Dissertation Title:

Interconnections Between Ecological Consciousness and Contemporary Art


Haydeé Patricia Rovirosa

Date, Time & Place:

December 1, 2015 at 11:00 am
South Hall, Lambert Road campus


The introduction argues that our ability to reevaluate existing mythologies and worldviews requires a critical engagement with the world. War, global capitalism, climate change, toxic emissions, urbanization, and distribution of territory have triggered dramatically negative changes to the planet— changes that many artists are attempting to address. In chapter 2 the intention is to show that the postwar counterculture and its artistic, cultural, and philosophical figures developed a link between social change and ecology. This is done through an investigation of the evolution of ecological awareness and environmental activism led by marginalized groups in the 60s and 70s. This provides the historical context for the paper.
The goal of the third chapter is to recognize the way modern science is controlling the consciousness of the West, and it is therefore focused on complexity, systems thinking, and on understanding the dominant dualistic paradigm in which we have been immersed. This is the philosophical context.
Chapters four and five, which can be seen to some extent as a single unit, deal with the replacement of the Newtonian mythology of the world as a machine by the mythology of the network. Complexity, relationship, and connectedness become the focus here; the framework for chapter four is Bateson’s systemic thinking, and in chapter five this correlates with Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. This gives a scientific, ecological understanding of the life process of the Earth as a whole.
Having established the historical, philosophical and scientific background that provides a context against which the artworks can be judged, chapters 6 and 7 are dedicated to the artists and their work. Chapter six focuses on the phenomenon of Land Art, on the function of art in the context of the cultural and political situation in the 60s, and on its impact on society. Chapter seven analyses present-day artists for whom land emblematizes human relations, and whose work addresses land-use issues such as sustainable energy, architectural and agricultural practices, rapid urbanization, and economic isolation. Chapter 8 is the conclusion. Artistic activity helps us understand we are part of a single system which is the living world.



This is due to Pacifica’s conditional use permit, which restricts campus parking. Please call 896-1887 or 896-1888 for a shuttle pickup from the Best Western. A Pacifica shuttle driver will pick you up within 10 minutes or so and take you to the campus.

Thank you for your kind consideration

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, Track G, 2010
  • Chair: Dr. Evans Lansing Smith
  • Reader: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • External Reader: Dr. Michael Charlesworth
  • Keywords: Art, Environment, Consciousness, Ecology, Mythology, Interconnectivity