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Beatie Wolfe was immersed in the creative spheres from a young age. With a rare bookseller for a father, and a therapist and writer for a mother, Wolfe has been exposed to the arts for as long as she can remember, to which her impressive list of accolades are a true testament. Originally born in the UK, Wolfe currently resides in LA, and still fondly reflects on fossil hunting as a child and bringing snails in her pockets to school. This appreciation for the natural world continues to greatly influence her work as a singer, writer, speaker, artist and environmental activist (the list goes on). aware_ sat down with the internationally-renowned artist to explore where it all began, what drives her curiosity and the responsibility art has in addressing environmental subject matter.

aware_: Where did it all begin?

Beatie WolfeI’ve been unpicking this recently. I started writing songs as a six year old, I started very young. I remember coming across my parents’ record collection and seeing them as musical books, ready to be explored. The tangible listening experience that we grew up with became a fundamental element in my desire to tell stories through music. From the beginning I was imagining what my music would look like, what it would feel like. But it wasn’t just music, it was writing stories, plays, poems, drawing, putting on radio shows, performances – every aspect of creativity. As I mentioned, my parents were both so immersed in the arts, that there was so much stimuli which inspired me to create. And my career as an artist began when I released my first record, 8ight, as a 3D theatre for the palm of your hand (and this new way of listening to music), which was a reaction to the standard iTunes format at the time. It turned your phone into what looked like an 80s viewfinder and the response was amazing. It felt like people were really ready to explore a different way of listening to music. 

aware_: When did the environmental awareness enter your creative process?

Beatie WolfeI remember going to watch ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ at the cinema when I was a teenager. I came out of the cinema in a state of complete shock and anger; I couldn’t believe we were living in a society where there was no bigger dialogue about what I’d seen. I went home and I wrote this song “From Green to Red”, which was in reaction to the film and I remember thinking that I wouldn’t need to record the song because the subject matter would be irrelevant in ten years time as we would all be so aligned on these issues. It turned out that wasn’t the case and then four years ago I was giving a talk at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory about my work and at the end of the talk one of the chief engineers showed me these atmospheric CO2 graphs dating back 800,000 years. It jolted me like seeing ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ had, but now we were 15 years on and I remember thinking “how are we here?”. So I took the 800,000 years of CO2 data and transformed it into a woven, dynamic timeline of the planet, which was then set to the track that I’d written as a teenager. The piece is about making this dense subject matter and cold data accessible to everyone to show where we are on the planet at this point in time.

Beatie Wolfe

aware_: Can you tell me about your involvement with the UN?

Beatie WolfeI was asked to be one of nine global Innovators for the UN’s Impossible to Ignore campaign which launched on International Women’s Day 2019. The campaign was about spotlighting women who were pushing things forward in various fields, who they considered to be “impossible to ignore.” Our faces were all over Times Square, across New York in general, London and other cities, so it was very high vis! And then in 2021, I was a part of the UN’s COP26 across a few different areas including projecting my environmental project ‘From Green to Red’ 550ft large onto the Armadillo Building (where the conference was being held) as the largest visual art statement of the conference. I also performed at the UN’s Official deforestation panel amongst world leaders and spoke and performed for the opening ceremony of The New York Times’ climate hub. And there’s more work with The New York Times coming up. 

aware_: As a musician, things like touring are bad for the planet, how do you ensure to live and work as responsibly as possible?

Beatie WolfeIt’s always been something I’m super conscious about. I never built my career around touring. Last year I had two exhibitions running, ‘From Green to Red’ at the London Design Biennale in Somerset House and ‘Postcards for Democracy’ at the Rauschenberg gallery in Florida but I didn’t get to see either because of covid, but they still happened and lots of people got to enjoy the work so I believe we can travel a lot less than we think. I have said no to a lot of projects because of the travel aspect. That said, for SXSW I was invited to do a talk with Brian Eno and I did travel for that because Brian doesn’t fly either, so I took the bullet for that. Before lockdown I think a lot of us were travelling unconsciously, on autopilot, and now I think that’s changing, hopefully. If I go over to Europe then I try to combine my meetings, events etc so I think strategies like that are helpful.

With regards to this bigger conversation around touring, it’s really the mega bands and artists that make up a tiny percent of the industry who are having the biggest on the planet. The Rolling Stone level tours is where the problem lies.

Beatie Wolfe

aware_: What is the role of an artist today?

Beatie Wolfe: The role of art today is to say something that cannot be said in other fields. It’s to activate awareness. For example with ‘From Green to Red’, art can make you feel the data rather than think about it. I feel that’s the role of artists nowadays, to really say something and activate the greatest awareness for bigger issues that we all face and to inspire revolution where needed. And when it comes to the climate emergency, we’ve really done nothing yet, so there’s hope in the sense of the potential scope we have when acting together.

Next to launching an anti-technology, solar-powered and wind-powered art piece later this year, Wolfe is working on eco-documentaries. The subject matter showcases how musical instruments can become a vehicle for telling important environmental stories. Wolfe’s next record installation will be at the London Design Biennale 2023. The work is a portrait of the artist’s brain, using frequency hopping code pioneered by Hedy Lamarr during World War Two. Follow this link to find out more.

– by Kim N. Fischer

On March 12, aware_ participated in this year’s South by Southwest in Austin, Texas with a sanctuary event themed Sustainable Zeitgeist

Together with german.innovation, aware_ participated in this year’s South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. aware_ held a sanctuary event on March 12. Themed Sustainable Zeitgeist, participants connected with each other, redefined their consciousness and stimulated this process by bringing together the right people and enriching networking with pioneering conversations. 

„SXSW’s mission is to help creative people achieve their goals. The event is known for its conferences and festivals that celebrate the convergence of technology, film, music, education and culture. Sustainability and the exchange of innovative pioneers in this field should not be missing. We were pleased to facilitate exchange and knowledge transfer with our sanctuary event and to gather inspiring minds, creatives, brands and start-ups“, says Kim N. Fischer, Co-founder of aware_. 

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The sanctuary event was held at the Wax Myrtle’s Club – Innovation Bridge Europe House; an evening full of real encounters and an exciting exchange on the topic of Sustainable Zeitgeist. Attendants met a diverse community, a cross-industry and inspiring international network, exchanged ideas and knowledge in the context of sustainability and interacted in a circle of like-minded people.

„In 2006, the first wave of greentech fundings happened. Since then, there has been a real change among investors and people who are trading billions and trillions of dollars of capital for this energy transition to happen. And it must happen to fight autocratic dictators around the world who rely on venture.“, says Jonathan Shieber, Editor, Venture Partner at The FootPrint Coalition.

In the panel talk, Jonathan Shieber, a Venture Partner and Editor with The Footprint Coalition, talked about sustainable investment trends, technology transfers and collaborations between US and European companies. The FootPrint Coalition, founded by Robert Downey Jr, is a coalition of investors, donors, and storytellers committed to spreading the word about technologies to restore the planet. 
Austin Simms, Co-founder of Dayrize, believes that commerce and sustainability are linked, and business needs to be a major catalyst for addressing climate change. After 20+ years spent working in senior positions at major corporations like Nike, Philips and Brooks Running, Austin had a desire to use his skills to address climate change. In his panel talk, he spoke about the importance of putting the power in consumers hands to make real change. With Dayrize he wants to make impact assessment transparent for business and consumers.  

“Big companies all have sustainability claims. Every single CEO has sustainability in their top three priorities. There is a genuine desire and I think information is the gap between consumers and businesses: If they do not have the information, they cannot act. And we are here to bring that level of transparency. Our job is to provide the path for businesses to improve and to tell them how they can improve”, says Austin Simms, Co-founder of Dayrize.

Accompanied by drinks and a flying dinner, the event summit in exchange and networking – bringing like-minded people together on their way to a sustainable transformation. 

sanctuary

SXSW runs until March 20. Here are some interesting panel talks on the topics of renewable energy and fossil fuel alternatives, sustainable practices, coastal relocation, plant-based foods, and forward-focused green startups you will not want to miss: 

Dream Team: Corporates & Startups in ClimateTech 
March 14, 11:30am 

In this panel talk, industry leaders discuss the powerful collaboration between global energy companies and startups that is advancing low carbon energy solutions. 

Alternative Proteins can be the “Clean Energy” of Food 
March 15, 10am 

An impact-focused group of innovators explain how alternative proteins can catapult progress on climate change, reduce pandemic risk, and sustainably feed 10 billion people by 2050all while capturing consumer fascination with novel food technology.  

Decarbonizing Blockchain Technology 
March 16, 11:30am 

This panel will explore viable blockchain sustainability use cases, including supply chain efficiencies, renewable energy certification, utilizing NFTs to inspire people to commit to individual climate action, how to decarbonize the blockchain space, and how incentivization structures of blockchain can change wealth distribution to align with preserving natural spaces and common resources. 

About SXSW 
SXSW was founded in Austin, Texas in 1987 and has since become one of the most important meeting places for creatives from all over the world. In 1986, a small group of people in Austin, Texas began a series of long discussions about the future of entertainment and media. Local creatives and music makers, they said, were as talented as anywhere in the world, but were severely limited by a lack of publicity outside of Austin. The solution that was discussed was an event that would bring the outside world to Austin to see it up close. But for a local event to bring the world to Austin, it had to have value everywhere. Finally, in October 1986, the first SXSW was announced. The first event, held in March 1987, swelled the expected 150 opening day registrations to 700. As hoped, Austin’s charm won over attendees, and SXSW grew into a self-sustaining event. The event has changed in many ways since 1987, but at its core, SXSW remains a vehicle for creatives to advance their careers by bringing people together from around the world to meet, learn and share ideas. 
Held annually in March, South by Southwest (SXSW) is an event for professionals from around the world, offering lectures, music and comedy shows, film screenings, exhibits, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. Dedicated to helping creative people achieve their goals, the event is known for its conferences and festivals that celebrate the convergence of technology, film, music, education and culture. 

– by Marie Klimczak

SXSW is an event that celebrates the convergence of technology, film, music, education and culture, bringing together professionals from around the world 

For a long time now, sustainability, environmental protection and climate change have no longer been niche topics. The environment is becoming a mainstream issue, the new criterion for good and bad, right and wrong, the lowest common denominator for an entire generation – everyone is affected, everyone must take a stand. And a change is taking place: Environmental awareness is turning from an individual lifestyle into a social movement, sustainability is turning from a consumer trend into an economic factor, the climate crisis is becoming the basis of a new global identity, because an ecological catastrophe is inevitably also an economic one and therefore a social catastrophe. Supported by a growing sense of environmental awareness and responsibility among people, a new ethic of action has developed over the years based on the pillars of economy, ecology, and ethics, which now influences our entire everyday lives. 

So far so good, but some companies still instrumentalize sustainability as a marketing tool without any real consequences. Yet, sustainable corporate management is a dynamic, ever-evolving process that requires a convincing basis, but above all intrinsic motivation. What is missing is a sustainable zeitgeist, not a trend. 

Together with german.innovation, aware_ is participating in this year’s South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. aware_ will be present with a Sanctuary Event. Themed Sustainable Zeitgeist, participants will connect with each other, redefine their consciousness and stimulate this process by bringing together the right people and enriching networking with pioneering conversations. 

Held annually in March, South by Southwest (SXSW) is an event for professionals from around the world, offering lectures, music and comedy shows, film screenings, exhibits, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. Dedicated to helping creative people achieve their goals, the event is known for its conferences and festivals that celebrate the convergence of technology, film, music, education and culture. 

SXSW was founded in Austin, Texas in 1987 and has since become one of the most important meeting places for creatives from all over the world. In 1986, a small group of people in Austin, Texas began a series of long discussions about the future of entertainment and media. Local creatives and music makers, they said, were as talented as anywhere in the world, but were severely limited by a lack of publicity outside of Austin. The solution that was discussed was an event that would bring the outside world to Austin to see it up close. But for a local event to bring the world to Austin, it had to have value everywhere. Finally, in October 1986, the first SXSW was announced. The first event, held in March 1987, swelled the expected 150 opening day registrations to 700. As hoped, Austin’s charm won over attendees, and SXSW grew into a self-sustaining event. The event has changed in many ways since 1987, but at its core, SXSW remains a vehicle for creatives to advance their careers by bringing people together from around the world to meet, learn and share ideas. 

event

SXSW EDU 
As part of SXSW, SXSW EDU is internationally known as a gathering place for creative professionals and extends SXSW’s support for the art of engagement to society’s educators. The SXSW EDU Conference & Festival promotes innovation and learning in the education industry, bringing together learners, practitioners, entrepreneurs and visionaries to share their groundbreaking stories, tackle complex problems and find new paths to the future. From Arts & Storytelling to Business & Investment, attendees will participate in four days of engaging sessions, in-depth workshops, compelling learning experiences, mentoring, film screenings, forward-thinking competitions, an exhibition, networking opportunities and much more. 

SXSW conference 
The SXSW Conference offers the global community of digital creatives the opportunity to learn about innovative ideas, discover new interests, and network with other professionals who share a similar desire for forward-thinking experiences. With a variety of topics including climate change, design, and even start-ups, the SXSW conference focuses on the most important breakthroughs in technology, film, culture, and music. 

SXSW exhibitions 
The SXSW exhibitions connect people from around the world and bring together a wide range of forward-thinking exhibitors – from promising start-ups to established industry leaders. SXSW’s world-class exhibitions highlight the connections and intersections between the converging creative and tech industries and bring attendees together with some of the world’s most innovative companies. 

Each year, SXSW also recognizes the most innovative, creative and inspiring individuals and companies in their respective fields. 

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To keep the event fun, the SXSW festivals additionally offer a unique opportunity to explore the world of film, music and comedy with parties, awards ceremonies, screenings and showcases. 

For more information about aware_’s participation at SXSW 2022 you can register here. 

by Marie Klimczak