What is shaping how you think about the planet’s future?
Friday 19 May: ‘Forecast’ 2023 symposium, City Hall, London
In May, 2023 international audiences joined us for ‘Forecast 2023’: an international hybrid symposium which explores new forms of storytelling responding to our planet’s future. It took place at City Hall on 19th May – in-person and live-streamed – and then online, with new commissions and webinars across May.
World-leading scientists, writers, artists and cultural commentators included keynotes by writer Ben Okri and mythical author and artist of ‘Storyland’ Amy Jeffs, artists Julie Freeman, Samson Kambalu, Melanie Manchot, Raqs Media Collective and Gavin Turk, UCL scientists Prof. Mark Maslin, Prof. Priti Parikh, and Caroline Edwards and journalist Aaron Bastani reflecting in these uncertain times on future-focused storytelling to navigate global challenges.
With the support of Chairs, broadcaster and presenter Bidisha Mamata, filmmaker David Malone, John Newbigin OBE and writer Dr Cleo Roberts-Komreddi
Young people aged 18-25 from Newham joined us to explore the big themes of the day, in satellite sessions led by some of London’s innovative climate thinkers: Repowering London, Conservationist Dimuthu Meehitiya and London-based visual artist Camille Aboudaram. They explored ideas around energy supply, biodiversity and climate activism, producing posters and propelling their thinking out into the wider ‘Forecast’ audience at a number of collaborative moments on the day.
‘Forecast 2023’ was commissioned by the Royal Docks Team and UCL (University College London) and is supported by the Mayor of London. Forecast is part of Sea Change, a season of four artist commissions on sustainability at the Royal Docks, commissioned and produced by the Royal Docks Team in collaboration with UCL and curated by Invisible Dust.
From myths and fairy tales to sci-fi dystopias, stories have preoccupied humans since the dawn of time. They help us navigate adversity and create an imaginative space for future action. We are living through an unprecedented moment of political, social and ecological upheaval and stories can help us cope with difficulty and provide hope. Storytellers connect us to new perspectives, enabling us to learn and make sense of our changing world. At this uncertain time, we need stories that will help us navigate future challenges. Are the stories we are telling about our planet’s future helping or hindering us? Who are the new storytellers we need to be listening to, and who is excluded? At this uncertain moment it is vital to tell stories that resist the urge for easy solutions to the huge challenges facing us. The world is complex and our stories need to be too. So much of what we read is presented as the definitive truth, in fact our world and its future is full of multiple interrelated factors and nuance.
In the weeks following the in-person event, there is a series of online panel discussions featuring the Open Data Institute and a panel on stories about land with Mosaic Rooms and Mexico-based MACIA Estudio and Estudio Abierto.
Forecast has two new artist commissions exploring stories about the future of energy. The artists and scientists involved will be in conversation about their projects online. The first is Kenya-based Wangechi Ngugi and Daniel Muchina from Art & Science Films Afrika (ASFA) who will speak with their collaborator Rebecca Clube from UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme.
We are delighted to be working alongside some wonderful people and organisations from around the world as Forecast evolves over the coming months and years. Our partners include:
- University College London (UCL)
- The Royal Docks Team
- Art & Science Films Afrika (ASFA) Nairobi Kenya
- MACIA Estudio and Estudio Abierto Mexico City Mexico
- Greater London Authority, London
- Open Data Institute, London
- UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme
50 thoughts about the planet’s future
When we first launched Forecast programme in 2021, we asked our central question to 50 people across the world, asking for answers in no more than 50 words:
“What is shaping how you think about the planet’s future?“
Contributors include Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Carlo Rovelli, Lily Cole, Hyphen Labs, Kasia Molga, Usman Haque and Judy Ling Wong.
You can browse read their responses here.
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