September 10, 2016: A story on Michael Heizer appearing in the August issue of the New Yorker describes his recent visits to Manhattan, where he began his career some five decades ago as an artist/sculpter. I read the article with interest over a steak and baked potato at Del Frisco’s in Houston. At the bar, where the lighting is better than the dining tables, but not by much, I held the paper copy up close — a 5-page cutout that arrived in my mailbox today from Dr. Traci Speed, in California — in-between bites of steak slathered in mash potato scooped out from the skin.

What surprised me was that Spiral Jetty was created by Robert Smithson, and not Heizer, with whom I had credited that earth work for so many years. According to Dana Goodyear, the author of the New Yorker article, Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is an essential in the canon of twentieth-century sculpture; an artwork completed in 1970 and that continues to dominate among academic reputation-makers, art historians, et cetera who use the image as shorthand to represent earth works more generally.

As I am here, now, in Houston and on campus, I will go over and take a fresh look at Heizer’s angles (45°, 90°, 180°) sculpture installed at Rice University. Be back in a moment!

RiceFebruary 28, 2014: At Rice University in Houston, I was able to locate the Michael Heizer sculptures, which appear advertised on the Rice U website. When I arrived to the engineering department and asked around for their location, a administrative personnel responded:

“Oh, you mean the sculptures”. With raised arm, she pointed with her forefinger to the court yard. Paparazzi Ethnography readers are aware of my recent visit to the Levitated Mass exhibit in November.

Here, above, is a collective image of the angles (official title: 45°, 90°, 180°) sculpture.

The more I reflected on the rock sculptures in Houston, the more I realized how well they would look if relocated to the Marin Southern Cone. On the way back home from Houston, I created my own version of the appropriate installation of the Heizer Rocks Relocated:afargoldybeachroadtennesse

Frankfurt airline passenger boarding bridge.

IMG_1619-20150630En route through the Frankfurt airport, I encountered the enclosed space of a passenger-boarding ramp — providing an opportunity for a set of energy images to combine both tapestry and mosaic forms.

Tapestry is an architectural feature considered the earliest technique for creating a wall within an interior setting. The load-bearing wall eventually became a wall on which textiles were hung. Like textiles, the above colors serve as elements of dressing and represent both the building material and the expressiveness of art. Mosaics, in contrast, are placed high on walls and arches. In ancient mosaics — as in the image above — the people depicted have been given the same uniform height. Their clothes are pattered. Both the images and the colors stand out clearly from various distances and angles in the room.

IMG_1621-20150630 Directly opposite, I encountered an image that recalls the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo. Here, the agency of Man reaches out from the sky to touch his own creation, a technological object that lies docile before him.

The art critic John Berger (1979) notes that this type of publicity image takes advantage of the traditional education of the average spectator, relying on what she has learned in school of history and mythology. As such, the publicity of these energy images is nostalgic. It has to sell the past to the future. It cannot itself supply the standards of its own claims. In these examples, references so far to quality are bound to retrospective and tradition.



Paul Wassmann contemplating an image of Norwegian scientist, Fridtjof Nansen.

During an ARCTOS field trip to Svolvaer, Norway, Dr. Paul Wassmann lectured that no amount of impression management can adequately address the risks of industrial society.

LysakerAn encounter with a painting of Fritjof Nansen begins with a visit to Arild Moe in Lysaker, near Oslo, at the palatial home and now institute that bears the name of Norway’s first modern scientist.

Dr. Wassman mentioned a “second” oil painting of Nansen, available and locked away somewhere in a room in Tromsø, Norway.


Arctic Summit

3/12James Astil, Political Editor, The Economist, begins the meeting:

Three Pillars on which much Arctic discussion began:
(1) Vast changes (climate) in the High North creating opportunities;
(2) Technological drive creating massive development;
(3) Dramatic developments were harmonious, because of the interest in Arctic countries to keep the peace;

Today: Only the first pillar remains in place. And there is now the more vexed question of Arctic security.

As a place to develop oil resources, has the Arctic been oversold? And, is it still this harmonious location with peace among countries? Many thanks to DNV GL, Diamond Sponsorship, and Silver Sponsors, Nordic Carriers, and DNB Bank.

Open to the press (no Chatham rule).

Up now is the first speaker, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway, Børge Brende. Challenges in the region suggest we focus on the Arctic. Opportunities in the High North ensure we focus on solutions. Attractions in the High North are to be found in the Arctic itself. It is and should be a region of peaceful cooperation, respect of international law and sustainable resources. Our goal for Norwegian Arctic policy is to ensure that peace and stability (for innovation and global environment) continue.

I just had conversations with my good friend John Kerry in the United States, and we are all invested in creating the Arctic as a peaceful productive place. Asian countries are lining up to participate in the Arctic council. We never believed, or at least I never believed, that the Arctic would in the short run replace the Suez canal, nevertheless, we keep planning, exploring, and recognizing that this process is painstaking and deliberate activity.Photographer

Stage.[references “Nansen” without last name (Fridtijof) as part of the century of Norwegian discovery, ed.]. We see the global effects (affects) of changes, that are alarming, excellerating global warming, 2015 will be a decisive year on the “war on climate change”. Short term changes in supply/demand do not change the geological knowledge in the ground. It is still expected that global demand for energy will increase by 40 percent and oil will be dominant for decades to come (even though we have to make a shift toward natural gas). Safe to assume that Arctic gas will have its day. Arctic oil and gas operates under the most strict conditions in the world.  The way in which we meet the energy of the future must survive the judgement of future generations, which requires peace, stability and environmental sustainability. Robust defense enables security. Overlapping claims will be settled within the established legal framework. Well functioning political institutions such as Arctic Council are required for smooth functioning of cooperation among the Arctic states.

Establishment of Arctic economic council. Norwegian-Russian relations have been productive in the past as seen in regulation over cod fishing. “It was tough 15 years ago to listen to scientists, but we are now seeing the yield of listening to sound advice.” Russia staying out of Ukraine would be helpful (paraphrase, ed.). The modern Arctic adventure is just beginning.
Okay, well, up now we have Artur Wilczynski, Ambassador of Canada to Norway, talking about the importance of the North to Northerners, but in fact, I have not been able to listen to a word he has said, because of the talented Dr. Berit Kristofferson, who is requesting that we should have coffee, and I (after a brief rock-paper-scissoring over the privilege) have since ventured out to the coffee bar.

And here she is, recently minted Dr. of Philosophy in Political Science and Geography with a wonderful dissertation on Arctic oil and gas development (as “opportunistic adaptation”), and of course, seen here enjoying the coffee that I graciously left the ballroom to provide… Berit Ah, up now we have an American, Julie Furuta-Toy, Charge d’Affaires, US Embassy in Norway. Ms. Furuta-Toy is outlining the importance of the American government’s ability to carry out a safe and secure leadership, as the country begins to take over the Arctic Council chairmanship over the next two years. The Americans remain inspired by Canada’s previous leadership on Arctic Council, and want to place remote communities in the Arctic on the top of the agenda, especially given the climate change impacts.

Okay, well, up now we have a group discussion between James Astill, and the two previous speakers, with James asking about differences between Canada, America and the Norwegian Arctic. Artur, making the case that Norwegian live in Norway, and in Arctic Norway, too. While most Canadian live “along a narrow band” of the US-Canadian border.Sitting James from behindAmericans are not very aware of Alaska, but are aware of its vast untrammelled wilderness that requires safeguarding, according to Ms. Furuta-Toy, having these vast areas to be preserved in terms of prosperity.

Timo Koivurova, Research Professor, Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre, provided quite an interesting presentation on splitting up the continental shelf among states. The white spots on this image suggest there is not much Arctic ocean left unclaimed after the various Arctic nations have made their scientific/political claims.seafloor Up now, we have a banker talking about the long-term opportunities in the Arctic — standing “at the cross-roads” – increased political tension, climate change, technological shifts, economic challenges — “Mega Trends”, Mr. Harald Serck-Hanssen, Group Executive Vice-President, DNB Bank.

“Pygmies live here” – reading from Latin of an early map 16th century depicting occupants in the Arctic.

Trends: (1) quest for resources – whatever we do, 2 billion more folks in the next 30 years. The country which takes the longest term perspective on securing resources, China, has taken an interest in the Arctic, courting Greenland, Iceland, set up a base at Spitsbergen, and wanting to include themselves in the Arctic Council; (2) Geopolitical rivalry — DNB just divested from the Murmanks region; (3) Technological development and infrastructure – oversight mainly. Drones are good, showing a catamaran style “airship”; (4) Climate change, we expect stricter regulation and “increased reputational risk” of operating in the Arctic.

The Arctic “only holds about 4 million people”. With falling oil prices, I feel there will be less interest in oil and gas development. Actually, we saw a number of mega projects put on the back burner (Shtokman in Russia, Johan Castberg in Norway). So, in short, “yeah”, Arctic has been oversold. Lack of ports, infrastructure, ships, huge environmental concerns, 77 ships across the Arctic and only about 30 (?) this past year. But let us turn to fish farming. Now fishing is booming in the Arctic. Tourism. The Arctic will be exotic and authentic for decades. Hurtigruten, the Norwegian ship cruise has just been purchased by a British concern, suggesting that tourism is entering heady days.

In the short and medium term, the investment opportunities in the High North have been overstated, but the mega trends remain, and will be challenges against the environmental issues moving forward.

wide_screen “The Richest-Man-In-Norway”, Fred Olsen, asks a question [editor’s note: Berit stated this phrase to me upon seeing Oslen stand, and the same phrase was repeated by Norwegian Institute for International Affairs, specialist in Asian studies [name here], who happens to be sitting at Mr. Olsen’s table.]

Okay, well, we just heard a few comments from Aile Javo, President, Saami Council, who just mentioned on stage that The Economist event title, “Has the Arctic been Oversold” – presumes that the Arctic has been sold to begin with. Also, as one of the indigenous persons living in the Arctic, she begs to differ stating, “The Arctic is our homeland, it is not for sale. You cannot sell something that is not yours”. groupi Saami Ah, a photo of Ms. Javo taken during the coffee break.

In fact, there is some disagreement between Ms. Javo and Ms. Janet King, President, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, who feels resource development is really necessary as expressed by local villagers in the Canadian North who seek the kind of changes that such economic investment can bring, and are in fact, disappointed by this new discourse of under developing underdevelopment.

Chiming in is Tom Paddon, Chief Executive Officer, Vaffinland and Chair, Arctic Economic Council, mentioning the importance of recognizing the long term commitment or “reconciliation” for “extrapolating” how economic investment can be commensurable with indigenous interests.

“This is a very up-beat story”, James Astill responds, and turns then to Alexander Shestakov, Director, Global Arctic Programme, WWF, requesting whether he can follow up with a “similar up-beat story.”

Well, in fact, Russia has been in the Eurasian Arctic mingling with indigenous folks for hundreds of years, according to Mr. Shestakov, and that is a major difference with the North American setting, where indigenous folks are mainly taking jobs as “cooks, cleaners, and drivers”, when development comes to town [based on his own observations while traveling in Alaska].  As Mr. Shestakov points out, indigenous participation in development is based on some kind of lopsided “consultation” where 500-page technical reports are expected to be reviewed by northern groups who do not have the skills to comment.

Q: What are the results of sanctions against Russia?

A: Well, international standards on environmental safeguarding, which are more expensive to maintain, and were only followed to lure Western financing, are now absent  from development consideration in the Russian Arctic, and along with that, the World Bank investments to create standardization surrounding these developments.

According to Nils Andreassen, Executive Director, Institute of the North (Alaska), the Arctic Council distracts us from domestic policy making.

Ah, now here are three types of visuals from which we are using to get to know the celebrity status of the dignified folks on stage: (1) as a projection on the back screen; (2) as a close-up during the networking coffee break; (3) and, from a distance [in a group] sitting on the stage. Interestingly, an associated of Ms. Javo [name here] later commented to me in person, that Ms. Javo was quite nervous having to sit among the group. When I asked why, the associate mentioned that much of Ms. Javo’s discourse is scripted in advance, and that, expected to be seated in a round chair discussion would require spontaneous responses, something to which she is uncomfortable given that English is not her native language.

widerWell, in fact, there was no need for her to worry. Ms. Javo presented herself fabulously and I for one, given her fluent command of English, would never have suspected she was nervous given the professional manner in which she mingled.

Up now, we have a “Climate Change Presentation” — titled, “When Climate Change will Force you to Re-Evaluate: A Warning”, by Jason E Box, Professor of Glaciology, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Dr, Box is presenting quite a few dramatic images. The dramaturgical form can be understood discursively by what Jason calls the “hockey stick” pattern of CO2 levels, that is, chemicals released into the atmosphere in larger and larger quantities, and whose dramatic rise during the industrial period of the last 200 years, unheard of change over the past 2 million years of projection, can be seen in this image of the “hockey stick”.


Doctor Box does have some fabulous abstractions — all referring to such heady issues including Arctic seafloor methane release, heating up of the ocean, falling rates of Greenland ice sheet, rates of black carbon release, persistent circulation anomalies, land and ocean methane release — I could not have imagined! that such complicated topics could provide such interestingly simplified forms of drama.

Here are a few examples of abstraction as a dramaturgical form:Graphic5 Graphic4 Graphic1 Graphic3

Thank you Dr. Box!

Well, plenty of folks are “disappointed that the oil boom is over”, so says Liv Hovem who is the stand in for Elisabeth Tørstad, Chief Executive Officer, DNV GL & Oil and Gas, who could not make it to the event. During my previous visit, we had CEO of the company, Henrik Madsen. Perhaps both Henrik and Elisabeth Diamond sponsors of the event, were caught up in other pressing matters.



After lunch…

The three shocks [by Jarand Rystad, Managing Partner, Rystad Energy]: (1) Shale oil production would be much higher than expected (the “world” produced more oil); (2) A European collapse in demand (“Europe” did not buy enough stuff); Saudi Arabia did not step in with less production (“Saudi inaction” to collapsing prices of oil).

Arctic has “really big fields” and companies want big fields. Scaling up includes efficiencies.

Okay, well, we are getting close to the end of a long, long day, now talking about mining with a strong list of folks, including the mayor of Longyearbyen (Christin Kristofferson) an advisor of Bellona (Karl Kristensen) and Secretary General of Norwegian Mineral Industry (Elisabeth Gammelsaeter).

Now up, the last speaker: Ping Su, Professor, Political Science  of Polar and Oceanic Studies, Tong Ji University.

Here is the list of items that Dr. Su finds important: Political instability, harsh weather conditions, poor infrastructure, fragile ecosystem, impact of world market,.

China’s recognition of Arctic challenges: Government, academic, enterprise.

Epilogue: [stay tuned…]


trainingDay2Customer satisfaction in speed and logic of performance…


Faroe Island oil/gas developments


Greenland oil/gas developments

In response to the question: “How long should it take for a screen to upload after pressing the submit button?”

Answer: “Two to three minutes for the biggest queries or else the thought process identifies a problem with the software or computer [and for normal reports] it should be pretty instantaneously


Iceland oil/gas developments

Norway Map

Norway oil/gas developments

1/22: In the above quote, I underlined the last few words, “it should be pretty instantaneously,” to stress how quickly information of arctic energy developments can be accessed through the Evaluate Universe (see below posts for introductions to the Evaluate Energy universe).

The quote is from John Q., Senior Analyst responsible for managing financial research data for global oil and gas development. What strikes me in particular, is how incredibly speedy and easy it is to access this Norwegian continental shelf map produced by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. I can download the map in an instant. I have posted a screenshot of it directly below.

I first came across this map as a full length paper print out hanging on the wall in the office of a colleague at a Norwegian university. As I stood staring at the map, my colleague acknowledged the aesthetic wonder of the variety of information contained in one glance, and immediately afterward, mentioned that he could order an extra map for me. I responded with great admiration and desire, as if having the map itself would elevate my understanding of events in the country.

At Evaluate E. however, such maps are available at the click of a button.

The images above are all computer screenshots taken from the “Key E & P Assets” link [“E” stands for exploration and “P” for production] located on the “Country” page of the Evaluate website. If you look on the bottom left hand side of each screen shot, there is a “Blocks Map” and “View” link, which is the links the page to the resources directorate of each country under view.


Catalogue as: Arctic Petroindustry Information at your fingertips


Movement and Meaning: Inside the Emotional Room

1/21: In a previous post, I call attention to the images above by their depiction of Productive Calm. That is, analysts spend long days intensely concentrated on computer analysis of data gathering and managing financial reporting on oil/gas developments. The day begins at 9:30AM and ends at 5PM, but analysts are often in the office anytime between 8AM and 7PM. They take no longer than 45 minutes lunch break outside the office, and sometimes lunch at their desks. Apart from eye movements, blinking, and constant finger typing, there is not so much bodily movement throughout the day. Analysts will get up from theirs seats to walk across the room to a toilet located in the office, but tend to avoid the casual practice of standing up and stretching.

In this display of images, I discuss the threshold of problem-solving that leads to physical movement by engaging a fellow analyst in the room.

Verbal communication is not as frequent as I would have imagined given the analysts proximity to each other. Actual physical movement by one analyst moving to the station of another analyst is rare. The two occasions when I notice it taking place are (1) when an analyst will walk by each station inquiring if he or she can make a cup of tea; and (2) when a problem arises that cannot be solved over electronic communication between the analysts. To explain: all the analysts in this room are constantly chatting to each other over Skype (less so over email because of the lack of immediacy and frequently also, the subject heading is often ambiguous possibly suggesting a greater time requirement for response than the instantaneous and “emotional” reaction offered by Skype chat).

In fact, with one-half the analysts working abroad in Ahmedabad (“India team”)  and the other half located here on Fashion Street (“London team”), Skype also integrates both groups working on two sides of the world. Actually, with a Calgary (Alberta, Canada) office, the Evaluate Universe is never off-line for more than three hours per day. The Evaluate day begins at 4:30 AM Greenwich meantime (in Ahmedabad 9:30 AM India Standard Time) and ends 1:30AM Greenwich meantime (in Calgary 6:30PM Mountain Time).

image In the above image, John Q. is seen sitting on the left (under the orange arrow), while Hannah K. is seen sitting on the right (under the red arrow). This is the regular order of the E. Universe. It would be dramatic to move a chair over to another analysts station without justification. Nevertheless, in the image below, John is seen sitting next Hannah, in close proximity while talking.

Over lunch, John explained to me that a problem takes place that cannot be solved over Skype. So, physical movement of one analyst to another analyst’s station is linked to problem solving. But what kind of problem? Yesterday, when I noticed John having moved his chair over to Hannah’s, I moved my own chair to sit in on their discussion, looking over their shoulder to get a sense of what what all the hubbub was about.workingtogether


pointinglookingOn one level, there is a requirement of sitting next to Hannah, and using a hand movement to direct her attention to a particular place on the computer screen.

The location is quite specific, but in fact, it refers to one location from which the surrounding area can be discussed in reference to that location. The location is not the actual number he is point to directly, but in fact, the “column” of numbers, and its placement in relationship to other columns, suggesting a problem of hierarchy in taxonomy.

In particular, as in this image directly below, cropped from the above discussion, what is discussed is a relationship.
crop On the far left, a column of numbers lies under a heading titled “Crown lands” which refers to an abstract identification number for a land tract provided by the federal ministry of Natural Resources Canada . To the right is a column headed by “Township Range”, which identifies the actual geographical location of the tract. The column on the far right is “Stratigraphic Description” which refers to the name of the actual geological layer in that tract. Oil and gas deposits can be situated vertically crossing various geological layers, each with their own permissions on working interest. For example, the columns in the middle titled “Top zone” and “Bottom Zone” refer to a specific geological layer, and the columns to the left, titled “Include/Exclude” indicate whether a geological layer is part of a particular tract.

In this particular case, the taxonomy of township over crown land would increase the likelihood that the stratigraphic permissions would be spread across the sheet (on the computer screen) in a more legible manner. So in this particular case, the issue of physical movement is associated with creating aesthetic legibility through rearranging a taxonomic hierarchy in which geological location (township identity) more closely identified working interest rights than federally assigned identification.

writingnotesSo, in this case, after some discussion of both the situation and a plan to rearrange the appearance of data, Hannah takes notes on how to move forward.


The completed list of tasks for rearranging this taxonomy is shown directly above. This complete list is then “reduced” to a smaller sentence and inputed into Hannah’s over all main list of activities to do on this project, as seen in this image below:mainlist

On energy financial research (and its analysts)

evaluate 1
1/20: The image above is a newly created product by Evaluate E., an energy information firm on fashion street in the White Chapel section of downtown London, not too far from Liverpool underground station. The office space for the firm is located inside a refurbished factory space, where it continues in its tradition of serving as a kind of sweatshop of the twenty-first century, with knowledge workers focused on computer screens in their role as caretakers of a massive data base on oil and gas corporate performance.

The image below is the actual location of most daily activity, a space of productive calm where the people in the photo are now familiar to me by name and to some extent by certain observable attitudes toward labor and knowledge.Evaluate

I have been coming down to Evaluate E. daily, occupying that empty chair located in the above image on the left. It is not that simple what this firm does. I can tell you in a sentence that they apply accounting practices to energy corporate data, so that clients can measure the individual (or peer group) performance across the industry. When you actually look at the data (accessible through client login), however, it is really hard to understand how they compile it, how they assemble it, and how clients find value in it.
evaluate 2 First off, the analysts compile a lot of data, on topics ranging from Mergers and Acquisitions to the actual names of individual production licenses or wells in various basins globally. Take a look at the image above, for example, which is the same as the first image of this post, but taking place at a more “granular level”.

Granularity is a topic of great concern here in this office, and a lot of time is spent managing and producing ways so that clients can gain access to its particular forms. For example, again referring to the top image, you can see a lot of black splotches, almost appearing like a Roarschach test image. At a more granular level, the image directly above, we see the splotches in the form of little round targets.

Looking at the “legend” below, you can see that targets have particular shape to indicate what type of oil/gas well they might be. Gasevaluate 3 And in the above image, if you click on a target, a data box opens providing information on the UWI (unique well indicator) and other types of data, that you can click on that will bring you back to various parts of the data base for examining performance of the well, its operators, owners, periods of operation and the like.

As a final example in this series, directly below is the window that indicates the specific kinds of information on each well, and that you may click on to find out more details. You will notice, for example, a little graph design on the very left of each item. Pressing on that little sign delivers a new window in the form of a graph, seen directly below, which in this case indicates performance of a particular well.
wellsevaluate 5


Access to such an office requires a magic wand. While small by comparison to other items in the big city, it appears here below like a blunt instrument in the context of the delicacy with which my new colleagues focus their lives.

While out in the street, life goes on pretty much as usual.