role of art in a much needed transformation process.

Table of Contents


Sustainable Development and Sustainability/ The ›cultural dimension‹ of sustainability/ Overview of the following chapters/ Methodological considerations

CHAPTER 1: The Culture and Art of Unsustainability
Section 1: The culture of unsustainability
Section 2: The art of unsustainability

CHAPTER 2: Toward Culture(s) of Sustainability, Step One: Systems Thinking and the Limits of Holism
Section 1: Some basics of Systems Thinking
Section 2: The Systems View of Life
Section 3: The Systems View of Society
Section 4: Ervin Laszlo’s ›Systems View of the World‹ and the limits of Holism
Section 5: Cybernetic apparatuses and the risk of a technological drift

CHAPTER 3: Toward Culture(s) of Sustainability, Step Two: From the ›Big Picture‹ to the Culture of Complexity
Section 1: Complexity : Edgar Morin’s ›method‹
Section 2: Transdisciplinarity

CHAPTER 4: Aesthetics of Sustainability

Section 1: From Aesthetics, environmental aesthetics and ecological aesthetics to aesthetics of sustainability
Section 2: From Bateson’s sensibility to the pattern which connects, to a sensibility to patterns that connect
Section 3: The sensibility to complexity
Section 4: The transdisciplinary sensibility
Section 5: The phenomenological and animistic sensibility to a more-than-human world

CHAPTER 5: Ecological Art
Section 1: Land art, environmental art, ecological art
Section 2: Precursors and pioneers
Section 3: Exemplary directions in environmental/ ecological art
Section 4: The ›Reenchantment of Art‹ according to Suzi Gablik
Section 5: The Monongahela Conference on Post-Industrial Community Development
Section 6: The exhibition Ecovention

CHAPTER 6: Sustainability and Ecology as keywords: a decade of contemporary art

Section 1: ›Eco-centric topics‹ in contemporary art
Section 2: Exhibitions on art and sustainability
Section 3: Post-environmental art: The exhibition Greenwashing

CHAPTER 7: Fostering Change: Art and Social Conventions
Section 1: Double entrepreneurship in conventions
Section 2: Polity Conventions: The political setting for double entrepreneurship in conventions

Connecting Patterns: Culture and the arts towards sustainability/What is to be done?

Appendix 1: The subconscious and the ›eco-‹ in autoecopoïesis: a speculative excursus
Appendix 2: Deutsche Zusammenfassung: Kunst und (Nicht-)Nachhaltigkeit

Sacha Kagan is research associate at Leuphana University Lueneburg and founding coordinator of the international network Cultura21. He works in the trans-disciplinary field of arts and (un-)sustainability. html

Aug 30, 12:12
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