Sustainability in an Imaginary World explores the social agency of art and its connection to complex issues of sustainability.

Over the past decade, interest in art’s agency has ballooned as an increasing number of fields turn to the arts with ever-expanding expectations. Yet just as art is being heralded as a magic bullet of social change, research is beginning to throw cautionary light on such enthusiasm, challenging the linear, prescriptive, instrumental expectations such transdisciplinary interactions often imply. In this, art finds itself at a treacherous crossroads, unable to turn a deaf ear to calls for help from an increasing number of ostensibly non-aesthetic fields, yet in answering such prescriptive urgencies, jeopardizing the very power for which its help was sought in the first place.

This book goes in search of a way forward, proposing a theory of art aiming to preserve the integrity of arts practices within transdisciplinary mandates. This approach is then explored through a series of case studies developed in collaboration with some of Canada’s most prominent artists, including internationally renowned nature poet Don McKay; Italian composer and Head of Vancouver New Music, Giorgio Magnanesi; the renowned Electric Company Theatre, led by Kevin Kerr; and finally through a largescale multimedia installation aiming to reimagine the relationship between climate, culture, and human agency.

Sustainability in an Imaginary World will be of great interest to students and scholars of arts-based research fields, sustainability studies, and environmental humanities.

part I|58 pages

Realigning the art–sustainability relationship

part II|99 pages

Artists of the Floating World

chapter 5|10 pages

Artists of the Floating World

An art–sustainability commissioning strategy

chapter 6|25 pages

A bard in the borderlands

The poetry of Don McKay

chapter 8|25 pages

Interactive music making

Radical aesthetics, radical politics?

part III|78 pages

Sustainability in an Imaginary World

chapter 10|11 pages

Sustainability in an Imaginary World

The initial ideas

chapter 13|15 pages

Making art in a digital world

Thoughts on an unstable landscape

chapter 15|7 pages

“Hopeful Monster”