Eyebeam Exchange: What can the role of artists and designers be in the climate justice movement?

A black-and-white image of many rectangles stacked on top of each other, with white lines running through them.


October 20, 2021

In this online dialogue, artist and engineer Alex Nathanson and fashion designer and researcher Pauline van Dongen will consider the role of art and design in the climate justice movement. The artists invite us to a conversation in which they will reflect on this from their experiences of working with sustainable energy technologies. They will touch upon perceptions of value, the impact and role of technology, as well as the role of user experience and physical engagement with sustainable energy at the intersection of art, design and climate action.

$10 suggested donation, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Alex Nathanson is a multimedia artist, engineer, and educator. His work is primarily focused on exploring both the experimental and practical applications of sustainable energy technologies, particularly photovoltaic solar power. His work has been featured at Issue Project Room (NYC), the Museum of the Moving Image (NYC), Anthology Film Archives (NYC), Film Society of Lincoln Center (NYC), Dome of Visions (Copenhagen, Denmark), and the Art Prospect Festival (St. Petersburg, Russia). He was one of the long-term artists in residence at Flux Factory, in Queens, NY from 2012 to 2016, and his multi-media performance group Fan Letters was awarded residencies at The Watermill Center in 2017 and 2019. As a solar power designer, he has created interactive and educational projects for The Climate Museum, Solar One, and the NYC Department of Education, among others. He is a NABCEP Photovoltaic Associate and received a M.S. in Integrated Digital Media from NYU Tandon School of Engineering in 2019. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor at NYU Tandon and is writing a book on the history of solar power art and design, which is being published by Routledge.

Pauline van Dongen is a Dutch fashion designer and researcher specializing in smart textiles and wearable technologies. Her design studio, founded in 2010, develops alternatives to current fashion practices by exploring the role of technology in textiles and clothing. For example, since 2013 she has been researching different ways of integrating solar cells into clothing and textiles and how this can help shape a new type of relationship with clothing and with sustainable energy.

Pauline’s commitment to creating a more open and conscious fashion system is reflected in the studio’s dedication to collaborative and interdisciplinary work. The studio’s vision is based on the belief that technology can add new value and meaning to clothing, improving the way we experience the world around us. The projects are characterized by material explorations and special attention is given to the experiential (emotional and sensory) qualities of clothing instead of simply relying on the functional applications of technology. Unique to the work of studio Pauline van Dongen is that each design is approached holistically. This means that all textile technology – old and new, low tech and high tech – are treated equally; namely as materials. This distinguishes the studio from the prevailing but often limiting technocratic views and approaches within the fashion industry. This so-called ‘material aesthetics’ approach is central to Pauline’s thesis entitled: ‘A Designer’s Material-Aesthetics Reflections on Fashion and Technology’, which she obtained her PhD at Eindhoven University of Technology in 2019. This made her the first fashion designer in the Netherlands to receive her PhD.

Last updated: 12.07.2022
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