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Reflections on Water (It happened tomorrow) A workshop on speculative landscaping with archival material
12 October 2022 @ 16:45 - 18:00
In this workshop, you will be invited to create speculative Dutch landscapes of tomorrow, with the use of archives, paper, pencils, markers, and AI.
Background: “The climate crisis is also a crisis of the imagination.” Author Amitav Ghosh argues in this way for the incorporation of climate change in our cultural artistic work. Ghosh is not alone in this call for greater diversity and multiplication of crisis imaginaries. Recent research has pointed out the importance of imagining future climate change as a prerequisite for accepting change, whether in personal life or in necessary far-reaching policy changes. Climate science communication experts also highlight the importance of climate imagination, as a way to deal with the so-called apocalypse fatigue we find ourselves in after being bombarded for years with images of melting glaciers, polar bears, forests on fire and flooded cities. Even the COP26 included a talk by science fiction author Kim Robertson.
Future imaginaries with a changing climate are at the heart of this workshop. The Visual Methodologies Collective (HvA), together with artistic researchers from Rietveld and AHK and research partners at Sound and Vision and Tolhuistuin, have started a joint programme that focuses on rising sea levels in the Netherlands. Sea-level rise has long been one of the most locally tangible impacts of climate change, manifesting itself both in the present and in the future. In the Netherlands, the trust in its strong water management and engineering tradition has led to the so-called ‘myth of the dry feet’—the idea that sea-level rise in the Netherlands, a country that in part lies below sea-level, can be countered by merely building higher dams (Schuttenhelm, 2020). Scenarios for the future of the Netherlands include new adaptation strategies of living with the water, in which parts of the land are given back to nature to preserve larger cities (Deltares, 2019).
Speculative landscaping with archival materials: From the open archives of Sound and Vision we have collected still images of short films, documentaries and news reports about different forms of (other than) human relationships with water. In this workshop, you are invited to look at and expand on these past traces, as a way to imagine possible future landscapes of the Netherlands. We will use paper, pencils, and markers to sketch speculative landscapes that will be then augmented with the help of recent AI text-to-image models. What scenarios about living with higher water could be imagined? How can artistic practice open up people’s current visions, fears, and hopes about the future with a changing climate?