Mary Mattingly is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. We learned about her through the Flockhouse Project and traced back to discover the Waterpod and her earlier work. Mary’s art explores the environment, sustainability, housing, and community structure, among other things. We have spoken to a fair number of environmental thinkers in The Conversation, but Mary is the first whose work directly explores individual survival in an unstable world.
There are lots of reasons you’ll like this episode. Aside from the Mad Max/Waterworld quality of our conversation, Mary looks at environmental change in a way that is totally unlike anyone else in the project. Thinkers like Tim Cannon, David Miller, and Robert Zubrin have viewed anthropogenic environmental change as morally relative and potentially positive while others, like John Zerzan, Jan Lundberg, and Wes Jackson, describe it as a crisis to be averted. Mary is somewhere in between, admitting that a future in which humans exert great control over the environment could be dark, yet embraceable. Does this put her in a camp with Tim Morton?
Also, the maker economy shows up in Mary’s conversation and connects her to Alexa Clay and Douglas Rushkoff though, in Mary’s vision of the future, the maker spirit is more of a life-and-death necessity than an economic statement. Her interest in resilience may remind you of the end of Chuck Collins’ conversation, too.
There’s a lot more to talk about. Specifically, we’re interested in the coexistence of individualism and communitarianism. Are they in tension or in balance? Rest assured, Micah and I won’t cast any light on this.