Jens Evaldsson and Mattias Höjer artist and researcher

Mattias Höjer is a professor at Environmental strategies and Future studies at KTH. He is interested in digitization, construction and infrastructure, based on future studies for sustainable development.  

Jens Evaldsson is an artist with long experience of collaborative projects. He has participated in exhibitions around the world with works that are often about human behavior and social interactions. The working method is varied and broad, often within what is known as do-it-yourself or the maker culture.

Tell us about your collaborative work Art of rules

In Art of Rules, we have used a legal framework as a point of departure. Frameworks connect some things and exclude others. This has been made clear vis-à-vis the framework we have been working with – the EU Emissions Trading System – which on the one hand ties certain types of activities together and on the other excludes them from other activities and other geographies. We were fascinated by how the framework was worded so precisely while having the impossible task of geographically limiting emissions, and how incomprehensible it all is – the simple foundational ideas and their unavoidable consequences. This framework has created conditions for a trading system where deliberations are made following game theory. That is to say, the actions of one actor will determine the outcome of the actions of another. This is one reason why the framework is so difficult to analyse, which leads us to another point of interest, namely the relationship between the comprehensibility of the written framework and democracy.

Part of the video installation Art of Rules

What challenges did you encounter in the process?

During long, initial discussions, we talked about the possibility of making art out of legal frameworks, why we should do it and in which format. By choosing to create this work in the form of an animated movie, we could play with the relationship between word and image, where words lie closer to the framework itself while images create associations to its physical consequences.

How did the collaborative research unfold?

The knowledge necessary for creating the artwork was generated by studio discussions with artists and experts on the emissions trading system. Through these discussions, we have distilled ideas and associations into both text and image and brought them together. Certain images and parts of texts were rather literal to begin with, but they have been successively scaled down to open up and allow for the viewer’s own interpretation.

Parallell to working on the film, Ebba Landén Helmbold from LABLAB created posters with us about the emissions trading scheme, also part of the exhibition Symbiosis. This material can be found here.

Thank you to the four experts on EU ETS for their valuable comments during our studio discussions: Fredrik Hannerz (Head of Unit for Emissions Trading, Naturvårdsverket), Isabella Lövin (former Minister of Climate and Environment), Magnus Nilsson (environmental consultant), Lars Zetterberg (programme officer, Mistra Carbon Exit, IVL) and Rut-Karin Zettergren (artist). Thank you to Hugo Bernhard (music producer) for the sound design.

Art of Rules and the accompanying posters have been financed by Mistra and Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan.