The Use of Environment, Aesthetics and One’s soul: Back Loop Experimentation

Authors: Stephanie Wakefield*, Eugene Lang College
Topics: Anthropocene, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: anthropocene, resilience, experimentation, design, Chronixx
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As the Anthropocene’s ‘safe operating space’ unravels, our geosocial terra firma enters the back loop: a space of freefall and fragmentation as well as potential and experimentation. Dominant political and cultural responses seek to discipline this back loop, attempting to maintain safe operating spaces or manage crises in perpetuity, forwarding a definition of human life as survival and diminishment. Even critical discourse reinforces this imaginary, often depicting Anthropocene life as a matter of living amidst ‘cramped spaces’ and ‘ruins.’ This paper seeks to outline an alternative imaginary and practice for living in the back loop through an exploration of the work of Jamaican reggae artist (and Adidas Spezial spokesmodel) Chronixx. Extending recent work by geographers on design experimentation, I explore Chronixx as a key ‘figure’ of the back loop. His practice of life design and the ‘use’ of specific worlds–Guinness bottles as mics, palm trees as audience, histories of slavery and colonization, British football casual culture—within specific historical legacies and present landscapes, suggests experimentation as a matter of redefining security based on the growing of power rather than vulnerability or limits. Through the ‘use’ of environment, music, aesthetics and one’s soul, this ‘back loop experimentation’ within unsafe operating spaces ultimately seeks possession of its own form of life, articulating a powerful alternative to the contemporary discourse of limits, survival, and ruins.

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