The CreaTures research project highlights how creative practices can contribute to the sustainability agenda
CreaTures – Creative Practices for Transformational Futures is an EU Horizon funded, transdisciplinary research project that investigated the role of creative practices in promoting shifts towards socially and environmentally sustainable futures. The three-year project, which is now coming to its end, was built on the basis that sustainability transformations require changes in both social and ecological systems. There is no ecological without social because the impact of human activity affects all other life and possibility for life on the planet. Similarly, there is no social without the ecological given our material dependence upon healthy, living ecologies.
Recognising that a major role in fostering positive eco-social change is played by the cultural sector, CreaTures brought together creative practitioners from art, design and related cultural fields to collaborate with a team of researchers. Together they examined how different creative practices contribute to sustainability transformations. Central to this collaboration were 20 experimental productions developed within the CreaTures Laboratory.
The experiments and their learnings have now been gathered together in a free, open-access catalogue, which can be downloaded here.
“CreaTures’ laboratory with its 20 experimental productions has been a truly exceptional experimenting platform through which we, both researchers and creative practitioners, have all learned about creative practices and the kind of transformative tactics they apply to advance eco-social sustainability. In January we will open another key result of the project, the CreaTures framework, that sums these learnings and a collection of resources for researchers, creative practitioners, policy makers and funders. The framework will set out how creative practices can stimulate action towards socially and ecologically sustainable futures.” says professor Tuuli Mattelmäki, who has been the scientific coordinator of the CreaTures project.
The project was coordinated by Aalto University Department of Design and there were 11 partners from five European member states in the project, and RMIT Australia as an international partner, bringing together several universities, art collectives and individuals, cultural cooperatives and design studios associated with creative approaches to transformation and sustainability.
Examples of CreaTures experimental productions
BALTIC SEA LAB
By Julia Lohmann and the Department of Seaweed
The Baltic Sea Lab develops co-creative ways and tools to activate people to promote sea health. The main aim of the project is to grow a network of stakeholders willing to care for their local sea environment through co-creative engagements. In collaboration with diverse sea- focused stakeholders, Baltic Sea Lab develops a set of creative approaches to sea inquiry that can be adapted and adopted widely, outside of the project’s initial scope and authorial framing.
Image: Hidaka Ohmu sculpture in the Baltic Sea Lab project space. Photo: Mikko Raskinen
Commonspoly is a non-profit, open-source board game that encourages a culture of cooperation and questions the hegemonic, extractivist model of neoliberal privatisation. The game design principles draw on insights from commoning practices, encouraging players to pool their resources and act collectively rather than competing to accumulate goods. The challenge is to create a society where working together furthers the common good.
You can download the game for free here.
Image: Commonspoly boardgame by ZEMOS98
By Isabel Beavers
Nocturne is a series of wild altars meant to be experienced at dusk, dawn, or at night. The altars are experienced outdoors in chance encounters, as well as in museum and gallery exhibitions. Nocturne was initiated by artist Isabel Beavers, who has opened the project and invited others to build altars in their local surroundings. By welcoming others to engage in the collective, distributed practice of altar building, Nocturne aims to grow a relational network of more than-human collaborations with diverse local ecosystems that offer opportunities for generating new eco-rituals.
Image: Nocturne light sculptures aim to generate new eco-rituals. Photo: Isabel Beavers
By Open Forest Collective
Open Forest is an experimental research and practice-based inquiry into various forests and more-than-human dataflows. The project explores how forests and forest data can be thought of and engaged with otherwise, in feral, co-creative ways that consider perspectives of diverse forest creatures and reach beyond techno-solutionist, extractivist renderings of forests as resources. The creative work involves a series of experimental forest walks, interactive installations, sharing circles, and other situated encounters. Participants are invited to engage with various forest patches around the world and share their experiences in the form of forest stories.
Through these co-creative engagements, the Collective aims to better understand how various stakeholders make sense of forests and forest data; to question what can constitute a forest dataset, how it can be produced, and by whom.
Image: Open Forest Collective
THE TREATY OF FINSBURY PARK 2025
By Furtherfield (Ruth Catlow) and New Design Congress (Cade Diehm)
The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025 is an immersive fiction that looks at what it would be like if other species were to rise up and demand equal rights with humans. It features Live Action Role Play games where participants join Interspecies Assemblies to play on as the species of Finsbury Park and plan a major collaborative event for the future: The Interspecies Festival of Finsbury Park. It is designed to explore new means of building empathy pathways to non human lifeforms through play.
Find out more here.
Illustration by Sajan Rai