The Cornwall Workshop

The Story of NPK: Agriculture as Extraction

Beginning with the sun’s eternally extravagant glare beating down on the hunter gatherer’s primeval forest, and concluding with computerised food production systems dependent on globally sourced synthetic inputs, The Story of NPK: Agriculture as Extraction with Paul Chaney and Kenna Hernly of FIELDCLUB offers ‘a mind-boggling agrosophical examination revealing the changing dynamic of extraction in agricultural techniques from prehistory until today.’

Accompanied by local experts, and their agricultural-system modelling tool FieldMachine, FIELDCLUB will trace the history of Cornwall’s agricultural industry through the landscape, visiting examples of Iron Age, Medieval, Pre-Industrial, and contemporary farming: ‘We will look closely at the relationship between the scientific advances of the Industrial Revolution and their influence on the Agricultural Revolution, the effect of geological and chemical contingency on plant evolution, and the plant itself as kleptomaniacal scrounger – whose ability to disrupt the dissipative flow of the sun’s energy facilitates all higher life.’

‘The very nature of the agricultural ‘cycle’, will be up for debate as we scrutinize the change from cyclicality to linearity, and consider what, in the context of agriculture, can be meant by the term extraction.’

Founded in 2007 by artist Paul Chaney and researcher Kenna Hernly, FIELDCLUB is a collaborative art research project that investigates hypothetical, and at times post-apocalyptic, models of future land use and food production. At the core of the project is an experimental two Hectare small-holding. Here, they are putting into practice an example system generated by the FieldMachine – an interactive work that allows users to design systems for self-sufficiency based on personal food and fuel choices in a hypothetical off-grid zero-carbon future.

FIELDCLUB’s work investigates various topics related to land use, labour, and human relationships with other species, through exhibitions, events and presentations, and guided tours. FIELDCLUB has recently presented their work at Tate St Ives, Serpentine Gallery, London, and Haifa Art Museum, Israel.