Performance lecture: Leave This Here

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Ella Barclay delivers a performance lecture Leave This Here to accompany her current exhibition at UTS Gallery, I Had To Do It.

“Might the planet be better off without us?”

Almost a year ago, at the conclusion of the Climate Summit in Paris, this question was posed to James Lovelock, the British environmental scientist, born1919, who used cybernetic theory to coin the Gaia hypothesis, who has been an early and vocal advocate for research into man-made climate change as well as inventing the microwave.

“There are two species that have appeared on earth that are highly valuable – the first were the photosynthesisers that took sunlight, harvested it to produce food and oxygen, and that has enabled the rest of us to evolve. Without them, we wouldn’t be here talking about it. Now, we’re the second amazingly, we have learnt to use the energy of the sun to harvest and store information. And we’re participating in that now, just now. No other species before ever got vaguely near that. And it’s that kind of information that enables us, once we’ve learnt to be a bit cleverer than we are, to handle the problems of the future.”
BBC Newshour Extra, December 2015

In this anecdotal spoken essay Leave This Here (2016), artist Ella Barclay surveys a bumpy history of thinkers who have engaged with the anxiety associated with the storage and transfer of data from the advent of written text in Mesopotamia to the development of Iron Mountain, a giant underground storage server farm just outside of Philadelphia, USA.