Ecology and the Art of Sustainable Living

Author: David Haley

  • Ecology and the Art of Sustainable Living


    Ecology and the Art of Sustainable Living



In western culture, the concept of ecology emerged alongside quantum theory, complexity theory, chaos theory, systems theory, cybernetics and psychology. Across disciplines, artists such as Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce and John Cage embraced the theories of physics and the Surrealists, Expressionist and DaDa movements contributed almost as much to psychology as they gained from it. With notable exceptions, until very recently few artists have taken up the issues of ecology. Now, as we face combinations of the most dire social and environmental crises known to our kind, has ecology found its time? How might arts practices address these issues? What can art and ecology contribute to resolving ‘the carousel’ of challenges? Using examples of projects by Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison and myself, this paper considers the concepts, the practices and the teachings of a whole systems approach to ecological art. It further places ecological art in a practical context that offers some tangible approaches to shifting the paradigm from Sustainable Development to ‘sustainable living’, ‘ecological resilience’ and ‘futures capabilities’. One of the contributions the arts may offer is ‘keeping the discourse plastic’.

How to Cite:

Haley, D., (2011) “Ecology and the Art of Sustainable Living”, field 4(1), 17–34.

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Published on
01 Jan 2011
Peer Reviewed