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FotoFest 2004 - Water

February 24, 2004

For Immediate Release
For Information and Visuals Contact:

Vinod Hopson
Press Coordinator
Tel (713) 223-5522 ext. 26,
Fax 713-223-4411

Janice Van Dyke Walden
Tel (713) 869-0911

Science, Public Policy, Art

Presented by FotoFest and Rice University

FotoFest 2004 – Water
April 1, 2004 – April 4, 2004
Houston, Texas

HOUSTON, TEXAS (February 24, 2004) – FotoFest, the Environmental & Energy Systems Institute and Shell Center for Sustainability, and the Center for the Study of Environment and Society at Rice University announce The Global Forum on Water: Art and Science. The Global Forum is a four-day conference on Water that brings together leading scientists, artists, architects, urban-planners, civic leaders, policy makers, activists and creative thinkers to discuss the current state of the world’s Water and present new ways of thinking about its future.

The Global Forum takes place April 1 – 4, 2004, as part of FotoFest 2004 – Water, the Tenth Biennial Month of Photography and Photo-related Arts. The Forum is preceded by four seminars on regional water issues organized by the Shell Center for Sustainability with FotoFest, Feb 10 - March 23, 2004.

The Global Forum is an initiative to bring Science and Art together to create greater visibility for public issues related to Water and support efforts to change public policies on management and use of Water. The Global Forum will present new information from science and technology about the state of Water the world as well as new directions that scholars and policymakers are taking to re-define society’s understanding and use of Water and its role on earth.

“Water consumption is increasing at twice the rate of population. Fresh water resources are being contaminated and diminished faster than they can regenerate,” says FotoFest co-founder Wendy Watriss. “Ninety percent of the population of large fish species in the ocean have been eliminated. We cannot afford to take these things for granted. We cannot afford not to know what is happening to Water on this planet.”

The Forum opens the evening of April 1, 2004 at The Menil Collection with a presentation by acclaimed urban designer William McDonough on Designing Sustainable Cities. On April 2-3, the Forum moves to Rice University’s Duncan Hall for The State of Water In The World and Re-visioning Water, The Future with keynote speakers and panel discussions. The Rothko Chapel hosts the final session Sunday, April 4. The list of speakers is attached.

The Global Forum on Water is co-sponsored by FotoFest and Rice University and is open to the public. Advanced registration is required due to limited seating. Registration forms are available on the FotoFest website, Portions may be webcast for live viewing on the Internet and archived for later access.

For scientists, technicians, artists, and urban designers around the world studying Water, there is no question that there is a looming and impending Water crisis. Fresh Water sources are being consumed faster than the earth can recharge them. Water scarcity is growing across the world. Commercial privatization and cross-national transport of water are increasing.

Today public knowledge about the Water crisis is almost non-existent. Water, particularly in cities and industrially developed societies, is taken for granted. But clean, accessible fresh Water will be the “oil” of the new century, becoming the main determinant of human settlement and development.

“Incorporating science and public policy in the framework of an arts event gives the arts, a broader relevance and dimension“, explains Frederick Baldwin, FotoFest chairman. “This intent extends throughout all of FotoFest’s 2004 Biennial programming.”

“The Art Exhibitions and Installations, the Film and Video series on Water, the Student Projects with Water, and the Global Forum are interconnecting programs that give greater depth and breadth to the presentation of Water. For scientists and policymakers involved with Water, the intertwining of creative expression and scientific investigation offers the potential to reach new audiences and bridge the disconnect between science and the general public.” Separate releases on the Exhibitions and Film & Video programs are available.

FotoFest has set the following goals for the Global Forum:

• To publicly disseminate the best of the new science, technology, policymaking, urban design, and thinking about Water.

• To activate public involvement with the issues of Water and create a nucleus of community leaders and activists who are better informed about local and global issues of Water.

• To highlight the inter-connectedness of global and local issues relating to Water.

• To provoke a re-visioning of Water using the interdisciplinary approaches of science, economics, art, activism, and philosophy/religion.

To achieve these goals, FotoFest is coordinating with scientists and inter-disciplinary faculty at Rice University, international experts, and Texas organizations such as the Texas Center for Policy Studies and Environmental Defense.

Rice University advisors are: Mark Wiesner, Director of the Environmental & Energy Systems Institute and Professor of Environmental Engineering; James Blackburn, environmental lawyer and adjunct faculty member of the Environmental & Energy Systems Institute; Paul Harcombe, Professor of Ecology and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Environment and Society; Neal Lane, Science Advisor for The Baker Institute and former director of the National Science Foundation; Walter Isle, Professor of English and Ecology and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Society and the Environment; and Christian Holmes, Director of the Shell Center for Sustainability.

State and national advisors are: Mary Kelly, Co-founder of the Texas Center for Policy Studies and officer of the Texas Environmental Defense; Senator Timothy Wirth, Director of the United Nations Foundation; Thomas Lovejoy, President of The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment and international expert on biodiversity.

Rice University Media Center is sponsoring some of the opening events of FotoFest 2004 – Water with the presentation of two classic films related to Water, L’Atalante (1934) and Taris (1931), by acclaimed French filmmaker Jean Vigo. The Media Center is also sponsoring the inaugural exhibition of River People, by Spanish photographer Alvaro Leiva on the cultures of four of the world’s great rivers – the Amazon, Mississippi, Ganges, and Niger Rivers. A separate, water-related art installation will also be shown at the Rice University Art Gallery.

The Environmental & Energy Systems Institute supports and fosters partnerships between academia, business, governments, non-government agencies, and community groups to help meet society's needs for sustainable energy, environmental protection, economic development, and public health and safety. The Institute includes faculty and students in the Schools of Social Sciences, Engineering, Natural Sciences, Humanities, Architecture, and Management.

The Shell Center For Sustainability is a part of Rice University's Environmental & Energy Systems Institute. Their mission is to create an interdisciplinary program of education, research, and outreach addressing the role of the private sector in implementing a sustainable future. The Center draws upon various strengths of the university and collaborates with highly respected U.S., and global institutions of higher learning and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The fundamental premise that corporate decision-making is critical to successful strategies for improving social, environmental and economic welfare underpins the Center's work. Development and evolution of technologies and business models are focus areas. The Center supports outstanding visiting scholars from developed and developing nations and sponsors an outreach program designed to inform policy-makers, business leaders, NGOs, and the general public while stimulating better-informed dialogue.

The Center for the Study of Environment and Society (CSES) seeks to promote a deeper and broader understanding of environmental issues at Rice University and to enhance the sustainability of the Rice campus. CSES oversees the Environmental Studies Program, as well as courses and curricula on environmental topics in the schools of Engineering, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. To encourage interdisciplinary discussion on the environment outside of the classroom, CSES hosts periodic lectures and coordinates a weekly reading group that discusses contemporary environmental writings. CSES maintains a website, Enviro-web (, through which one can access information on all of the University's environmental courses, programs, and initiatives, as well as links to environmental resources beyond Rice.

SPONSORS FOTOFEST 2004, The Global Forum

Special sponsors for The Global Forum are Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC); The George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation; Houston Endowment, Inc; Nan Tucker McEvoy Foundation; William Stamps Farish Fund; City of Houston through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County; Rice University; Continental Airlines.

Continental Airlines is the official airlines of FotoFest 2004.

A complete list of FotoFest institutional funders is available and listed on the FotoFest Web site,

For more information on the Global Forum and other FotoFest 2004 Biennial programming and visuals, please contact Mr. Vinod Hopson, Press Coordinator at 713/ 223-5522 ext 26 or

FotoFest, 1113 Vine Street, Houston, Texas 77002