Offset is an ongoing artistic research project examining the quantification and financialization of the carbon cycle. The project is made with Tega Brain, and supported by a 2023 Creative Capital Award, the Australian Center for Contemporary Arts, Pioneer Works, and the Rockefeller foundation.
Carbon offsets apply the logic of capitalism to our atmospheric interactions. This logic assumes that all activities on Earth can be quantified, abstracted and therefore exchanged. Offsets operate on the idea that it’s possible to outsource the effects of one’s decisions, whether at the scale of the individual, the community, or the nation state, to someone else, someplace else, even to future generations. And so, carbon offset markets act to maintain a status quo rather than address root causes of the climate catastrophe.
We propose an alternative carbon registry and marketplace focusing on social exchanges and political actions that contribute to a program of radical change.
In Phase 1 of the project, we have developed a novel methodology for converting direct action and industrial sabotage into premium carbon credits. We use this methodology to analyze the carbon benefits of various instances of industrial sabotage, and list these actions on our carbon registry. In Phase 2 of the project we plan to sell the offsets and then donate the money back to the activists responsible for generating the benefits.