Art After the Anthropocene, Simon Pope
Transart Berlin Summer Residency 2016
ART AFTER THE ANTHROPOCENE WORKSHOP
– collective notes from google doc
Shared document of Links and Info
International Commission on Stratigraphy website http://www.stratigraphy.org/index.php/ics-news-and-meetings/112-ics-medals-2015
Elizabeth Povinelli from Nordic Summer University talks July 24-31, 2016 Orivesi, Finland. (Audio) email Luisa for this!
FROM ‘REQUIRED READING’ LIST
Steffen, Will, Jacques Grinevald, Paul Crutzen, and John Mcneill. “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives.” Philosophical Transactions. Series A, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences 369, no. 1938 (2011): 842–67. doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0327.
Johnson, Elizabeth, Harlan Morehouse, Simon Dalby, Jessi Lehman, Sara Nelson, Rory Rowan, Stephanie Wakefield, and Kathryn Yusoff. “After the Anthropocene.” Progress in Human Geography 38, no. 3 (2014): 439–56. doi:10.1177/0309132513517065
Pope, S., 2015. Art After the Anthropocene: correspondence with Deborah Robinson and Transart Institute workshop participants. In Who Else Takes Part? Admitting the more-than-human into participatory art. Oxford. Available at: www.tinyurl.com/whoelsetakespart–book
Gustav Metzger – auto-destruction in art
Damien Hirst – exploitation of nonhumans
Bill Viola – exemplifying a historical approach to environmentalism
Chris Welsby – the agency of wind, weather determining video edit.
Francis Alys – in Tornado (2011?) artist and camera rush into whirlwind of dust
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Emily Carr – domestic animals determining ‘beginnings’ of artworks (paintings in Carr’s case).
VIDEOS SCREENED/MENTIONED IN THE WORKSHOP
Gustav Metzger—auto-destructive art (acid paintings) 1965
Damian Hirst—Freeze (BBC documentary) 1984
Bill Viola—Reflecting Pool 1979 6:54mins
Chris Welsby—Interview for Lux Online 2009 5:34 mins
The Otolith Group—contribution to Manifesto Marathon 2008 6:26 mins
Francis Alys Tornado (from exhibition, The Story of Deception 2011)
Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble, Donna Haraway 2014
Welcome to the Anthropocene (2012)
Anthropocene (Van Dooren 2016)
The Gaia Hypothesis (Margulis 1984)
Arne Naess: The call of the Mountain (2009)
Roger Hiorns: Seizure moves to yorkshire sculpture park video
World of Matter: an international art and media project investigating primary materials (fossil, mineral, agrarian, maritime) and the complex ecologies of which they are a part.
The Anthropocene Project at HKW Berlin
The Nature of Things (tv show) 2015 features Jamie Lorimer on “rewilding” in Dutch lowlands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrlLL65TlKQ
And see panel discussion on his book, WILDLIFE IN THE ANTHROPOCENE at http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/wildlife-anthropocene
Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics
Book by Rebecca Solnit
Lessard, Suzannah. “The World Turned Inside Out.” Wilson Quarterly
T J DEMOS post colonial/ecology and art
Forthcoming publication(s) from this 2016 conference, Mapping the Maternal: Art, Ethics, and the Anthropocene (will share links or info when it’s available):
Not If But When: Culture Beyond Oil
Ernst Logar – Invisible Oil
Etienne Turpin, Robert Smithson’s Abstract Geology: Revisiting the Premonitory Politics of the Triassic
Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies
edited by Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin
Sean Cubitt @ GoldSmiths
Cubitt, Sean. 2016. Finite Media: Environmental Implications of Digital Technologies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
David Harvey – degrowth
The enigma of capital: A lecture at City University of New York Graduate Center on November 14, 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-5fDVh80oc
CONTACT INFO OF PARTICIPANTS 2016
JoMichelle Piper firstname.lastname@example.org (Sydney, Australia)
Emilio Chapela email@example.com (Mexico city, Mexico)
Rachel Epp Buller firstname.lastname@example.org (Kansas, US)
Simon Pope email@example.com (Toronto, Canada)
Lisa Osborn firstname.lastname@example.org (Avery Island, Louisiana)
Derek Owens email@example.com (New York)
Stephanie Reid firstname.lastname@example.org (Austin, TX)
Livia Daza-Paris email@example.com
Sean Rees firstname.lastname@example.org (Sandy, UT)
(first 10-15 minutes are really great)
Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta: An Artist’s Garden
Leeum 10th Anniversary Lecture – Nicolas Bourriaud:The Exform
Nicolas Bourriaud ANTHROPOCENE
Art Climate Ethics: What Role for the Arts?
GRID: Times of Crisis – John Berger and Noam Chomsky (4/22/14)
Sheena Wilson’s short film, Petro-Mama
Antony Gormley: The Body in & as Space
Gould meets McLaren
Tom Waits – You Can Never Hold Back Spring
Arcade Fire presents Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
The Handsome Family
The song, Pride of the Moor, comes from this project: https://sites.google.com/site/ambulantscience/Index/a-song-a-dance-and-a-new-stannary-parliament – a version of the song is available on this webpage.
(it has been re-recorded for the album Forgotten Kingdom (2016); preview of the song is available here: https://jimcausley.bandcamp.com/album/forgotten-kingdom)
Jim’s rendition of The Whimple Wassil – recorded after the procession through the cider orchards – is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHMPs5lZwfE
Every Recording of Gymnopedie 1
Climate change data
2015 State of the Climate: Highlights https://www.climate.gov/news-features/features/2015-state-climate-highlights#wows1_3
PREPARATORY NOTES FOR WORKSHOP
INTRODUCTION to the concept of ‘the anthropocene’—a summary
as a register of the influence of humans on the planet
As Jamie Lorimer notes, this is does not signal the final mastery and control Nature by humans
Rather, it registers the effect of human activity on the planet as an indicator of human influence and implication in the condition of the Earth.
While Steffen et al claim that the Anthropocene is a ‘introduced to capture the quantitative shift in the relationship between humans and the global environment’(Steffen et al. 2011, p.843) it also acknowledges, I would suggest, a change in attitude of humans towards others (See Steffen et al’s comments(Steffen et al. 2011)) and toward themselves.(Johnson & Morehouse 2014, p.451)
The term itself is used widely. and discipline’s are moving to understand its effects on their practice.
In part, a continuing post-humanist enquiry—a critique of naturalism in science and the consequences of its objectifications, abstractions, and universalisms;
Prompts the continued invention of new ways to understand the human in relation to others—whether among-themselves, or in relation to nonhuman things.
This field has been nourished by the work of Bruno Latour, Michel Serres, Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, Cary Wolf, and Isabelle Stengers, among others and is a materialist response to the dominance of social-constructionist approach which dominated academic discourse until recently—and which was largely pessimistic with regards to human agency. (See Jochem Schulte-Sasse’s comments on Adorna and Derrida in Bürger(Bürger 1984, p.xvi)).
Their work enables a shift away from the anthropocentric theory of Lacan for example, and the psychoanalytic turn in the arts and humanities. So, for example where Lacan is understood to limit human agency to the Symbolic and the realm of language, a new materialist approach encourages and provides for a praxis which engages with the real and the social—the material and the challenges of living together. It is this turn towards the undeniably materiality of the world—of which the anthropocene reminds us—coupled with human entanglements with it, that form the main preoccupations of a new materialist approach in many disciplines.
n.b. Primo Levi’s comments on importance of materiality vs rhetoric in Periodic Table (1995)
I would go as far as Latour and state that this is—finally—and end to the Modern era,1 (although he sees the use of retaining some of its ambitions: macro-scale for example.)
This workshop is an introduction therefore, not just to the term Anthropocene and its thinking, but to a wider, paradigmatic shift that is/has been occurring—largely in the humanities and social sciences, but increasingly in the arts.
I do not mean to exclude the ‘hard’ sciences here: in fact, part of this project is, as Michel Serres insists in Biogea (Serres 2012), to (re)unite those practices that have also been divided during the modern period.
The work is already underway to write the history of art in the anthropocene—and ‘to invent new ways of thinking … naturecultures’(See Vincent Normand in Davies & Turpin 2015, p.63) through art and art history.
These inventions will be influenced of the history of practice within our own disciplines, made tangible to us through the experiences of training, learning and culturation of artists.2 Ways of working, through which we become disciplined, have been thought of as ‘tricks of the trade’: ‘every trade has its tricks, its solutions to its own distinctive problems, easy ways of doing something lay people have a lot of trouble with.’(Becker 1998, p.2)
If we think of the ‘tricks’ that have been handed to us from the modern era, it becomes apparent that they too typify the quality of relations between those given status as humans, and numerous human and nonhuman others.
For example, our own history of Modernism is one of ‘a tendency or progression toward abstraction.’ We know this through modernist art history before the 1980s.
We know that we are encouraged to use ‘the aesthetic alibi’(Jay 1992) in attempts to ‘epater les bourgeois’(Knowles 2006); we employ shock, destruction and distanciation3 or defamiliarization4 as ‘tricks’ which are deployed (by rôte) to indicate confirm the being inside of an artworld, to gain acceptance; and as a matter of expediency, to use accepted methods of performing a relation with things in the world.
The relationships that out recent histories of practice encourage are those of antagonism, where all others—whether human or otherwise—are considered to be so-many objects to be exploited. In this sense, the human, social relationships of mercantile artworlds understand artists’ work as commodity—as objects freed—abstracted—from the material circumstances of their production. The people who take part in Santiago Sierra’s work (again, a slow-moving target … ) are
Hegelian, dialectic relationship; forces ‘progress’ through imposing the negative; this in Greenbergian modernism: Kuspit’s ‘dialectical conversion’ (see Shulte-Sasse’s comments.5) – acknowledge fore/background issues with Gabriel D
We might think of this as art of the anthropocene—as an art which constitutes the anthropocene.
Hence the ‘destruction in art symposium’ can work through this negative. (Metzger video)
This argumentation will be familiar to those inculcated and interested in the discourse of participatory art, relational aesthetics and so on. The refusal of the dialectic by Kester, in particular, drew the ire of Claire Bishop as it imposes a soft, dialogical communitarianism on the otherwise hard Marxian concept of the ‘motor of history’. In these terms, once the dialectic is problematized (especially as within an emancipatory project) there is not clear, categorical basis for progress. With friends and foe not so easily identified, let alone set against each other, the lines between people, between things, becomes blurred—or they become thoroughly entangled—with the risk that one class of thing slips into another, one species forms inappropriately commensal relations with another, and—and I suspect that this is the real issue—vested interests and historical investments of all kinds slip away.
ART AFTER THE ANTHROPOCENE
Where else might we look for art that is not of the anthropocene?
Even within the time-period that the Anthropocene pretends to encompass, there are instances of art and creative practices which are not formed on the basis of either a ‘great divide’, nor on the dialectic.
To ‘ecological art’? Bill Viola, Chris Welsby videos.
Although the anthropocene cannot be reduced to ‘environmentalism’, as one of the revelations in recent work is the entanglement of Nature with culture—where what was ‘background’ advances to the fore, to make itself known on no uncertain terms. An art concerned with this concept cannot therefore be elided with environmental art. Nor can the mode of relationship with the world be overlooked: my thesis here is that all art practice, whether directly proselytizing for action against climate change or not, can transform the ways that it engages with others of all kinds. This is to assert an ethics of practice—across disciplines—which establishes non-divisive, productive relations with others, accepts mutual transformation and participation as de facto conditions of all things. This is not, therefore, a call for art to be concerned with a content that militates against ‘climate change’, but transforms the means of artists’ practice. This transformed art practice which, I would suggests, has already been rehearsed in participatory, dialogic, and relational practices and their discourses—in other words, in the realm of the social as humans-among-themselves—through which a sensitivity to the qualities of relationship between things has been thought and put into practice. This is not an art of activism as such, nor is it ‘socially-engaged’; it is not ‘environmental’ in that it disputes the term, though it might be thought of as ecological in its thinking. It is strongly materialist in its understanding of the inextricable, physical entanglement with other things that human cultural endeavour entails. It is also accepting of art-as-such, although does not see it as distinct from the ethic concerns of everyday life, or of disciplinary practice elsewhere. This is an art of disposition towards all others—perhaps refusing even to draw the ‘line in the sand’ between friend and foe that would make its politics more straightforward and its ontology more coherent.
A FRAMEWORK FOR AN AREA OF ENQUIRE (a pedagogical paper that can be used for an individual art practice or for a class/workshop)
A Living text –
- How does the physical arrangement of a workshop affect the development of the discussion? Or even translate it to an art practice – you set it up and trust the process rather than trying to initiate an outcome.
- Prompts that are useful for movement
- A way to generate questions & responses that draw from our experiences
- Questions that generate movement
- Questions that generate thought?
An activity: write down the first thing you can think of about your personal experience when you first grasped what the Anthropocene actually means?
Language – is important when talking about this topic because of the baggage language carries.
These are Header Questions and can then lead to sub questions:
- What is nature?
- How do you understand the word Anthropocene?
- What is your relationship to loss?
- What is human?
- What is the environment?
- What does it mean to be more than human?
- What is the post human?
- What is the non-human?
- Are we nature?
- What is our relationship to nature?
- What have you learned from nature?
- Are humans and nature in conflict?
- Why is the word nature met with such skepticism?
- What is limiting about nature?
- How do we try to control nature?
- What is unnatural?
- What is it about human culture that is destructive?
- How is nature destructive? And to whom?
- Is culture natural?
- What do you feel should be preserved or maintained?
- What matters so much to you that you are willing to work to make sure it doesn’t disappear?
- How much should humans intervene?
- What is the hierarchy between the human and non-human?
- Can we go back?
- How do you engage the subject Anthropocene without falling into cynicism?
- What are the ethics of the Anthropocene?
- How would you engage with the world differently if you thought differently about the hierarchy between humans, nature, and technology?
- What is technology?
- How can we use traditional structures in moving forward?
- How can we use the past to inform the future?
- What are the implications of saving a species?
- What is progress?
- How does technology help us engage these ideas?
- How does the specific context factor into what is produced?
- Where do you see yourself in 5/50 years?
- What are your hopes and fears for future generations?
- How can you try to subvert your own perspective?
- How can we get outside of our own context/perspective?
What strategies can we use to have an experience outside of our own worldview?
- What activities create awareness around your own agency?
- Is growth good?
- Design a town with 8 people but only 7 markers and if nobody notices then a follow up question is “why didn’t you notice there weren’t enough resources for the project?”
- How does privilege factor into the understanding of the Anthropocene?
- Who has what kind of agency?
- Who has no voice or little voice in the Anthropocene?
- Do you want to create change? Or change the way this potentially goes?
- Can this narrative be changed?
- Are we programmed to self-destruct?
- Is doing nothing an answer?
- What kind of agency do we have over our own nature?
…this is not all