A passage from one of my favourite ‘nature books’, Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure. Pondering the ‘opposition’ of nature and culture and the role of human language and imagination:
“It is odd that the gifts of image-making and language are so often seen as the attributes which irrevocably alienate us from nature, are the cause of our fall from grace. We will never know the state of self-consciousness of another species, but it’s a reasonable bet that most don’t use language in the way that we do, or think metaphorically, or meditate their vivid sense-experience through such a complex net of associations and references Continue reading “msb ~009 Fitting our oddness into the scheme of things”
Eating breakfast today, I was looking at this month’s image in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year calendar: Robin Stuart‘s Highly Commended ‘A Wise Son Makes a Glad Father’. Stuart shot this at Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. ‘The Maasai people are semi-nomadic, using the stars to navigate across the East African plains. My goal was to capture the moment when a father passes his knowledge of the stars down to his son, and how to use the Milky Way and their hut as compositional elements … It was a novel experience, but as the image shows, a fruitful one!’ Continue reading “msb ~008 In search of dark skies”
One of the projects I’m working on at the moment, mostly in the guise of web editor and researcher, is Finding Blake. Set up by Cambridge-based film maker James Murray-White, the project is a creative exploration of the relevance of William Blake, 18th/19th-century poet, artist, radical and visionary, for us today: reimagining our present predicaments through the lens of his work.
I’m reading Future Remains: a cabinet of curiosities for the Anthropocene and one entry has collided with my imagination. Gary Kroll’s Snarge is a meditation on the impact – literally and metaphorically – between human and non-human in The Great Acceleration that is our age.
Snarge, he explains is the term naturalists use for “the avian tissue that’s left over after a bird-strike … a horrible word that onomatopoeically conveys the peculiarly destructive violence of acceleration in the Anthropocene.”
An email from a friend in Australia brought a pleasant reminder of a week spent at Bath Spa University one year ago. We were part of an Association of Commonwealth Universities summer school: Masters and PhD students from all over the Commonwealth and the disciplinary spectrum, all looking at the role of environmental arts and humanities. It was a great opportunity to build connections between ideas and practices as much as between people, thanks to the great work of our hosts, Bath Spa’s Research Centre for Environmental Humanities.
One of the many excellent passages in the book Energetic which didn’t quite make it into my ClimateCultures review today is this interview with Gordon Macrae at Gripple:
“One of the things we recognised, probably about seven or eight years ago, was that we have an environmental impact. It started from having the Carbon Trust come in and do an energy audit. They said, ‘Your carbon footprint is great, you’re only using 500 tonnes of carbon.’ And I thought about that and said, ‘That’s rubbish!’ because if you look at the amount of carbon that we’re using, up and down the supply chain, it’s significantly more than that.”Continue reading “msb ~004 Impact beyond the factory walls”
I’m drafting my ClimateCultures review of Energetic, the book from the Stories of Change project on the past, present and future of energy. I helped organise the 2016 launch conference, with TippingPoint, the Open University and others, and it’s great to see the wealth of thinking and creativity the project’s generated. Energeticincludes an account from Dan Barnard of fanSHEN on engaging people with future thinking, and their principles are good ones to adopt and adapt:Continue reading “msb ~003 Getting energetic with utopias”
I took part in a first workshop for an exciting new initiative: a mobile Climate Museum for the UK. Created by Bridget McKenzie of Flow Associates, the vision is to creatively stir a response to the climate emergency, through an experimental mobile museum and a growing collection of artworks and activity tools; exploring climate change and the biosphere in ways that empower its participants to learn, share testimony and take positive action. Continue reading “msb ~002 Prototyping Climate Museum UK”