Genius

Emulating Genius: learn how to do it in under 2 hours

Many thanks to everyone who came to the event, ran around forming adaptive eco-systems and generated new design possibilities. (And sorry to those who couldn’t get in because the event sold out).

Biomimicry is a new discipline that consciously emulates life’s genius.

It’s a design principle based on the genius of nature. The idea is not simply to utilise the natural world, but to learn from the exceptional aspects of its design.

It is the most radical approach to problem solving I have heard of.

And when architect Michael Pawlyn (FRSA) told me about it, I thought: ‘ Hmmm, it’d be good to learn how that works – not just ‘hear about it’ as something interesting – it would be great to understand the principles of it, then find ways to apply it.’ Then I drifted off into a daydream about the possibility of applying biomimicry in the arts….

So Michael has been developing games that can teach the principles of how biomimicry works – and we g0t to try them out with him and ecologist Dusty Gedge (FRSA).

The event is part of the Barbican exhibition Radical Nature – Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969–2009.

The genius behind the genius of biomimicry is Janine Benyus – she is an Ada Lovelace for the 21st century. If you want to see a short introduction to Benyus’s work, her latest TED talk is now online.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Apocalyptica: No Blade of Grass

No Blade of GrassIf, like me, you are the sort of person who would run a mile rather than listen to Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, take courage and think again. This week the programme is dramatising John Christopher’s classic science-fiction thriller No Blade of Grass. (It’s kind of John Wyndham on steroids: it also became a fairly dire movie). In it, an unknown virus wipes out all the west’s staple crops, leaving Britain starving. The country quickly descends into murderous anarchy.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out why the apocalyptic meme is so strong right now. It’s there in art, clearly, in movies and in BBC remakes like this and Survivors. Interestingly, just to underline the fact that the long cultural history of apocalyptic visions is not unrelated to our current environmental predicament, there’s a new edition of the book being published, with an introduction from cultural historian and ecologist Robert MacFarlane.

Listen to the drama – this week only – on BBC’s Listen Again here.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog