Unveiling the Hidden Aspects of Resource Extraction and Possible Pathways for Sustainable Resource Utilization

The commodity culture embraced by the global north, which others aspire to emulate, is underpinned by unsustainable resource extraction, primarily from distant locations in the global South. Our consumer patterns and the convenient availability of these goods conceal the underlying environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and inherent inequities, impacts that are far removed from producers and consumers, rendering these impacts out of immediate view.

These historical injustices have led to unequal experiences of climate change within communities lacking the necessary resources, infrastructure, and financial stability to effectively adapt to shifting climatic conditions and their consequences, as biodiversity loss is marginalizing groups of knowledge holders.

Alongside colleagues: Lucy Ombaka (Kenya), Santos Chicas (Belize), Lou Ziyang (China) and Christopher Schrader (Germany), we endeavor to illuminate these impacts through information, science communication, and art.  

The document “ Unveiling the hidden aspects of resource extraction and possible pathways for sustainable resource utilization”, we are currently working on is still a work in progess.  

Nonetheless, here is a glimpse of my concept process, sub-titled:

Could bots influence the landscapes of the entangled environments we belong to?


Could bots influence the landscapes of the entangled environments we belong to?

What have the landscapes we belong to witnessed? How many worlds could have been by having a regenerative rather than objectifying approach? How could bots influence the landscapes of the entangled environments? I question how algorithms can structure our world, and how we can contribute in the midst of a climate crisis.

As the concept of “progression” has become erosive, language serves as both a lens and a limitation through which the environment is perceived. Nouns have accumulated habits, “comfort” embodies plenty, “development” consumes and “space” is never enough.

How can we compost these dominating narratives by addressing this lack of vocabulary when envisioning the future. It's time for them to decompose and break down whilst nurturing new growth. Naturally waste does not exist, how can we mimic the earth's cyclic processes as the perfect solution to model?

“Inside the word “emergency” is “emerge”, from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters” - Rebecca Solnit.


Errosive Landscapes

The image below is a screenshot taken from Google Earth Pro of the satelite imagery of the impacts of the mining industry of The Democratic Republic of Congo in 2023.

What does it look like?

What does it sound like?

What does it smell like?

What does it feel like?

What does it taste like?

Here, a screenshot taken from Google Earth Pro of the satelite imagery of the impacts of the mining industry of The Democratic Republic of Congo in 2004.

What did it look like?

What did it sound like?

What did it smell like?

What did it feel like?

What did it taste like?

What has the landscape witnessed?

A recent report (Imperialist Appropriation in the World Economy: Drain from the global South through unequal exchange, 1990-2015, Published in Science Direct, March 2022) values this drain at over 10 trillion USD per year, exceeding any foreign aid by a factor of 30. In 2015 alone, the North net appropriated from the South 822 million hectares of embodied land, 12 billion tonnes of embodied raw material equivalents and 188 million person-years of embodied labor. The value of this could end poverty 70 times over.

Everyday we are met with the unsettling awareness of the Earth's ongoing deterioration. We live in a constant state of worry, yet have a constant desire for more, as you can never have enough of something you don't need. Whilst the impacts of the unsustainably dominated systems are shared understanding today, there is an absence of concerted action or meaningful change, making individual contributions feel meaningless.

What catalyst does this hyper-connected world need to enact transformation? How much do you need to know to make a difference?  In order to improve for good, we need to solve problems at the systems level.

This has created a sense of 'disembodiment' — a feeling of detachment from our ecosystem, from one another, and from our own bodies — becoming an expense of the future. Whose health? Whose wealth?

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “body” as “the whole physical structure of a human or an animal.”, lacking any mention of our senses, so how can we begin to reconnect if even our vocabulary hides the tools we need for connection in the first place? There isn't space for the hoarding of ideas, one idea has to build on another and quickly. I question the words and tools that are needed to collectively “re-embody” ourselves, in order to dismantle prevailing narratives for a more sustainable future. For so many, we have become strangers to this extraordinary living planet, especially for young people, who aren't given a voice or agency. I question how we contribute towards their empowerment, in which they are architects of the future, with the skill sets to address them.

Rather than creating new visible spaces for discussions on these issues, what pre-existing spaces can we contribute towards in hope of influencing behavior surrounding disconnection and overconsumption? How can we foster collaborative relations that are more responsive than irresponsible? And what role could technology play?

On the search for new pathways for change, i question how algorithms can structure our world, and how we can contribute in the midst of a climate crisis.


The Spaces in Between our Narratives

Following my previous statement in regards to disembodiment and overconsumption, an example of a pre-existing space I have begun to reflect upon, is the platform Tik-Tok for instance.

Given the fact the more engagement a video receives, the higher its reach, it's accurate algorithm could be a fertile space for creating a comment-bot. Contributing towards the propagation of information regarding resource extraction, we can compromise dominating systems into addressing the problematic framework of “profit over sustainability” which is influencing the Earth's systems.

This idea doesn't end with the transmission of information, but through addressing the issue of disembodiment, and relaying the importance of individual contributions in community. By taking a
citizen-led on-the-ground change
approach we invite users to embrace the impact they can have towards creating collective change, which alone may seem overwhelming whilst living in unsustainably dominated systems. 

The question, of how algorithms can structure our world, and how we can contribute in the midst of a climate crisis, presents a unique opportunity to elevate the relevance of both art and science to a level unattainable by either discipline alone. The aim lies in inspiring others to not just to experiment with technologies, but also a fundamental shift in our thinking about them, motivating us to engage in innovative and audacious approaches for the greater global good.


Open questions


The drive for growth as the main metric for success has caused irreparable harm, the notion of unceasing expansion on a planet with finite resources is, quite simply, unsustainable. We know the price of everything, yet the value of nothing. Confronting the challenge of slowing down a system rooted in perpetual consumption-driven growth is no small feat.

“Either we slow down by desire or by disaster” Peter Victor

Within the artwork´s investigation process, the following questions raised are:

1. What does it mean conceptually to work on a platform such as TikTik, where there is a constant flow of unnecessary / addictive information? What does it mean to reclaim this space? What does it mean to create a technically illegal bot that could incentivize good? What gray areas arise? Could bots redefine the landscapes of our entangled environments? How could we redefine the concepts of "growth" and "degrowth" without being eurocentric? How can a bot represent collectivism in which individual contributions are lost without?

2. What are the messages that should be communicated to address this idea without inducing climate anxiety? How can we provide solutions that ease climate anxiety whilst promoting change for good? Seeing as it needs a user-profile to function, how would this bot be embodied? What language is needed?

3. Why are we desensitized / disembodied? How can we re-sensitize / re-embody? What would our world have been like if we had promoted nature first? What would our world have been like if we had a true understanding of value?

4. Rather than constantly providing more tools and resources for the "global North" towards tackling the climate crisis, how can we take this opportunity to provide tools for the global South? How can we lead citizen-led on-the-ground change? How can we make sure marginalized groups of knowledge holders without access to technology are not excluded? Where are limits between providing resources to marginalized groups of knowledge holders in order to adapt towards changing climate conditions, and neocolonialism? Who becomes invisible and visible?

I am very much looking forward towards further challenging the proposal and its possibilities collectively, amongst peers from the art and technology field, where concepts such as identity, expression, surveillance, invasion of privacy and freedom of speech may arise.

If you were born today with the wisdom you have now and the radical naivety you had in your youth, what kind of future would you envision? This is the mindset we should adopt as we navigate our present.

Everything on this web page is a work in progress to be completed by November 2023.

 FILE 23764—39/23DBE

Magdalena Hart, 1994
Akyute Collective, 2019
Rain_and_rivers_, 2023


Based in Barcelona, ES