Tate Exchange: The Manuals

Mapping out a Future Where We Live in the Planet, Not Just on It


O ften, the environmental crises we face - climate change, habitat destruction, mass extinction - feel utterly insurmountable. Facing these kinds of challenges requires action at all levels of our lives and society - from individual behaviour and decision-making to the infrastructures that undergird our societies. Art and the imagination can be crucial tools for nurturing and empowering the kind of radical solutions and the sense of community and hope we need to facilitate these changes.

This January, TEA joined a collective of artists, curators, anthropologists, engineers, and farmers at the Tate Exchange in the Tate Modern, London - brought together by the art group Something & Son - to launch a series of public engagement events that aim to crowd-source radical ideas and solutions for reimagining ways of living in pursuit of the sustainable futures we so desperately need.

The ultimate goal of this collaborative art project is to produce a co-authored book, The Manuals - conceived of as an innovative and ecletic blueprint for a future liveable planet. Read on, below, for some preliminary reflections on this exciting project.

What would we create if we put the same time, energy, resources, and unfettered belief into living well within ecosystems as we do into our own human progress? What structures and systems would we imagine and how could they bridge the gap between human beings and the 8.7 million nonhuman species that also inhabit the planet?

We once lived as part of nature’s systems, but in the Anthropocene - the present era of accelerated environmental change driven and shaped by anthropogenic forces - the world is becoming uninhabitable, both for ourselves and for our other-than-human counterparts. What kind of more-than-human solutions might be required to counteract and remedy our current predicament? Imagine waking up tomorrow to find yourself in a world where we had managed to solve the environmental crises of our time, and imagine knowing you had been part of that revolution…

The Manuals is an artist-led initiative designed to form a radical blueprint for that world: by crowd-sourcing re-interpretations of our daily routines, the cities we live in, the technologies we rely on, and the industrial agriculture that feeds us, we consider innovative ways of turning our infrastructures on their head to actively support and re-animate ecosystems.

Watch this space for future developments.

Tate Exchange

“A place for all to play, create, reflect, and question what art can mean to our everyday”

Level 5, Blavatnik Building
Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG


Something & Son

“Something & Son was formed by Andy Merritt (graphic design), Paul Smyth (engineering and design) and Sam Henderson (a sociologist who has since left to become a farmer). Through permanent installations, functional sculptures, and public performance, our work explores social and environmental issues via everyday scenarios criss-crossing the boundaries between the visual arts, architecture and activism”