Date and time: Thursday 11 November, 10am-3pm
Location: Online and in the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery. Register your attendance here.
A day of talks and creative work related to climate change and the paintings in the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery.
10am Demonstration: Dr Sasha Engelmann
Open-Weather: A demonstration of the sonic properties of a live weather satellite pass
10.30am Talk: Dr Sasha Engelmann
Open-weather: A citizen-artist network producing a global weather report for COP26
What would it mean to collectively image and, in doing so, reimagine the planet? To see its details and patterns from multiple perspectives and many situated positions? If we could each take a photo of our home from space, could we build a patchwork, an impossible view, another whole earth?
On the occasion of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, a network of artists, students and researchers operating DIY satellite ground stations around the world will capture a collective snapshot of earth and its weather systems: a ‘nowcast’ for an undecided future. Tuning into transmissions from three orbiting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites, members of the feminist open-weather network will collect imagery and submit field notes from their geographical locations in an effort to challenge how knowledge on weather and climate is produced and represented. In this paper, I will draw on my experience co-leading the open-weather network and developing the open-weather ‘nowcast’ for COP26 to explore the potential of a feminist, artistic and community-centred framework for intervening in our images and imaginaries of weather and climate.
11.15am Talk: Professor Klaus Dodds
Landscapes of Ice: Weather and elemental state-change in the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery
Edward Landseer’s ‘Man Proposes, God Disposes’ is arguably one of the most well-known pictures in the college’s Picture Gallery. Created in 1864 (purchased by Thomas Holloway in 1881), Landseer’s painting is a stark depiction of the remnants of the ill-fated expedition led by Sir John Franklin. Equipped with two of the most sophisticated naval vessels of their time, HMS Erebus and Terror, the fate of the expedition became a national obsession, with speculation aplenty that the crew might have died horribly, including via cannibalism. Lady Franklin, Sir John’s partner, was a tireless advocate of search parties and public appeals to discover what happened to the expedition. Over time, with the discoveries of some of the remains of the crew and equipment, it became clear that the diabolical weather and capacious sea ice was in large part responsible for the loss all the men. The body of Sir John was never discovered and the Northwest Passage was never crossed. Landseer’s painting with its over-sized polar bears pawing their way through and over skeletal remains and tattered flag captures something of the horror and disappointment of expeditionary failure.
By the time the remains of the two ships were discovered separately in 2014 and 2016, the Arctic and its inhabitants were in a very different environment to that encountered by Franklin. Sea ice is a great deal less monstrous, polar bears are now thought of as more likely to be endangered rather than dangerous, and imperial hubris has given way to an Arctic where indigenous peoples are making their own Arctic futures. Had local indigenous knowledge been engaged with earlier, it is quite likely the underwater location of the two vessels would have been located some time ago.
12pm Talk: Professor Dell Olsen
Insects and Radar Weather
A talk on recent text and image work by Olsen made during her Dare Arts Residency 2021-1. A poetics of weather that figures alternative uses of radar to map insects, informed by collaborations with BioDar scientists at the University of Leeds, Opera North and the Science and Media Museum Bradford.
1.15- 2pm Talk: Dr. Greer Crawley
The Wind Tunnels Q121 and R52, Heritage Buildings, in Farnborough, Hampshire, are two of the earliest aerodynamic testing facilities in the world. The spatial, temporal, climatic and acoustic qualities of the wind tunnels provide the conditions for the scenographic flux of material, event, and ideas. This presentation will discuss the processes adopted by students of Design for Performance at Royal Holloway University of London in their analysis and response to these unique and monumental architectures. Their speculative designs for the staging of Brecht’s radio play Der Ozeanflug/Flight Over the Ocean were experiments in designing a scenography that was environmentally active and dynamic. In both Brecht’s play and the tunnels there is an exchange of energy as the forces of nature and technology come together.
2pm: Poetic Practice Students
Readings and showing of bookworks
Short readings of poems and showings of bookworks in response to paintings, issues of climate and representations of the weather. Followed by discussion of possibilities for future collaborations.