Three Gardens: Destabilizing Environmental Rationalism

Dr. Sergio Fava
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The age-old undercurrent of apocalypticism is undergoing an essential shift as a result of the rise of science and the might of technology. Artistic and cultural expressions increasingly express salvation, doom or trans(human ) formation as a function of technological perils and possibilities. This configures technosoteriological myths and doomsday scenarios that heighten and crystallize hope or pessimism, epistemologically sustained by the warnings and promises of technoscience.

This paper, drawing on actor network theory and cultural analysis, aims to confront the roots and specificities of contemporary environmental apocalyptic discourse in (its representation in) the arts and (its enactments) in science, arguing that there are fundamental differences in their social and cultural expressions. Scientific knowledge is configured and limited by standard narrative forms that art is able to transgress, opening critical perspectives on scientific rationalist claims and predictions of major environmental disasters. Artistic production reappropriates and redraws technoscientific narratives, weaving together creativity, intuition and imaginative mutations of scientific knowledge and technological products.

This paper is an allegorical stroll through three gardens, looking at their seeds, roots, flowers and fruits, their design, the vantage points, the boundaries and the soil of their sustenance, contrasting their cultural, artistic and scientific meanings and culturally propagated consequences.

Keywords: Environment, Environmental Art, Olafur Eliasson, Doomsday Vault, Weather Project, Crop Diversity, Gene Banks, Apocalypse, Science studies, Actor Network Theory
Stream: Constructing Art Worlds, Analysing Artforms, Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Three Gardens

Dr. Sergio Fava

PhD candidate, Sociology Dept., University of Lancaster

Having been awarded his MA in Photography from University College Falmouth, Sérgio Fava is now a PhD researcher in the Sociology Dept. at the University of Lancaster. In his eclectic restlessness, he previously worked as a technical consultant in optical networks and information management (Compaq, EMC Corp.) around the world, and studied Philosophy at the University of Porto, in his home country of Portugal. As a photographer and digital artist, his work has been published in the UK and exhibited in Porto, Cornwall and London. His research interests are centered in the relations between science, technology and the arts.

Ref: A06P0253