Dateline : September 21, 2014 Posted by writer in residence

controversies

@miraschor

I’ve been tweeting pictures of the melting ice letters of T H E  F U T U R E, LigoranoReese’s Dawn of the Anthropocene. One angry tweet asks much GHCs were emitted to create that ice and accuses me of hating this planet!

The question of the carbon footprint of this project is a fair one. This is a quandary: an idea which creates an potentially useful image for a cause may use energy in a not absolutely ecologically correct manner appropriate to the cause, although in the larger scheme of things, thinking of the major sources of global warming, this is a relatively minor infraction though perhaps one that must be judged by the standards of the cause. But I did wonder about this question myself. Continue reading

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    Dateline New York City : Posted by writer in residence

    Beauty in the political

    @miraschor

    Each letter melts in its own pattern of crystalline decomposition.

    Mira photo-3

    What is one to make of the role of beauty?  All the tiny bubbles that in this particular piece of ice, in the T of F U T U R E are a source of the joy that visual pleasure can bring, as it creates an unclear window romanticizing anew the Flat Iron building seen through it. Can this function as a political image? This of course is not the piece, it is a detail of the piece, but the piece is not just one image with a metaphor of glaciers melting in the warming atmosphere of earth, the piece also creates a series of images, changing over time. Their beauty is seductive, but does the metaphor operate metonymically or does one need the entire narrative?

    MIra photo-4

    (the future has melted in the hour or so since I took that picture, it is melting fast)

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      Dateline New York City : Posted by writer in residence

      T H E F U T U R E is melting

      @miraschor  

      I’m picking up from fellow writer in residence James Sherry at Ligorano Reese’s The Dawn of the Anthropocene public art work, in the shadow of the Flat Iron building. I’m looking out at the letters T H E  F U T U R E carved out of ice melting. People are posing in front of the letters. It is hard to know how many are doing so because that is just what we do these days when something highly photogenic is made available to us.

      Mira photo-2

      Today is a day of activism or of promoting consciousness of climate change and LigoranoReese’s image provides such an accessible metaphor. But in that transaction of posing and photographing, what gets communicated and what melts from political consciousness?

       

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        Dateline : Posted by writer in residence

        RISK

        James Sherry @jamessherry

        I am nearing the end of my 2-hour residency at the melted_away ice sculpture at the Flatiron building but I wanted to talk a bit about risk because there’s a lot of fear around change. Culture provides the will to change, but it also inhibits change by giving us models we are familiar with, that make us comfortable. So there is risk in change. The question is do we want to control that change and control the risk? Or do we want to let the change take place and avoid responsibility? So often we act and make things worse, so there’s a lot of reason to let change take place rather than act to make things worse.

        Since, however, we are always acting, let us act on our own behalf and make those changes with risk in mind. Here at the Flatiron, Nora and Marshall are letting the words THE FUTURE melt_away. THE FUTURE will be gone by 11pm tonight. Expand that time frame and our inaction on climate change, allowing only the destructive elements of corporate development to act, and our civilization will melt_away. Can we think of an alternative action? The Anthropocene ice sculpture stands for THE human FUTURE. The planet will be fine without us. It’s time to come together to act. The Climate March raises awareness for decision makers that we are not silent; we are prepared to act; we expect them to act in accord with our interests, our long term interests.

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          Dateline : Posted by writer in residence

          Social Environment

          James Sherry @jamessherry

          At the beginning of the Humanist era, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about a society where everyone was defined by their jobs: the knight, the squire, the priest, the housewife, the nun, and each had a separate story. In the environmental age people will start to identify themselves with how they view nature and all the stories have a common thread. Nature can be a cornucopia driven by our skills. Or we can passively receive its bounty, living from the fruits of other’s labor. We may think we cannot effect the world and hide away improving ourselves. All these different social beings contribute to arresting climate change, each in their own way. And we are not one thing as in humanism. Our view of nature changes as we do different things, washing dishes, skiing, working in the office…

          Our common thread: humanity and nature as a single complex entity. As long as we continue to think of humanity as separate from nature, our solutions will be partial and their effects minimal. Social change drives climate change. We are both separate individual organisms and united by society and ecosystem. Michael Thompson is the inspiration for this thought.

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            Dateline : Posted by writer in residence

            Mental Environment: Human Cognition

            James Sherry @jamessherry

            We usually understand that our thinking takes place in our brain, but we can also model thought as a series of connections between ourselves and the world. There’s no reason to continue to imagine thought as only in our minds. A cook is looking for the thyme. She doesn’t remember where it is on the shelf, so she runs her forefinger along the labels until she finds “thyme”. The image of the letters on the label match the model in her mind. Thinking takes place between her mind and the label as an exchange of language.

            Another example, a beaver could have evolved stronger legs and bigger claws to run out and eat the bark off the tree before the wolf gets her. But instead, she figured out a better idea, expand her safe zone by building a dam. Less energy, less risk. (thanks to Mark Rowlands)

            The solutions to climate change do not avoid manipulating the environment. We must make smart changes as we get smarter about our world. How can our manipulation of environment heat our homes, power our lamps and transports with less impact. You know the answers: renewable energy costs less overall. Even if the transition costs money the costs of cleaning up fossil fuel including wars is becoming too big to bear. We are choking and drowning in our own effluent. Renewables make sense. And the cost, see prior post. In many geographies solar is already cheaper than oil. It’s not a holistic solution, but a distribution of power with more types of systems in more places, each in its appropriate geography. And distributed systems are more resilient. Solar in deserts, hydro near moving water, geothermal in hot spots. Each person sees the solutions somewhat differently, but there are social types, and I may be similar to you, or different.

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              Dateline : Posted by writer in residence

              Economic Enviornment

              James Sherry @jamessherry

              We can start to arrest climate change today. In fact we are arresting it at the same time that we continue to change the climate. Significant objections are raised by vested interests regarding the cost of change. But the cost is much less than the cost of doing nothing. And the cost is not that great. Nordhaus and Stern disagree on how to calculate it, using net present value or rolling future value, but the costs are able to be calculated and compared to the cost of doing nothing. Right now the cost of acting is significantly less than the cost of doing nothing if we look out 20, 50, 100 years. Therefore we should begin to act. You can begin to act. How should you act? That depends on who you are. Interestingly you don’t have to change who you are but how you think about yourself.

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                Dateline : Posted by writer in residence

                Political Environment

                James Sherry @jamessherry

                The remediation  of climate change lies not in chemistry, legislation or poetry, but in their relationships. Relationships may be of several kinds from active to inactive, from one directional to bi-directional, active or passive links that are only energized under certain circumstances. When does climate change effect you enough to cause you to act? When you hear about it? When your friends try to convince you to participate? When the water starts tasting bad? When the water covers the streets? When you have to move your house because it is under water? When there is no more potable water? What’s your trigger?

                What is your relationship to the world around you? When do you notice the connections? When do you think you are an independent being acting in your own self interest? We flip back and forth. Every organism separates itself from its environment. Otherwise we cannot know to breathe or eat or defend ourselves. But every organism maintains many and varied connections to the world. Which of these connections are being altered by climate change? Do you know?

                These interactions with the world comprise the political environment. Communication about the connections defines the border of our political system. How can we affect it?

                 

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                  Dateline : Posted by writer in residence

                  Environmental Poetics

                  James Sherry

                  Ligorano and Reese’s art renders environmental risk as an immediate message that we all understand, THE FUTURE melting_away. But the practical solutions beyond art engage the primary cause of global warming, HUMAN DESIRE, that doesn’t melt. Desire continues.

                  We have the technology to arrest climate change. We have the political systems to transform society. But we lack the will to change. Art, poetry, music supply our will, the justification, if you will, to change. Environmental change engages human endeavor broadly: political change, social change, change in how we imagine ourselves in the world, economic change, new art, more realistic views of risk. The list is thorough. Our understanding is partial and filled with error. Error is why we cannot rely on a moral principle to arrest climate change. We must deal with each component and model it against a world art and poetry imagine. And at each step in imagining we compare what we have made to the model. Is it working, what are the consequences, whose interest is served, how can we distribute the risk?

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                    Dateline : Posted by writer in residence

                    Ticking Time

                    James Sherry

                    Marshall and Nora are making a specific statement that because of their choice of words has many interpretations. But there is the sense of ticking time in melting ice, not so different from our body deteriorating. We know this anxiety; how does it change our behavior to be aware of this situation? How can we, today, while a million people are marching to raise awareness of the dangers, alert powerful people exercising power about the risks they are taking, alert them in such a way as to change how they think about themselves, to change how we think about ourselves? If we think, it’s someone else’s problem, if we think we are alone in the world, what kind of society do we line in? If we imagine that we are powerless and the hierarchy gives us no power, what kind of hierarchy can we imagine that gives us power?

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