We are thrilled to announce the publication of Kat’s book Fossil Echoes, which draws together two of my artworks that look at the consequences of human addiction to fossil fuels. On one side, This Land is Not Mine about brown coal mining and its effect on landscape and culture. On the other, Stranger to the Trees about how microplastics created from oil interact with trees.
Kat’s essay, commissioned by the Against Catastrophe research project, has been published in the project’s most recent edition, the Energy Dispatch. The article draws on Kat’s research for This Land is Not Mine to explore what secrets post-extractive landscapes reveal for a sustainable future.
“There is something captivating about destruction on an epic scale. The horror of it draws the eye and ear, pulling focus. Looking out across acres of scarred earth at the open cast lignite mine of Janschwalde near Cottbus / Chóśebuz in Lausitz (Lusatia in English) by the German-Polish border, the sheer magnitude of the anthropogenic change visited on the landscape is magnificent and catastrophic. Yet, scale and perspective are key here. Is it possible to look beyond this immensity and find that, at other scales and in other timeframes, there are stories evolving that transcend catastrophe?”
Energy Dispatch is the second online publication drop on the website of our multimodal research project, ‘Against Catastrophe’.
The aim of Against Catastrophe is to interrogate the concept of catastrophe and explore anti-catastrophic practices to expose the longer-term structural causes and implications of catastrophes and catastrophic thinking, rhetoric, and imaginaries. The focus throughout is on how novel approaches in design, architecture, and technology can open possibilities for navigating a catastrophic world, but also expand epistemic horizons beyond apocalyptic thinking. The project outputs include an edited volume, offline and online exhibitions, and a series of online publications, called ‘Dispatches’.
In the second dispatch on “Energy” edited by Johanna Mehl and Moritz Ingwersen contributors seek out remediations of catastrophe that reject the dichotomy of utopia and apocalypse to foreground the uneasy and ambiguous emplacements of energy, where shifting constellations of power and the imagination, more-than-human ecologies and socio-technical infrastructures continuously intersect. You can read the full editorial statement here.
‘Against Catastrophe’ is led by Dr. Orit Halpern, Lighthouse Professor and Chair of Digital Cultures and Societal Change at Technische Universität Dresden. The core project team led by Sudipto Basu is based out of Concordia University (Montreal), MIT, and TU Dresden. With illustrations and design treatment by T.S. Halpern.
‘Against Catastrophe’ is funded by Fonds de recherche du Québec and the Swiss National Science Foundation, and is part of the larger Governing Through Design research cluster.