How you doing? I just arrived from Moscow, I feel that in the recent years I slowly fell in love with that city of trapped people, I also enjoyed so much seeing my name and my ideas written in the Cyrillic alphabet at this conference i presented and now of course i feel this need to brag about it. I met a curator who was part of an artistic project that takes place in Yakutsk, one of the coldest cities in the world located in Siberia, she told me that with the melting of the permafrost, the bodies of dead aminals from the ice age have emerged to the surface. I found it such a shocking event but at the same time felt some sense of comedy, it is not the first time I get that impression, i mean we always share lots of memes related to the climate catastrophe and the role of technologies, as in this meme that compares the neoliberal Hyperloop with the awesome Shinkansen from Japan, a technological wonder that made me so happy a couple of years ago.
i guess that humour is an apt strategy to face events that are not funny at all, such as the news about the record of assasinated environmental activists or the increasing emotional impact of climate projections among young people.
My colleague Alice showed the other day in class this project of people who cook egg foams in the rooftops of very polluted cities so thay can compare the different levels of smog existing in the food. And the other day i read that here in the Netherlands a “living coffin” became very popular since it biodegrades in 45 days and enables a system in which your dead body and your container enrich the soil instead of contaminating it.
Am i being to gore? Or is there a bit of humour in these realities of lemon pie au smog and funerary ecologism? I’ll need to check the latest book of my idol Terry Eagleton so i can have more clarity about it.
My book recommendation for this month also falls in this dystopic line i think, is Explore Everything by Bradley Garrett, it was suggested to me by my friend Charlie who is part of an excellent group of urbanism intellectuals here in Europe. It is about a practice called place-hacking which is basically to trespass into abandoned places, I connected this with the topic of our beautiful newsletter because Garrett comments that when doing this activity, urban explorers end up understanding the post-apocalyptic future of cities. How many massive buildings will end up abandoned with this planetary exhaustion? Are Shell headquarters becoming ruins in a couple of decades from now?
Abrazo amiga, I miss you so much,
Moscow! You are so skillful that, in the end, the Russians took you away! (sorry, sorry, but that was the joke we used to make in the 80s in Chile, ahhh, the cold war, what a time to be alive: 20th century, I still miss you). So, of course, I imagined you very Nikita by Elton John.
Yeah, sorry, no more references to the 80s, I promise.
I wanted to tell you that I have been reading -a little by chance- about the visual culture of lithium and the green transition, an issue we have talked about several times in Gatitx. Samir Bhowmik says that the problem is that today, that visual culture is clouded in utopian dreams and abstractions of energy sufficiency (between growth, clean energy, and moving away from reliance on fossil fuels), so the emerging landscapes of extraction and environmental damage are difficult to understand.
In that line and looking for a book almost impossible to find, I found that, some years ago, Jon Skerritt took these utopian dreams of the lithium industry, and combined them with the digital and video game industry, and invented an electric car race between Asian landscapes and lithium lagoons, but taking everything to the extreme, as if it raised the volume atrociously, showing a bit the ridiculousness of it all:
“In a new form of place that is caught between cultures, a race plays out in a landscape that has been forever altered in the moment of our green energy revolution. It is a glimpse into the landscapes on the other side of our screens, the landscapes that fuel the games we play for kicks.”
It made me think that, perhaps, those quirky, almost baroque images are the key to unveil the extractivist absurdity in the context of the green transition. I was thinking about it because, while I discovered Skerritt’s tuned video, the Chilean government announced their plan to “irrigate the Atacama desert” to have the “flowering desert” every year, between August and September. Watering the desert: Is there anything more outlandish than extractivist thinking? It masquerades as management or science or technological innovation to modulate itself, but it is just plain creaky if stripped bare.
On other things, I read more about the disinformation campaigns on climate issues on social media and how, almost like the whole climate crisis problem, it has a handful of people acting with impunity. The same happens in the airline industry’s responsibility for the climate disaster; at least that is one conclusion from The Airport Tracker’s new report results.
Danae, I make the words of the poet Ricky Martin my own to tell you that te extraño, te olvido y te amo, de nuevo.