Towards an Amicable End

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There is a sense of an impending doom in the air. A clear and present danger of climate crises hangs over the humanity today, whether or not we pay adequate heed to the facts and figures that are lurking around. Perhaps our fear and anxiety due to the immediate dangers of a global pandemic lead us to avoid this matter even when we cannot disengage us from the onslaught of information about a climate breakdown and the unavoidable and devastating consequences for their lives. We react to the pandemic with a widespread panic but we don’t respond to the climate breakdown in the same urgent manner. However, the situation escalates towards a worsening end. Multiple warnings from the scientists indicate that a tangible end of the human civilisation is not far off.

This project is a response to the sense of doom and ending, and probes into the human (in-)action and fear. It draws ideas from Fatalism – a philosophical doctrine that stresses the subjugation of events or actions to fate or destiny, and is commonly associated with an attitude of resignation in the face of some future events, which are thought to be inevitable. What if we accept the impending doom as a natural course of human civilization? What if acceptance of an ending opens the door for emancipation from fear and loathing for the present? Fatalism is a much-practiced strand of philosophy in the global South. The approach of fate and destiny make the millions of people in remote South Asia accepting the harsher realities, such as colonialism, imperialism, economic exploitation, and their outcomes in poverty. Their attitude of acceptance towards destiny makes them softer, hospitable and compassionate people, unlike the arrogance and self-centredness usually encouraged and practiced in the Western societies.

Can there be an auditory equivalence to the gleam of acceptance against the darkness of fear and anxiety? Towards an Amicable End emerges from this (re)search, culminating into a re-generative work involving archival field recordings of primary climate variables like water, wind and woods, and environmental phenomena that are captured using custom-built radio receivers, weaved together by double bass and electronics. I incorporate a classical Western instrument to explore its textures in order to render the narrative for a universal reach. The work draws from the non-Western ideas around fate and acceptance of human destiny, but these ideas are proliferated for social listening across the globe. The work advocates for an acceptance of human’s inevitable destiny by creating an affective premise to counteract today’s fear and angst. The aim is to ask humans to yield to the natural forces, and again be part of nature, from which they are long estranged.

The project was conceived at the Royal Academy of Art Den Haag, 2018, later developed through 2019; the sketches were completed at Copper Leg Residency, Estonia, 2020; and a prelude from the project was shortlisted for the Cyland media art laboratory award, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 2020.

In 2021, the project received the Goethe Institute virtual residency grant (music) to advance the research and follow up with a prototype concert.