Visit us @ www.SubHerbanRoots.com
SubHerban Roots, is a community-based family art project & business established in 2013 that offers homegrown homemade herbal remedies and home-scale permaculture design services to the Northern Virginia and Washington DC communities. SubHerban Roots is an art project, but it is not an ironic business-as-art performance. Rather, our work is a sincere art-of-everyday-life pro-formance. Through this pro-formance, we hope to provide for our family and help others take agency in regard to their personal health and the health of the land on which we all depend.
SubHerban Roots is a family collective project by
Beth Hall, Mark and Celia Cooley
By itself, a brand attached to a product is worth nothing. If brands matter, it is because it is us – faithful consumers – who are branded. This is the job of marketers, who employ artists and designers, statisticians and even psychologists in the ongoing competition to gain the biggest chunk of the public’s “mindshare”. We may have been conditioned to think by years of advertising featuring sleekly designed hi-tech gadgets occupying large expanses of glossy white paper that new technologies are essentially clean technologies. However, there are a myriad of toxic chemicals found in electronics, chemicals that damage the health of workers, communities and the environment at an ever-increasing speed and severity as we try to satisfy our endless desire for the newest gadgets and the accelerating demands of consumer capitalism.
From the mines of the war torn and poverty stricken Democratic Republic of the Congo where destitute children dig coltan for use in consumer electronics, to a “clean room” of a semiconductor factory in the United States where workers suffer from exposure to neurotoxins (even while they wear clothing to protect the technology they make from contamination from human hair and skin), to sweatshops in China where workers assemble iPhones by hand behind locked gates, armed guards and razor wire, to India where the machines that have reached the end their all too brief lifespans are sent to be disassembled by children unaware of the deadly toxins they handle daily, the tremendous cost to human health and well-being could never be included in the price tag of even our most expensive hi-tech gadgets.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that waste from discarded electronics is growing two to three times the rate of any other source of waste. Only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled, and even if 100% were recycled it would only account for a small amount of the total waste produced before products ever reach consumers. When we consider that at least 70 barrels of waste are created upstream during resource extraction and production processes for every single barrel of consumer waste produced, we can begin to see the limitations of consumer recycling and the need to create alternatives to consumer-driven capitalist economics.
We live in a time when many people are so alienated from the natural world that the concept of “nature deficit disorder” has entered our vocabulary to describe the potential mental and physical health effects from much of our society’s profound alienation from the natural world. Simultaneously, we have desperately used our technology to create simulations – extraordinary lies about the natural world – which light up our screens with the opposing and equally disturbing images of pristine “natural” settings untouched by human hands or post-apocalyptic wastelands in which humans are still somehow able to survive despite the collapse of the earth’s life support systems. We have made it possible, through our technologies, to immerse ourselves in the image of the world we want to see. However, until we get out there and act in the real world, these visions will remain only shadows on the wall while the world outside continues to decline and taking us ignorantly with it.
Founded by Mark Cooley and Dr. Changwoo Ahn
2013 – 2016
EcoScience+Art is an initiative and collaboration between the arts and sciences at George Mason University. It is our mission to bring together individuals working across the boundaries of ecosystem science, art, and design fields to share knowledge, expertise, and strategies for creatively engaging in the common pursuit of a sustainable future.
Book of Dangerous Ideas
A university faculty exhibition is used as an opportunity to provoke and collect a sample of creative witing from GMU students in response to the following text:
“Earlier this year, American University released a two-year study uncovering the infamous Koch brother’s little black checkbook. The study validates the far-reaching influence that America’s richest, most powerful men have on the public, via non-profit institutes, foundations, and higher education. The study, conducted by AU’s Investigative Reporting workshop, shows the broad, widening reach of right-wing libertarian ideologues Charles and David Koch, and the $134 million dollars that has been used to influence politics and policy through the right-wing echo chamber. The largest of the Koch’s University donations went to George Mason University, which collected $16 million between 2007 – 2011 with Mason’s Institute of Humane Studies and Mercatus Center bringing in 14 million between them.
The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) website states its mission as, “taking bold new steps to combat the dangerous ideas that threaten our freedom, our prosperity…” With Koch funded ideologues with PhDs talking about everything from eliminating environmental protections, social safety net programs and public schools, it’s startling to think of what “dangerous ideas” they might be talking about.
In the spirit of protecting our freedom at a public university to express ‘dangerous ideas’ please anonymously write your best ones in this book.”
Matter/Antimatter: A Time Based Work
Materials: plastics, red worms, shredded documents and coffee grounds.
A constructed ecosystem which facilitates the transformation of office waste (shredded office paper and coffee grounds) into living dirt. The resulting high grade fertilizer is then used to enrich the soil of a tabletop garden designed as a living salad bar for employees.
Documentation from installation at George Mason University School of Art Gallery and faculty staff lounge terrace.
A graphic by Mark Cooley and Ryan Griffis for Urban Forest, DC.
This piece is an attempt to visualize the necessity of positioning community and human relations (culture) within America’s traditionally rather alienated view of “nature”. It seems that the most progressive urban forest and gardening projects these days begin by rethinking the assumption that “culture” and “nature” are mutually exclusive things as they begin to reincorporate natural elements into urban space and build community bonds around them.
The Urban Forest Project is a unique public arts initiative of Worldstudio, which invited local artists and designers to employ the idea or form of the tree to make a powerful visual statement on street-banners that were then displayed in their community. The tree is a metaphor for sustainability and in that spirit, the banners at the close of each exhibition were recycled into totebags and auctioned off to raise money for a local environmental cause. The Urban Forest project was originally executed in New York’s Times Square in the fall of 2006 and has since travelled to several cities including: New York, San Francisco, Baltimore, Denver, Toledo, Washington, DC and Albuquerque.
Ps4. Mark Cooley. Issue 6: Fetish. Katalog
“Agri-Art: The Death of Agri-Culture or Rise of Cooperatives”. Mark Cooley. From Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots