Human Flower Project
Monday, November 16, 2009
Can’t Keep an Artist-Gardener Down
An inquisitive artist teams with green-renovators in Louisville, KY, to take on a tall horticultural order.
Studio artist Tracey Williams, a native of South Africa, perches by the vertical garden she’s creating for The Green Building on East Market Street.
Photo (detail): Courtesy of Mike Hayman, Courier-Journal
By Allen Bush
Tracey Williams is going places where no one else I know personally has gone. The South African native, who has lived in the United States for twenty-six years, is breaking new ground in Louisville, Kentucky, and hasn’t busted a single dirt clod. Tracey has installed a vertical garden, straight up the wall, at the Green Building on East Market Street.
The wall is possible because of the adventurous foresight of the building’s owners, Augusta and Gill Holland. The couple established a beachhead in the downtown art gallery district with the purchase of several older buildings in the area anointed as NuLu. The Green Building’s 732 Social was voted Best New Restaurant by the readers of Leo, Louisville’s alt-weekly. The Hollands have converted their Green Building following sustainable LEED guidelines. The renovation on the 110 year old former dry goods store has included a living green roof, geothermal heating and a fastidious respect for recycled construction materials.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In homage to J.G. Ballard, John Levett explores London’s Westway thoroughfare, dereliction making way for radicalism (or at least freedom).
Doll on a door below London’s Westway
Essay and photos by John Levett
If you could have been any writer and written what they wrote who would you choose?
It may be the kind of people I used to (still do) meet up with, but the choice has usually been ‘cult’ as if making the cult choice confers some measure of cultness upon the chooser. As soon as I got the hang of this self-anointment round about 1960 I couldn’t get enough. I stayed well off the pace for a couple of years—just couldn’t get hold of the ‘next-big-cult-writer’ technique. ‘Camus? How retentive.” “Sartre? How juvenile.” “Grass? How bourgeois.” “Golding? How petty bourgeois.” “Burgess? How neo-fascist.” “Lessing? Your mother’s a shop-keeper isn’t she?” A hard day’s night work was the getting of radical credibility.
Then I found Better Books in Charing Cross Road (just upwind from where Helene Hanff found her own fave bookshop at number 84 ). Bob Cobbing was (I think) the manager there for a while & Jeff Nuttall (I think) was his aider and abetter and much high-jinks did they get up to. They had radical credibility and much cult too. Bob and Jeff’s poetry did for starters; B.S. Johnson followed as did Christopher Logue, The Children of Albion, Alfred Jarry, Antonin Artaud & anyone I’d never heard mentioned in conversations. It never mattered about understanding them; familiarity was all plus fitting into the frayed pocket in fine and dandy fashion. I was still the grocer’s son but I’d got the titles. Then came J.G. Ballard.
Ballard stayed. I think I came to him via Yevgeny Zamyatin & We which combination must have come from Orwell. I believe it was through his short stories that I became hooked on Ballard—“The Wind From Nowhere” stays in my mind. As I recall it wasn’t until the ‘70s that Ballard took flight in public consciousness (much like Philip K Dick was to do in the ‘80s). The pricking of the long post-war boom and the consumerist beano that the ‘60s had become ushered in a decade in the UK of power cuts, strikes, clashes with fascist groups, Rock Against Racism, repression in Northern Ireland and bombings on the mainland. Ballard’s ‘science fiction of the near future’ suited the common consciousness.
Art & Media • Culture & Society • Ecology • Gardening & Landscape • Permalink
Friday, November 06, 2009
Auto Plants and Human Butterflies
In the greener-than-thou competition for car buyers, Toyota heaps on the blooms.
Humble cherry sage (salvia greggii) is part of a global car marketing scheme
Photo: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Flowers are for suckers.
Truly. What we’ve tried to disclose over the past 5+ years is how people use flowers to wheedle, honor, evade, and rectify in cultures all over the world. And since in so many respects “culture” is dwindling to mean Varieties of Marketing Experience, we’re not surprised that flower customs increasingly amount to minor publicity stunts.
The latest is Toyota’s. Last week a story appeared in Drive.com (an Australian website for autophiles), that the car company had successfully introduced two plant species “specially developed for the grounds of Toyota’s Prius plant in Toyota City, Japan.” The new-new varieties were a salvia greggii (a.k.a. cherry sage) that could “better absorb nitrogen oxides” from the air and a gardenia that sweated enough water vapor to lower ambient temperature.
“When planted in large beds surrounding the Prius factory in Toyota City, the gardenias can make enough of a difference that the company can use less energy to run air conditioning to cool the factory,” wrote Green Car Advisor, one of many websites and newspapers (including the New York Times) that subsequently picked up the jolly generality-filled story.
Without calling Toyota’s two new plants a “petal-screen,” the Times did note: “Some people have said that the Prius loses most of its environmental cred when the hybrid’s manufacturing process is taken into account. Toyota acknowledges that Prius production is more carbon dioxide heavy than that of gas-engine cars.” Could it be that just like flowers in old-time funerals, these sages and gardenias were planted in the press to cover the stink of controversy?