On October 11th and 12th I participated in a colloquium at Les Abattoirs, Toulouse on the notion of designing a "monument" to the Anthropocene. The colloquium centred around a series of proposals for "monuments" from artists like Tomás Saraceno, Adam Lowe, Amy Balkin and Yesenia Thibault-Picazo. Organized and curated by Bruno Latour and Bronislaw Szerszynski, the colloquium and exhibition included lectures by Christophe Bonneuil, Pierre Chabard, John Palmesino, Ann-Sofi Ronnskög and Emilie Hache. There were also a series of interventions between artists and thinkers: Adam Lowe and Féderique Ai-Touati, Bronislaw Szerszynski and Tomás Saraceno, and Nigel Clark and Iain Baxter, among others.
Tomás Saraceno's "monument" took the form of a partially-inflated lighter-than-air sculpture called Museo Aero Solar. The Museo is a long-term project involving many participants and communities around the world, and it actively questions our relationship to the thin but highly resilient material of plastic bags. Participants bring their reused plastic bags, cut them into rectangular shapes, and join them together onto a surface that is later inflated by the sun (sometimes with the help of a small ventilator). The project is visually stunning and its aesthetic force lies in the fact that it proposes a different way of existing in and sensing the elements: without the use of burners, fossil fuels or gas, solar energy is transmuted into hot air which generates lift, causing the multi-colored Museo to rise.
Also in the exhibition was a room of prototypes for other solar lighter-than-air vehicles, and the presentation of a publication I edited on the same subject for Studio Tomás Saraceno. The publication included contributions from Nigel Clark, Myra Hird, Derek McCormack, Kathryn Yusoff, Etienne Turpin, Nick Srnicek, MIT's Center for Art, Science and Technology, Pete Adey, Robert Poole, and Olafur Eliasson, among others.