week 5


It became clear to me after last week’s class that my civilization-esque game was a way for me to manage and entertain my thoughts on the topic rather than focus on one of the tangents I had begun to follow and turned away from. It seemed impossible to convey the entirety of the mass extinction event we are living in without including each and every one of them.

So I took the week off from thinking about the sixth extinction. I let my thoughts mellow in the back of my mind where they con work themselves out a bit without my agenda getting in the way. I found relief in the readings I did for class last night, and the connections started spewing out of my wrists like spiderman as soon as I made my serendipitous podcast selection this morning.

Art for the Anthropocene Era was a relief to read. It captured what I have been struggling with in our larger assignment and in turn the purpose of eco art in general – what is the point? Does this do anything? Why force viewers to think about things from uncomfortable perspectives if they do not care to on their own accord or feel capable of acting upon those feelings of desired change before or after viewing an artist’s work? I am not a designer/creator/tinkeror by trade, and struggle with the rudimentary purpose of art that practiced artists may have gotten past in their endeavors. Eleanor Heartney’s perspective drew me in when she pointed out the “Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012,” as “evidence of artists working as documentarians, popularizers and educators to shape public perspectives of the environment.” This way of framing the purpose of art relates to how I would like to think about, and communicate, the sixth extinction.

Firstly, it relates to the formula of my podcast selection this morning: The TED Radio Hour, in which the host picks a general topic (i.e. “To Endure,” “7 Deadly Sins,” Believers and Doubters,” Why We Collaborate,” etc) and weaves together 3-5 TED talks that cover the topic from different perspectives. Through out the podcast, he re-interviews each featured TED talker to synthesizes their message with the overarching theme of the show and ask questions. This turns TED talks into conversations rather than rushed lectures. Just as the “Vanishing Ice” show features in Art for the Anthropocene takes individual works of art documenting the Alpine and Polar landscapes to draw larger conclusions on the erosion of the popular geographic regions, the Ted Radio Hour takes single talks and reformats them into conversations on larger themes.

In the particular episode I was listening to this week on endurance, Cosmologist Lord Martin Rees is featured to answer the question, “How Can We Ensure Our Survival As A Species?” In his answer, he discusses how dangers used to come from nature, but now the biggest threats come from humans. Science promises more, but the consequences of its discoveries are darker than ever. As humans, we are in denial about the likely science fiction-esque future we are facing, particularly in the coming century. He is a total pessimist, and yet his view on time, and ability to place humanity on a cosmological timescale, is elegant and beautiful.

Lord Martin Rees, not surprisingly, does a better job of synthesizing our existence than I do. Most particularly, he points out a crucial element of human as species: we are not done evolving. We are not a perfect homo sapien, and he, among others, believes in and hopes for a more evolved version of ourselves or a new species of hominid to carry on the legacy of humanity. In my project, I would like to create metaphors for the timescales we try to access when we think about the sixth extinction casually and when we think about it deeply.

I’ll update this post later. Here is the TED Radio Hour segment:



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