The Ice Next Time:
Textiles and Artifacts of Dark Age North America (2026-2280)
Presented at Site:Lab in the Public Museum in Grand Rapids MI / ArtPrize 2012
Exhibition dates September 19 - October 7, 2012
The Ice Next Time 2026-2280
As it is understood now, the electromagnetic phase disruption emanated from our own Sun, projecting high frequency particles never previously recorded. The power disruptions caused by the Sun started as far back as 2024, the first signs manifesting as the sequential erasure of all magnetic tape archives and then gradually intensified to frequencies strong enough to stop electrically based motors and fragmented digital systems to the point of complete non-operability. Policy makers in world cultures and nations dependent upon conventional electrical power were not fast enough to manage a deceleration movement in favor of previously abandoned methodologies of power generation. Instantaneous communication, air travel, pharmaceuticals, economic productivity, and entertainment generated by electricity disappeared in a matter of a few years.
The disruption these events caused was a catastrophe. The global economy collapsed. Billions died, starved without adequate access to food and suffered disease through unclean drinking water. Waste management systems stopped working, so without proper municipal control suburban communities were completely abandoned. With electronic or electrical ignition automobiles inoperable, the quick shipment of goods and convenient long distance travel ceased. Large cities continued to possess a thin population of those willing to remain and create resources from available materials.
During the nearly two centuries of the quiet earth, lost history became myth, and without recourse, a new respect and connection with the environment returned. Large numbers of people went back to the land, acquiring farmland previously owned by corporations now incapable of organizing at previous scales. Most industrial technology and productivity was forced to emulate previous modes of manufacture utilizing steam, and physical mechanisms controlled by wind, water, and cattle.
As the waves of EM disruption slowly receded so did a small group of scientists discover that magnetic and charged surfaces were maintaining stability and could be relied upon for power. The discovery was kept secret for decades because of the political significance to those who might find this knowledge a threat. Some within scientific communities had already started to covertly restart computers for communications and development among themselves and their distant compounds with the intent of bringing old nuclear generators online again. The conflict between the scientific community and those metering exterior resources were made no less contentious by the inclusion of various regional warlords attempting to cut their resources from both.
There are many different groups to highlight during this time-period but it would be unfortunate to not mention the character of the fluid community based culture that developed after the elimination of mass media entertainment. Performance and memory of previously appreciated culture became the new form of social square dance, where opportunities for celebration within communities would center upon traveling story tellers arriving to tell news of other places, recite tales, and describe literature forgotten or destroyed. The storytellers would use backdrops made to present their specialization, be it a book or other mediated story.
The Ice Next Time utilizes the Public Museum museum to look back at a culturally significant and idealized version of the past for reinterpretation, much as people of the past may have looked upon the Wild West era. It is a reminder of the work that needs to be done to bring our society back together in our own time, the year 2439.