I now have meetings arranged with my scientist partners at the University of Aberdeen and coding/data specialist Shelly Knotts in Newcastle. If all goes to plan I’ll have a provisional sonification model up and running by the end of May. I’m not sure exactly what’s going to come out of my meeting with the scientists. Having made many assumptions, as a non-scientist, it’s almost a certainty that the simple notion of predicting climate change tipping points will turn out to be a mass of statistical probabilities, from ‘highly likely’ to ‘as likely as not’, all subject to controversial and vigorous debate and disagreement between experts. But one thing I do know about science is that it’s about hypotheses, many of them ad hoc hypotheses, rather than facts and certainties. And here I can meet the scientists on the sea ground because as an artist I work from the same methodology. I welcome uncertainty. If someone sidles up to me at an installation and tells me the science is all wrong I’ll invite them on board the project as a stakeholder. At least I’ll have taken a position.
As part of my campaign to network and to make people aware of my project I visited a talk/exhibition in Edinburgh, organised by Creative Carbon Scotland, on a project by Canadian artist Sean Caulfield. Firedamp is series of large scale prints, dystopic, oneiric, based it would seem on the artist’s experience of the Alberta tar sands. Sean participated by Skype from Edmonton, talking to a group of about thirty people. I realised very quickly that this kind of work can act very efficiently as a catalyst or a forum around which people might share values. I began this project partly out of frustration at submitting to a relentless data assault. I don’t know what to do about climate change, yet I do know that if we do nothing the consequences will be catastrophic. So I’ve been moved to respond within my means, as an artist. I don’t want to send people away even more frustrated at yet another rendition of the futility of the human condition faced with climate change. Later on I’ll come to my own ideas about how events might be built around an exhibition .
Other recent contacts include agencies with specific interest in data, ecoarts organisations and a local Community Energy group whose representative answered a question that had been bothering me for some time. The final phase of this project will be the production phase and for that I’ll be seeking out sponsors. The last think I want is to take money from a renewables company who also happen to do some oil and gas on the side, or a wind farm company who ride roughshod over local communities. So I’ve learned that the way around this minefield is to go to the ethical investment banks and similar institutions, who will point me to the kind of potential sponsor I want to engage with.
I’ve been delighted to hear that my proposals to present papers/posters and realisations of the work-in-progress have been accepted at two conferences in the summer: Sound + Environment 2017 at The University of Hull (https://soundenvironment.net) and Balance- Unbalance (A Sense of Place) produced by i-DAT in collaboration with the Sustainable Earth Institute and Art and Sound at Plymouth University. I envisage that these will afford excellent opportunities to test and evaluate the work in a critical environment.