While society is putting an enormous effort into understanding the time and space we live in, the becoming.eco(logical) project explores human exceptionalism by tracing the substance flow of one of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust – and in the universe – that is, carbon. Observing the way carbon enters, flows, stocks and exits human society helps us understand the ways in which humans relate to the environment on the fundamental material level. Most of the carbon exchange in the Earth’s system occurs between the biosphere, the atmosphere and the hydrosphere with a balanced annual cycle influenced by seasonal conditions. However, the main deposits of carbon are located in the lithosphere, deep under the Earth’s surface. Before the Industrial Revolution, the only flow of carbon between the lithosphere and the other geospheres happened during volcanic eruptions. Over the last hundred years, the appropriation of lithospheric carbon stock as an energy resource increased the flow of carbon from the lithosphere to the atmosphere to more than 5 gigatons annually. No other biotic or abiotic process has such an extensive impact.
What we argue with becoming.eco(logical) is that the nature of human carbon flows is so uncharacteristic of any existing geospheres that it composes a new geosphere – the Anthroposphere. When we observe these carbon flows, we also come to understand that they primarily represent private interests, and are in stark opposition to environmental and societal concerns. In this way, it becomes clear who constitutes the Anthropos and who belongs to the environment.
Production: S+T+ARTS residency
Technology partner: Arctur, Nova Gorica
Science partner: CHE project, ECMWF, Reading
Programmer: Slavko Glamočanin
Support: Waag, Amsterdam
Acknowledgment: Tristan Pahor and Gianpaolo Balsamo