Project

 

The AALERT 4DM project aims to explore and enhance the contribution arts research can make in informing decision-making related to landscapes, land-use, and land assets. It does so by bringing artists into dialogue with stakeholders and academics interested in landscape management through a programme of case study-based workshops, aligned with wider networking activities and the production and exchange of written and visual documentations of these experiences.

The project starts from a position that informed landscape decisions require knowledge and consideration of complex natural, social and cultural systems. Landscapes are dynamic entities, the result of long multifaceted interactions between natural forces, human actions and values; complex constructions with deep roots in the past. Early attempts towards this direction have been shaped by conceptual frameworks mainly based on instrumental, scientific and economic rationales, utilising analytic decision support tools. Yet, there is a growing volume of research today to indicate that analytic tools should be shaped through social, cultural, aesthetic contributions. AALERT 4DM aims to provide an innovative platform for the exploration of such complex human-nature relationships.

The arts and artists already contribute to landscape decisions in diverse ways. Yet, although reality requires artists, scientists and decision makers to work together across traditional disciplinary boundaries, artists are often perceived as set apart from mainstream (scientific) disciplines and rational decisions. Thus, there is scope to align more centrally existing activity from the arts and humanities practitioners with models of decision making that accommodate specialists such as economists, ecologists, land managers, planners and other stakeholders. AALERT 4DM will bring arts perspectives alongside those disciplines to reflect and engage with diverse values in order to develop new and more appropriate ways of managing ecosystems, human well-being and the economy.

While some environmental art and artists already engage with nature and environment, arts organisations are less engaged, with few having a focus on programmes connected with landscape decisions. There is a further need to engage the arts organisations that could potentially be critical players, with land decision-making circles.

AALERT 4DM will fill these gaps by facilitating an in-depth, cross-disciplinary examination of the distinctive significance of creative contributions to decisions about landscapes, land uses and land assets. It will also make explicit the contribution of artists in creating new knowledge enriching like that scholarship across multiple scientific disciplines as well as policy and practice spheres.

The Team

A consortium of 15 people representing a variety of disciplines and stakeholders interested in exploring the relationships between arts research, landscape studies and decision making.​

Eirini Saratsi

University of Reading

Tim Acott

University of Greenwich

Ewan Allinson

Independent Artist

Peter Coates

University of Bristol

Caitlin DeSilvey

University of Exeter

David Edwards

Forest Research Scotland

Rob Fish

University of Kent, Valuing Nature

Chris Fremantle

Gray’s School of Art

Rosie Hails

National Trust

Gemma Lawrence

Creative Carbon Scotland

Joe Morris

University of Cranfield

Simon Read

Artist, Middlesex University

Pete Smith

University of Aberdeen

Sally Thomas

Scottish Natural Heritage

Ben Twist

Creative Carbon Scotland

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Aims and Objectives

AALERT 4DM proposes a series of engagement activities designed to interrogate existing projects with arts components across different professional practices, key landscapes and decision-making contexts in order to:

  1. consolidate and advance a transdisciplinary network of collaborators that explores the contribution of arts and artists to cross-disciplinary research on the environment
  2. articulate how such contributions can enable decisions at the landscape scale
  3. contribute with a range of outputs towards a more holistic, trans-disciplinary approach to landscape decision-making.

The project will seek to address the guiding questions:

  • What can arts contribute in inter- and trans- disciplinary research and under what circumstances?
  • How can different disciplines and decision makers communicate with artists under diverse landscape and decision contexts?
  • How can we define the diverse impacts of the arts in order to make better decisions?

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Planned Activities

Five cross-disciplinary events will foster debate and dialogue between academics, artists, practitioners and wider land use stakeholders

  • a scoping workshop to reunite the AALERT community and define priorities and issues to be interrogated during the regional workshops;
  • three regional workshops to interrogate specific projects with strong arts research components through a staged process of inquiry;
  • a synthesis workshop that will consider the lessons and outputs from the scoping and regional case studies workshops and define dissemination strategies.

All five meetings will interrogate the experience of existing case studies where arts and humanities are contributing to landscape decisions through multiple dimensions of value to define opportunities and logistics.

Two residential writing retreats will reflect on, analyse and synthesise findings of the networking events in order to produce key outputs. During these meetings members of the advisory group, artists and stakeholders from each case study will work together to form a series of outputs that will contribute to the evidence base of the new holistic decision-making framework for UK Landscapes and land assets.

Finally, this web space and the associated social media will facilitate engagement to complement and advance existing initiatives and ensure continuous impact of the project. It will consolidate the AALERT network as the key network operating at a national scale and actively developing  the role of artists in landscape and environment research today.

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