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Thinking with the Harrisons: what does now demand? [Article]

Douglas, Anne; Fremantle, Christopher


Anne Douglas


"The reversal of entropy requires considerable energy and imagination and is accompanied by risk." This statement from the designer, planner and ecologist Frederick Steiner evokes the core challenge of the current environmental crisis: the energy that is required for every field of endeavor to rethink itself both in relation to itself, and to other knowledges and practices. The risk involves coming to terms with uncertainty and with the realization that this act of re-thinking will require us to challenge established ways of knowing and living. Helen Mayer Harrison (1929-2018) and Newton Harrison (1932-2022) - "the Harrisons" - have pioneered a practice that is focused by ecologies and have sought to engage in precisely such a re-thinking for over fifty years. They have explored ecosystems in different ways and at different scales, firstly in quasi-scientific experiments, then in watersheds and bioregions, and eventually at a continental scale. Entropy has been a key organizing concept in this work, particularly since 2007 in the Force Majeure projects.


DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C. 2023. Thinking with the Harrisons: what does now demand? Field: a journal of socially-engaged art criticism [online], 23. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 13, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 28, 2023
Publication Date Feb 28, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 23, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 13, 2022
Journal Field: a journal of socially-engaged art criticism
Print ISSN 2694-0094
Electronic ISSN 2694-0094
Publisher Field-Journal
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Keywords Environmental sustainability; Society and the environment; Economy and the environment; Art and the environment; Artists and society
Public URL
Publisher URL


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