Entanglement with carbon is an essential component of the extreme influence of humans on the planet. This trilogy of works introduces three artistic responses to this problem space from Kat Austen’s practice that address positions on aspects of anthropic entanglement with carbon at a more-than-human timescale. Presented together for the first time, the three works interrogate carbon and the impact of humans on its distribution around the planet and through time. The impact of fossil fuel extraction on landscapes, society and ecosystems, the impact of the spread of microplastic — the starting material for which is predominantly fossil fuels — on trees and forests and the reconfiguration of enduring carbon-based materials in a speculative past. These positions reflect not only on the climate crisis but also on quality of life for humans and for the plants, animals and ecosystems with which humans share the planet.
Kat Austen (GB/DE)
Palaeoplasticene addresses the breakdown of plastic in the environment by engaging with a speculative past where plastic-based fungi evolved naturally, introducing plastic to the ecosystem in pre-human history. The sculpture invites visitors to engage with the longevity of plastic and the implications for our current and future ecosystems by reconfiguring our understanding of its presence over time.
Stranger to the Trees
Kat Austen (UK/DE)
Stranger to the Trees is a new media project exploring the complementary coexistence of microplastics and trees as carbon sinks. How do trees and microplastics coexist in forests, capturing carbon in the time of the climate crisis? Combining video, interactive sound and sculpture, Stranger to the Trees queries the response of forest ecosystems to the ubiquitous and irrevocable dispersal of microplastics around the Earth.
This Land is Not Mine
Kat Austen (GB/DE)
This Land is Not Mine focuses on the region of Lusatia, where Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic meet and the Sorbian minority group has its home. This Land is Not Mine explores the changing identity of the ecosystem, land and peoples in the region as open cast brown coal mining is phased out. Including contributions of sounds from residents of Lusatia, the work is realized as a 7-track experimental music album and as a 20-channel video installation with soundscape, providing vignettes of this beautiful, historical, epic and changing region.
Working from her studio in Berlin, Austen is Artist-in-Residence at the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences, University College London and Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL Arts and Sciences. She has held numerous residencies and fellowships including EMAP/EMARE Artist-in-Residence at WRO Art Center 2020, Studiotopia Artist hosting Scientists-in-Residence and Artist Fellow at Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
These artworks were realized as part of the STUDIOTOPIA program at Ars Electronica and the European Media Art Platform’s EMARE program at WRO Art Center, supported by the Creative Europe Culture Program of the European Union and as part of an Artist Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam.
Stranger to the Trees experts: Joana McLean, Section 3.7 – Geomicrobiology, German Centre for Geoscience. Franz Hölker, Ecohydrology, Leipniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries. Daniel Balanzategui, Natural Science Unit, German Archaeological Institute and Section 4.3 – Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution, German Centre for Geoscience. Simon Barraclough, Pawel Janicki, Kamila Mróz, The Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design, Michal Adamski, Keep Away From Fire.
Palaeoplasticene: in collaboration with IIndrė Žliobaitė and Laurence Gill. Production Andrew Newman. Metalwork: Keep Away From Fire.
This Land is Not Mine: Programming and tech consultancy: Kazik Pagoda, aBe Pazos
Carpentry: Will Greensmith
Field recording contributors: Ili Os, Christina Kliem, Johannes Staemmler, John Grznich, Erik Lemke
Lausitzklang platform web development: Andreas Baudisch.
STUDIOTOPIA is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.