Bill Posters Residency
Our former Metal Liverpool artist-in-residence, Bill Posters, worked with us to explore engagement approaches for a new online intervention entitled Eco-Bot.Net launched on various social media platforms during the COP26 Climate Talks held in Glasgow, UK, in November 2021.
Drawing on the significance of the moment, in the wake of the urgent IPCC report labelling climate change as ‘code red for humanity‘ and as the UK took centre stage to host COP26, confirming our global commitments to reduce carbon emissions and responding to the climate emergency, Eco-Bot.Net offered an engaging opportunity for audiences to be part of environmental discussion.
As part of this programme, we collaborated with young people aged 12-18 to explore the influence of social media and digital technology within our lives, casting a critical eye on the way we consume news and media through these channels. We also worked with young people to challenge to prevalence of false content and disinformation online by exploring the dangers of climate denialism and disinformation at this key moment for humanity.
Speculative Fiction Workshops with Liverpool City Region Secondary Schools
We invited students to respond to Eco-Bot.Net, the climate emergency and the challenges of online disinformation, through an engaging creative writing workshop led by writer and creative writing lecturer Em Segar.
Taking the artwork and its themes as a catalyst for creative writing, Key Stage 5 English Literature students explored the conventions of speculative fiction, and the challenges posed by the environmental crisis, fake news and disinformation through a range of creative writing techniques. They also considered the power and influence of social media in our lives. Students then created their own speculative fiction to consider how creative writing can help us imagine positive futures and what we might want to avoid.
The workshops were led by Em Segar.
About Em Segar
Em Segar is a writer of digital and interactive Science Fiction. They are currently lecturing in Literature and Creative Writing at Edge Hill University, and they teach evening classes in writing prose fiction, children’s/YA fiction and SF/Fantasy for Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool. In 2013, their blog fiction Bad Fiction told the story of a global pandemic in real time through four characters’ blogs, inviting reader participation in the comments to explore themes of social transformation. Given events since, Em is now working on a series on YA novels on utopian themes.
Well done to our Speculative Fiction competition prize winners: Amy Williams, Birkenhead High School and Atlas Jones, The Belvedere Academy.
Taking inspiration from the activism of Eco-Bot.Net, Key Stage 3 students at Birkenhead High School Academy explored the dangers of greenwashing, fake news and climate change disinformation. Year 8 and 9 pupils collaborated with artists Ash/Ella to create their own spoof greenwashed advertising to call out the shameful tactics of big companies exaggerating and falsifying their green credentials.
Adopting the style of 70s American commercials and informercials, students explored the dangers of climate change disinformation and greenwashing as we face climate emergency and used satire and exaggeration to critique the ridiculous ways businesses falsify their environmental credentials to get us to consume their products.
The students collaborated with artists Ash//Ella.
About Ash // Ella
We are Ash//Ella. We are a we. We merged our minds through our shared anticipation of the human convergence with technology. We use performative/interactive storytelling to configure our connection to the corporeal and virtual realms in which we roam. Our research embodies the interplay of physical and cyber materiality which formulates outcomes that sit between video, writing, installation, performance and most recently augmented reality. We often construct our work through analogue means then manipulate and configure it to sit within the digital dimension. Our collaboration initialised three years ago and has developed into a sprawling network of research, fiction and cyberspace. The interactive nature of our outputs are intended as a way of disrupting the passivity that can come with viewing and experiencing art, especially when viewed through screens. Our work always has a co-dependency with its audience and the finalisation of the work comes from the public interaction.
Eco-Bot.Net Educators’ Resource
As part of Bill Posters’ artist residency with us at Metal Liverpool, we invited schools to explore eco-bot.net online and access additional resources through our website to support further exploration of the themes of climate change and online disinformation.
Eco-Bot.Net educators’ resources are available through our website and include:
- An artist blog from Bill Posters discussing the artist’s intentions when creating Eco-Bot.Net and art as activism. The blog includes a number of embedded links to articles for further reading and research, and is written in language aimed at ages 14-18.
- A clip from climate scientist Dr. Tim Lane providing an overview of climate change and the significance of COP26.
- A clip from climate activist Ella Gregory for UK Youth for Nature discussing how young people can have a voice in campaigning for positive action on climate change.
- The environmental crisis and action of climate change
- Climate change disinformation and fake news
- Art as activism
Available here: Eco-Bot.Net Educators’ Resource
Co-created by artists Bill Posters’, Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja of Massive Attack and green energy industrialist and activist Dale Vince, along with a range of lawyers, journalists, technologists and human rights defenders, Eco-Bot.Net is an online intervention into the hidden ecosystems of climate change disinformation and corporate greenwashing that exist online.
The Eco-Bot.Net project launched on 1 November 2021 with a ‘data drop’ containing thousands of sponsored ads from Facebook and Instagram paid for by the world’s top 100 ‘carbon majors’. The carbon majors are the 100 private and state-owned corporations that are responsible for over 70% of all historic and current global greenhouse gas emissions. Using supervised machine learning processes and automated collection methods, Eco-Bot.Net’s systems focused on analysing, verifying and then flagging thousands of climate disinformation posts and corporate greenwashing ads wherever they appeared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, throughout the duration of the COP26 climate talks.
What is disinformation and greenwashing?
Climate disinformation and misinformation refers to the deceptive of misleading content that undermines the existence of impacts of climate change. Greenwashing is a form of climate change misinformation – a tactic used by companies that are heavy-emitters that mislead consumers about the green credentials of the company. During COP26, Eco-Bot.Net flagged ads and posts on social media that selectively disclose a company’s green credentials of portray symbolic green actions, as well as instances of climate misinformation.
About Bill Posters
Working under the pseudonym Bill Posters, Barney Francis is an artist-researcher, author, activist with a critical practice. His work interrogates disinformation, persuasion architectures and power relations that exist in public space and online, often exploring propaganda, truth, trust and power.
Bill Posters works collaboratively across arts, sciences and advocacy fields on conceptual, intervention, new media, net art and installation-based projects, and has pioneered computational forms of moving-image making that include forms of synthetic media (deep fake) art works. In 2019, his digital intervention of Instagram entitled Big Dada / Public Faces received global media coverage and public interest, after going viral and featured Al-synthesised ‘deep fake’ monologues from influencers both past and present.