The Club of Rome’s first report appeared in 1972 under the title ‘The Limits to Growth’. The report amounted to the discovery of the finiteness of the world, not in a theological or military sense, but in an ecological one. The irreversible threat to the natural and human foundations of life was put down to the fact that industrial progress had gone out of control. In the past, this conflict between (multi-)national and local interests manifested itself in particular in the context of large-scale energy production projects and projects of the extractive industries: nuclear power plants erected despite the protests of the population, open pit mining eating away at the earth, gigantic dam projects leading to the forced resettlement of entire valleys. The long-term damages the projects cause are often out of all proportion to their economic and political benefits; the story of the Aral Sea is one of the best known examples of this. Today, criticism fokusses on interventions in ecosystems through genetic engineering and the patenting of the species-richness of plants that constitute a new dimension in terms of dependencies and deprivation of rights.
The artistic and documentary films in the programme add to this discourse on the regulation of the means of subsistence an historical as well as visionary perspective: from Len Lye’s animation film produced for Shell, ‘The Birth of the Robot ‘(1935), up to Steve Matheson’s video, ‘Apple Grown in Wind Tunnel ‘(2001), in which the artist conceives the dystopian scenario of a world in which contaminated substances marketed via alternative networks are used as remedies. F. W.