Gillett, J.R., Harland, E.J., Channon, A.R. and Sage, J. (eds.)
The seven billionth citizen,
Cairo, EG, Townhouse Gallery
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The publication is a response to the announcement by the United Nations of the birth of the seven billionth citizen in 2011, and arises from consultation with population specialists, addressing the global impact of population trends, and how this might be researched and articulated through fine art practice. It follows the production of the global video project by Gillett and Harland, The Seven Billionth Citizen, and incorporates imagery from that project. It engages with the following research questions: how might the indirect or oblique approach of a curated, collective contemporary art project to issues of pressing societal concern, inform, direct and lead a more wide-ranging and less inhibited address of those issues by specialists in relevant scientific fields? Might the use of the art project and its conceptual framework as the starting point for scientific discussion of the problems arising from rapid global population growth yield new perspectives on possible solutions for those problems? Might the use of imagery from the art project alter perception of the problems being addressed, by scientific authors and by their readership?
In addition to the editorial introduction, the publication will include an essay by Gillett and Harland on the Sublime as a vehicle for contemporary, issue-based engagement, addressing the following research questions: what are the precedents, and what is the current scope for the use of the nineteenth century formula for imaging the Sublime to engage audiences with contemporary issues of pressing societal concern? Can the idea of the Sublime stimulate and support debate and understanding beyond the realm of landscape and aesthetic sensation? Is a contemporary, instrumentalist agenda for creative practice better delivered by a practice that is recognisably rooted in an established, traditional approach? If an understanding of the issues around rapid global population growth can prompt a creative engagement with the Sublime, how might the outcome of that process be best directed to prompt a reverse engagement with those same, originating issues?
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