re-imagining the creative city through the environmental arts
Inheriting the Anthropocene
Inheriting the Anthropocene was co-created with the Young Adventurers, a group of young people (age 11-14) who collaborate weekly with artists, researchers, and educators from the Biosocial Lab and Manchester Museum. Our collective adventure took us into the museum’s gallery spaces and behind the scenes, down corridors and into hidden stores, following our curiosity while asking hard questions about the Anthropocene, climate change, extinction, and decolonisation. What does it feel like to inherit the Anthropocene? How does our sense of inheritance shift as we work to collectively re-imagine the museum and its collections?
We organised the exhibition around a Cabinet of Curiosity which offered tentative responses to these questions. Working in the Baroque style of seventeenth century Wunderkammern that displayed artificial and natural objects side by side, young people assembled and disassembled museum objects of various kinds and investigated their relations to their own lives and epoch. We also created a number of other interactive works and interventions in museum space, including:
Coats of Curiosities, found coats, found objects, provocations for action
The Bureau of Unanswerable Questions, found drawers, hundreds of questions raised by young people in the museum
The Blot Walk, 40 inkblots marking blind spots and exclusions in the museum’s galleries
Scene From Behind, a 360 video installation revealing parts of the museum usually restricted to the public
Sounding Inheritance, interactive audio interface, binaural audio samples recorded by young people the museum
Remixing Thick Time
Our sense of time tends to shift when we walk into an art gallery. As we move through an exhibition our bodies become sensitive to shifting compositions of light, sound, space, colour, movement, feeling, and form. Often an exhibition will re-animate events from other places and times, evoke memories, and even anticipate future events. Time can feel suspended, altered, slowed, quickened, and multiplied as we are affected by the particular atmosphere that an exhibition conjures. This ability to produce an atmosphere that thickens and moves outside of linear time is one of the strange and compelling powers of art.
Remixing Thick Time explored shifting concepts and sensations of time through a series of immersive artworks in the Whitworth’s Grand Hall. Each work was created through collaborative workshops with young people, as inspired by the sensory atmospheres and timescapes of William Kentridge’s “Thick Time” (2018-2019) exhibition. Works included:
The Missing Half Second, layered animations, 120 drawings on tracing paper
Fugitive Sensations, augmented personal containers, whispered texts, inflatable architecture
A Game of Conceptual Activations, set of 24 game cards, live biodata, actions
The Haptic Eye, non-linear video matrix and live digital drawing
Sounding Time, binaural sound recordings, samples, live remix
Birley Art Gallery
The works in this exhibition were created in collaboration with children and young people (age 5-12) from Z-arts, a community arts education organisation in Hulme. The exhibition explored the concept of ‘superpositioning’ as a practice of layering our changing experiences of local places around Hulme in response to the onset of climate change. In physics superpositioning refers to the layering of quantum states that exist simultaneously, while in geology it describes the layering of sedimentary rock and other materials over deep time. We think of superpositioning as a practice of layering different sensations, images, sounds, media, materials, feelings, environments, and experiences. This process of superpositioning is never finished or closed, but remains open to new layers of experience that are always being created with each passing moment.
Rather than presenting complete or finished works, the exhibition offered a series of immersive art processes that opened onto ongoing practices of sensing: sensing strata, sensing sound, sensing time, sensing place. We invited audiences to contribute new layers to the exhibition by wearing biosensors and projecting their sensations on the wall. Audiences were also invited to create their own ‘atmospheric’ drawings which were layered and displayed on transparent surfaces.