Foreword

The climate crisis is, in the words of Simon Armitage, ‘the hum that won’t go away’.¹ The necessity and the urgency of engaging with the natural world is pressing.

In Carbon - Borders - Voices the exhibitors consider our relationship to nature and creatively explore ways to create new ones. What was once local – the Amazon rainforest, the North Sea coastline, a landfill in Beirut – is now global. The traditional boundaries of academic disciplines were also too parochial to tackle the existential crisis and are shifting. By redefining fields of enquiry and forms of knowledge that operate within and outside of them, we can begin to conceive of a new philosophy to undergo this enquiry; a knowledge that is not only about things in themselves but rather a knowledge about how ideas, processes and concepts interact.²

Carbon - Borders - Voices is an interdisciplinary exhibition involving research and practice focusing on places of transition on coasts and borders within the context of climate crisis. This has emerged into a space for interaction, exchange, debate and collaboration between the arts and sciences at this critical moment in time. 

As curators of Carbon - Borders - Voices, we feel incredibly grateful for the number of diverse, rich, intriguing, and challenging projects that form this online exhibition across various platforms. The diversity in backgrounds and geographies, in media and outputs, and disciplines and interests is testament to the integrity and creativity of the contributors’ responses and engagement with the urgent themes of Carbon - Borders - Voices. Eighty-five works from around the world form new relationships and connections by way of this project. Furthermore, it is not only what Carbon - Borders - Voices introduces, but also what it facilitates: the interactions still unknown to us, not yet decided on by us or by anyone. 

 

The online exhibition is available to view on the Carbon - Borders - Voices website. Simultaneously, each day beginning Monday 24th January 2022, the featured work of two contributors will be published on the Instagram platform, culminating in a diversity of ideas, stories and working practices, from site-specific sound installation to poetry and web-based generative artwork. The themes include connections between sites, continents and mythologies and the movement of peoples and their identities; the use of materials, natural and artificial, in the construction of ideas on sustainability; sensory and emotional responses of empathy and curiosity in engaging with the world; and exploring organic cultures and networks that mirror data processing and technologies of the digital world. These ideas can add to our knowledge of interaction between ourselves and the world, and exchange across the arts and the sciences.

 

Since the initial conversation between the curators in February 2021 in response to the prompt ‘Above, Below, at the Edge of the Water’ by the art magazine ‘The Critical Fish’, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November failed to address the key question of system change in tackling the climate emergency.³ However, the wider consideration of the climate emergency is not just an opportunity for heads of governments, economists and scientists to come together - this is an opportunity for us to respond individually and collaboratively by building relationships through the sharing of ideas and working processes.

What underpins Carbon - Borders - Voices is how this selection of engaging individual artworks and scientific research interact with one another, and how those interactions are facilitated which may provide pointers to more concrete solutions to climate crisis.

 

Jill, Kevin, Rob and Matt
January 2022

[1] Armitage, S. (2019) Simon Armitage: ‘Nature has come back to the centre of poetry’/Simon Armitage/The Guardian. Available here (Accessed: 18.01.2022)

[2] See Serres, M. (2011) The Natural Contract, Trans. MacArthur, E., and Paulson, W., United States of America: The University of Michigan Press.

[3] The Critical Fish, Above below… Available here