Page 26 - Studio International - December 1969
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cal ecology and a concern for the conservation   and  tides.  Again,  it  should  be  possible  to   fighter and arms trader. In personal relation­
     of  physical  resources.  Fuller  once  dismissed   develop  cheap  foods  that  would  cut  out   ships,  sexuality  can  pervade  the  highest
     modern  architecture  as  'so  many  fancy   wasteful links in the food chain and eliminate   reaches of symbiotic spirituality but is seldom
     nozzles on the invisible sewer system'. I make   the  need  for  factory  farming-which  offends   free from some elements of parasitism or pre­
     no  prediction  that  sewage  will  be  an  art   all one's instincts about how the animal king­  dation.
     medium of the future; but the reclamation of   dom should be treated by man. On the other   These  ecological  excursions  of  thought,  if
     waste products can be seen as an intrinsically   hand, the more advanced technologies such as   valid, point in directions where our intellec­
     beautiful  recycling  process,  and  I  see  no   microelectronics  promise  to  make  many   tual  leaders  are  of  little  guidance.  In  all
     reason why it should not be an inspiration to   industrial processes more ecologically accept­  sobriety it may be claimed that new modes of
     art. There is similar inspiration to be found in   able.                             thinking are called for. Nature must today be
     the  study  of  the mi atory habits of  salmon   Ecology  and  art  meet  in  Fuller's  call  for   seen as a multi-stable, everchanging, relativ­
     and birds, or in the life and death of  forests   'comprehensive  design':  'Nature  uses  simple   istic universe. Ecological equilibria are not to
     and  cities,  or  in  many  other  ecological   aggregates  such  as  cells, made with magnifi­  be attained by searching for the right book of
     processes.                                 cent economy and mechanical efficiency, and   rules.
     Many  religions  including  Christianity  have   she  can  put  them  together  to  come  out  as   It  is essential,  following Buckrninster Fuller,
     traditionally  emphasized  personal  survival   rock,  tree  or  Twiggy.  Why  should  we  be   to pin a lot of faith in the newer generations.
     after death. But ecology presents a unity and   afraid to emulate her example?'      As Gordon Hyde has written:
     continuity  of  life  which  is  surely  as  deeply   A key connexion is the cybernetic idea of self­  'It  is  not  the  young  who  have  created  the
     satisfying, as yielding of significance, as trium­  organization  and negative  entropy-the  pro­  present crisis of confidence, but the failure of
     phant  over death,  as religious teaching  ever   cesses  which  reverse  the  tendency  of  all   our institutions  to  keep  pace  with  real  bio­
     was.  English  literature  at  its  greatest,  from   systems  to  decay,  or  run  down,  with  time.   logical  and  psychological  evolution.  It  has
     Shakespeare to Lawrence, is profoundly eco­  The  living  organism  is an evolutionary net­  been all too easy to do as many people have
     logical.  This  sense  of  unity  and  continuity   work of self-organizing systems. The concept   done,  believe  that  you  can  incorporate  the
     may  be  summed  up  by  Laertes'  words  in   of the ecosystem permits not only individual   hardware  and  the  techniques  produced  by
     Hamlet at the grave of Ophelia:            organisms,  but also communities of organisms,   the  new knowledge  and ignore the  implica­
       Lay her i' the earth                     to be studied as ·cybernetic systems. The field   tions of the  knowledge itself. We are not,  as
       And from her fair and unpolluted.flesh   ecologist  who  studies  a  garden  pond  may   some  people  have  suggested,  facing  just
       May violets spring!                      effect  various  environmental  changes  to  the   another phase of the industrial revolution, but
     If the principle of organization as essential to   ecosystem for experimental purposes. He may   a fundamental change in  the  human psyche
     art is accepted, we can go on to argue that the   introduce a new predatory species which will   and its motivations. In the next decade or so
     same  principles  of  organization  apply  to   eat the snails;  or  he  may raise  or  lower  the   therefore we not only have to cope with new
     nature as to art. All organization requires the   temperature or the light level; or he may con­  devices and techniques that may have a good
     economic  use  of  resources.  (It  is  true  that   taminate  the  pond with  chemicals.  In  each   or bad effect on our physical environment and
     certain  artistic  styles,  whether  mannerist  or   case,  the ecosystem will display resilience to   with the vast burden of human and .material
     'camp',  perversely  set  out  to  defy the  prin­  these threats against its equilibrium:  individ­  problems bequeathed us by the bad manage­
     ciples of economy and restraint; but the go.od   ual  organisms  may  die,  but  the  life  of  the   ment of the past; we also have to construe our
     examples  of  mannerism or  camp  are  surely   whole ecosystem survives. As with the indivi­  future environment in  terms  of  the  expecta­
     those  which  maintain  an  organized  unity   dual organism, so with the ecosystem: a certain   tions and motivations of people vastly differ­
     despite the show of teetering into disunity and   threshold may be reached when equilibrium   ent in outlook from the majority of people of
     imbalance.)  Nothing  in  nature  is  'wasted',   cannot  be  maintained,  the  complex  web  of   the present and previous times.' 3
     except  from  the  point  of  view  of  individual   interdependence  collapses,  and  life  in  the   In this article I have argued the relevance of
     consumers. A special branch of ecology called   pond is killed.                      ecology  to  the  artist,  and  of  the  artist  to
     ecological energetics is concerned with measur­  If art, like life, is a manifestation of resistance   ecology.  It  would  be  presumptuous  to  go
     ing the transformations of energy resources in  to  entropy,  then  the  'work  of  art'  may  be   further and recommend lines of development;
     an ecosystem. Solar energy is transformed into   thought  of  as  a  self-organizing  system  pro­  this  is  up  to  the  individual  imagination.
     food  energy  for  the  herbivores,  which  feed   gr ammed by the artist to produce a deferred   Lastly, it should be  stressed that though the
     the  carnivores,  which  in  tum  feed  the  top   output. The cultural and artistic output of a   word 'artist' has been used in this article, and
     carnivores  (larger  in  size  but  fewer  in   society  is  as  much  a  part  of  ecology as are   defined as someone of 'superior' faculties, this
     number) such as wolves and sharks. Through   biological organisms and communities.   is not to deny that there is an artist in every­
     excretion,  respiration, death and  decay,  and   The  process  of  symbiosis,  or  mutual  life   one. It is hard to find another word to mean
     so on,  energy is constantly  recycled into  the   support, is clearly very important, since most   simply  someone  who  takes  an  uncommon
     ecosystem  or  dissipated  elsewhere.  At  all   ecosystems contain a wide variety of different   responsibility for what he does.   D
     points, given proper experimental conditions,   elements. The symbiotic relationship between   JONATHAN BENTHALL
      the  flows  of  energy  can  be  tracked  and   an alga and a  fungus  (to  form a  lichen),  or
      measured.                                 between a shepherd and his flock, may seem   1  G. Sjoberg, quoted  by B.  T.  Robson,  Urban Anarysis
      Survival, for any organism and any ecosystem,   essentially one of undisturbed harmony. But   (Cambridge 1969), p. 26. This book, by a geographer,
      depends on the efficient processing of energy   symbiosis  cannot  always  be  distinguished   includes an interesting if rather restricted account of the
      resources. The history of man has now reached   from  the  more  destructive  relationships,   development of ecological thought in urban sociology.
      a point where his very survival is at risk, where   parasitism and predation: for in�tance, when   Some of the ecological processes that have been trans­
      even the basic chemical cycles of nature seem   the  survival  of  a  species  within  a  restricted   lated into human terms are:
                                                                                           (a) competition for limited space, leading to the growth
      threatened;  imaginative  resource  manage­  territory  depends on its numbers being  kept   of business, residential and slum areas;
      ment  on  a  worldwide  scale  has  become  an   down by predators. As for human society,  it   (b) dominance  of  environmental  conditions  by  one
      obvious  necessity.  There  is a  strong case for   often reaches a kind of equilibrium dependent   element so as to encourage or discourage other elements,
      trying to tap basic world resources in a more   on  violence  and  those  who  specialize  in   and  successive  invasion  of  areas  by  new  dominant
      direct  way,  for  instance  tapping  the  sun's   violence, and incongruous symbiotic partner­  elements.
                                                                                          2 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, La Phenomerwlogie de la Per­
      energy,  from  which  all  our  energy  is  ulti­  ships  frequently  arise,  for  instance between   ception (Paris 1945), p. 221 f. (my translation).
      mately  derived,  and  the  energy  of  the  wind   policeman and criminal, or between freedom-  3 Gordon Hyde, 'Futures', Student, Summer 1969.

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