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Diary dates: Dundee edition


Art exhibition poses questions on the issue of fracking

Photo opportunity: 5:15pm Thursday April 21st. Centrespace Gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts.

University of Dundee’s Centrespace Gallery will be home to a new contemporary art exhibition, honing in on the contested operation of fracking.

‘When The Future Was About Fracking’ opens tomorrow and is an immersive installation by Paris-based artists’ group HeHe. It depicts a doomed landscape after extensive hydraulic fracking. They will use the space to display leaky hissing ghostly wellheads. This will also mark HeHe’s first ever exhibition in Scotland.

The exhibition has been curated by internationally renowned Rob La Frenais, in collaboration with Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone, College of Art and Design andthe University of St Andrews research fellow Mette High.

Organiser Mette High said, “I am an anthropologist who does oil field research. I wanted to bring some of the concerns from the US oil fields right here, to Dundee and to Scotland. Art is an amazing medium for getting people to reflect and I was inspired by that potential.

“I really hope lots of people will pop by the Centrespace Gallery. It is an ambitious, provocative installation that does not seek to tell people what they should think. It has been crucial for both the artists and myself that this installation lets people make up their own minds. It isn’t our job to tell people what they should think, but it is our job to create environments in which such reflection can happen.”

The exhibition runs until May 18th and is open Monday to Saturday 12-4pm.

There will also be a preview evening will be held on Thursday, 21th April from 5.30-7.30pm when curator Rob La Frenais will give a tour at 6pm.

The installation has been funded by Creative Scotland and the British Academy.

More information here.

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Reader Comments (70)

Don't suppose they will put any windmills around it, then ?

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

> “I am an anthropologist who does oil field research ...

The reality:

Mette M. High is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews. Her research focuses on economic transformations and moral sensibilities in extractive industries, ranging from the gold mines of Mongolia to the oil and gas fields of the US. She has just completed her monograph entitled Fear and Fortune: Spirit Worlds and Emerging Economies in the Mongolian Gold Rush and is now working on a new 3-year research project entitled ‘Fracking Dreams: Corporate morality and environmental politics in a new ‘energy economy’ in the United States’.
Selected publications:

N.D. A Question of Ethics: The Creative Orthodoxy of Buddhist Monks in the Mongolian Gold Rush.

2013 Cosmologies of Freedom and Buddhist Self-Transformation in the Mongolian Gold Rush. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(4):753-770.

2013 Polluted Money, Polluted Wealth: Emerging Regimes of Value in the Mongolian Gold Mines. American Ethnologist 40(4):676-688.

2013 Believing in Spirits, Doubting the Cosmos: Religious Reflexivity in the Mongolian Gold Mines. In Ethnographies of Doubt: Faith and Uncertainty in Contemporary Societies. M. Pelkmans (ed.). London: I.B. Tauris. Pp. 59-84.

2012 The Cultural Logics of Illegality: Living Outside the Law in the Mongolian Gold Mines. In Change in Democratic Mongolia: Social Relations, Health, Mobile Pastoralism and Mining. J. Dierkes (ed.).Leiden: Brill. Pp. 249-270.

2010 Ayoltai Hishig (Dangerous Fortunes: An Anthropological Study of the Mongolian Informal Gold Mining Economy). Preface by Prof. Sendenzhavyn Dulam and Foreword by Prof. Caroline Humphrey, transl. by Bum-Ochir Dulam. Admon Press: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

2010 Rulers and Rascals: The Politics of Gold in Mongolian Qing History. With Jonathan Schlesinger. Central Asian Survey 29(3):289-304.

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Good to know that the 'Photo Opportunity' Tops the Bill in terms of the importance of this waste of time and money, so ambitious failures have a reason to go, and rub shoulders with a few failing celebrities, with money to waste.

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

TerryS, are the Mongolians paying her to stay away from Mongolia? Has she ever been to Mongolia, or did she look for a subject to be an expert on, simply by looking for a subject that nobody had ever really bothered with before, for good reason.

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

How exactly does art "pose questions about fracking"? Why can't we leave things to science and economics?

And another thing, WTF is the "anthropology of oil fields"?

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

“Art” is their way of avoiding science and economics.

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

I've often thought that much of this subject matter is more art than science.

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It depicts a doomed landscape after extensive hydraulic fracking.
So, no science involved then, just “artistic interpretation”. Hmmm.

Oh, and it gets worse:

It is an ambitious, provocative installation that does not seek to tell people what they should think.
Except that they should think that fracking will doom the landscape with leaky, hissing, ghostly well-heads. Ri-i-i-ight.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

What precisely does an anthropologist know about oil fields ?

My best guess is only what she has learned by watching anti-fracking agitprop films.

I note that she has stayed well away from Aberdeen which is the centre of the Scottish oil industry.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Willshaw

Opening times: Monday - Saturday, 12 - 4pm.

Because the sun might be shining enough for you to see despite the power blackout.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I draw your attention to a previous imaginary exhibition : "‘When The Future Was About NO SNOW’"
..."It depicts a doomed landscape after " the end of snow in the UK

That time about 10 years also the artist was similarly advised by an academic expert : Dr David Viner

CairnGorm Mountain Ltd Tuesday 26th April 2016

..end of day. Constant heavy snow fall all day with North Westerly winds .Temperature -4C at the top station with wind blown powder. Around 20 to 25cm of fresh snow accumulated today with drifting from mid mountain up. It was a day of poor visibility in heavy snow showers but with nice cold powdery conditions it was great fun. Snow showers set to continue with cold temperatures into next week. To celebrate these superb conditions we would like to invite all season pass holders to bring a friend for just £10 for a day's skiing to take advantage of the spring conditions!

There is a photo on their Facebook page ..but you can imagine it anyway.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:16 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Suggest a visit to RRS Discovery instead (from the days when ships had proper names) follwed by a white puddin' supper at the Deep Sea.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterNigel S

News : China passes new laws on foreign NGOs
...That'll be a little bit handy when it comes to restricting reporting of failed eco-promises.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Your taxes at work.

It's just so reassuring that public funds are being stewarded in such a sensitive and thoughtful way for the benefit of the populace isn't it?

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:37 AM | Registered Commentertomo

The entire exhibition seems to be one 3m by 3m tank of brightly lit green water with some pipework coming out .opening night photos
- I hope the grant givers think they got their our moneys worth

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:39 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

And another thing, WTF is the "anthropology of oil fields"?

Apr 28, 2016 at 9:42 AM | Geckko

Filed with "Glaciers and feminism", I think.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

> “I am an anthropologist who does oil field research."

Is it just me or do others find this statement highly misleading?

The impression you get from that statement is that she actually researches oil fields - which might give her some legitimacy in organising an art exhibition on fracking. But she doesn't research oil fields, she researches humans who happen to live on or near oil fields which is completely different. Her knowledge of oil and gas exploration and extraction will be minimal.

Apr 28, 2016 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I wonder if an art exhibition showing a tranquil landscape with the occasional wellhead would get the same publicity, or even permission?

These know-nothings truly suck.

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Nigel S
RSS Discovery and HMS Unicorn!

How I miss a decent White Pudding supper, even a fairly ordinary one would be good.

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

From the "Energy Ethics" web site ......... "Applying insights and methods from anthropology and beyond, this multi-year transdisciplinary project seeks to open up a truly novel line of enquiry that focuses on the people, not just the resource. Ethical sensibility is a capacity that is rooted in people; not a static property inherent in certain kinds of energy sources. By returning attention to human actors, this project positions people as not only central to, but also responsible for our larger energy predicament as we ask: How would we like to sustain human and other life?"

Transdisciplinary? Is that the same as multidisciplinary?
How can energy sources ever have "ethical sensibility"? That would be a first for molecules and electrons!

Actors .............. indeed they are

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

My daughter is off to university next year - Dundee was one of the potential choices. Thank goodness she has not selected it ..........................

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

Anthropological oil field research attracts perverted arty types who cannot resist watching oil workers fracking, Hehe (what a sad crowd).

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

I think hehe are missing a trick by not pouring oil (courtesy of BP) all over the exhibition floor. It would add more tactile and nasal realism. Put it near the exits and visitors would get a good take away message.

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

The photographs of a devastated-by-shale United States are going to turn the tide of denial around.

Bravo for Mette High!!

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyla

It depicts a doomed landscape after extensive hydraulic fracking.

It isn’t our job to tell people what they should think, but it is our job to create environments in which such reflection can happen.

Wow, what a great way to let people make up their own minds the way you want them to make up their own minds. Gotta remember that one.

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterwijnand

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterEnough said

As this Lady has reached the pinnacle of Green Blob expertise on Fracking, she will be hoping to author the relevant Chapters in the next IPCC Report.

She could do a lovely impressionist portrait of a bunch of luvvies receiving a Nobel Prize, made out of wholemeal tofu, herbally fermented halibut, and organic toe-nail clippings.

Apr 28, 2016 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I would love to protest with some of the photos from here...

or here...

Apr 28, 2016 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

why not a windmill and some dead birds and bats scattered around it?
i know why: the windmills too expensive..

Apr 28, 2016 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commentervenus

Re: Robert Thomson

> Transdisciplinary? Is that the same as multidisciplinary?

From wiki:

Transdisciplinarity connotes a research strategy that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach. ...

Transdisciplinarity can be found in the arts and humanities.

Apr 28, 2016 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Huzzah. The indecipherable Ayla has returned to us, sans meaning. A shedload of scholars will now spend your tax dollars and euros, wasting their time seeking the unattainable.

St Andrews sociology department recieves units of new applications following Ayla's diatribe. Department takes over from Aberdeen in oilfield studies, but Big Oyl sceptical that graduates specializing in such things as offshore origami will have the necessary skills.

This exemplifies the implacable enmity between Ayla and hydrocarbon extracting sc*mbags.

Apr 28, 2016 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

If I were a fracking company I'd make a public art installation in a huge hangar. Here I would build a scaled model of a fracking operation going down to, say 2 Km. Clearly showing all the layers, where the water table is etc. etc. Now, if it were made 20 meters high, you could put little houses on top; a 10 meter tall house would then be just 10cm tall. People in the streets would hardly be more than 2cm tall. The fully cased well would be pencil thin, less than 0.5cm in diameter.

Just imagine such an installation with lots of stairs and galleys where people can see for themselves how far down the action actually takes place. In addition there should be fully sized sections of the well with steel and cement casing.

Then I'd invite the press, make lots of film for YouTube and other social media.

OK it would cost cost a few million to set up, but it would be worth every penny.

Apr 28, 2016 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterNiels


Ladyboys into BDSM

Apr 28, 2016 at 3:15 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

The level of ignorance and misinformation about fracking is depressing. It is the sort of subject the BBC could inform and educate the public on but for some reason they haven't.

Apr 28, 2016 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

A few million, Niels? Are you plating this scale-model with gold?! Surely, something like this could be created for just a few thousand? It is an excellent idea, though; does anyone know who to contact in a fracking company to finance its set up?

Apr 28, 2016 at 4:49 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

"I really hope lots of people will pop by the Centrespace Gallery. It is an ambitious, provocative installation that does not seek to tell people what they should think. It has been crucial for both the artists and myself that this installation lets people make up their own minds. "

Sounds like the beginning of a brilliant UN career designing beef, chocolate and tobacco warning labels for WHO.

Apr 28, 2016 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Funded by the Scottish government AKA The "It's Oor Oil" single issue party.

The perfect response

"Manure sprayed at Emma Thompson at anti-fracking demo"

Apr 28, 2016 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorrissey McSmiffFace

Seriously, why does anybody give space, time and money to these loons?

If Dundee University funded an art exhibit by Creationists there would be uproar, yet this has as much scientific and factual content as Creationism.

I simply cannot understand why people who refuse to engage with reality and facts should not be treated as fools and idiots?

Apr 28, 2016 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Hammond

Research display in the Agit Props Lab by..."Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen, an artists’ duo based in Paris. Born in the suburbs of England and Germany, they grew up while electronic technologies slipped into daily life and shopping became leisure."

Facilitated by Dr Mette M. High, the Social Anthropologist whose ground breaking work on Mongolian mining, "Polluted money, polluted wealth", has exposed money as the root of all evil.
"Rather than challenging or subverting money's national indexicality, this redenomination of state currency reflects people's critical position within a troubled economy of pollution. This case demonstrates that currency, like any other object, is a social medium that is intimately tied to the physical and cosmological world."

Dr. Mette, currently in the US on a 3 year project researching Corporate Morality, is sponsored by Lever Bros. Leverhulme Trust. Be sure to make up your own mind.

Apr 28, 2016 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Artists with little or no imagination invariably resort to spewing propaganda.

vvussell, she could do a brilliant graphic design for the front cover of an IPCC report. Of course it would all be meaningless twaddle, but that would not be unprecedented in climate science.

Apr 28, 2016 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

We don't need no "fracking" Art Exhibition like this! -- Eugene WR Gallun

Apr 28, 2016 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEugene WR Gallun

Radical Rodent:

"A few million, Niels? Are you plating this scale-model with gold?! Surely, something like this could be created for just a few thousand? It is an excellent idea, though; does anyone know who to contact in a fracking company to finance its set up?"

What I have in mind is a permanent visitors center, for ignorant teachers, politicians etc. Eventually you might even get schools to do excursions there. The cost include hanger, model, parking place admin offices, marketing etc. etc.

It'll cost a bob or two ...

BTW the model will be the size of a 5 storey building, not exactly toy sized :) Also, you'd need to build a village or town on top in minuature with tiny people cars etc.

Glad you liked the idea :)


Apr 28, 2016 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterNiels

I am particularly intrigued by the what the artist's depiction of a "doomed landscape after extensive hydraulic fracking" looks like with its "leaky, hissing, ghostly wellheads". Perhaps this imaginary depiction could be compared with real life ladscapes, say in North Dakota or the verdant hills of the Appalachians.

Hissing wellheads is a calumny. Gas companies and government environmental agencies would never allow them.

Apr 28, 2016 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall


I found the Houston Science Museum had an excellent series of galleries devoted to oil and gas and energy more generally. Many interactive exhibits. Galveston boasts an offshore rig museum.

Of course, it probably helps if children are given an introduction to these things in school: I recall my science teacher having us do progressive distillation in a 1" test tube of "crude" he had reconstructed with some motor oil, diesel fuel, kerosene, and white spirit (I think he stopped short of trying to dissolve some LPG from a lighter gas canister) when I was 11 or 12. Today such experiments would be banned as being too dangerous, no doubt.

Apr 28, 2016 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Ugh! tags again...

Galveston offshore rig museum

Apr 28, 2016 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Niels: the more I think of it, the more attractive the idea becomes. Imagine an entrance at the “surface”, where the visitor is led around the installation, to marvel at the intricate, tiny village; see the gas power station dwarfed by a forest of wind turbines; the “dark satanic mill” in the verdant valley; the water mill forming an attractive lake; the quaint pit head, and the pinhead-sized model of the wellhead. The visitor then goes down some steps to the next level, to see the aquifer, pierced by the mine shaft and the pencil-lead-breadth drill shaft leading down to the next level … where they are informed that the scale has been reduced yet further, and they can view the extent the mines once had, and the hair’s-breadth fracking pipe leading to the next level, where they are told the scale has been reduced yet again, except for the drill pipe, which has to remain visible … and the next … where they see it splitting out and spreading far and wide …. through the next level, and the next, until, at the bottom, they see the shafts penetrating the top of the shale, some “6,000 metres” below where they started.

Apr 28, 2016 at 7:49 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

vvussell, she could do a brilliant graphic design for the front cover of an IPCC report. Of course it would all be meaningless twaddle,

Then the Bish should hire her to replace Josh.

Apr 28, 2016 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

One of the most impressive science demonstrations I ever saw at school (in the 1950s) was of a scaled down model of a drill string. It consisted of a spool of thin wire, probably fuse wire, that was unwound and stretched out across the schoolroom. The teacher then twisted one end. He then said that in a real oil well the other end would be expected not only to turn but to grind through solid rock. This seemed impossible magic. The class went on to discuss such matters as torque, transmission efficiency and scaling in models.

Them were the days when we were taught proper, in this case using nothing more than a spool of wire.

Apr 28, 2016 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Alan Kendall:

Of course today drills are hydraulically operated by the mud (thus saving a lot of rotational energy), with two way downhole communication via modulated ultrasound that allows the wireline log to be created while drilling, and sends control signals to the bit to maintain the correct path through the rock.

Apr 28, 2016 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

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