Paul Vanouse

Paul .

Paul Vanouse, UB professor of art, director of MFA program and head of emerging practices

What are you doing to help UB become more sustainable?

The faculty and staff in the Department of Art collaborate in sustainability and social responsibility in all kinds of ways, some of which I've spearheaded or facilitated in my role as head of the Emerging Practices concentration and many that other faculty and staff have initiated and furthered.  For instance for the past fifteen years in my teaching lab for Electronic Art, I've used mostly surplus PCs since most of the computation is non processor intensive microcontroller programming.  Furthermore, I've tried to teach these classes with minimal software and a DIY approach that allows students to realize their work at minimal expense through creative reuse of readily available surplus, such as DC power supplies, discarded hi-fi equipment and cabling.  All our labs use high quality 100% post-consumer recycled paper, produced in New York in a wind-powered facility. 

Other initiatives include Professor Stephanie Rothenberg's course "Identity Design," in which students conduct identity campaigns for local and sustainable non-profits.  Likewise, Instructional Support Technician Domenic Licata has built sites for local non-profit organizations  in his web design class, including the Sustainable Business Roundtable and Designing to Live Sustainably.  And one of my favorite projects is the annual "Cradle to Grave" exhibition*, organized by Instructional Support Technician's Natalie Flemming and Jeff Sherven.  The project is open to all university members and challenges them to use seemingly obsolete art and technology objects (donated and surplus departmental equipment) to create new works of art, to be displayed in the exhibition. *Editor's Note: This exhibit is on display now through October 18.

What kinds of sustainability related research/projects do you pursue at UB?

In most of my artistic research I try to be attentive to consumption and disposal, sustainability and the broad economic impacts of my practice.  These are concerns that are frequently addressed in the contemporary art world as well.  There has been a massive surge in contemporary artist maker spaces, DIY sharing communities, workshops and other practices that are of low environmental impact and high on creative productivity.

How are students involved in your sustainability work?

The students are at the heart of most of the classes and initiatives that I mentioned before.  That being said, I think this generation of students are much more attentive to environmental issues than my generation was.  A student at a recent workshop noted something like "environmental issues are our Vietnam, our rock and roll."  This generation has championed low impact transportation and food production, and I think there are lots of things that they are bringing to the table that have influenced the faculty and staff.

What is the one thing you would like people to know that you do in your personal life to further sustainability?

I try to contribute in lots of small ways such as carpooling to UB and otherwise driving as little as possible, buying local, eating local, eating sustainable, etc.  Probably similar things that many here at UB are doing.

How could UB improve its sustainability efforts?

I think that facilitating more sharing of technological resources throughout the university would be great. 

And of course a North Campus subway stop would be transformative.



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