Thursday, April 12, 2018

River Restoration Courses

Artists like Daniel McCormick and Mary O'Brien (Watershed Sculpture), and Patricia Johanson construct land art projects engineered to engage with hydrological forces in degraded environments in order to restore ecological function and connect the community with their waterways.

You, too, can learn technical river restoration skills required to effect this kind of land art:


Dear Friends,

A reminder about a conference and shortcourses in integrated science for river management and restoration, as well as more specialized training in sediment transport as applied to river restoration. The ‘early-bird’ rate has been extended until 22 April for the June shortcourse in Beaumont du Ventoux, France, and is available until 31 May for the July-August courses in Logan, Utah, and near Lake Tahoe, California.

ISRivers: Integrative Sciences and Sustainable Development of Rivers
4-8 June, Lyon FR

Held every three years, IS Rivers brings together researchers and practitioners from across Europe and around the world, encouraging conversations across disciplinary and national boundaries. This year conference includes special sessions on river-city interactions, floodplain restoration, dams and sediments, extreme events, and water governance. (in French and English, with simultaneous translation)

River Restoration: Fluvial-Geomorphic and Ecological Tools
11-15 June 2018, Beaumont du Ventoux, Provence FR

This shortcourse/workshop emphasizes understanding geomorphic process as a sound basis for planning and designing river restoration projects and programs, with specific applications and field visits to Mediterranean and mountain environments. The course draws on innovative process-based river restoration and management experiences in France and elsewhere in the EU, complemented by experiences in North America. Instruction includes lectures, field exercises, and workshops on approaches to planning and implementing process-based restoration. Instructors are drawn from multiple disciplines, and from academia and practice, on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s a great opportunity to make connections with others working on similar issues in different geographic and institutional settings. Held the week after ISRivers, it offers a great opportunity to combine two professional and education experiences in a compelling setting. (in English)

Sediment Transport in Stream Assessment and Design
30 July - 03 Aug 2018, Logan, Utah USA

This course is intended for those who wish to understand and apply the principles of sediment transport to alluvial channel assessment and design. Principles of open channel flow and sediment transport are combined with watershed-scale, hydrologic and sediment source analysis to place channel assessment and design in context. The course balances advance reading, lecture, field work, and hands-on exercises for estimating sediment supply, calculating sediment transport rates, forecasting channel response to water and sediment supply, and channel design. Intended for participants familiar with basic principles of river geomorphology (such as from the Beaumont or Sagehen courses). Instructors are drawn from both research and practice. Continuing Education Units for the course offered by Utah State University.

Geomorphic and Ecological Fundamentals for River and Stream Restoration
6-10 August 2018, Truckee, California USA

This five-day introductory course emphasizes understanding geomorphic and ecological process as a sound basis for planning and designing river restoration, covering general principles and case studies from a wide range of environments, and includes field measurements, mapping, interpretation, field trips to the Truckee River and streams in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and workshops on stream restoration problems faced by participants. Now in its 24th successful year, the course is held at Sagehen Creek Field Station, combining a beautiful natural setting with excellent research and facilities, such as an outdoor classroom, stream table to demonstrate channel adjustments, on-site laboratory, and Sagehen Creek itself, with its rich history of research in fluvial geomorphology and ecology. Instructors are drawn from multiple disciplines, and from both research and practice.

If you have questions, please contact us at

What's really wrong with Facebook?

Apologies for diverging toward politics, but recent events illuminate how desperately we need to re-engage the arts with science, and how few of the people running things are clued into this need. So get out there and explain it to them, people!

Mark Zuckerberg's performance before Congress this week makes me want to punch him right in the forehead. Again and again, he crashes through our culture like a bull in a china shop, offering nothing but tepid apologies and weak, floral pronouncements about how all he really wants to do is Buy The World A Coke (TM). He has literally nothing else to offer every time his company finds itself at the center of yet another unprecedented cultural calamity. He has proven himself utterly incompetent to deal with the forces he is messing with, but won't get out of the way, either.

Unfortunately, Congress isn't much better and doesn't seem to know what to think about the whole mess, either. They weakly wring their hands and tell Zuckerberg he needs to do better, hoping the willful infant somehow figures out a way to control himself and his company, in spite of zero incentive to stop the wrecking ball swinging.

You know what I desperately wanted to hear someone ask during these hearings?
"Mr. Zuckerberg, how many humanists and philosophers does your company employ? Is there anyone on your staff even remotely qualified to explore the moral issues surrounding the technology you continue to fling out into the world without apparent thought or consideration? 
And, aside from that benefit, wouldn't hiring some people from the arts and humanities go a long way toward addressing the Silicon Valley diversity crisis you acknowledge, but refuse to actually address?"

Friday, April 6, 2018

Ohio River water quality/art project

As an artist I entered the project with the hopes of being inspired by something that would lead to a visual expression. I wanted my "research" to be creative and I allowed it to unfold as a series of related but diverse information gathering excursions.

Electrofishing with Chris [Lorentz, Professor of Biology, Thomas More College] gave me an understanding of the amazing ecosystem of the river itself. Next I met with the Ohio River foundation and talked about the main causes of pollution in the river. In 2015 there was a 500 mile long algae bloom on the river, and this phenomena captured my creative imagination as a subject to focus my goals. I did research about the documented history of industrial pollution on the river, and at the public library found an especially amazing photograph of the Cincinnati river bank from the 19th century.

In the photo you can clearly see the sewage run off exiting buildings at the rivers edge. In this small section of the photo you can see the open sewer ditch. The photo was taken in 1848 and the next year a cholera epidemic swept the city.

In my design courses, I try to get students to become more sensitive to color and shape as tools to shape an environment. For the algal bloom project, I met with a select group of talented students and we talked about the algal bloom as an experience, something immersive and expressive, so that we might find a way to personify it visually.

First we decided on a shape quality and the beginning of a color system. These decisions were based on principles of good design married to the specific attributes of the algal bloom. Here is a first small hand painted design. In this painting, we stuck to the literal blue green color scheme and used a botanical motif. The rectangle itself is a golden rectangle and the shapes are interacting with further golden ratio divisions within the larger rectangle.

Although this initial design is very interesting to look at, it does not embody the voracious life cycle and disruptive quality of the bloom. We took the initial painting and spent a long time working with it on the computer, mirroring and multiplying the design across a larger expanse. We changed the color to be more perceptually intense, and further intensified the relationship between the botanical shapes and the internal geometry of the design. The final design is here:

We hosted the NCBDS conference on the beginning design student here at UC a couple weeks ago, and I presented the project and printed the poster at a large scale.

I would love to display it more, either virtually or physically, Do you know of any opportunities? I have a file that can be printed at various scales, and it is a really exciting/immersive visual experience.


Emil Robinson

ps I can send better quality files if needed

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Art of Ecology: Interlochen Center for the Arts

"In the fall of 2017, Interlochen Arts Academy launched an initiative that explores the nexus of art and ecology, as a collaboration between the Visual Arts and R.B. Annis Math and Science Divisions."

More info here.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Intersecting Perspectives

"Art and science both search for greater truths and knowledge about who we are, where we come from, where we are going, and why we are here. Focusing on the collective questions we are asking - rather than from which disciplines they are explored - can foster the cross-disciplinary culture and approach our 21st century requires."

Intersecting Perspectives is a web portal that, "features the current cultural and intellectual work of 87 international SciArt Center members."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Natural Discourse: Artists, Architects, Scientists & Poets in the Garden

Jenny Kendler
Bewilder (Deimatic Eyespot Camouflage) 2016-2017
Living Proof: Flora, Fauna & Fossil Fuels
Space 151, San Francisco
Opening January 13, 2018. 5-8pm

"Jenny Kendler has printed wallpaper and fabric composed of thousands of collaged photographs of butterfly and moth eyespots. These bullseyes of color and form are thought to protect winged insects by frightening or confusing predators. In the Bewilder project, this deimatic camouflage becomes something new. Visitors are given eyespot temporary tattoos and invited to pose for a portrait in front of the brilliantly colored pattern. These colored marks confuse the digital gaze — just as butterflies' spots confuse predators — and disrupt facial-recognition software, creating a new type of camouflage for the modern, digital world of privacy loss and online tracking."
Natural Discourse: Artists, Architects, Scientists & Poets in the Garden’ is an ongoing series of symposia, publications and site-specific art installations that explore the connections between art, architecture and science within the framework of botanical gardens and natural history museums.

Natural Discourse began as a collaborative project between the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley (UCBG) and a multi-disciplinary group of artists, writers, architects and researchers who were invited to spend time in UCBG’s extraordinary collection of plants, engage with the horticulturalists and develop new site-specific work. 
The resulting exhibit was on view in the garden’s collection from July 2012 to January 2013. From 2012 to 2017 six day long Natural Discourse symposia combining artists and scientists have been held at UCBG, the LA County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, The LA County Natural History Museum, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. In 2016, the exhibit Digital Nature: An evening of Techno-Botanical Art in the Garden was held for two nights at the LA County Arboretum.