Carbon Echoes

Kat Austen (UK/DE)

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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 is a person. In her artistic practice, she focuses on environmental issues. She melds disciplines and media, creating sculptural and new media installations, performances, and participatory work. Austen’s practice is underpinned by extensive research and theory and driven by a motivation to explore how to move towards a more socially and environmentally just future.
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.