IMAGINE an environment, an inhospitable place where Human life (as you know it) can no longer be sustained or exist; it’s happening now, an air of inevitability is sweeping your planet. Through explosions in populations and the depletion of resources, through famine, pandemic, war; you can picture a landscape of world-wide desertification, you can hear the glaciers melting, feel the continental shelf moving, believe the impetus is changing.
During the 17th Century it was Galileo who developed the use of the telescope; at the expense of his eyesight, pointing his instrument sky-ward, even at the Sun. In 1660 he happened upon the four largest moons of Jupiter, he collected proof that Copernicus was correct in his theory about the Earth orbiting around the Sun. This went directly against the teachings of your church, i.e. the Earth is at the centre of the Universe, and the Sun revolves around you.
By the late 18th Century we had discovered how to capture images through the invention of photography, leading to broadcasting, newsreel and the transmission of LIVE international events, creating the global village. We had invented flight! In 1969 we landed on our Moon: Perhaps our greatest footstep. The great exploration continues. We did look back at ourselves; we saw our home, a button, in mother-of-pearl, tossed into an endless, velvety, midnight lagoon.
‘The Earth seen from space gave the environmental movement its most powerful icon.’ (Owen-Jackson 2002).
The human race continues to exploit its fascination with imagery and iconography and the gift of flight; a trajectory which is proving epic and tragic; unfolding in real time; before our magnificent eyes.
Today, people, backed by governments and multinational organisations are taking space exploration very seriously. Its big business, despite the environmental impact: Hoping that when the Sun does finally expand to envelop the Earth in its wake you can relocate and continue to procreate eternally. Hitching a ride to another sustainable biosphere; architects of intergalactic real estate; dwelling in a new eco-home.
Through the gift of insight and vision, higher order thinking, we have come to realise (across the millennia) that discoveries and innovations in science and technology have universal and perpetual implications. We can perceive what lies ahead, forecast future events; reflect upon the concept of ‘Mother Nature’. We can comprehend our demise as a species, marvel at the prospect of synergising with machines.
Can you heal the World?
What will climb out of the swamp to inherit the Earth?
When will Capitalism eat itself?
What does make the World go round?
We have conscience; that makes us unique; we know that the environment is our responsibility. This perception of duty is bourn of instinct; quickened by technological advances and intensified by the visualisation of our impact. New discoveries are timely, of the moment; they can alter situations irreversibly and improve the quality of life. The Industrial and Information Revolutions have changed our lives forever, defining new opportunities and possibilities, influencing the way that society is designed and built, changing infrastructure and world order.
We have discovered a new way of thinking about our home in this galaxy. We must empower those who will be making the choices and solving the problems of tomorrow to face the consequences of their future. Harnessing a new way of designing, manufacturing and consuming which sustains the precious relationship we have with our local / global / universal community, its unique diversity and ecological fragility. When the youth of today sing the anthem of tomorrow, let it be their song; and let the song go on.
2 postcards purchsed from The National Museum of Film Photography and Television in Bradford, recently renamed as the The National Media Museum. Culled from Sketchbook #93.