An artistic and spiritual comment on climate change

by • 29. October, 2014 • All, Art, Culture, FeaturedComments (0)1940

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Most critics interpret Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s Counterpoint as a response to climate change. If the duo’s critique of our place in nature suggests anything, it is that the crime is in mistreating an urgency that calls for a spiritual, not a political, dialogue. Certainly the subjects in Counterpoint evade logic. They engage in a busyness—tossing a lame bird back to the sky, staining a concrete floor with pollen—but to what end? Is this what we will resemble once Nature levels our cities along the shores?

Already the material of this world has receded. We would rather fondle the inanimate than trace the veins of a leaf. The biggest loss will not be the resources necessary to our survival but the eyes of a stranger, the contact that informs us that this thing approaching is another human being, that this thing approaching is like me. The secret has long been out—we are not the center of the universe. Yet the fact seems even more inconceivable. A worldwide web of unprecedented reach and walls that have never so constrained.

But we have work to do. We have bills due. And when we do look up, outside, where wind lashes the trees, it will not be the SUVs and butchered forests and water bottles that provoke our scream. Even if the climate debate inevitably lends itself to the spiritual—a man of science who thought himself above Mother Nature, who endeavored to manufacture his own life—we hear, just as in war, the mere listing of statistics. Fear pervades the public ethos (Ebola!), yet God forbid if faith should intrude.

The business of the subjects in Counterpoint is not an economical one; it is a business of touch. Feather, water, stick, the subjects respond as if these natural objects had something to tell. The subjects have little interaction with one another. They do not speak. Nature wills them to their place, and there they rest. But from here, perhaps, dispatches a touch freed from flesh. The touch we feel in this injured world, still, when eyes meet and nothing needs to be said.

Post by Luke Smithers,

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