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Ecological Futures: Contemporary Art and Anthropocene Studies

Experimental Reading Room
Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art
Spring 2016

This seminar takes as its focus attempts within both environmental thought and contemporary art to imagine the ecological future. These range from visualisations of technocratic dystopias in which all the worst predications of environmental disaster come true, to the wished for emergence of sustainable communities thriving in a new age of planetary consciousness. While some have tried to imagine a literally post-human ‘world without us’ in the geologically not so distant future, others explore the idea that in the wake of large scale anthropogenic change the natural world will never be the same again. The notion of the Anthropocene or ‘epoch of humankind’ is reshaping how we see the geologic present, but what implications does it have for the future? Is the world on the brink of a ‘good Anthropocene’ in which new technologies give humanity the power to adjust the climate at will? Or is the race intensifying between the forces of insatiable economic growth and the evolution of ecological consciousness? In the face of dire scientific predictions about climate change, mass extinction, soil degradation and rising pollution, this course also investigates the many ways in which contemporary artists have explored affirmative ecological models and
desirable future scenarios in their work.