Turbulent Themes

Turbulence has been one of the big themes last year into this year. After a couple of conferences (in the UK and in Australia) last year, which looked at complex change in human and natural systems, Paul followed these up with a keynote address at the Adelaide Festival Visual Arts Program, ‘The Nameless Shadowy Vortex: the Artist of Transition,’ (5 March; podcast available via Adelaide Festival website) and, later that week, an evening talk at the Institute for Postcolonial Studies (Melbourne), called ‘Sea Level: Turbulent Media, International Relations’ (8 March). The following month, as a guest of the Moore Institute (University of Ireland, Galway), Paul spoke on the theme ‘Turbulent Zones: the poetics of sustaining places in unsustainable times.’

Turbulent Zones

Can complex change be designed, even predicted? What is preparednesswhen it comes to managing environmental transformation? I’m talking today about the phenomenon of turbulence, in human systems and in natural systems. Most of all, I am asking about the translatability of the term: can Leonardo’s images of vortices be transferred to descriptions of the revolutionary crowd? Can patterns in nature furnish ideas for meeting and meeting places? Is it possible to build algorithms of change into the arrangement of stable spaces?

The Nameless Shadowy Vortex

Emanuel Swedenborg’s (1688-1772) work Heaven and Hell is a geography of the afterworld. In relation to the dead, we, the living, also inhabit “heaven and hell”, at least if we possess a sense of tradition: in relation to what was known then, we, belonging to the future beyond the grave, possess angelic information. Artists like William Blake understood this inheritance of angelic intelligence as a visionary capacity, a prophetic power to look into the futurity, as well as the moral history, of change.

Finding Place Forum

Often talking about place gets caught up in structures that inhibit creativity. Community consultation often intensifies disaffection or deepens divisions. It does this because the agenda is already decided: in fact, it is a decision that’s wanted, an either-or that has to be resolved. But places and talking aren’t really like that. Places don’t decide: they include, interweave, reconcile and complicate. In fact places are like talking, they are the back and forth of ideas, they are the flow of memories, affections and dreams. They are meeting places and they are unfinished. Places include clouds as well as cars, seasons and cycles as well as elections and funding rounds. They persist and they continually evolve. mt_harnessing-community-creativity