Landscapes of Fear and Desire: The Political Ecology of the Present

Translocal Institute
6 May 2016, 19.00

In this lecture/slideshow, art and cultural critic Brian Holmes explores some landscapes of late industrial modernism while developing his four-field theory of social change. Drawing on existential territories, organizational forms, abstract ideas and aesthetic impulses, he evokes the major political contradictions of the Anthropocene era, as well as the growing but still frustrated desires to resolve them. What does the concept of "political ecology" really mean? Where is the pathway to transform the present structure of society? Dead ends and violent confrontations will not be ignored in this thought-provoking inquiry.

WorkshopThe Global Political Ecology of (Your Region Here)

Translocal Institute
7 May 2016, 10am-1pm

Workshop numbers are limited, please send an email to the organisers to request a place

For the last eight years, Brian Holmes and his partners in the Compass group ( have been carrying out detailed on-the-ground investigations of the metropolitan region of Chicago in its relation to the system of scales that articulates the global political economy (intimate, territorial, national, continental, global). Most recently, Holmes has developed an online map/archive, Petropolis, which explores the energy landscape of the metropolitan region in its connections to the worldwide petroleum complex. There are two ideas behind this mapping project. The first is that the entire planetary system of climate-changing technologies and social relations (known to earth-systems science as "the technosphere") is internalized, reelaborated and expressed by each major metropolitan region. Every such region therefore allows for a tangible experience and understanding of the drivers of global warming. The second idea is that each region can be conceived and indeed sensed, not as an abstract "political economy," but instead as a political *ecology* entangling human creations in a relational web that includes plants, animals, rivers, lakes, soils, atmospheric gases, microorganisms and an intricate regional metabolism. Under present conditions, this metabolic relation primarily appears as a "metabolic rift" between ecological dynamics and industrial functions. Political economy is no longer sufficient to understand historical development. Now we must come to grips with the *global political ecology* that pulses in our own territories (and even in our own bodies).

The map is a freely accessible resource, usable by the local activist community in particular. It is featured in the Anthropocene Campus program at HKW in Berlin and in an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. In the workshop, Holmes will present the map-making process and develop the concept of the "Global Political Ecology of Chicago." Participants are invited to enlarge upon the concept, to critique it, or to suggest possibilities for other applications and transformations of the approach, in Buapest or in the place where they live.

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