Ecological Thinking

A programme of artist commissions and events exploring what creative and collaborative methodologies can bring to ecological study.

AYTC Rain Paradox still (2021)2

(Photo credit: Angela YT Chan, Rain Paradox (2021), video still)

Phosphate rock screenshot
Holding Image 2

(Photo credit: Laura Harrington, Fieldworking, 2020, video still)

Landscape of Barus

(Photo credit: Aliansyah Caniago, Landscapes of Barus, 2019)

I don’t mean “ecology” in that you study the environment separate from where we live or who we are as people. Actually, ecology, the way I think of it—the way  I’ve  been  taught  to  think  about  it—is:  paying  attention  to  the  webs  of  relationships  that  you  are  enmeshed  in,  depending  on  where  you  live. So, those are all the things that give us life, all the things that we depend on, as well as all the other entities that we relate to, including human beings.”

Dwayne Donald, “On What Terms Can We Speak? Lecture at the University of Lethbridge,” 2010

During the 2021/22 academic year, Radar begins a programme of artist commissions and events under the title Ecological Thinking. Working with the University’s emerging Environmental Humanities network, the purpose of this programme is to consider what creative and collaborative methodologies can bring to the study of ecology and the environment. How can artistic practices pay attention to the complex challenges facing the world’s habitats and ecosystems in ways which do not perpetuate the logics and power imbalances which contributed to our current situation, instead fostering pluralism and collaboration?

The title is drawn from Canadian philosopher Lorraine Code, whose book Ecological Thinking: The Politics of Epistemic Location argues for expanded ways of knowing “sensitive to human and historical-geographical diversity and well equipped to interrogate and unsettle the instrumental rationality, abstract individualism, reductionism, and exploitation of people and places that the epistemologies of mastery have helped to create.” Code’s thinking owes a debt to Indigenous thought and scholarship, various traditions of which have rejected, in Vanessa Watt’s phrase, philosophies which “separate constituents of the world from how the world is understood”. 

The intention of the programme is to critically interrogate the tools with which we study ecology and the environment and consider what creative methods may offer in the quest to open up fairer futures for the world's human and nonhuman inhabitants. Can creative and collaborative approaches help us to grasp and interrogate the webs, in Dwayne Donald’s phrase, which connect lives, actions and histories at a local level to their global reverberations? 

New opportunities and commissions forming part of the Ecological Thinking programme will be announced over the coming weeks. The programme begun with Theo Reeves-Evison's Seed Casino on Saturday 30th October, and a screening of Sonia Levy's Creatures of the Lines later in 2021. Both of these works were commissioned as part of our Risk Related programme, but are conceptually and methodologically in keeping with Ecological Thinking's approach. Currently three visiting artists have been selected to work alongside members of Loughborough University’s Environmental Humanities Network as part of our Ecological Thinking programme. They are Aliansyah Caniago, Angela YT Chan and Laura Harrington.

As the artists are just beginning to delve into their research-led projects, we’re introducing them via some of their past projects which connect to ideas they’ll be developing with Radar. You can read more about them on the links below.


Producer: Laura Purseglove
Production Assistance: David Bell, Nick Slater
Marketing: Rachel Fitzpatrick




Aliansyah Caniago

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Laura Harrington

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Angela YT Chan

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Climate and Environment Tracking: Stencil Making Workshop

Sun 22 May - Sun 22 May - 2022

16:30pm - 18:30pm

A stencil making workshop led by ecological researcher, curator and artist Angela YT Chan. Read more

Palm to Palm

Wed 25 May - Wed 25 May - 2022

10:30am - 12:00pm

A performance work exploring Sumatra's colonial ecologies. Read more

Creatures of the Lines: Screening and Discussion

Tue 12 April - Tue 12 April - 2022

18:30pm - 20:30pm

Nottingham Contemporary present a screening of Creatures of the Lines, plus artist Sonia Levy in conversation with Heather Swanson and Filipa Rampos. Read more

Seed Casino

Sat 30 October - Sat 30 October - 2021

17:00pm - 18:30pm

Gamble on a walnut! Take a punt on a chestnut! Risk it all on an acorn! A pop-up casino with a difference. Read more