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The oceanic pedagogical sketchbook of multi-materiality

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel Armstrong


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At the start of the new millennium a tipping point in the Anthropocene has been reached (Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000), where we have never been so prosperous, or numerous as a species. Yet, we are also in the process of reverse-terraforming our planet. We have created the prospect of a gaping 6th great extinction where over the last 10,000 years human activity has reduced the liveliness of the planet by causing the disappearance of many species, like the Ice Age megafauna (Kerr, 2003). Above us and beyond us, looms the prospect of a fourth wave of human expansion, which could take us to life beyond our home planet. A new wave of Apollo 8 Orphan entrepreneurs is investing personal fortunes into space ventures. Planetary Resources is planning to harvest asteroids for mineral resources (Planetary Resources, 2013), and Elon Musk aims to establish a colony, and even die, on the Red Planet (Becque, 2013). Yet we are almost as blind to our cosmic prospects and opportunities as John Milton (Milton, 2008), when he wrote Paradise Lost, since the visible fabric that we inhabit constitutes only 5% of reality, the rest of it being 68% dark energy and 27% dark matter (Moskowitz, 2011). Caught in between two existential voids – extinction, or escape – perhaps, like Milton, we may find cause to remain optimistic about our human potential and despite the chaos of adversity find new bounty here on Earth through allegiance with a complex material realm that constitutes a new kind of Nature (Van Mensvoort and Grievink, 2012). Footnote: The character of Nature is highly contested being a synthesis of ecological cultural and technological influences that are discussed in depth in Timothy Morton’s book Ecology without Nature (Morton, 2007), and The Ecological Thought (Morton, 2012).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Armstrong R

Editor(s): Kostas Grigoriadis

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Mixed Matters: A Multi-Material Design Compendium

Year: 2016

Pages: 18-29

Print publication date: 24/06/2016

Acceptance date: 01/02/2016

Publisher: Jovis Verlag GmbH

Place Published: Berlin



Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9783868594218