THE NEW WEATHERMEN

Installation, 2013

David Benqué (FR)

In the face of impending climate crises, environmentalists are becoming increasingly polarised in their ideas and beliefs. Bioconservatives argue for a curbing of consumption, a return to nature, and are suspicious of new technologies. Techno-progressives, on the other hand, adopt an optimistic trust in progress, and promise to solve problems with newer and better technologies.

A number of emerging factors suggest possible alternatives for the relationship between environmentalism and science. Among these are the DIYbio or biopunk movements and the campaign for open access to science, as well as efficient, headless and cell-based networks of activists such as Anonymous.

This project explores relationships between ideology and science and how an alternative to current options might manifest itself. The New Weathermen is a fictional group of activists who embrace synthetic biology to push for radical environmental change. Challenging the borders between activism and crime, their actions aim to disrupt the status quo and propagate an ambitious vision for the greater good. The project consists of a series of test rigs and small scale experiments that reflect much bigger, radical and slightly deluded ambitions. Deliberately radical and ambiguous, they provide a starting point for discussion about our existing beliefs and ideologies.

Artist's Statement

The New Weathermen are a fictional group of activists; they don’t exist. The goal of the project is to encourage discussions on the relationship between science and environmentalism, as they are so often opposed. What would happen if environmental activists started to use science and DIY biology to support ‘green’ ideology? The models on display are like test rigs. They are fictional experiments that the Weathermen would carry out to test and fine-tune their bioactivism. They give us a sense of their ambition, but we can also tell that they are slightly delusional. This project includes A4 handouts, an imaginary manifesto for the public to take away. These are the basic rules driving The New Weathermen’s actions.