Here the Poster and announcement of the symposium I am organizing, starting tomorrow!

matter_memory_poster_tiny

Matter, Memory, and the More-than-Human

Relational Aesthetics and Politics in the Age of the Anthropocene

Symposium: 16:00-19:00, Room 5.K12 (Nov. 27, 2014)

Workshop: 10:00-12:00, Room 5.K03 (Nov. 28, 2014)

In times of renewed debates on the status of the object and the real in the arts the question of a new radical empiricism is at stake. How is experience not human but always more-than-human or ecological? We ask: how such an ecological approach is political and what are its aesthetics?

Current enthusiasm about new forms of realism, like speculative realism, strikes the art field with immense force. What we perceive is a certain return of the “object,” similar to architecture’s return to the sketch-board, after three decades of conceptually driven discourse and its discomforting pitfalls. Finally, some might argue, we overcome the predominance of discourse and encounter “things” beyond language. What seems crucial, is the status of the real in these new aesthetic and philosophical debates.

With this symposium we want to extend the rather dialectic procedure with which this debate continues and investigate how the relations between matter, memory and the more-than-human enable a multi-shaded formation of the real, inclusive of the materialist sensibilities of Marxist, post-structuralist and radical empiricist philosophies of the last century. Making such an inquiry an aesthetic concern motivate us to reconsider the status of the empirical in relation to the experiential. Rather than following phenomenological traditions the symposium puts particular attention to early pragmatist philosophies like William James, Alfred North Whitehead and Ralph Waldo Emerson, providing a different, radical empiricist, version of the real.

Finally the question would be, how such a take on realism in the age of the anthropocene affords us to re-assess what a more-than-human politics might look like and what forms of organization are in need for its realization.

Speakers:

Heather Davis (Penn State University)

“Ancient Archives of the Future: Strange Temporalities of Plastic”

Ridvan Askin (University of Basel)

‘Every pumpkin in the field, goes through every point of pumpkin history’: Emerson and the Memory of Matter’

Stamatia Portanova (independent scholar)

“The Genius and the Algorithm. Reflections on the Postdigital Aesthetics as Capitalist Neurosis”

Joel McKim (Birkbeck University of London)

Object, Matter, Energy: Towards a Philosophy of Infrastructure

Organization: Christoph Brunner (ZHdK)

Link

Where: Zurich University of the Arts, Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 96, 8005 Zurich

Themes:

Accelerationist Aesthetics

Digital Aesthetics and Affect

Ecologies of Practices

Aesthetic Politics

New Materialism

Process Philosophy

Anarchitecture

Speculative Realism

Relational Aesthetics

Activist Philosophy

program_matter_memory

crang_thumb

Jonas Fritsch and I are going to hit the road to Buffalo for the Media Cities 4 conference, May 3-5, 2013.

Here is our abstract:

Beyond the Network: Urban Media Ecologies and Experiential Fields

The growing proliferation of urban interactive technologies into our everyday lives demands a move from an initial fascination for the technologies in themselves to their actual experiential impact and how they ‘…affect the ways in which we use and understand walls, windows, doors, sidewalks, streets, intersections, parks, markets, and playgrounds.’ (Greenfield and Shepard, 2007). Increasingly, this cannot be done by focusing on singular devices, subjects or places. One way of approaching this heterogeneous plurality of elements has been prominent in the diverse analysis of networks. The problem, however, is the continued conception of entities or nodes as foundational building blocks of such networks and how they are connected or experienced.

In a recent resurgence of William James’ radical empiricism Adrian Mackenzie proposes an approach toward wireless technologies not as merely facilitating networked experiences of a particular kind but as constitutive of relational practices blurring boundaries between confined entities such as architecture, human bodies or technological devices. According to Mackenzie, wirelessness ‘… designates an experience trending toward entanglements with things, objects,  gadgets, infrastructures, and services, and imbued with indistinct sensations and practices of network-associated change” (2010, 5). These entanglements are in particular evident when dealing with e.g. media architecture or mobile technologies in urban or public space.

While building on the conceptual outline of wirelessness foregrounding experience, we propose the concept of experiential fields emphasizing the emergent and affective quality of experience. Experiential fields address experience as an ecological and relational process, focusing on the conditions of emergence of urban interactive environments. We are concerned with ways of facilitating experiential situations pointing at urban media-ecological processes and investigating how to work with them creatively beyond confined spaces, bodies or technologies.

Through an analysis of two urban interactive installations, Frequency and Volume (2003) and Ekkomaten (2012), we bring to the fore a range of challenges and questions concerned with accounting for the workings of media ecologies and experiential fields. Both works deal with sound activating and activated through its urban context. Frequency and Volume by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is an interactive art installation amplifying radio frequencies through bodily engagement with the exhibition space, foregrounding awareness for electromagnetic fields. Ekkomaten is a gigantic listening machine that lets people explore echoes from the past tied to a particular site in the city through their interaction with it. Either work constitutes a media ecology activating an experiential field which modulates the potential for action in the city through an affectively engaging mobilization of  emergent forces.

Investigating relations between media and the urban along the constitutive lines of experiential fields allows us to reconsider what we usually separate into discrete entities such as the body, the urban or the political. Shifting the focus on media in urban contexts from an infrastructural or informational discourse toward urban media ecologies as processes of immediation opens new potentials for considering mediatic encounters and the situations they facilitate in experiential terms beyond the network.

And the conference schedule.

Below a video explaining the Political Equator, a concept I heard first of in the work of Teddy Cruz. There will be a conference June 3&4 in San Diego/Tijuana. Their website will provide full detailed information as of May 14.

food

I just finished reading a publication coming out of the 1999 exhibition by White Columns on Gordon Matta-Clark’s collaborative work with Caroline Goodden entitled Food. The most moving part was a letter from Caroline Goodden to Corinne Diserns describing the development of Food:

Food was born out of the hunger for change and the excitement of experimentation. ln a decade where avantgarde dance was saying “Take us of the precious procenium stage,” sculpture was saying, “Get us out of pristine white-walled galleries.” While artists in general were saying, “Let us live and work in some space (i.e. lofts),” some of us were saying “lets have some food!” In other words….change needed. Different space,different stimulation, different food.

Building on this excitement of experimentation a new model of inhabiting a space and time of collective creative practice across different modes of life strikes me a particularly enjoyable and inspiring practice. the reason I get so enveloped by the experiment of food lies in the absolute obvious relation Goodden makes between diverging practices of economy, survival, creative practice, community and acts of creation. From my point of view she outlines a mode of collective that includes manifold layers of life and starts from this relational nexus instead of just patching existing discourses together. In the end, it is not that important if the place was not sustainable. As Goodden points out:

The joy is the idea. The idea, as an idea, worked. It was a beautiful, nourishing, vital, stimulating new concept which was a living, pulsating hub of creative energy and piles of fresh parsley

The fact that an idea works and lives is the most enriching aspect I have experienced in my engagements with North-American and Canadian ethico-aesthetic experimentations. Working at an art school in Zurich, one of the largest hubs for art-object capital turnover, gives me an idea where I would draw lines of experimentation and invention that move and don’t leave a stone untouched and other ‘artistic’ practices that play safe games of accumulation. What might we be able to do with experimentation to radicalize in a manner that it concerns life and the potential for new modes of life? How can we make an idea work as an idea?

FOOD

This is a commentary and reflection on the ongoing discusssions in Hamburg (Germany) about a complex of historic buildings close to Hamburg’s city. The disctrict called “Gängeviertel” in proximity to the city center consits of 12 remaining buildings of the former working-class area. Hamburg’s city council in its continuous treatment of urban space as commodity to be sold at maximum profit disregards the need for affordable housing and culturally transversal zones. DIfferent from Berlin Hamburg suffers from a continuous loss of affordable work and production places for young artists and creative communities (it is probably just a matter of time until Berlin arrives at this stage). More than 200 artists have started to peacefully squat in parts of the buildings for exhibitions, info-cneters, performances, lectures and concerts/parties. The resonance of the interventions has effected more than 10.000 visitors s far. The city who originally sold the property to the Dutch investor Hanzevast is under pressure to resign form the contract and consider alternative developments of the area. The creative community united under the title “Komm in die Gänge” (a word-play on the title of the district meaning something like “move it!”) proposed recently an alternative development plan. Here are two videos, one in German but it provides good insights and another showing a flashmob in front of the city hall against the elimination of important cultural institutions in Hamburg.

Such inspiring activities call for several questions regarding resistance and potentials for interventions and strategic occupation of space. It seems like the negotiation of a spatial environment receives a wider interest through its presence than other less material and less tangible forms of protest. The size plays an important role but also the pressing issue of a lack of space in the city and the desire for liveable and affordable districts with a rich cultural atmosphere. The collective initiative depends heavily on the factor of spaciality and the distribution of matters of interest in the spaces. In an environment of a a major city and the despair of creative cultures that move to Berlin and other countries, Hamburg has the chance to convert a site into something productive in an ethico-aesthetic manner. In other words, the groups that form a collective seek paths for enunciation that operate on margins between a molar issue and its appropriation.

The delicacy of dealing with large-scale sell-outs of space to corporate money reveals its problematic in a double-folded situation. In the molar capture of a capitalist purpose either option, a sell-out or a culturally diverse and sustainable renovation of the district, offers little room for a difference in terms of a creative climate beyond capitalist appropriation. Being marketable will always remain the general purpose if larger investments are at stake. On the other hand the creative force of adaptation seems to be transversally present throughout different notes of critical response to the lack of space, culture or support. One of the major fields of investment should be the creation of collective enunciations that address the issues of molar capture at many levels and through different strata. A rather topological generation of regions with sets of creative practices and their forces. In such a way the predominance of space seems persistent when it comes to a wider recognition of a problematic field. Such a spatial point of entry therefore has to be adapted and extended by its durational nature, its transversal practices and topological unfolding. It sometimes seems to be more reasonable to negotiate a minimal support and therefore a maximum of autonomy. If the city council involves in a remodelling project of the sight it might be advisable to create autonomous formats of a cooperative, with more self-organization and little reliability on the financial situation of the city.

In a deleuzoguatarrian manner I regard the second video, of a flashmob that creates noise, as a cut into the rhythm of solidified space, creating its own rhythm and connecting new milieu’s. Such practices might be a sign for a resistance and practices to come. The foundation of the molar deployment of reason fundamentally disintegrates in light of transversally powerful (meaning creative) rhythms that offer new collective modes of enunciation.

space invaders - impression taken by christoph brunner in paris 2009
In relation to my research and the fabulous projects that surfaced in the last years I thought it would be useful to have some hints towards really great sites for urban activism, actions and interventions that happen in the in-between spaces of the urban fabric. One is co-founded by Jean-Francois Proust and entitled Adaptive Actions - he is also involved in Montréal’s VIVA! Art Action festival of which I will report more throughout the week. Another great site is the well acclaimed and really beautiful site of the CCA’s (Canadian Centre for Architecture) exhibition Actions. FInally a site a good friend pointed me out to in Europe *Book [of] Urbanism. All three propose transversal, activist and creative practices that shift urban configurations and create pockets of difference.

To give a small impression of the side-project around floaties and ephemeral architectures developed by Jonas Fritsch and Christoph Brunner, I would like to post this video documenting our ephemeral action. The video has been produced by Jonas Frtisch. The work developed during the 5-day transnational and pan-global event Society of Molecules undertaken by members of the Senselab around the world. For a short info see the projects-section on this site or follow the links to Society of Molecules and the Senselab. For a detailed coverage of the whole event see the forthcoming issue of the journal InfleXions on micropolitics edited by Erin Manning and Nasrin Himada.

toronto30meet-041

In one of my recent projects (”Nice-Looking Obstacles: Parkour as Urban Practice for Deterritorialization”), I have investigated the question of movement and architecture as rhythmical nexus through the practice of Parkour. One of my major arguments builds on Parkour’s consideration of obstacles as potential “landing-sites” for a different movement to take place. The engagement with architectural configurations and obstacles through movement recomposes the city, architecture and spacetime through the constant shifting of the movement-space-time nexus (see for example Bergson, Time and Free Will, Chapter II: “The Multiplicity of Conscious States; The Idea of Duration”). To conceptually derive from phenomenological tendencies in Arakawa and Gins and transform the practice of Parkour into a creative form of thought in motion, I use Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of rhythm, refrain, assemblage and milieu. My major concern aims at the question of how architecture cannot only become more fluid or lend itself for interesting encounters, but what are the ecologies of practices that radically open the potential of movement and encounter to create new relational concepts of spacetime. The full article will be published soon in AI & Society but I would like to provide an excerpt of the most conceptually dense section.

The excerpt: “Architectural Body - the Concept of Landing Sites

88x31