A remnant is something that remains when the majority of that something has been lost. Remnants (of land, animal life or cultures) symptomatically offer us a message inscribed in both place and time. There is an urgent need to reconnect these remnants of self, culture and environment. How we then choose to act is our critical question and challenge to confront.
As Timothy Morton states that everything is connected into a vast, intertangling “mesh” that flows through all dimensions of life. No person, no animal, no object or idea can exist independently. ‘Nature’ is not an entity separate from culture - nor is ‘the animal world’ separate from humankind. Understanding profound interconnection (an unexpected simplification) requires us to evolve our thinking and acting consistent with what Tony Fry names ‘ecological “ontology” (Fry, 1999). We will seek an ‘interconnected knowing’ in the cultures we engage. By actively seeking and adopting knowledge from these cultures and utilising emerging technology, we can begin to imagine a deeply relational understanding of self and the world - suggesting transition towards the new human. Intercreate name this the ‘eco-sapien’.
Today’s ecological emergency exists because a dominating Western Culture has ignored this entanglement and pursued a quite different vision - a vision that is also ‘time poor’ – consistent with what, after Bernd Magnus, Tony Fry discusses as ‘chronophobia’ (a fear of time). All around us we now see symptoms of a crisis we have created in the biophysical world, the human body, the social fabric and interpersonal relationship. In this ‘time of emergency’ we must, as creative practitioners, gain a critical understanding of the situation, devise new types of projects. Such projects need to examine the cultural values that drive processes of destruction, our incomprehension of time and desecration of place. Equally, we have to learn how to develop complex, relational and reflective processes.
The ArtLab project pursues bioregional understandings of place that establish a context of site and the voices belonging to place - thus helping us to interpret ‘terrain’ by beginning with local ground with the intention to establish a poetics of embodied movement that can generate a ‘mesh of understanding.
This approach will also pursued through increasing understandings of other languages, places, memories, recordings and sounds and the cognate and implicate sensations only available in embodied moments – that use multiple media to uncover particular knowledge of people who have a sensitised understanding of their locale.
A critical aspect of this approach involves signifying and acknowledging the implicit place of a re-understood ‘time’ of everything - following Fry’s understanding of Martin Heidegger’s notion that ‘everything has its time’. This approach foregrounds a methodology for establishing re-interpreted ideas of ‘place of time’ as the ultimate arbiter of more or less future assurance - for both us and our entangled companion worlds. We wish to witness and promote a necessarily rich poly-vocality. This becomes a reflection of and upon a world that others can engage and sense that which could be if we chose to recollect, re-imagine and reinvent together.
The Artlab therefore is seen as an opportunity to create new forms of artwork and also a vehicle for understanding what might constitute consistent processes. What we produce, how we produce it and how we act collectively and separately has the potential to spark a whole range of related affirmative community activities. We can use these local contexts to understand how other cultures are managing increasing resource deficiency and increasing waste, to generate better and more powerful ‘images’ of what a sustainable world might be. We can learn from other cultures how we might envisage sustainable practices – in an effort to move away from the Western penchant for creating the ‘original’ and rather to reconnect with our remnant ‘tools’. The Labs provide an incubator for each team member to explore and develop their practice by culturally challenging our understanding of ‘time and place’ with the opportunity to exchange ideas and techniques and seed further collaborations.
A radical creative process or work is one that asks questions, invites thought, challenges taken-for-granted values, and exposes not so evident contradictions.