The Crossroads Project: Art, Science and Climate Change Awareness
A couple of months ago, this article by Naomi Klein appeared in the New Statesman about the increasing number of climate scientists who agree that deep, systemic change in the ways we produce and consume are necessary in the effort to mitigate climate change. Further, these changes must come soon if we humans hope to forestall an average warming of 2 degrees Celsius, the widely-accepted projected minimum increase based on anthropogenic activities so far. (I found this article really exciting! I highly recommend it!)
Klein’s piece was very much on my mind as I took in the Crossroads Project performance at Symphony Space last Thursday night. The performance, conceived by physicist Dr. Robert Davies, consisted largely of Davies’ narration about the Earth’s biological systems and human impacts on them. As he explained how various biological cycles function, he problematized humans’ contemporary effects on those cycles. Aquifers disappear. Coral reefs die. Ultimately, he acknowledged global capitalism and corporate dominance as major causal factors of climate change. He urged the audience to imagine a world where production happened in a responsible and forward-thinking way, where politicians made positive change a priority, and even where governance was more inclusive and participatory that the models we work with today.
Those are all really big ideas! And frankly, important ones. Laura Kaminsky’s music, written for the performance and played by the Fry Street Quartet, provided the soundtrack for meditating on Davies’ narration as Rebecca Allan’s vibrant paintings cycled on a screen at the back of the stage. After several blocks of narration and music, Davies made an appeal the audience: “pick something and make it yours,” suggesting that things need to change on a societal level, but any individual’s commitment to composting, reusable shopping bags or letters to elected officials about climate-related issues can make a difference. Sure, and yes. Perhaps the best thing to pick would be a healthy skepticism for corporate-centered governance and commitment to speaking truth to those powers. Davies seems to think so.
All in all, it was a very interesting performance. Platitudinous at times, but satisfyingly so. The Crossroads Project has more events in the pipeline, none of which have dates set just yet. Their work combines the efforts of scientists and artists to promote climate dialogue. It’s really cool.
Theo Hilton is a junior in Columbia University’s School of General Studies. He has toured extensively and internationally as a lyricist and performer in the bands Defiance, Ohio and Nana Grizol. He enjoys thinking about community-centered approaches to environmental and social issues.
(pictured above: Temperate Moss Forest by Rebecca Allen)