Contingency Planning
upcoming / work in progress

This project engages with the process of ‘contingency planning’ – the act of imagining unlikely but possible catastrophic events and developing strategies for handling them – in an expanded sense, exploring alternate techno-scientific paradigms and subverting mainstream apocalyptic narratives. Formatted as a public seminar, workshop, and exhibition / performance event, it will involve sci-fi imaginaries, collective movement, and embodied sculpture, developed in collaboration with Bergen-based dance artist Yohei Hamada. It will be presented at the Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts (BEK) in September 2019, and then in Tromsø in March 2020 with Kurant Visningsrom.

movement experimentation with Sexton’s ‘aura amplifier’ harness, Yohei Hamada, BEK studio, May 2019
above: artist netting paracord at outdoor studio site in western Norway, April 2019

Historically, science fiction has critiqued the status quo and paved the way for change; however now the reverse seems far more common… the sheer volume of sci-fi doomsday fear mongering / big tech militaristic propaganda in circulation is overwhelming. The following is a important part of the project’s framework, informing a new series of wearable paracord works, extending from recent exhibition Harnessing:

Philosopher Quentin Meillassoux suggests that the foundation of the universe is pure contingency (change, uncertainty), and not even the laws of nature are stable, they have just been changing so slowly in recent history that they appear to be consistent. Though unlikely, a fundamental shift in a natural law could occur at any moment, for example a weakening of the force of gravity. Imagine objects flying around, ground-based modes of transportation useless, and having to engage with architecture and movement in an entirely different way. It would cause panic, but could it also provoke an inspiring shift in our relationship to everyday life and our understanding of the universe?

Another scenario involves the majority of our technological devices being destroyed by an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) wave from a massive solar eruption. The gadgets and networks we have come to depend on would be gone for a long time. Would we be totally helpless, or could we reinvest our time into building community, sustainable infrastructure, and simple repairable technologies?

Or, moving towards sci- fi, what if a more exotic cosmic ray impacts the Earth, one that resonates with the frequencies of our neurological processes, causing a drastic change in what we are able to perceive? Perhaps higher dimensional spaces could be experienced directly and we would gain psychic abilities. Would this sudden shift cause mass psychosis? Or could we collectively leap into a new state of consciousness and leave the worst tendencies of humanity behind?

~Erin Sexton, May 2019



project made possible with support from Bergen Kommune + Kulturådet