Brett Bloom: Post-Fossil Workshop

De-Industrializing Subjectivity, Restoring Senses and Telling New Stories

Workshop, July 2 – 3, 2014 (Suomenlinna, Helsinki & Käärmesaari, Espoo, FI) 

During the workshop De-Industrializing Subjectivity, Restoring Senses and Telling New Stories the 12 participating artists and curators and other practitioners explored what kinds of subjective experiences of our world and of our selves are normalised and routinised under the all-pervasive use of fossil fuels. Participants were led to question how deeply does petroleum penetrate our bodies, minds and ways of being in the world. What does it mean to do work to shift individual and collective subjectivity to prepare for climate change and the ensuing chaos it brings? How can people work towards an ecology that puts the concerns of the environment, other species, landscapes, on equal footing with those of ours? What are we capable of, and what do we suppress, in terms of our emotions, our senses, and our aesthetic awareness living in a carbon-based society?

These questions and more were explored during this two-day workshop. The participants took a look at the individual and collective subjectivity people have when we live in a petroleum-driven and human centered culture — the very ways we conceive of ourselves, our behaviour, and what is normal amongst our communities. The workshop investigated ways of working ourselves out of The Petroleum Space/Time Continuum — a state of experience and being that generates every single one of our social/spatial/temporal encounters. It is the condition people need to understand and begin to dismantle to be able to connect deeply with the locations we inhabit as well as transition to something utterly other.

Brett Bloom set questions about how we can develop post-carbon aesthetics and social structures: how we can de-industrialise our notions of self. The workshop was a combination of discussions of selected texts and direct exercises in understanding perceptual capacities, which evolved over millennia and predate the advent of civilisation remaining mainly dormant as they are not needed in the sped up, stripped down, abstracted, collapsed space/time we live in. 

The practises during the workshop included mapping, listening, and other perceptual exercises. The participants were proposed to think about how people may work on emergent subjectivities on our way to developing skills needed to endure crises, collapse, and climate chaos.

What is needed is not some nostalgic return to hunter-gatherer-cave-painting-culture, but an honest conversation about what it means to power down our aesthetics and by extension our larger society. - Brett Bloom