where is the cyclonic change?

Zombie environmentalism and cyclonic change

Abstract for Catastrophe & Creativity Symposium 23 Oct 2012

A recent trend in twenty-first century relations with the natural world has been a ‘darkening’ in the tone of debate. The popularity of the zombie as a cultural symbol points towards our apparent attraction to the ‘dark side’ where polluted environmental conditions make for ‘sexy’ contemporary art. Disengagement with the consequences of individual or collective behaviours can be seen both within and outside of environmentally conscious thought. To counter this tendency of retreating from disaster and ‘battening down the hatches,’ I mobilise resilience, complexity and contingency in my visual arts practice. In February 2013 I will be showing a solo project called fast|slow|complex at the Spectrum Project Space, a project that brings together waste and wastelands, disaster and recovery. Drawing from process-based and socially engaged art practice, specific parallels between personal and societal consumption are linked by combining exploration of the urban wild of abandoned lands near the artist’s home, with a personal reassessment of the deluge of things central to modern consumer lifestyles. A central visual motif in this project is the tropical cyclone as a natural and devastating force and as something that is changing its character as part of global warming. The critical question under consideration is, within the shadow of critical environmental conditions, whether destructive change can lead to productive developments. The paper invites an aesthetics of action in the face of the inevitable uncertainties inherent in an ecological world view.