Peter Fend and Tom Otterness, Arctic Basin Floor skate park, 2012, digital rendering from a proposal to be presented at The Economist’s 2013 summit on the Arctic region, “Sustainable Transformation: The Way Ahead.”

Peter Fend and Tom Otterness, Arctic Basin Floor skate park, 2012, digital rendering from a proposal to be presented at The Economist’s 2013 summit on the Arctic region, “Sustainable Transformation: The Way Ahead.”

Peter Fend

Peter Fend and Tom Otterness, Arctic Basin Floor skate park, 2012, digital rendering from a proposal to be presented at The Economist’s 2013 summit on the Arctic region, “Sustainable Transformation: The Way Ahead.”

ART YIELDS IDEAS, technology gives means. Art needs technology to turn ideas into widespread belief, then construction. Credible information-gathering instruments like satellites and electron microscopes can be standard in art, in order to create an authoritative source of knowledge—and plans. I have worked with such instruments’ images since my first exhibition (as part of an artist team), at Caltech, in 1978. My collaborators and I have produced site analyses that have appeared on most TV-news networks and in international newspapers and scientific publications, and we have been invited to discuss what we’ve made at the UN and with the US Congress. We have also collaborated with America’s Cup naval architects and shipbuilding firms to design efficient ocean structures. All of these efforts have encountered blockage. It seems that one cannot do such work as an “artist.”

Colleagues of mine from thirty years ago (as first shareholders in the Ocean Earth Development Corporation), including Jenny Holzer, Coleen Fitzgibbon, and Paul Sharits, have asked: How can we artists measurably influence policy? How can any of the art world’s past century of innovations be adopted, and preferably with credit to the artists? Sources of innovation with designs never tested: works by Matta-Clark, Oppenheim, Oldenburg, Duchamp, Beuys, Serra, and Schneemann. How does one trigger vast changes in the way that cities and terrains get built? Advanced technology will be required, but many ideas exist already in twentieth- century art. We may need to step outside the art world, and outside of entrenched-power countries, into, say, the Balkans.