Adorning our new biosphere

beauty, newtech and the postcarbon era


an international conference and call to action

November 7-9, 2018

Dartington Hall, England

…If, upon the Lower Alps, early in May, we find…two or three little round openings pierced in [the unsullied snow], and through these emergent, a slender, pensive, fragile flower, whose small, dark purple, fringed bell hangs down and shudders over the icy cleft that it has cloven, as if partly wondering at its own recent grave, and partly dying of very fatigue after its hard-won victory; we shall be…moved by a totally different impression of loveliness from that which we receive among the dead ice and the idle clouds.

John Ruskin (1846)


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Adorning our new biosphere:

beauty, newtech and the postcarbon era

November 7-9, 2018

Venue: Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA, UK

@artdotearth | #postcarbonworld  |

In our post-carbon world, what of beauty? What of art itself? Surely the artist’s ability to stir up and question societal thinking, challenge preconceptions, and assert new forms of beauty and aesthetic reasoning must play a role? Part of the argument against many renewable technologies has been on aesthetic grounds, based principally on an 18thC view of an ideal ‘natural’ landscape. Although we need to continue to poke that model with a sharp stick, new technologies are also revolutionising what power generation looks and feels like.

This is a call to action for artists, designers, engineers and other thinkers to turn their attention to a world in need of a change of argument, and to help push materials design further into the mid-21st century.

The technological argument has been won; now it is time to win our hearts and make the world beautiful as well as clean.

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The major plus was definitely the mix of presenters and participants (I really appreciated that it was an international event), which resulted in very lively and friendly encounters with new faces and ideas and the space for conversations. The tone was set by the first afternoon and by Lola’s and Laura’s collaboration. As with similar events, having the programme over several days does more than just allow us to take in more ‘content’, it also means there is time to socialise over food and drink and take the conversations deeper. Part of that is down to what felt like a ‘light touch’ on the programme, mixing plenary with smaller groups, and having sessions in parallel so that we always had choices, the opportunity to move around and sometimes find the spaces in between for a bit of personal reflection.

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