The imaginary worlds of sustainability: Observations from an interactive art installation

Roy Bendor, David Maggs, Rachel Peake, John Robinson, Steve Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


We report on preliminary results from a public engagement project based on a procedural approach to sustainability. The project centered on an interactive art installation that comprised a live actor, an immersive soundscape featuring a handful of different characters, an interactive touch-table, and four interactive rooms within which participants wandered, partially guided by a narrative through-line, yet at the same time left to make sense of any larger meanings on their own. The installation was designed to experiment with two propositions: (1) that there is value in public engagement with sustainability based on the exploration and articulation of deeply held beliefs about the world—the worldviews, values, and presuppositions that mediate perception and action; (2) that there is value in replacing the infocentric tendency of most public engagement on sustainability with an approach premised in aesthetics and experiential resonance. Following the installation’s two-week pilot run, our preliminary results indicated that the majority of participants found the experience both resonant and thought provoking, and were mostly willing to critically engage with their preexisting notions of sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Society: a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Art
  • Cultural dimensions of sustainability
  • Imagination
  • Ontological agency
  • Social constructivism


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