Deforestation, climate change, corruption, mass extinction. Can we trust governments and corporations (particularly in Asia) to take the necessary steps to deal with these issues? Scientists are often unwilling/unable/ineffective in taking action outside of academia to create social changes needed to address these problems, particularly in Asia.
Creative Responses to Sustainability is part of a new series of guides for different countries in Asia and proposes that:
“Artists, however, have a unique ability to respond, often taking the role of pioneers, or even activists. They can also take a position of addressing issues in a (more) ‘free’ realm and may therefore have the ‘response-ability’ to react on what needs to change, or how we can change it. The word ‘response-ability’ is used here deliberately, as originated by philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, and refers to having a unique and creative ability to respond to something, this being the essence of the reasonable being . Just as the European Renaissance exploded during the 14th century, artists can be at the forefront of igniting 21st century social and environmental transformations.”
“Many developing countries see technological innovations as the answer for shaping these new societies. ‘Technology is going to save us’, is a recurrent phrase. However, more and more artists are moving in exactly the opposite direction, focusing on projects related to craft, gardens and working with communities, taking a strong interest in our changing environment. These artists do not think that technology is the answer to all our problems, but that an important part of moving towards a sustainable future is related to social, cultural, human, low tech solutions. Developing alternative structures to our current system requires a change in the way we live, embracing low tech, human solutions, as well as high tech innovations?”
Research aims of the guide are:
1. To build the foundation for an Asian ‘knowledge alliance’, an informal network of artists,
curators and arts managers supporting each other and working in the field of sustainability.
2. To provide artists and arts professionals with an overview of potential partners to engage
with on these issues in other countries and regions.
3. To influence cultural policymaking to allow more opportunities for artists to collaborate
with each other on issues related to social and environmental responsibilities.
“Climate change and other environmental disruptions do not acknowledge borders. How do we, as nations, deal with a problem without borders? To instigate real change we need to be collaborating globally on as many levels as possible.”
The first in the series, the Singapore Guide maps cultural initiatives across Singapore engaging with social and environmental issues. This guide is not meant for scientists but this is an area of collaboration for every scientist to consider: we need new ways of communication/education to build communities that understand the consequences of their day-to-day actions. Citizens as scientists not just in the conventional sense of carrying out research but in critically thinking about how our species impacts other species and the world we live in.