Hacking the Anthropocene: Climate stories between art and science in Bengaluru

SWISP Lab and Science Gallery Bengaluru (SGB) in partnership with the University of Melbourne facilitated two workshops at Infosys Science Foundation to hack living in Anthropocene. We invited young people aged 15-28 years old to join us at the intersection of creative and scientific inquiry and explore the ways that we become scicurious together in a creative atmosphere to explore our climate stories.

SWISP Lab believe that a hackathon is a chance to work on big complex problems and we took a chance as SGB opened its doors for Carbon to speculatively play with ideas that erupt between art and science.

The workshops played the HAK.io game to activate a new ecosystem of learning around issues of climate in/justice, digital in/justice and inter/generational in/justice and meaningful action. We brought young people together to participate in the world in meaningful ways and explore what we need in a community to transform education policy and practice for just climate and digital futures. To do this we play with concepts that problematise art-science collisions in relation to Carbon as well as how to traverse (knock through) disciplinary boundaries. 

What did it look like?

We began with a Carbon Icebreaker designed by the Carbon Mediators . Both HAK.io gameplays were a mash up of Mediator designed SGB curriculums and HAK.io playtesting.

After we created our Carbon bonds to get to know each other we began by locating our climate stories.

What is your climate story?

Think of a story.

Ask, at what point in the chosen story do I intervene?

Change part or all of the climate story. What does your climate story say about Country, colonisation, climate collapse and/or digital disruption?

Using the Emotion Mapping HAK.io card we began to do our co-research with participants and code the stories using 3 sheets of HAK.io data stickers.

As Stacy Holman Jones writes, “telling our stories is a way for us to be present to each other; the act provides a space for us to create a relationship embodied in the performance of writing and reading that is reflective, critical, loving, and chosen in solidarity” (Adams et al, 2014, p.5).

This process of visual data mapping and coding is a process from data science that SWISP Lab uses to work with co-researchers in HAK.io work. Data mapping bridges the differences between two digital systems, or data models. In our CPU work we invite co-researchers to play with our data mapping sticker sets and map so that when data is moved from one source to the next it has been analysed and processed by the co-research team at the time of data creation.

After visual data mapping and coding we move to climate zines and the new HAK.io collage it card.

SWISP Lab use collage as method as a ‘way in’ to exploring climate stories and communicating ideas, time, place, space and concepts beyond the workshops. Collage is an accessible method for young people as co-researcher that prompts deeper and often more complex conversations about climate impact.

These workshops included the play of the new HAK.io Performance card where team selected a climate story to perform in 1 minute.

 In this method, we ask research team to locate an object from the climate stories and to consider the thingliness of that object’s life. We aks: “Are there ways of thinking with an object and creating a reciprocity between you and an object’s materiality?

Hood and Kraehe (2017) relay a sense of how art education curriculums have failed to consider this position in the past, stating:

“‘Each object’, according to art historian James Elkins (1996), “has a presence – a being” (p. 12). For many of us, this is the attraction of being with art objects and creating things with material form. And yet, ironically, the art education frameworks that are often used to investigate materials and things – including discipline-based art education, visual culture art education, material culture studies, object-based learning, and choice-based art education – overlook the thingliness of things. That is, they do not satisfactorily capture the energetic contributions that material objects make in the creation of art” (Hood and Kraehe, 2017, p. 33).

This 1 minute performance is a speculative data poem co-written and performed by a group at the workshop.

As you can hear from this performance the storying of living in the Anthropocene is intense, difficult, uneven and emotional.

Our final method of the HAK.io workshops are always badges. Why? You can pin them on your bag or clothing or just leave it on the bus and make a statement. 

To end our climate stories between art and science we ask all co-research – what do you want to walk away with today – what it is your action?

At each of these workshops we asked co-researchers what badge they needed to wear out of the room on that day, and what badge they wanted us to take for them to COP28. SWISP Lab knows how powerful badges are for engaging with the visual tradition of rebellion because they make a quick and fast statement. What we love about ending a workshop with badge making is the act and action of drawing, writing and talking about what it means to hack the Anthropocene.

Photocredit Vikas Gotla with a few of Kate’s.