Can we invent our way out of looming and unremitting threats such as elevated carbon dioxide levels, rising tides, and overpopulation? The fifth part of the audio archive of Speculations (“The future is ______”), organized by Triple Canopy as part of the exhibition “EXPO 1: New York” at MoMA PS1 in 2013. Writers, artists, scientists, activists, economists, and technologists describe worlds to be realized, and reflect on how those worlds make demands on the present.

Speculations Archive: There Will Have Been Humans

by Holly Jean Buck, Claire Colebrook, George Collins, Brenda Iijima, Natalie Jeremijenko, Marie Lorenz, Mary Mattingly, Yates McKee, Mileece, Heidi Neilson, Hương Ngô, Christian Parenti, Kim Stanley Robinson & Sukhdev Sandhu

Digital Project Published on June 11, 2015

34-41: There Will Have Been Humans

The whole of human history may amount to but a blip in geologic time, but our impact on the planet has been disproportionately immense. Participants proffered case studies in the ecology of the Anthropocene: the production of nano water-buffalo ice cream, which increases the demand for the carbon-sequestering wetlands on which water buffalo graze; the preservation of material culture, such as spacecraft and mission-related debris, in geosynchronous orbit; the generation of useable energy from municipal waste using simple, community-owned, recyclable technologies. Their speculations often tended toward the dire and apocalyptic, thanks to looming and unremitting threats such as rising carbon dioxide levels and overpopulation. Yet participants came ready with provisions for such grim circumstances, including wearable homes, Waterpods, mirrors in the sky (i.e., solar geoengineering), and planetary colonization—as well as philosophies for contending with our own extinction.

  1. Marie Lorenz
  2. Mary Mattingly
  3. Hương Ngô and Heidi Neilson
  4. Mileece
  5. Kim Stanley Robinson
  6. Natalie Jeremijenko
  7. Holly Jean Buck, George Collins, and Christian Parenti
  8. Claire Colebrook, Brenda Iijima, Yates McKee, and Sukhdev Sandhu


Marie Lorenz is an artist whose project The Tide and Current Taxi ferries passengers through the waterways of New York. She described how to experience the future in the trash of the present.

Monday, May 27, 2013
2 p.m seminar (no audio recording available)
4 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)

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In 2009 Mary Mattingly launched the Waterpod project, a sustainable art-and-technology habitat. She talked about a future in which people rely on community-based networks for sharing resources, from islands made of boats and barges to flock houses to floating spheres.

Thursday, May 30, 2013
2 p.m seminar (no audio recording available)
4 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)

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Hương Ngô is an educator and artist whose performance-based collaborations have been supported by the New Museum, Rhizome, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Kitchen, and Tate Modern. She presented recent research on Mars-colonization simulations as they relate to contemporary performance practices. Heidi Neilson is an artist addressing topics such as weather, fake snow, and debris in Earth’s orbit. She presented recent research on space debris, the “landscape” of space, and off-Earth parks.

Thursday, May 31, 2013
4 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)

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Mileece is a sonic artist whose interactive “ecoscapes” are generated from the electromagnetic emissions of plants and by handmade, sensor-based musical instruments. She described the design of utopian environments along with the future of renewable energy and distributed power generation.

Monday, June 3, 2013
2 p.m seminar (no audio recording available)
4 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)

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Kim Stanley Robinson is a science-fiction author and the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. He delivered a keynote talk, “What Is the Future For?”, and considered the strange shape that climate change gives the future.

Sunday, June 9, 2013
1:30 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)

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Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist, engineer, and associate professor of art and art education at New York University whose work emphasizes the intersection of environmental and health issues. She presented recent urban interventions that illuminate global environmental problems and address them at a local level, including clocks that display when local organisms bud, bloom, emerge, or migrate; bridges full of flowers over heavy traffic areas designed to feed butterfly pollinators; and a “highway underpass” designed for the safe passage of salamanders in a New York City park.

Sunday, July 21, 2013
1 p.m. seminar (audio recording below)

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The roundtable Speculations (The Climate) considered the science, ethics, and politics of solar geoengineering, a set of technologies intended to reflect sunlight and reduce global warming, such as the injection of particles of sulfuric acid into the upper atmosphere. How much do we know about geoengineering’s climactic and social effects, and how does geoengineering fit into larger debates around climate change, the carbon economy, and global inequality? Participants included Holly Jean Buck, a PhD student in environmental sociology and science and technology studies at Cornell University; George Collins, an artist currently setting thirty-three thousand years of environmental indicators to music; and Christian Parenti, a journalist and professor of sustainable development at the School for International Training, Graduate Institute.

Speculations (The Climate)
October 26, 2013
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space

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The roundtable Speculations (On Nature) considered the conflicting ways we conceive of the natural world, and how nature informs our understanding of anthropogenic climate change. How should we adjust our idea of nature to include human influence? How might art and literature portray a new image of nature—one that contends with the frailty of the human species and its possible extinction—and imagine ecological projects for the future? Participants included Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University; Brenda Iijima, a poet and choreographer of the ecological research movement (Sm[Art]); Yates McKee, an art critic and organizer with various Occupy projects including Strike Debt; and Sukhdev Sandhu, a writer and director of the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University.

Speculations (On Nature)
November 23, 2013
155 Freeman St.

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