THE ANTHROPOCENE SLAM: A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES NOVEMBER 8-10

WISCONSIN INSTITUTES FOR DISCOVERY DELUCA FORUM MADISON

CORAL ON ARTIFICIAL REEFS

photo of artificial reef

Due to its high sensitivity to ocean warming and ocean acidification, coral presents paleoclimatological records that situate the impact of Homo sapiens as a geomorphic force against the longue durée of geology. As inadvertent human engineering of the biosphere marks the Anthropocene, the future of ecosystems, such as coral, are becoming inextricably entwined with polemical human engineered ecosystems designed to replace ecosystems eroded by the Anthropocene.

This project re-situates coral through the lens of two such human designs: local scale Artificial Reefs to planetary scale geoengineering, to re-present coral as an emblematic object by which to understand local-global entanglements across geologic time and space. Artificial Reefs symbolise an emotionally layered Anthropocene object for an entwined future of human-nature hybridity, where humans provide the literal life support structures for coral to grow on. Yet 'artificial' coral open up questions of planetary scale resilience and adaptation through the seemingly intangible temperature and acidity surrounding these human-designed life support structures.

Artificial Reefs encapsulated in an ocean warming and/or acidifying beyond coral's tolerance threshold reveals how such objects are a lense through which to develop empathy in the making of environmental publics and the shaping of environmental policy. With highly reputable global scientific research organisations now researching geoengineering as a mechanism to mitigate warming and acidification, how can we re-present coral in their local-scale entanglement with human intervention, through to their planetary scale repercussions as 'canaries in the coal mine' which drive arguments for geoengineering as the means by which biota dependent on Holocene-type climates may continue to flourish?

Presenter