Greetings fellow earthlings, and welcome
In the process of “anarchiving” FoAM’s multi-decade existence, different projects and preoccupations became threaded together in a set of colour-coded routes. The routes are intended as metaphors describing a reader’s journey through the publication, and the experiences with the material they might encounter along the way.
This page is the guide to the green route, suggesting different ways to cultivate open-ended engagements with the planet and its inhabitants, bringing manifestations of the living world closer to our (mostly) human senses.
We The we, here, is an invitation to engage. We are the people involved in making this publication come to life and the wider we that includes you, the readers. We are all here, alongside and with each other inside the experience, even if not all at the same time. Nobody is walking the path alone. gather at this hinge between worlds, at the trailhead of FoAM’s green route. You can expect to cross diverse terrain, from cultivated gardens to speculative wilderness.
Striving to shift entrenched debates about conservation and sustainability, points along this route provide space for unholy alliances between people with contrasting values, priorities, and theories of change. You will recognise these by their glimmers of creative tension and incongruity. Beyond human alliances, the route also invites us to consider how we relate to the plants, animals, landscapes, and other entities with whom we share the planet. You will be guided towards encounters and engagements with other-than-humans, starting with a fertile sym-bio-sys with the growing world of plants.
Drawing the living world closer to our human scale, we cross a gardening zone, where humans act in concert with planetary and non-human beings. We stop to pay our respects to the life-giving substrate of the earth beneath our feet. Reverently sloshing through humus, mud, and modder, we glimpse a tiny swamp, dissolving the boundaries of a suburban backyard.
Echoes of lively conversation and fecund fragrance waft across the sinking fence. Clambering over, we land in a curious edge habitat, visible only through a mobile app. Our screens split in two, with parallel video feeds from rural and urban landscapes. On the left side, farmers monitor natural fertiliser levels. To the right, foragers map urban edibles: modern grazing hermits, eating grass and crunching code.
Looking up from our devices, we find ourselves in a different landscape. Amid the forested hills of a botanical sanctuary, we stop to wonder: where does the garden end and the forest begin? In our fruitless search for a clear and definite boundary, we stray over another invisible threshold. Time emulsifies, stranding us in a thickening blend of past, present, and future. Lost and confused, we stop for refreshments in an enclave shaded by biomorphic solar panels. Meeting the resident solarpunks, yarns are spun, and we’re treated to a chorus of voices, urging us to hope, to move quietly and plant things. Our onward path slithers between the biomimetic structures of a vegetal metropolis. Pausing on a high lookout, above the verdant tide of green roofs, vertical gardens, and pocket parks, we wonder: where does the garden end and the city begin?
With our boots planted firmly on the ground, we start to venture further afield. With local guides (humans and otherwise), we learn to listen carefully. We join a group of sonic kayakers. Paddling across a turbid and turbulent channel, we pass the remnants of drowned villages, and evidence that some natural phenomena are not fit for statistics. Behind a flood barrier, buffeted by wind, sand, and sea, we take refuge on an artificial sandbank reinforcing the coastline. Here, we sample a peculiar culinary experiment: a broth prepared with bone shards from a mammoth.
Our guides invite us to join them in attuning to different landscapes. Adjusting our senses to geological timescales, we pass through a desert where rocks behave like fluids. In a dense rainforest, alive with critters, we experience unconditional multispecies hospitality. Crossing a shallow sea, we set down on a tiny island haunted by troubled pasts and an uncertain future. We land hesitantly, unsure when (not) to interfere; attentive to that left unnamed, unnoted. Plankton, otoliths, ticks, plants, all signalling. Standing stock-still, we feel the ground move.
In stillness, we let the green speak forth; immersing us in the colour, the radiance, the life-giving greenness. Through the leaves and branches, a shimmering guides us to a chapel anchored in virtual reality. The viriditas chapel calls for a pause, a moment of contemplation. All hail the greenest branch... Until the song ebbs and the chapel falls dark. Feeling our way forward, we step into a verdant greenhouse filled with song. Is this music human, vegetal, electronic? We can’t tell. The air is moist, saturated with oxygen. Beyond the glass walls, we find a garden that has borrowed scenery from its surrounding landscape. As the foreground blends into the background, our focus blurs and reality itself seems to soften. We pause and observe. Being with plants, the silence thickens. Haunted and haunting. The longer we linger, the more the world warps, delivering us to a place where plants and stories cross-pollinate. Raising their vegetal lenses to our eyes, we see the world(s) anew.
We look at these lenses and the lenses look back at us. Asserting their agency as learning machines, more than mere interfaces between the human and other-than-human. Translating across otherwise incomprehensible languages, they reveal a series of peculiar outlooks across a machine wilderness. Vegetal minds interpret plant and human signals. Robotic agents and their digital contraptions chatter, teeter, and wobble across the augmented ecology they call home. A networked bird table provides an embassy for interspecies diplomacy, a backyard venue for iterated experimentation, mutual entanglement, and ad-hoc inquiry. Legal personhood stretches to enfold nonhuman entities through a mushrooming network of Zoöps. Perspectives proliferate, buzzing experiments perched precariously on the unstable ground of late-stage global capitalism. A crackling in the air, amplified, carries a message across the landscape. In an intercepted transmission, an unmasked rogue laments, bemoans, recants their scorned (al)chemical efforts to patch and repair a broken world.
Transfixed, we commence our final descent, glad to be landing on a planet where geological time, microbial contamination, life, and death coexist within and alongside deserts, forests, islands, and swamps. Immersed in the chorus of our animate planet, joyfully, delightedly Earth-bound, we reach for the stars. Terrafictions