Ocean Earth Development Corporation

Basic concept:

"Incorporated in 1980 as the Ocean Earth Construction and Development Corporation (Ocean Earth), it changed its official name to Ocean Earth Development Corporation in 1994, so as to avoid confusion with the Paris-based agency OECD. Basically an artist-run, yet incorporated, research and development think tank, Ocean Earth aspires to create necessary, useable, marketable, and therefore saleable technology.

Ocean Earth's product brands fall under four categories: 1) Cycle Power: the development of non-polluting energy production using water bodies; 2) Earth Works: systems designed to restore large numbers of keystone animals necessary for plentiful, good water; 3) City Bild: consumer goods such as urban mega-structure components and Exoware-brand bodywear; and 4) Space Force: civil-satellite monitoring of global hot spots with policy, news-media and diplomatic intent.

Its membership at any particular time reflects each project's technical needs. Over the past twenty years, numerous individuals and groups have worked with Ocean Earth, including artists Christina Cobb, Bill Dolson, Peter Fend, Julia Fischer, Colleen Fitzgibbon, Ingo Günther, Heather Josephine Jansen, Win Knowlton, William Meyer, Dennis Oppenheim, Glenn Steigelman, Eve Vaterlaus, Sophie Vieille, and Joan Waltemath; naval architect Marc Lombard; architect Kevin Gannon; and scientists from IFREMER oceanographic institutes (France), Cal Tech, Institute of Gas Technology, SUNY Stony Brook, Danish Meteorological Institute, the Japan Ocean Industries Association, and NASA." (Source: Sue Spaid, 2002)

Architect/artist Peter Fend (USA) and architect/artist/computer scientist George Chaikin (USA) have been relatively constant figures throughout. Particpants in current projects also include Kate Glazer (USA) satellite scientist.(Arts Wire, 2001)

"Ocean Earth Development Corporation was established in 1980, emerging from the New York-based Offices. Ocean Earth was specifically conceived as an instrument for implementing the goals of the environmental art movement, building upon the ideas of artists such as Robert Smithson (with whom Peter Fend worked closely until his death in 1978). The organisation has no fixed membership but functions as a loose association of artists, architects and scientists, shifting according to the needs of each project as they take place around the world (although Fend has been a central figure throughout). Through intensive inter-disciplinary collaborations, connecting ecological imperatives with future-oriented technology, Ocean Earth has sought to develop a wide range of strategies for improving our relationship to the environment." (Peter Fend: H2EARTH, 2001)

"Working as a convergence of artists, architects and scientists, a US company called Ocean Earth (founded 1980) looks at crisis spots around the world, then prepares site plans, and now aims to act. Anywhere we go, we use ideas from recent art. Our concept of territory comes from Marcel Duchamp.

"Ten years earlier, in 1980, Jenny Holzer, Peter Fend and four other artists, including TV producer Colen Fitzgibbon, painter Robin Winters, then Holzer-friend Peter Nadin, and Richard Prince, were asked with some urgency by scientists at the California Institute of Technology to help develop an advertising campaign, or some such creative media campaign, in their capacity as "The Offices", for promoting a scheme for replacing fossil fuels with a marine-biological source. Shortly afterwards, however, The Offices collapsed. No such campaign, nor other campaigns pending with UN organizations and with the North-South commission of Willy Brandt, though envisioned, was ever undertaken. Instead, art history took quite another course." (Peter Fend: Open letter to Jenny Holzer, 1993)

Satellite imagery:

In 1985, during the Iran-Iraq war, two participants in Ocean Earth visited a negotiator between Iran and Iraq, the Algerian Ambassador to France, to show him satellite photographs and war-zone analyses. There were three meetings. In the last meeting, he asked, What could we do to help the Algerian Army restore the Sahara Desert to savanna? He did not know we were artists. He just thought we could help solve their territorial problems. Since then, models and plans have been made; now, with the civil war easing, we’ll respond." (Peter Fend: Art of the State, 2002)

"While several eco-artists regularly use satellite imagery to gain a bigger picture of the destruction or of nature to study the interrelationships of topographical forms, Ocean Earth was the first to use them as a powerful information tool. Ocean Earth gained notoriety when news sources like CNN, NBC, CBS, several European television stations, and international newspapers like the International Herald Tribune started purchasing their Space Force group's satellite imagery, produced using Landsat civil-satellite data. Space Force could process satellite data because member Bill Dolson had worked on the software for Landsat, and they hired LogEtronics, a state-of-the-art satellite data processor. Using revenues from their television sales, Space Force purchased the data from satellite ground stations, so they controlled the the data's application and owned the related images. Space Force's specialty was selecting the site/date and frame of the data.

According to Ocean Earth's résumé, their satellite survey maps of basins and sub-basins were instrumental in anticipating, providing evidence for or explaining many news-breaking stories during the 1980s. Ocean Earth imagery provided crucial information about attack routes in the Falklands (1982) and Beirut (1982), explanations for Chernobyl's melt-down (1986), the motivations behind Swedish prime minister Olof Palme's assassination (1986), Russian submarine bases (1986), Pakistan's nuclear facility (1987), and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. At the same time, they provided news services ecologically-sensitive information, but there were far fewer media outlets for eco-related stories. Nonetheless, they sold a story about the Amazon basin and its impact on the Caribbean Sea to Turner Broadcasting and the Cousteau Society (1983)." (Sue Spaid, 2002)


"On 20 October 1987, an article appeared in The International Herald Tribune in which one of the artists from The Offices, who had developed a know-how in processing of civil satellite data for site analysis with, among others, another artist from The Offices, accused the key negotiator between Iran and Iraq of handing over images and analysis for which he and his colleagues were responsible solely to one side in the war, Iran. This key negotiator had replaced Olof Palme in the position of key negotiator, and he was later revealed to the artist by a UN diplomat to be have been an agent for the CIA. A number of articles followed, along with at least one cover-up murder in one of the news-release points, but the artist, along with two colleagues (not from The Offices) held a press conference at the UN in response to what was described by correspondents as the "biggest scandal in the history of the UN." Since then, this artist went through three trials, at the end of which he has been forbidden to speak of any episodes in which he is involved that include the government of Iran." (Peter Fend: Open letter to Jenny Holzer, 1993)

"At a second press conference at the United Nations conducted by Fend and Sante Scardillo, also just weeks before Desert Storm, efforts to show how satellite monitoring and earth-art principles (as also monitored by satellite) could benefit all the Gulf, were frustrated when the Counselor to the Iranian Mission to the United Nations accused Fend personally of trying to extort a very large sum of money from Iran. The press corps understood that even if the accusation were not true it would be too dangerous to give any credence to Fend. A press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, which was not nearly as well attended, given solo by Fend, was videotaped for television release by Fitzgibbon." (Peter Fend: Open letter to Jenny Holzer, 1993)

About the group concept:

"In our case, at the end of the collaborative-project efforts of the 70s, we followed legal procedures to set up a business corporation. This contrasted sharply with the tradition of the Lone Artist. As a company, like any other business venture, we would produce goods and services for paying clients””ideally, clients outside the art world, outside whatever might be called a collector community, people looking for solutions to practical, public tasks. We thrive if our clients are governments, or at least the mass media that influence governments. So we entitled our early exhibitions Art of the State (1982) and Television Government (1983), and we produced a series of cable-TV shows as a Space Force working to achieve Beuys’ “Direkte Demokratie” in a “Space State” (1979”“82)." (Peter Fend: Art of the State, 2002)

"Business structures are necessary, as a means to collect the ideas and to create a power base. As long as you don't have a legal structure, you won't achieve anything. A Wall Street lawyer has helped us in setting up Ocean Earth. Anything we've done since then has been simply trying to be a legal enterprise in the world." (Peter Fend, interviewed by Camiel van Winkel, Archis)

"I have tried to put forth into the world the concept of an artistic identity being not a single individual, not a certain 'name' person, but a business venture, a profit-making company of individuals with its own name and reputation. So, rather than make advertisements on behalf of a 'Peter Fend', as is normally required of an Artist, I have been working with several others to make advertisements on behalf of a company called Ocean Earth. All the media projects, the tv news projects, the satellite-observation projects, the News Room and other 'truth disclosure' projects, have been undertaken partly for our purposes of knowing but more largely for the purpose, as in any advertising campaign, of building up brand credibility" (Peter Fend: Art and Advertising, 1994)

Some exhibitions:

1991: American Fine Arts Co., NY
1992: Floriade, The Hague, Netherlands
1992: Tanja Grunert Gallery, Cologne, Germany
1993: Fond Regional d'Art Contemporain, Angouleme, France
1993: Köln (Cologne) Art Unfair, Cologne, Germany
1994: Gallerie Meymac, Limoges, France
1994: Gallerie Metropole, Vienna, Austria
2000: "Kosov@: Carnival in the Eye of the Storm", Pacific Northwest College of Art (Group)


Sue Spaid: Ecovention, Current Art to Transform Ecologies, Contemporary Arts Center, 2002.
http://greenmuseum.org/c/ecovention/sect2.html(external link)

Peter Fend: Art of the State, Ars Electronica Catalog 2002
http://www.aec.at/en/arch...ID=11791(external link)

Peter Fend: H2EARTH, in: Metamute, London, 2001. - A ten page feature in which the West’s War on Terror is examined in relation to Central Asia’s precious oil reserves.
http://www.metamute.org/en/node/5828/print(external link)

Peter Fend: Art and Advertising, mediamatic.net, 1994
http://www.mediamatic.net/article-5728-en.html(external link)

ArtWire October 2001
http://www.nyfa.org/current_archive/2001/cur100201.html(external link)

Ocean Earth info page by George Chaikin:
http://www.cooper.edu/~george/oecd/oecd.html(external link)

Contributors to this page: 1.0 .
Page last modified on Sunday 09 of December, 2007 22:01:07 CET by 1.0.