This summer we were part of a deeply inspiring camp of artist, activists, and researchers called Case Pyhäjoki in Pyhäjoki, Finland. We’ve written about it here and here. The camp was focused on bringing people together to talk about a nuclear power plant proposed for this rural Finnish town. Before we went, we thought this would be a great opportunity to make a project that we have been talking about for years: The Powerless PowerPoint! The Powerless PowerPoint remakes the ubiquitous digital slide show using non-electronic means. It allows us to tell the story of our art practice without using power, a perfect gesture at a conference focused on problems with nuclear power and increased energy consumption.

The Powerless PowerPoint starts with a quote from the Environmental Design Primer by Tom Bender: “We seek a lower standard of living for a higher quality of life.” This book was part of our Library of Radiant Optimism — how-to books published in the late 1960s and early 1970s from the counterculture. The quote reflects on shifting away from a society based on limitless growth.

The second slide says Habitat and refers to our various projects focusing on documenting and increasing animal habitat in the built environment. See some of those projects like Bat House (Urbana, 2010) and others here and here.

The third slide says Energy and is a reference to our work with the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor . We worked with this group of artists and scholars when we lived in the Midwestern United States.Together we made several projects reflecting on regional infrastructures from the power grid to self-organized economies, including the mapping project Region from Below: Power Plants.

The Social Ecology slide refers to the communities we are part of, and try to facilitate, in relation to building a sustainable and diverse network of people creating strong cultures of support. Projects like Mess Hall, The Alphabet Tower, and the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor all reflect the concept of social ecology– a term I first picked up from the Post Carbon Reader, a publication from the environmental think-tank, the Post Carbon Institute.

Archive and Publish, the final slide, is about our sustained interest in artistic research as part of our practice. This thread runs through our work together and our work in other collaborative configurations. Archives from The Library of Radiant Optimism to the Self-Reliance Library (PDF by Temporary Services) and publishing projects from zines to artist books, this is an important aspect of how we gather and present information on the topics we care about. We also collect image archives, bringing together years worth of photographs on a topic, like Brett’s work with the art group Temporary Services, Mobile Phenomena and our recent image collection, Søger Lejlighed. These image archives produce visual information about how our city spaces are shaped.

Each slide was painted on to canvas and then attached to a handle system via riveted holes in the cloth. We never did present the Powerless PowerPoint in Finland but we hope to add to it and present it in the future. If you need a Powerless Powerpoint, let us know.


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