Week 10

This is a post class post, continuing the conversation with my keyboard rather than my classmates because apparently I am a lonely westerner with limited capacity to connect with others with a crippled innate desire to connect with others without actually utilizing human-to-human communication. Planetary would suggest this is the case. So would the discussion that followed. I, on the other hand, chose to realize that I do my best thinking while walking and just didn’t come up with how I felt on the conversation until my feet hit the pavement on my way out of the building.

The documentary message wasn’t bad, per se. But it suggests that there is only one way to think about it (their 3 ways were more stepping stones to their ideal way of looking at it). That our narrative promotes man’s dominance over nature rather than our integration with nature. Correlation is not causation, my friend. We are so quick to forget this when it is something we want to believe and can kind of see how it makes sense. When we accuse Christian philosophy for our current relationship to nature, we ostracize a huge group of people without realizing we are doing so, all over a conversation that doesn’t really matter in the scheme of dealing with climate change. Additionally, while there are great difference between Eastern and Western philosophy, we can’t succumb to feelings of guilt because we cannot change the world in which our minds were developed. We can, however, chose to keep our minds open, aware and plastic so that we do not become beholden to a new form of dogma.


Isaac and I like to put on music and documentaries on mute at the same time and watch what seems like perfectly coordinated polar bear fights to Nightcall by Kavinsky (re: Drive soundtrack). Our minds are wired to see connections. And when we see them, we can’t see anything else! I wish when we talked about the greater meaning or philosophical implications of life and the anthropocene, we recognize the importance of marrying data and narrative, and forget that they can’t just complement each other, but depend on each other for clarity and – heaven forbid – progress on the issues surrounding climate change.

So, this rambling is a little scattered, but I had to get it down. The point I am trying to spiral towards is what I believe we need to focus on: EXCITEMENT. At one point, an interviewee in Planetary was talking about how we are in a phase of evolution that is inevitable for any form of life that uses tools that has happened to come to a head in our generation. HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT? HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT????????????? We, humans, have gotten so good at what we do that we are fucking everything up. OH fuck. That’t not good. But it must mean we are good enough to fix the problem rather than getting existential about what this means. WE GET TO FIGURE THIS OUT. THIS IS OUR PROBLEM. WE GET TO SAVE THE WORLD. Right now we’re in that part of a movie where you just can’t see how a superhero is going to beat the villain and the cards are stacked against her. But oh, wait, do you lose faith in the super hero? Do you immediately contemplate what larger philosophical questions that don’t account for anything beyond your interpretation are impacting his ability to prevail? Its possible that we’re the villains here. And if we are? We deserve to lose. But we should still root for ourselves and kickass at fighting off nature (the more likely superhero).

It is so fucking easy to talk about climate change as if the end of the world is coming. We’re edging towards an apocalyptic future. Guess who else did that? Christians. When I was a kid, I truly believed that in my lifetime some long haired white man in robes playing a trumpet would float down on a cloud and announce the apocalypse. Christians were not about their dominance over nature. They were all about their fear of God and preparing for the Second Coming of Christ! God also “made nature” and was to be respected (plus, their story is not new, nor was it original – they hijacked plenty from the Egyptians and people they converted along the way. Its mostly about the power of the faith over people, not people over nature). They still are! So many people who talk about climate change do the same thing – tell people that the world is going to go up in flames – to hell even!

So again, rambling, but we need a real paradigm shift. We need to be excited about the time we live in. We get to think about the world in such a crazy way. We are so quick to go negative when trying to convey this message or even think about this topic. Who the hell wants to get involved with that? We have to take the positive. Not the upbeat, cheerleader, activist with a clipboard cheesy smile excited. Maybe a better way to say it is that we have to get people curious again. I think that is starting…but we want change and we want it now. We can’t stop and look at the big picture and see that we are the complex crazy form of life that caused this mess. We’re the only ones that can work it out. And we have to be excited and curious about the world we live in. Otherwise, why save it?


Week 10

Week 9

This is my work in progress from class.

Sugar-coated Extinction Timeline

Conceptual Framework

Sugar-coated Extinction is about how the concept of extinction forces us to grapple with different scales of time. It contrasts the urgency of immediate anthropogenic threats to an ecosystem with the long term insignificance of our human existence on a geologic timescale. Decision making and taste will provide engagement while text will provide information on the sixth extinction and anthropogenic contributions. In this way, the saying “a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down,” comes to life.

Stefani:as if you’re telling a four year old, reductive, simple language; lead with what you are actually doing: sugar coated extinction and how we are typically informed about extinction in a “sugar coated” manner (fluffy animals and vague threats but nothing tangible, normalization of extinction)


Conceptual Framework II

The sixth extinction is difficult to articulate to people because it is scary, and tough to comprehend. Attempts to educate the public have made large, fuzzy animals the face of extinction in the focused on saving singular, cute animals


  1. Focus on large, fuzzy animals (leaves all other organisms out of cultural conscious)
  2. Existence of extinction seen as a norm (mass extinction rate vs background extinction rate)

Why sugar-coated:

  1. Simplify for awareness
  2. Tough to think about
  3. Communication barrier between science and general public


Contrast timescales that makes the sixth extinction difficult to think about. Decision making and tasting coupled with

The existence of extinction has become the norm through standard education of the dinosaurs  mainstream media stories that simplify extinction as a natural phenomenon despite the fact that we are experiencing extinction at an abnormal rate – mass extinction. Our understanding has been sugar-coated –

Research (Conceptual)

Ecosystem to represent

How many organisms?


Research (Execution)

Sugar sculpting Techniques

  • What kind of technique?
  • Time to learn
  • Time to make
  • Tools

Specific information to include on ecosystem


Based on Research (Execution)

Natural food coloring




Accompanying text

User Testing

Cake (tested once)

Practice smaller sugar sculptures?

NEXT STEP: Attach dates to execution

Week 9

week 10

Blue Dye #1 Precipice
“Blue Dye #1 Precipice,” 2014. Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman from The New Yorker, Iconic American Landscapes, Recreated with Junk Food


Dr. Martin Blaser, Missing Microbes
NYU Human Microbiome Program
What About the Earth’s Microbiome
Turning to Bacteria to Fight the Effects of Climate Change 
Missing Microbes Excerpt
Scientists Urge National Initiative on Microbiomes 
Iconic American Junk Food, Recreated with Junk Food
This reading opens a whole new can of worms for my thinking, perhaps too late in the game to affect my project for the semester, but opens a new perspective for the concept of my project. So, my project focuses on time and scale when thinking about the sixth extinction. The immediacy of action for a singular ecosystem versus the insignificance of our existence on a geologic timescale and the “sugar coated” message we receive on a cultural level from those who try to educate the public on the topic of extinction. If we introduce Earth’s microbiome, it adds a level of complexity that places the need for action in between macro and micro perspectives. But how to reflect this in a sugar context? Food for thought.
week 10