Feeding the Insatiable – Call for participation

Deadline: May 18, 2016 (22.00 GMT)

Submit here when ready

Schumacher College, RegenSW and the art.earth network invite you to submit a proposal for participation to the forthcoming  summit Feeding the Insatiable to be held November 9-11, 2016 at Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL, UK.  This event is part of Schumacher College’s Arts & Ecology programme and is produced byart.earth.

web-main-headerCOP21, the climate talks held in Paris in December 2015 produced a breakthrough agreement after twenty years of frustrations, meanderings, compromises, and political squeamishness. The commitment to limit temperature rise to 2°C (whilst aiming for 1.5°C) represents a global commitment to wean the world from dirty energy to cleaner forms in which renewables must inevitably play a significant part: the only way the commitment can be met. This, we were told, ‘was the last chance… and we took it’; not all voices purred so positively but the outcome was broadly embraced.

The politicians and diplomats, it seems, have finally been moved to action. Moving the general populace has proved more difficult. Twenty years of increasingly immoderate language bordering at times on the hysterical, broadly-aligned and finely-honed but progressively panicky science from some of the world’s brightest minds, and even a grudging political consensus has made virtually no impact on how people live and how they consume: energy, food, the planet. In the meantime our government here in the UK sends out the most mixed of messages, lauding the outcome of COP21 whilst legislating to undermine renewable and clean energy and many other initiatives aimed at mitigating harm to the planet. Clean energy becomes a discussion about money, not about our world.

Art can change the world.  Artists have played an important part in every major social change in our society and have an indispensable role today in helping us deal with complex existential challenges.  But issues-laden art can be bombastic, unsubtle and lacking in spirit, particularly when artists insist they have a message to send. Renewable energy can change the world, too. But we don’t have to accept that only industrial scale installations are the answer.

This gathering encourages through creative intervention and invention and new approaches to scientific enquiry all manner of energy generation including the quirky, the impossible, the micro and the personal. It encourages debate – practical, philosophical, metaphysical, and theoretical – about how creative minds and creative spirit can be brought to bear on these issues.

We explore ways in which creative makers and enquirers (artists and scientists), philosophers, theorists and others can increasingly play a part in moving rather than cajoling, inspiring rather than scaring, succouring rather than scourging. The impassioned voice has an essential role to play in shifting the inert and entrenched thinking about how we live in the world, how we consume its resources and how we subvert and circumvent monolithic thinking. The danger lies not in those with abrasively negative views (as panic leads to stridency bordering on the absurd and numbers inevitably dwindle to irrelevancy under the growing weight of evidence), but those who have no views at all. Flicking the switch is so utterly fundamental to our daily lives that we gasp with horror and puzzlement if it produces no effect.

How can the lights not come on?


Keynote speakers

Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian of Land Art Generator Initiative

The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), provides a platform for artists, architects, landscape architects, and other creatives working with engineers and scientists to bring forward human-centered solutions for sustainable energy infrastructures that enhance the city as works of public art while cleanly powering thousands of homes.

Laura Watts (IT University of Copenhagen): writer, poet and ethnographer of futures

Laura is a Writer, Poet, & Ethnographer, and Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at IT University of Copenhagen. Her interest is in the effect of landscape on how the future is imagined and made in everyday practice. How might the future be made differently in different places? Over the last fifteen years, she has collaborated with industry and organisations in telecoms, public transport, and renewable energy, to re-imagine how the future gets made in high-tech industry, and how it might be made otherwise.


Shape of the days

The shape of the summit will evolve in response to the kinds of presentations we accept and the degree to which we can support practical workshopping and open discussion in addition to more formal paper presentations. In general we expect that mornings will be given over to paper presentation, afternoons to workshops, panels and group discussions, and evenings to plenary and informal events.

During the day on Wednesday November 9 (before the main summit begins) we are hosting an invitation-only think tank session around commissioning self-powered / renewables-powered art, chaired by Chris Fremantle of eco/art/scot/land. There will be a report from this session during the main summit. If you feel you can make a particular contribution to this, please get in touch (although numbers will be kept below fifteen).

From Saturday November 11 (after the close of the summit) to Monday November 13 we will host an intensive residential short course: Powered Culture: how green is your art? (this is a working title, subject to change) led by Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian of Land Art Generator Initiative. Registration is separate from the summit; details can also be found at feedingtheinsatiable.info



This year celebrating its 25th anniversary, Schumacher College calls on its learning community to inspire, challenge and question themselves as co-inhabitants of the world, to ask the questions to which we all struggle to find answers and to find sound knowledge, intuition and wonder in our search for solutions.  The College brings together leading thinkers, activists and practitioners to deliver a unique brand of small group learning experiences. This learning takes place in the classroom, the gardens, the kitchen – it is part of everything we do. In 2017 the College launches a new postgraduate programme in Arts & Ecology.

Schumacher College sits within a 1,200-acre Dartington Hall Estate outside of Totnes, in South Devon. As the seat of a powerful medieval manor, Dartington has a rich history dating back to the 14th century and beyond, with stories of royal visits, court intrigue, grand architecture, and family ruin within its granite bones. The modern Dartington has an 80-year history as a place for thought and creativity and for challenging the conventions of rural sustainability and rural life; Schumacher College provides transformational education across a number of fields of thought, and this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. In 2016 the College launches a new programme in Arts & Ecology, including an MA/MFA Award which launches in September 2017.

Variously priced accommodation is available at Dartington Hall. See the website for further details on how to book. The nearest rail station is Totnes which is on the mainline Great Western Railway from Paddington. The nearest airport is Exeter.


Who is it for?

This is an interdisciplinary event; we anticipate proposals and participation from artists, writers, designers, engineers, industry professionals, philosophers, ecologists, and all those interested in new approaches to energy, energy policy and ecosophy.

Of course, all are welcome.


Topics of interest

Not intended to proscriptive or prescriptive, this list of topics suggests the areas we are likely to explore. However we are open to all relevant ideas, from the philosophical to the most practical and pragmatic.

  • visioning change
  • imaginative and invented narratives and technologies
  • micro-generation and body-derived energy
  • plant and other organic power generators
  • transformational potential of art
  • beyond communication
  • energy and metaphor
  • message and instrumentalisation
  • slow art, process
  • non-literal big data visualisation
  • envisioning the profound
  • aesthetics of art/science
  • using imagination for social change
  • emotion / science
  • sensible / actual
  • new ways of seeing
  • new ways of knowing
  • evolving meaning
  • celebrating authenticity and ethos
  • energy in the animal world
  • exploring chasms between artists and industry
  • energy futures and questions of design
  • ethnographics, big data, climate change, understanding


Types of submission

Submit any ideas that inspire you and which you think may have a place during this event. Given its deliberately constrained scope and size, there will be limited slots available, so please inspire us.

We are interested in submissions that embrace the following formats. Note that in each case we will add time for Q&A, but please think about how interaction with the audience can be built into your offer. Formats might be:

  • academic paper presentations lasting no more than 20 minutes (with 10 minutes for Q&A)
  • panel discussions, live interviews, and other discursive formats, lasting between 30-50 minutes. There is potential to broadcast these live.
  • presentation of artwork, indoor or outdoor
  • walking and other outdoor activities, particularly ones that engage with theoretical or philosophical thought in addition to their creative content
  • workshops, lasting 90 minutes (please indicate how many participants you can support)
  • if you are geographically distant, you can send papers for inclusion in the publication only. These submissions will be considered along with all others, on the understanding that you are unable to attend the event itself. There will be a nominal registration fee to help cover publication costs.

The deadline for submission is 22.00 GMT on Wednesday May 18, 2016. We are requesting 250-word abstracts or outlines, which must be submitted through the event website at http://artenergysymposium.info/proposal-form/. We are unable to accept any submissions after the deadline.

A family-friendly context

If you are planning to attend the event with your partner and family, the area is filled with activities, attractions, beaches, walks, and support for visitors. If you are attending alone with a young child we are unfortunately unable to provide childcare facilities onsite. There are a number of private providers in Totnes, the nearest market town.

Organising Committee

Find out more


We will produce an online publication from the event that will include formal papers as well as other forms of record.In  You can submit 2,000 to 2,500 words for presentation at the conference and/or for inclusion in the publication.  If you are geographically distant and unable to attend the conference to present your paper, you can submit for publication only.  There is a small registration charge for this to offset the cost of producing the publication.

We are currently investigating a number of options for a special edition of a refereed journal that will contain selected material from the summit and/or material triggered by the summit.

Dr. Richard Povall
Schumacher College

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