Upcoming presentation
‘The sea cannot be depleted’ for the workshop ‘Beyond the Anthropo—Scenes, Mediums, Apparatuses and Environments’, at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, 19 May, 2017.

Recent talks
Panel member for Creative Resistance? Resilient Futures? at Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, September 2015 as part of GAIA: Resonant Visions, the artistic programmes for the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER) conference curated by James Brady

The rich build walls against the wild and so they desire it’, a talk for The Wild Project at Primary, Nottingham, July 2014

Keynote and respondent for ‘A Return to Pre-Modernity’, film programme curated by Victor Wang at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, August 2014. The films were: Amphibious (Login-Logout) by Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla;  Tônus | 2012 by Rodrigo Braga; and ‘Beau Geste’ by Yto Barrada.

Conference papers, talks and panels from 2000 – 2014

The talks below explore emotions, walking, giving an account of oneself, Aristotelian phronēsis, conversation, learning and experimentation, relational ethics, kinaesthetic empathy, extinction and banality. Subjects include climate change,  sound art, scientific fact and value, global commodity exchange, metaphor and materiality.

For the text of any talk, please email. The résumé.pdf lists all talks.

Moving in the distance. Nature, performance and unmapped emotions

Requiem-for-Electronic-Moa-by-John-Lyall-1

study for Requiem for Electronic Moa by John Lyall 2000

‘Distance’ is the relational condition of tension felt in attending to a work, involving the fluctuations of perception and the ambiguous intimations of reality, which create the territory in which special, performative emotional affects can be experienced. Performance is an indirect, relational form, and one in which the unbearable, the unspeakable, the terrifying, as well as the subtle and uncharted can be entertained.

In Requiem for Electronic Moa, the emotions engendered around extinction were of a flatness, of a human fumbling in the dark, and of a disturbing banality attending to extinction. There wasn’t the nobility of the last animal. This felt more like entering the haphazard, unreflective habits or necessities by which an animal or plant is extinguished, in the dark  – and in this, felt closer to what might be the reality.  The disjunction between anticipated emotions, and these feelings of banality created an unexpected and complex emotional charge’.

key words: Ronald Hepburn, Edward Bullough

at Emotional Geographies, Lancaster University 2002

Hearing the mean heat: how the measure of change on land leads to the valence of phronesis

sound-of-climate

As Seasons Change / The Sound of the Climate by Lorraine Berry 2007- 2008

Lorraine Berry translated the dataset for aggregated global temperature statistics produced by the UK MET Office’s Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit into musical notation.

‘The assemblage of nature and culture, the hands, instruments, humidities, conversations, legal precedents and industrial effluents that are embedded in the production of the piece are more than a steady, exterior context in which the piece sits.

The effects of those players, their responses, the dynamic equilibrium in which they act upon each other is that from which that sound emerged…The musicality that resulted feels like meaningful, communicative sound, as if it’s a sound of the climate from within its codes or structures, or mind, and not merely its material effects, the winds, the ice sheets aching, or the torrents of waves, to which we have become accustomed … How, then does one respond?’

key words: Bruno Latour, Aristotle, ethics, Gregory Bateson

at Living Landscapes, Aberystwyth University 2009

Culture and Climate Change: podcasts and publication

culture-+-climate-podcast

panel left to right: Prof. Diana Liverman, Dr. Wallace Heim, Quentin Cooper (chair), Siobhan Davies CBE, Prof. Nigel Clark (not pictured).

Quentin Cooper:  How much an impact has culture had on politicians, policymakers and others with the power to make a difference?

Wallace Heim:   Part of me wants to say that’s the wrong question. Of course you want the arts to influence everything but that’s a very instrumental view of the arts. If you start with that premise, you’re going to get a very different kind of artistic and cultural response. You’re going to ask for education, you’re going to ask for impact, you’re going to ask for all those things that policymakers can hold on to. I’d rather give policymakers something they can’t hold on to.

A project of the Open University OpenSpace Research Centre and the Ashden Trust

Oxford 2011

Investigating the Aesthetics of Ecological Design and Eco-Scenography

‘I have this idea that before too long, the arguments will not be about how to green the theatre, how to convince people to use less energy, how to make productions, buildings and transport less intensive in their uses of carbon. The arguments will flip. And the convincing – at least on materials and energy – will be going the other way. Those who want massive spectacles, world tours, and blazing lights will have to openly justify and account for those excessive drains. Theatre and performance will have changed. And it will looked changed.

Theatre is always changing, with new technologies and with new versions of what constitutes the human – what we think the human is.

I’ll talk about two of the ways that ecological ideas interact with aesthetics –

Firstly, To talk about conventions is to talk about relations between systems of ideas, to talk about breaks and revolts, about habits and about the power of the artist. It is to talk about social power, the tacit everyday kind and the institutional kind. It is to talk about what suddenly can be heard, when the convention breaks and what previously has been allowed to be heard goes stale, and what needs to be heard and seen comes into being, and is able to be sensed. And this changes – changes the public realm, the public space, the space of theatre…So to talk about aesthetic conventions is also to talk about politics.

Secondly, matter. Materials have histories. They pass through a production and move along – which they do whether they are considered waste to begin with, or are relatively new materials, whether they are used again in some way or sent to landfill to continue their history there. They are in movement, and in the brief moment of performance, they have a meaning, in that field of engagement. In performance, what is the balance between the agency of matter – as waste – and the intentions, force and design of the artist? To talk about matter is to talk about consequences, transformations and relations over time….So to talk about the aesthetics of matter is also to talk about ethics’.

at ‘People, Profit, Planet’ at World Stage Design, Cardiff 2013

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