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Art & Energy: How Culture Changes Paperback – May 1 2014
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About the Author
Barry Lord is a leading international figure in cultural planning and management and the author or coauthor of seven books, including Artists, Patrons, and the Public: Why Culture Changes. He is co-president of Lord Cultural Resources.
Top Customer Reviews
No less than an eminent social critic and novelist than Margaret Atwood has boldly declared Barry Lord's thinking is on a par with other noted Canadian cultural icons such as Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan. Hopefully, his message will receive attention as well as coherent action.
Max Weissengruber" Lecturer in University of Toronto Continuing Education Programs and former Director of Marketing f Wilson Learning , a Division of John Wiley Publishers.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author begins by exploring physical and material culture, which are the two basic kinds of culture, both of which depend on an energy strategy sustained by a primary source of energy. Next, he covers how our material culture was initially dependent on each individual's kinetic energy. Then, the author discusses the mastering of fire, which means controlling combustion: A process of energy conversion, by turning the energy stored by photosynthesis, in what is technically called phytomass into heat and light by means of a flame. In addition, he examines the development of cooperation among men, as a means to becoming more successful hunters, was a way to avoid open sexual competition for women, since hunting together required a certain degree of male bonding. Also, the author discusses archeologist Ian Hoddler's claim: that before men and women could successfully domesticate animals, they had to domesticate themselves. He continues, by exploring how most of the world's ancient and many later civilizations depended on a renewable energy source that everyone understood to be indispensable: The energy of slaves. Next, the author covers the culture of urbanism, where trade is at the heart of the city, and marketplaces are central to all urban plans. Then, he discusses wind: Like all energy sources, wind power is ultimately due to the sun--in this case, differential heating of the earth's surface that causes global air movement in patterns that meteorologists call prevailing winds. In addition, the author looks at everybody, in all levels of society, in all ages, has had to be aware of where their energy comes from, and what must be done to get it and keep it coming. He also discusses how from the days of the Roman Britain and throughout the Middle Ages, coal had been used for domestic heating in the homes of poorer people who had little access to firewood. Next, the author examines how the coal culture stimulated research in the natural sciences, which in turn, caused electrification to inspire a greater interest in the physical sciences. He continues, by looking at the difference between oil and coal. Then, the author considers an emerging energy source that offers some measure of hope for our future: Renewable energy and its culture of stewardship. In addition, he examines how solar and wind energy makes it possible to have a new kind of energy industry; one that is not based on fuel of any kind, but utilizes technology created by human ingenuity for the production, distribution and storage of energy. Finally, the author discusses how culture changes when a new generation takes up the cultural values that an emerging source of energy makes possible.
This excellent book helped the author answer the following two questions: What difference does understanding cultural change and its sources in energy transition make, economically? Second: Does this theory have any predictive value?
The transition from one dominant form of energy to another is an opportunity for great cultural change and creativity, according to the author, a noted museum planner. He traces the course of energy use from the introduction of fire about a million and a half years ago to the 21st century development of renewable, sustainable energy sources.
In between these two historical poles, he explores the introduction of agriculture and the use of farm animals, the development of forced human labor or slavery, the introduction of coal energy and steam power, the 20th century shift to an economy based on oil and gas, and the push toward nuclear power begun during the “age of anxiety,” those decades we know as the Cold War.
With well-chosen illustrations, the author sets forth the varied cultural conditions that produced some of the world’s great art, from hunter-gatherer times until today.
Barry Lord notes how hydrocarbon energy production has driven the development of art centers in the Arabian Gulf region, notably the cultural district on the Emirates’ Saadiyat Island featuring the Louvre and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, now under construction in Dhahran, in which the author’s firm has played a major planning role.
(A version of this review appeared in Aramco World Magazine, Mar/Apr 2015.)