The Canary Lab investigates the relationship between cultural production and social change as it relates to ecological issues. For the next two years the Lab will be working on a project called Modern Primitive Exchange that looks at what of the so-called modern and what of the so-called primitive might be useful in a contemporary ecology. The tag line to this project is: Design and Ideas for Living in the End Times. The investigation is broken into four sections: food, shelter, magic and tribe. This semester we are focusing on Shelter.
As a student in this class you are essentially being “commissioned” to come up with art works/projects that help a viewer imagine, contemplate, possibly even inhabit a Shelter of the future. That future can be a near future or a far future. It can be a utopian or a dystopian future. The point is to think through to an ecological vision of how we want to be, individually and as a society through a meditation on this topic of Shelter. Any thought about how we want to be is itself a critique of the present. A key subtext of this class, therefore, will be the value of utopian-thinking art to social change – the value of future imagining to constructing the present.
It is the premise of this class that an artwork differs from other cultural acts only in that it demands critical reflection. As such, so long as it is framed properly, an artwork can be an event, an actual building, even an act of service to an existing Syracuse organization (as well as the traditional photograph, film, painting, etc.).
Our method will be reading, taking notes on those readings, discussions, occasional blogging, 3 “creative assignment” exercises and a culminating final project.