…………………………the research base of jon goodbun


This year on the seminar programme of the MA Environmental Architecture, we approached our usual study material in a more speculative mode, through a series of world-building and worlding fictions workshops. We imagined worlds more or less similar to our own (and researched our own planet’s biology, geology, meterology, cultures, environmental disputes, land forms, systems, etc as the basis for our fictions.) Although many of these worlds were superficially very different from our own, all inevitably resonated with it. Some worlds appeared to maintain relatively stable homeostatic ‘plateaux’. Others were undergoing systemic changes. One narrated the final months and weeks of an Earth, as it was slowly ejected from its orbit in the solar system.

We coined ‘Geopoiesis’ as a heuristic research concept, to map and discuss both our own work, and a wider field of related ‘world-building’ and ‘worlding’ practices. We conceived of ‘world-building’ in relation to collective political imaginaries, and ‘worlding’ in relation to the construction and performance of political subjectivities.

A quick survey of the geopoietic field might include, in no particular order: science fiction, fantasy and counter-factual fictions, IPCC reports, Green New Deal proposals, Gregory Bateson/Felix Guattari’s Three Ecologies, Benjamin Bratton/Strelka’s Terraforming programme, Arturo Escobar’s pluriversal politics, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s ‘bringing forth of worlds’, Donna Haraway’s multi-species worldings, and the Zapatista call, recently repeated by the Red Nation, for ‘a world in which many worlds fit’.

Some of our references are poetic and nebulous. Others synthesise the peer -reviewed work of innumerable contributors. For example, the future scenario planning and world-building models developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), contain significant quantitative data analysis, combined with all kinds of qualitative evidence and interpretation, in for example both its SSPs: Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (which build a series of five scenarios based upon an increasingly diverse range of voices and disciplines), and also its RCPs: Representative Concentration Pathways (which describe four scenarios based on estimated increases in radiative forcing by the year 2100 (compared to pre-industrial levels) ranging from 2.6 to 8.5 W/sqm).

The IPCC world-building exercises are significant artefacts. Still problematic? Yes, of course, but nonetheless incredibly impressive pieces of trans- and multi-disciplinary thinking, managing with relative transparency and clarity a manifold of methodological, epistemological and practical difficulties of staggering complexity. Importantly, the work of the IPCC is increasingly resonant with the demands and framing of the Just Transition/Global Green New Deal movement. Indeed, this MA EA Geopoiesis project here springs out of our work on Green New Deal in recent years, which asked : What kinds of world-building imaginaries might we need to develop, if we are to grow a Global GND Dialogue that can mediate the future scenario models that we have from the IPCC, through the needs of situated social movements that are increasingly engaging in local environmental disputes that have systemic planetary implications, and are simultaneously imagining alternative socio-ecological futures around the planet? Moreover, how should we even think about the models of planetarity presented to us by NASA, the IPCC, Google Maps and so on, which themselves platform out of the networks of remote sensing satellites, laboratories, vast data sets navigated through machine learning and algorithmic analysis, and ultimately metabolised through the labour of innumerable workers, technicians, scientists and observers of all kinds around the planet? What other potential configurations are latent in the affordances of these stacks and platforms? We know that the contradictory world-building ideologies of neoliberalism– nationalism and globalisation – are in crisis, while the environmental emergency demands a new kind of multi-scalar, multi-perspectival and multi-species planning wisdom-within-ecological complexity. The Geopoiesis project is thus one of Re-Imagining the Project of Planning.

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