Thoughts Thinking Thoughts: From Systems Ecology to the Financialisation of Nature

Wed 18 November 2020, 7:00pm - 8:30pm at Online


(Photo credit: Charles Gaines - Numbers and Trees: Central Park Series II: Tree #7, Laurel (detail))

An online talk and discussion with Theo Reeves-Evison, whose Seed Casino will form part of our programme this academic year. In this event, Theo will explore how artists have engaged with the shift towards economic thinking in ecology. 

In 1953 Eugene and Howard Odum published Fundamentals of Ecology: one of the first textbooks to elaborate a general theory of ecological interaction. In keeping with the systems thinking popular at the time, the Odums conceptualised ecological processes as energy flows using ideas drawn from cybernetics and electrical engineering.

Fundamentals of Ecology had a lasting influence on how nature is understood, and was updated in new editions for several decades. Fast forward to the last 20 years, and a new vocabulary emerges alongside that of systems thinking. Joining the language of feedback mechanisms and energy transfers is a range of metaphors drawn from finance and economics. Nature is reconceptualised as Natural Capital, biodiversity can be banked and offset, and discrete parcels of land become the bearers of ecological credits schemes. In this, the risks to our ecological future become features of financial markets. Will this help preserve environments, or merely enable people to profit from them? This event will consider this shift towards economic thinking in ecology, and explore a variety of art practices that critically rework such initiatives from within.

Further Information & Booking

This free event will take place via Zoom. Booking is essential: please click here to secure a place.

Theo Reeves-Evison is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birmingham School of Art. He is preparing 'Seed Casino' for Radar's Risk Related series of commissions, and is working on a project entitled ‘Speculative Natures: Contemporary Art and Interventionist Ecology’. This investigates how processes of speculation and storytelling have the capacity to organise environmental activities around imagined futures. He organised a series of ‘Study Sessions’ exploring the issue at Nottingham Contemporary in 2019; is the editor, together with Jon K. Shaw of Fiction as Method (Sternberg, 2017); and has published in magazines and journals including Frieze, Paragrana and Parallax. In 2018 he edited a special issue of the journal Third Text with Mark Rainey on ‘ethico-aesthetic repairs,’ and his monograph After Transgression: Ethics of Contemporary Art is to be published in 2021 by Bloomsbury.


Theo Reeves-Evison

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Risk Related

A series of commissions exploring risk and its social, ecological and economic relations. Read more