Climate Gossip and Disaster Role Play


Áinne Burke (MA Arts & Science) and Marta Monge (alumni MA Industrial Design) report back on their experience of ArtCop 21, global festival of cultural activity on climate change, which took place in Paris in late 2015, with CSF Professor Lucy Orta and Camilla Palestra. In response to what they learnt in Paris, Áinne and Marta organised a presentation and workshop called Climate Gossip and Disaster Role Play at Central Saint Martins last March. Read on to find out about their experiences.

Áinne tell us how you went about planning the presentation?

Making sense of my Paris visit took some time, as there were more questions than answers. Do I include my own thoughts on what I saw, heard and felt or do I just present the facts. Marta and I on reflection choose the latter.

There were four parts to the presentation:

  1. The Cop21 Agreement and who the players are that manage climate challenges on our behalf globally.
  2. Who are ARTCop21 and which artists were exhibiting at SolutionsCop21 at the Grand Palais in Paris.
  3. The private and public companies, NGO’s and government organisations that were also exhibiting their solutions for climate change at the Grand Palais.
  4. What am I doing about climate change?

Marta tell us about the workshop?

Áinne and I came up with the idea of a ‘flash flood’ in CSM and the plan for the workshop. The booklet I had produced in response to my visit to Paris informed the process.   The workshop relied on collective exploration, speculation, role-play and applied DIY design thinking.   I presented the booklet before the workshop to set the mood.   The aim was to instill a deeper understanding of the consequences of climate change locally and empathy with global similar situations. The participants were asked to imagine that they, students and staff were facing a real-time flash-flood in CSM, causing a blackout with absolutely no power in the building. They were asked to plan their escape using whatever they could find in the library and workshop they were trapped in. They were in fact asked to envision how to assemble the items they found for their escape; create rafts, propulsion systems, ladders, ropes, natural lighting systems, etc. This information was in the booklet. Each group listed their objects to use in their escape and storyboarded their plan of action. They were then given a card with yet another ‘setback’ to challenge their escape plan; injuries, lack of natural light, panic attacks etc. This forced the participants to quickly reframe their response. Each group’s final strategy to escape the building was presented and commented on by other groups in the workshop.

Áinne what are your thoughts on the event?

There was no Q & A after or during the presentation due to the late start. Therefore, I think it might be of benefit to make the presentation available online for those who are interested. They need time to view and digest the information and then perhaps discuss it online during a collective webinar. I also think the event is only a beginning on what UAL collectively can be doing locally in a practical way on ‘climate change’.

Marta what are your views on the event?

I believe it would be worth attempting a future reiteration of the event, maybe outside the academic environment, with the chance of engaging participants from a totally different background, experiencing how their mindset might affect the solutions proposed.