Monthly Archives: November 2020
Max builds and launches a mud satellite with antennas all around.
The Clearing, a report from the future
I found out recently about an excellent project: The Clearing, A Report From The Future by Alex Hartley and Tom James. They “set out to build a living, breathing encampment where people could learn how to live in the collapsing world coming our way.”
In 2017 they constructed with the help of volunteers a geodesic dome from scavenged materials and for several months invited people to workshops on skills that might be useful in the future (fire making, bread oven, democracy, radio, loo…).
Public engagement was very rich and a temporary community of sorts emerged. The artists have published a full report on the experience, photocopied by hand, with a cover made from used cardboard boxes. I recommend this informative and inspiring read.
The report is available at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1FrdLTkW8bA8OITUCHrqHqcG-wA496G0Y
A year after the end of the clearing, Hartley and James wrote that “the more time we spent at The Clearing, the better we felt. The Clearing made us feel hopeful, and confident, and capable, and even happy. Perhaps this is how it could be in the future> Softer and simpler and slower. Perhaps the end of this world, and the beginning of a new one, could even be good?”
The Age of Low-Tech
An essential read is finally being translated from French: The Age of Low-Tech, Towards a Technologically Sustainable Civilization by Philippe Bihouix will be published by Bristol University Press on October 25th.
Bihouix worked for 25 years as an engineer in various industrial sectors including construction, energy, chemicals, transport, telecommunications and aerospace, in Europe and Africa. In The Age of Low-Tech Bihouix draws on his experience in resource management to build a very strong case for an unavoidable shift to a low-tech civilisation. He demonstrates that, due to the finitude of available resources, no technological solution exists that will enable sustaining the level of comfort enjoyed by western societies since the 1950s. Instead the human race must shift to a truly low-tech, frugal mode so as to ensure resilience and sustainability. Using down to earth examples and an approachable style, Bihouix denounces the fallacy of techno-solutionism.
For example he addresses the idea that the Sahara desert receives enough sunlight to provide energy for the whole world, and that a giant solar farm in the dunes would solve forthcoming golbal energy crisis. He calculates that producing 23TWh (global energy consumption in 2011) would require installing 500 years worth of global solar panel production, that would have to be renewed after 40 years at most. This would necessitate an enormous amount of fossil energies, metals and synthetic resources issued from petrol for building and resourcing the giant factories required to supply the panels. And who would wipe the sand off these tens of thousands of square kilometers of panels?
Bihouix, using informed resource usage data and practical scenarios, claims that reducing our needs is an urgent priority. In a nutshell the bicycle is the future, not the electric car.
I recommend reading In the Guts of the World Expresso Machine, a short online essay by Bihouix on the necessity of a low-tech shift.
Extract from the Bristol University Press summary:
People often believe that we can overcome the profound environmental and climate crises we face by smart systems, green innovations and more recycling. However, the quest for complex technological solutions, which rely on increasingly exotic and scarce materials, makes this unlikely.
A best-seller in France, this English language edition introduces readers to an alternative perspective on how we should be marshalling our resources to preserve the planet and secure our future. Bihouix skilfully goes against the grain to argue that ‘high’ technology will not solve global problems and envisages a different approach to build a more resilient and sustainable society.
May 2020: escaping lockdown through the backdoor to the forest, listening to the birds.
Video commissioned by @imthinkingofyou_cymru
Thank you @beccaclareareartists
Vintage mind map
Talk about the Future
On Saturday 29th February at 16:00, the last day of the Superfreight exhibition in Campfa, I will host a conversation about the future set around the Future Conversation Table as seen in the exhibition.
then buzz into the night…..>>..>..••
Insect Buzz Workshop
On the last day of the Superfreight exhibition I ran an Insect Buzz Workshop.
As seen in the exhibition, the Insect Buzz are hand held placards that buzz quite loud when their button is pressed. They are to be used in ecological protests and other opportunities where the user wants to remind others that insects are disappearing rapidly and that we will be in big trouble when they are gone.
Participants made a cool variety of Insect Buzzes. I would like to get 50+ made to run a swarm during ecological protests. Contact me if you would like to make your own Insect Buzz and take it to the streets
Come and make your own Insect Buzz electronic placard to take to the streets in this 2 hours workshop. Only 10 spaces on the workshop, £3 recommended donation towards the cost of parts. Bring your own acrylic and emulsion paint leftovers, and paintbrushes if you have any.
Arcade Campfa, Saturday 29 February 2020, 13:30 to 15:30
The Insect Buzz Workshop benefits from funding by the EASTN-DC research project at Cardiff School of Art and Design
Mud machine Wrekshop
Experimental kinetic mess Mud Machine made with 90% materials recycled or found in nature. Made with a group of young people in Peak Cymru, Crickhowell UK in a 6 hours wrekshop on 19th February 2020.
Collecting mud and sticks
Working the e-waste
“SUPERFREIGHT is an exhibition of work from four artists; Nadja Buttendorf, Paul Granjon, Dina Kelberman and Ian Watson, exploring how we live with, exchange and use technology in creating culture.”
Thus goes the blurb for a group show in Arcade Campfa, Cardiff UK where I have two new works: a set of 4 Insect Buzz electronic placards and The Future, an installation where people can air their views about the future by writing on the wall, talking at a special table, and listening to a strange talking flower thing.
Nadja Buttendorf and Sabrina Labis are showing 360º Nail, a slightly disturbing video featuring a fingernail-mounted action camera.
Ian Watson built a one-off stand out of self-made polystyrene pebbles where a vintage monitor plays a deep glitch text monologue with a groovy 80s video pixel vibe.
Dina Kelberman presents two artworks: I’m Google is a scrollable collection of found web images that deal with buildings, tech, domestic, DIY, and The Goal is to Live, a mesmerizing video collating segments of the well-known TV program How Things are Made.