Sustainability and Sust Enable: Reflexivity

This theme is closely related to the theme of holism.

If we are to assume that in a sustainable system, all aspects of the system are somehow unified, somehow all-one, and are in fact irreducible (systems-thinking), then it follows that in that same system, anything the system does ends up impacting itself in some way. Therefore, if an organism pollutes its environment, it will end up polluting itself. If an organism enriches its environment, it improves its chances of survival overall. In a sustainable system, meaning and value come from the system’s own processes.

For further resources on reflexivity in art:

Interpreting Reflexivity in Sust Enable

Reflexivity and holism are particularly important themes because their influence pervades through all levels of our film. By seeking to embody sustainability at one level (the story), we are compelled to apply it reflexively on all levels (the style and the process).

On the level of the story, we choose to follow the organically evolving lifestyle of the film’s director, and, to a smaller extent, the film’s own processes, in looking for evidence of the generic claims about sustainability made by our interviewees. For example, if an interviewee argues for why a sustainable system must be adaptable, that section of the narrative will explore how our director Caroline’s life now, and in contrast to her extreme lifestyle-change project in 2008, incorporates (or fails to incorporate) said principle.

On the level of the style, as the film’s story progresses from simplistic to increasingly complex facts and models of sustainability, with each sustainable feature comprising a small sequence, the film’s style will adapt and mirror the feature being discussed in the narrative. For example, while an interviewee discusses the significance of stakeholder participation to a sustainable system, the camera may passed around to several different crew members to “show” their perspectives and the role they play in the story.

On the level of our processes, we will constantly challenge ourselves to consider how our own processes incorporate the principles of sustainability that we learn about. Since we can never know absolutely what the meaning of sustainability is, we will closely analyze our own processes to determine what works best for us, and with this knowledge, we will shape our narrative structure around which themes resonate most with us.

This post is one of a series about The Sust Enable Project’s main themes and principles.  These are themes that have emerged from our sustainability research, that we plan to fully embody in our sustainable filmmaking process.  For more posts like this, check out the Core Themes and Principles category of posts.