Why, when there’s more than enough food in the UK, were a million families forced to rely on food banks in 2014? Why, as agri-tech brings astonishing new capabilities online, from synthetic food and cisgenics, to agri-robots, could an all-party report conclude that “hunger now stalks the UK”? And why, in an age of technological convergence, are we as far from an equitable distribution of bio-resources than ever before? In a talk I’ll be giving on 29 December at the 31C3 congress in Hamburg, I’ll be exploring how art and literature can help us gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying this ethical and material dissonance.
My talk draws on the new book Jayne Archer, Howard “Sid” Thomas and I published earlier this month, Food and the Literary Imagination.
The book collects together much of the research into Keats and Shakespeare that garnered media attention in 2012 and 2013, along with new chapters on Chaucer and George Eliot. We also take a long look at the Field in Time, and end with some observations on future trends.
You can watch the talk live, and in hi-def, at the Chaos Computer Club’s live stream, 29 December - I’m on at 20.30 (19.30 UK time). For those at the 31C3, where some of the world’s best-known figures in tech and hactivism will be giving talks, I’ll be in Saal 6. Hope to see you there. If you’re interested in some of the astonishing new tech-led capabilities, from agri-robots and cisgenics, to content plant phenotyping - and the role of art and literature in deep processing the social and ethical dimensions of technological convergence, Saal 6 is definitely the place to be.
I’ll be structuring my talk around a reading of Daniel Suarez’s Freedom TM (2011) and – with my Romanticist hat on – Britain’s best-loved painting, John Constable’s The Hay Wain (1821).
A full conference report will follow in the new year.