msb ~025 Magical thinking

Magical thinking

Image: Pixabay

An article for Uneven Earth provides timely illustration of yesterday’s reflection on imagination (rather than make-believe) being “a means of breaking out of the ‘dull round’ of the ‘ratio’ of abstract reason”. In Pulling the magic lever, Rut Elliot Blomqvist critiques techno-utopianism. “Ideas about the importance of the imagination in an age of political and ecological crisis are popping up everywhere: in the arts, in activism and other forms of politics, and in a wide range of academic disciplines and fields,” she writes. But without a critical view of these imaginaries, “we risk being trapped in the same old stories even as we see ourselves as thinking outside the old story box.” Continue reading “msb ~025 Magical thinking”

msb ~023 Technofossils, fuel for thought

Technofossils — fuel for thought

Technofossil, Jared Farmer

In his contribution to the fascinating Future Remains, historian and geohumanist Jared Farmer discusses ‘technofossils’. Our technological remains last far longer than our personal relationships with these relentlessly multiplying gadgets, structures and infrastructures. Will probably outlast current civilisations. Possibly our species. And technofossils will not be just our artificial constructions; our (re)engineering of the biosphere is also a technological feat that leaves its mark for future archaeology. So, while long-forgotten subway tunnels — “worm tracks of mammoth size — might become sedimentary molds for locomotion traces”, just as telling a marker will be the distinctive layer of fossilised bones of trillions of broiler chickens, a “proxy for the ‘Great Acceleration’ of postwar global change.” Continue reading “msb ~023 Technofossils, fuel for thought”

msb ~021 Tune in, all senses on

Tune in, all senses on

Fox and Woods

How many signals from ‘out there’ do we miss? Our animal senses — already selectively filtered to the exacting ‘survive-and-thrive’ demands of our species-niche within the more-than-human world — have become blunted by the restricted environment we’ve created for ourselves. Can our de-tuned faculties of seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling still reach out beyond the ‘low bandwidth, high volume’ saturation of 70+ years of Great Acceleration? Very probably yes — with practice and attention. Imagination is the greatest technology we can deploy in our favour here, humility its renewable fuel. Continue reading “msb ~021 Tune in, all senses on”

msb ~018 There is no away

There is no away

Trash Art, Jan Eric Visser at Groundwork Gallery 2018

Form follows garbage, a new film by friend and Finding Blake colleague James Murray-White for GroundWork Gallery, follows artist Jan Eric Visser. Visser transforms everyday garbage into art — and a new kind of environmental politics.

His assertion that “the story of more should end” comes up hard against the evidence of another excellent film: last night’s BBC documentary The secret life of landfill: a rubbish history. Continue reading “msb ~018 There is no away”

msb ~017 Rewilding the future

Rewilding the future

Rewilding the Future, 18 September 2018

Next month sees Climate Action North East’s conference, Rewilding the Future and I wish I were going. One of our leading naturalists, Chris Packham will be talking to businesses about opportunities for restoring our ecosystems. I worked with Climate North East during my time at the UK Climate Impacts Programme; so I know it will be a successful event. Not just a talking shop, it will feature three ‘mini-hacks’ to come up with perspectives, inspiration and action: Continue reading “msb ~017 Rewilding the future”

msb ~014 A duty to collaborate

A duty to collaborate

Shaping the Culture: Duty to Collaborate?
Glasgow 27th August 2018

It’s great to see Creative Carbon Scotland putting the case for the arts in helping society anticipate, adapt to and tackle the impacts of our changing climate. Their latest event seeks to bring creative practitioners into the heart of the debate, with a consultation event on 27th August. This builds on the work CCS did last year, responding to the Scottish Government on a Cultural Strategy. Among the many excellent points (and demonstrations of good practice) in their response, what stood out for me was the short section that started with this declaration: “There is an absolutely essential role for art to ‘get out of its box, into other boxes, and get other people into art’s boxes’.” Continue reading “msb ~014 A duty to collaborate”

msb ~013 On anticipatory history

On anticipatory history

Anticipatory history – edited by Caitlin DeSilvey, Simon Naylor & Colin Sackett

A year ago on ClimateCultures, I discussed a book I’d first encountered in 2011 and have been using ever since. Anticipatory history arose from an interdisciplinary network, exploring possibilities in ‘looking back’ at environmental change to help us ‘look forward’ to what futures we might shape. I was doing my MA Climate Change at the time and, in the network’s latter stages, I was able to contribute some work on ‘storying adaptation’ to their final symposium. Continue reading “msb ~013 On anticipatory history”

msb ~003 Getting energetic with utopias

Getting energetic with utopias

The book from Stories of Change: the past, present & future of energy

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. Energetic includes 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”