(USA and International)—The Peace Studio supports, trains, and unites the next generation of artists, journalists and storytellers to inspire people everywhere to become active peacebuilders. Earlier this year, they began commissioning creatives to generate peace offerings in response to the isolating COVID-19 pandemic in their 100 Offerings of Peace Campaign. I’m stoked to have contributed to this awesome and necessary campaign on Day 23; my piece is about the Australian bushfire crisis.
Human hearts cast out of resin, bushfire ash, soil, stones, flowers, etc.
“I moved to Australia in September 2019, and what I viewed initially as a move to a country that was relatively safe from climate catastrophes quickly turned into a move to ground zero because of the bushfire crisis. I decided to use the ashes to create art as a way forward for healing and regeneration. I reference the scene of the “Weighing of the Hearts” of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, in which the dead person’s heart is weighed against a feather. This peace offering asks us, what weighs our hearts down or makes them lighter?”
“One day I woke up and a piece of the planet was in my heart,” is how my art/sci/nature/sci-fi video offering starts. Check out the video here: https://thepeacestudio.org/day-23/
The Peace Studio is co-founded by Dr. Maya Soetoro, also consultant to the Obama Foundation and whom we in the Obama Leaders: Asia-Pacific cohort have the honor of being with. Let’s do what Yo-yo Ma (Day 25) says and to create art and post it online with the hashtag #OfferPeace. Please support their wonderful work on @the_peace_studio and www.thepeacestudio.org.
Tvergastein Issue 14: The Arts and the Environment. Image by cChange
[OSLO]—Dr. Karen O’Brien and Nicole Schafenacker, editors of the cli-fi anthology “Our Entangled Future” write about the book in the Oslo-based journal, Tvergastein, for Issue #14, Art & Environment! “Can climate fiction help us engage with a new paradigm for social change?”. Read the issue for free here.
For example, author and artist Catherine Sarah Young describes her approach to The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store as follows: “I use the abstract yet scientific relationship between scent and memory as a way for humans to redefine their relationship between scent and memory as a way for humans to redefine their relationship with nature through remembering their personal histories and reinforcing their identities, which can facilitate quantum social change.”
The stories in Our Entangled Future explore characters who connect with reality through non-linear time, collective consciousness, and multi species sentience….Emilia, the main character in Young’s short story, The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store, is a perfumer with a keen sense of smell — which is, in fact, considered by some biologists to be an example fo a quantum phenomenon (McFadden and Al-Khalili 2016). Her sense of smell provides her with important information when she meets a trespassing strange — a hulk of a man who could easily overpower her: “She sniffed the air and smelled his fear”. Together, these short stories suggest that we are entangled through our senses, experiences, and consciousness. .
(Norway / Chile) I’m excited to share the news that the book, “Our Entangled Future: Stories to Empower Quantum Social Change,” is now available and free to download. My contribution, a short story version of “The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store,” won third place, and I’m stoked to be part of this wonderful collection. The book will be launched tomorrow, October 15, at the Transformations 2019 conference in Santiago, Chile, and will be available in ebook and paperback versions.
The nine short stories presented in Our Entangled Future are rooted in the complex reality of the climate crisis. Rather than painting a dystopic future, they present agency-driven characters whose insights will inspire readers to contemplate and realize the potential for quantum social change.
The book is co-edited by Karen O’Brien, Ann El Khoury, Nicole Schafenacker and Jordan Rosenfeld. Many thanks to the team, the jury and my fellow writers!
Ice Chess examines the Arctic crisis and inspires viewers and participants to reflect on the situation up north. A map of the Arctic with its indigenous peoples is printed on a chessboard with pieces cast out of ice. Inside the pieces are toy soldiers and that represent the players in the emerging “battle” of the Arctic—the political and industrial figures that have big stakes in oil and shipping that stand to gain from melting ice and the emerging maritime routes as a result, and the pawns that represent the countries that will be affected by sea level rise and that are sacrificed in order to achieve these goals.
In these urgent times, now is not the time to romanticize the Melt. In a game with high stakes, who is responsible? On the edges of the board are freestanding soldiers and figures that represent observer countries and other affected nations, and anonymous figures that represent globally concerned distributed people. The battle is on, and we are all watching with bated breath. Ice Chess uses art and science to interrogate, to speak truth to power, to point to the powerful entities who are primarily responsible for what is affecting the whole planet.
Chess is one of the oldest skill games in the world and has been
played for over 5000 years. Chess spread around the world through
colonization and trade. The objective of chess is to trap the king—to
checkmate him—and it wins the game. Chess is historically played
by the wealthy. In this project, it references wealth inequality, one of
the systemic causes of climate change.
Chess is metaphorical of how humanity has treated nature—as a
game of strategy where we seek to exploit it and each other. It takes
this further by actually melting the project with the aid of the
players—a reference to how we collectively have caused the Arctic
to melt and how we can also put a stop to it.
This game does not intend to pit one human being against the other (or one country against the other), which risks oversimplification. Rather, each player represents a set of alternative possibilities that, when the game is played, clash to produce permutations of consequences. In the game, players and the audience are allowed to view the many entanglements that a wicked problem such as the Arctic crisis can provide.
A primary reason for economic interest in the Arctic is the emerging
Northern Sea Route, which will connect Western Europe and Asia. This
could make shipping up to 14 days faster than the southern route via the
Suez Canal. In 2018, the Venta Maersk, owned by Maersk Line and
carrying 3,600 containers, successfully set sail from Vladivostok to St.
Petersburg—the first container ship to tackle the Arctic sea route north of
The Chessboard & The Pieces
The board is a map of the Arctic labeled with indigenous communities,
seas, emerging shipping routes—all of these will be names we would hear
more about in the coming decades. This map represents the battleground
where a literal and figurative cold war is already happening.
The powerful row of pieces—the king, queen, bishop, knight, and
rook—represent the Arctic Council nations: Russia, USA, Iceland, Finland,
Sweden, Norway, Canada, and Denmark. The row of pawns represent
countries around the world that are and will be most affected by sea level
rise. Surrounding the board are Arctic Council observer countries, other
nations affected by sea level rise, and anonymous figures that represent
globally distributed concerned people.
Climate Change & the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes contain 5,500 cubic miles of freshwater, one of the biggest freshwater resources of the world. It supports more than 34 million people who live within its Basin. These people rely on the lakes for drinking water, fisheries, recreation, and industry. Climate change is already affecting these ecosystems through extreme weather, decreased crop yields, heat waves and consequent poor air quality, stress on water quality and infrastructure, affected navigation and recreation, and impact on wildlife.
Thank you to curators Mark Valentine Sullivan and Antajuan Scott and the rest of the Science Gallery Detroit team!
(BEIJING, China) – On March 16th, I was invited to give a talk at Global Shapers Beijing (Hub 2) for their Eco Art Challenge. I spoke about my work and, more importantly, about what I learned, my triumphs and failures with my Year for the Planet personal challenge. Other speakers included Break Free from Plastic China and Eric Lau. Afterwards, the participants created a whale sculpture made of plastic trash and embarked on a 7-day plastic-free challenge—a very difficult thing in Beijing, where plastic seems to weed its way in places you did not think it would.
It’s almost 2019, and what a year 2018 has been! Here’s a year in review:
I started the year decluttering my parents’ house, stopped needing a cane from a hip injury, went back to training in taekwondo again, made lots of new friends, and reconnected with old ones. My dad was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and is back in Manila from treatment in New York. Apart from residency/fellowship travel (see below), I visited Lucerne (to see a friend), Bratislava, Berlin, Salzburg, and Bangkok (with extended family).
From April to June I did a visual arts residency with KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery. I produced another body of work, Wild Science, which explores the role of science in society. There were fun collaborations, such as with Dr. Gerhard Heindl of the Schönbrunn Tiergarten for this piece, Der Tiergarten 1.0: Human Forces on the Animal Kingdom, and a photo shoot with some cool herpetologists and taxidermists at the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (Natural History Museum, Vienna). I also produced Letters for Science and asked youth from Eferding, Austria to write letters to climate change deniers.
In Manila in September, we finished photo and video shoots of The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store and The Sewer Soaperie. I also started doing research for Wild Science on religion and beliefs in Quiapo, a part of Manila where Catholicism, Islam, and paganism intersect.
I’m one of the ten inaugural SEAΔ fellows of the Mekong Cultural Hub and the British Council with part 1 held in Taipei in late November. We were divided into four groups, and mine will meet in Cambodia in May 2019 to execute our project. We will all be together to present the outcomes in Bangkok in June and reflect on the program in September.
I’m delighted to announce that The Apocalypse Projectis in the running for the Best Climate Solutions 2018 Award for “Communicating Climate Change Threats and Opportunities”! I’m hoping to fund a future series of projects benefiting an indigenous rainforest community in the Philippines, and to create an arts-led curriculum that outlines the frameworks of the climate change adaptation projects and workshops I’ve been leading in all of these places in the world you’ve seen me in.
The online voting procedure will be open from September 24, 2018 until October 15, 2018 (5.00 pm CEST).
(Manaus, Brazil)—I’m back from one of the coolest residencies I’ve ever had. From July 20th to 29th, I was in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil together with 14 other international artists. I’m very grateful to have spent this time in nature.
I learned a lot of things and got to do research for An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest!
LabVerde July 2017 edition. Photo by Gui Gomes, courtesy of Lab Verde.
I really liked exploring concepts about science and policy and how science should be more accessible to the public. A new project and line of inquiry came up, yipee!
Experiments in Nature, Nature in Experiments. Photo by Gui Gomes courtesy of LabVerde.
We presented our projects on the last day at the Museu da Amazonia (MUSA).
LabVerde final seminar at MUSA. Image courtesy of LabVerde.
More posts soon, as I recover from jet lag! Thanks, LabVerde, my fellow residents, and everyone else who made this happen. It was an awesome experience!
June 26-29, 2017, Kampala, Uganda—We presented Child’s Play: Climate Change through the Eyes of Children, at the 11th Community-Based Adaptation Conference hosted by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). It was fantastic to wrap up my art residency with Plan International. I’m really grateful to have presented the works by the children from all three of my workshops in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Some of the paper architecture made by children and youth from the Future Resilient Communities workshop
The Climatoscopes, Child’s Play edition
For this edition of The Climatoscope, I didn’t do the photos—the kids did! What are places in your communities that need to adapt to climate change?
The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store! This time, the kids made their own perfumes. I reproduced them from the recipes they gave me at the end of the workshops.
Storm Globes shows kids’ sculptures of things in their communities that are vulnerable to climate change.
Deepest thanks to Kimberly Junmookda, Plan International (especially the Indonesia, Thailand, and Philippines offices!), and the Federal Ministry for Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety Germany (BMUB).