In September I was invited to speak as part of Terra Fiction: Coded Matter(s) in Amsterdam, an event curated by FIBER and De Brakke Grond which brought together speakers working in the fields of art, literature, science, design and digital culture to reassess man’s future relationship with the earth and the cosmos.
Terra Fiction was the second installment of FIBER’s ongoing Coded Matter(s): Worldbuilding project. These lecture events question the design of contemporary world visions and technological narratives, which are contributing to greater socio-economic inequality and environmental destruction. Speculative designers, art-scientists and writers share research and evolving ideas to imagine futures that position humans and our technologies inside a more balanced ecology.
My talk discussed the role of speculative fiction in imagining alternative worlds, and how it might offer us a vision for a better future, sharing approaches to world-building in fiction, and considering the challenges for the writer in creating a believable universe. I discussed The Osiris Project trilogy which is set in a world radically altered by climate change, and my current novel in development which explores marine ecosystems and the changing nature of our relationship with the environment.
The event was beautifully staged at the Vlaamse Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond and it was a privilege to present alongside a hugely inspirational array of speakers: writer Pippa Goldschmidt, who discussed whether we can create new ways of thinking about space exploration that go beyond the exploitative character of capitalist models; Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney, co-founders of FoAM, a distributed laboratory for speculative cultures; Jay Springett, a writer, theorist, promoter of DIY culture and editor of Solarpunks; Ivan Henriques, a transdisciplinary artist and researcher; and Miha Turšič, artist, designer and researcher. I left the event buzzing with ideas.
Many thanks to the curators Jarl Schulp and Fabian van Sluijs who put together a fantastic programme and looked after us so wonderfully, and to Michelle Kasprzak who moderated the event with warmth and humour.