Grappling with enormities from a worldly perspective requires multiple techniques and registers of meaning. I use artistic practice as part of my research to engage with ideas and concepts that either cannot be, or are not best engaged, through the medium of writing and speaking. The art that features in the header of WorldlyIR emerges from three recent experiments in artistic practice: ‘Eco-fragments’ (a work in progress); ‘Anthropocene Globes’, an installation of photographs and sculptures exhibited at the (Im)mortality and (In)finitude in the Anthropocene Symposium in Stockholm, Sweden in December 2014; and ‘Gyre’, an installation exhibited at the University of Queensland in April 2014. Please note that these images are part of an ongoing research project and, as such, all rights are reserved. If you are interested in using or reproducing these images, please contact me.
How can one represent extinction, or the possibility of mass extinction? It’s always difficult to find ways of (re)presenting abstract ideas, but extinction seems to pose an additional challenge. Rather than an event or an object, it’s an unhappening, an unbecoming, an accumulation of absences, whether acknowledged or ignored. And how can one represent a phenomenon that’s unfolding at a planetary level (even a cosmic one, if we consider that the only known life is on Earth), and at the level of genes? It may be difficult and not entirely possible to do so. However, I think it’s crucial to multiply the modes of engagement with extinction if humans are to engage responsively with it
What might (future) globes of the Anthropocene look like? Fragmented and fractal, broken and beautiful, composed of the shattered patterns of plural forces at play, these images explore the space-time and material marks of the Anthropocene. They re-consider what ‘human agency’ means in a context in which it combines with geological, biological and cosmic forces to (de)construct worlds. Looking forward, they also imagine how this process of planetary mark-making might effect other planets as space colonization moves forward. To create the Anthropocene Globes, I started with GIS images showing patterns of anthropogenic phenomena often associated with the Anthropocene: patterns of extinction and ‘species invasion’; of soil erosion and desertification; of deforestation and flooding. Then, using painting and mono-print techniques, I created stylised images of the maps. Next, using reproductions of the paintings, I employed paper mache and paper-cutting techniques to create a set of three-dimensional ‘broken globes’. Finally, I photographed the globes and used an airbrushing tool to deconstruct them, creating the sense of motion, speed and suspension in the final images.