The Metabolic Landscape book launch and talk
We are pleased to announce that the authors of The Metabolic Landscape: Gina Glover, Geof Rayner, and Jessica Rayner will be launching their new book and giving a talk at Photofusion!
Thursday 3 July 2014, 7pm in the Photofusion Gallery
Free entry, open to all | Wine and snacks provided
The Metabolic Landscape is a beautifully illustrated, fascinating and engaging exploration navigating the disciplines of art, science and philosophy to picture and interpret the planet’s current state of metabolic distress. Humankind’s search for more powerful sources of energy to sustain an urbanising existence has created an energy transition that, while hugely beneficial to human existence, is now being identified as a source of harm. Just as metabolic disease refers to energy-sourced medical problems, so too the planet, the authors propose, is showing increasing signs of metabolic distress.
Gina Glover’s photographs exploit atmospheric and ambient light conditions to construct images which draw attention to the place of energy and changes in the landscape. This project builds upon earlier visits to coalmines the Arctic and geothermal plants in Iceland. The newer work includes nuclear reactors in France, hydroelectric power stations in Wales, open-cast coal minds in Germany, oil wells and hydraulic fracturing sites in the USA and glacier loss in Greenland.
Jessica Rayner uses a range of media, including photography, video, printmaking and three-dimensional sculpture. She explores the idea of energy through objects, materials, substances and processes. She describes objects and processes as affordances, because they offer value to us. Delving into the histories of these objects, she offers up their histories in the form of stories of their origination, discovery or scientific analysis. In constructing these artworks she provides a further story, raising the question of whether an artwork can express within it the artist’s sense of knowledge and perception.
Geof Rayner provides an accompanying text examining the energy transition, the shift from renewable energy sources – wind, water, biomass and muscle – to the fossil fuels which powered the industrial revolution and form the basis of today’s consumer lifestyles. Rayner traces the development of metabolic theory and Western concepts of landscape. Just as life relies on metabolic processes – the conversion of fuel (food) into energy usable by the body, so too the landscape is a metabolic system writ large. He argues that in its original meaning in Northern Europe landscape (landschaft) was simply the place where people lived; today it has a new meaning, fitting in with our urbanising mode of living. The landscape, in effect, became a place we visit or look at. What was once a lived-in place became understood more in aesthetic terms, such as through paintings (the first being the Dutch ‘landskip’) or photographs. In the process, Nature became denaturalised; just as in our use of fossil fuels we distanced ourselves from our origination of energy.
At a time of metabolic feedback and mismatch – resulting in climate change, biodiversity loss and metabolic diseases (like obesity) – the authors say that society requires a new energy transition. This means ending our reliance on fossil fuels and new relationships to energy.