16 Aug 2019, 13:00-16:00 R1 Reactor hall, KTH, Stockholm (Drottning Kristinas väg 51)
In this mixed and postdisciplinary gathering,
with listening sessions and talks by artists and researchers, we will visit the
limits of communication(s) – when our technologies, ideas, languages and
intentions fail us. We will among other things encounter phenomena that
cannot be decoded, interspecies communication experiments, and speculations
about how we can communicate with not only aliens but also inhabitants on
planet Earth in a distant future.
In a society imbued with communication technologies and a
positive belief in the possibilities of accurately
formulating, transmitting, receiving and archiving,
it might be sobering to consider situations where the communicative attempt
takes us elsewhere. Where it derails
our assumptions and intentions and where we admittedly are out of control. What
can be gleaned from these limits and borderlands? What can be unlearned? What
ethico-political considerations do they confront us with?
Participants Cecilia Åsberg (founder and director of the Posthumanities Hub, KTH/Linköping Univ., SE), Marietta Radomska (co-director of the Posthumanities Hub, Linköping Univ., SE/Univ. of Helsinki, FI), Janna Holmstedt (artist, SE), mirko nikolić (artist, SE/FI), Jacek Smolicki, (artist, SE/PL).
Curated by Janna Holmstedt, the Posthumanities Hub, in collaboration with Jacek Smolicki, Fragmentarium Club, at the invitation of the Public Art Agency. The session will take place inside the large-scale art installation “The Interplanetary Species Society (ISS)” by Jonas Staal. ISS is part of the project “Choreograhies of the Social” curated by Edi Muka, the Public Art Agency Sweden (Statens Konstråd). More information and full program for all the events, 13-25 Aug: www.publicartagencysweden.com
Program, 16 Aug, 13:00-16:00 (in no specific order):
Cecilia Åsberg, Planetary Speculation: Cultivating
Ursula K Le Guin stated: “The only thing that
makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what
comes next”. Today we have, dare I say, enough science facts and credible
information to convince us that planetary changes like rampant mass species
extinction rates, climate change, glacial melting and sea rise, plastic
pollution and environmental health concerns are a very real part of the
planetary challenges we now face. What we do not have enough of,
perhaps, seem like a sense of belonging to the ecologies of this
planet, or enough of an ecological sense of wonder and curiosity to close the
emotional gap between values and action, and to sway our ways in more
sustainable directions. This is why we need to cultivate the more than human
arts of living on a damaged planet. Art and humanities have a particular role
to play here, and so does the notion of planetarity. In my talk, while
discussing a few unexpected vistas of environmental feminism, I will discuss
what the role and function of planetary speculation might entail for more
careful ways of knowing.
Cecilia Åsberg, PhD, is Guest Professor of STS, Gender
and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm 2018-2020,
and since 2015 Professor of Gender, Nature, Culture at Linköping University.
She is Founding Director of the Posthumanities Hub, and of the Seed Box: An
Environmental Humanities Collaboratory, and associate editor of the journal
Environmental Humanities (Duke University Press). Recent publications:
“Feminist Posthumanities in the Anthropocene: Forays into the Postnatural” in
Journal of Posthuman Studies; Animal Places – Lively 15 Cartographies of
Human-Animal Relations, (Routledge, eds with Jacob Bull and Tora Holmberg), and
A Feminist Companion to the Posthumanities (Springer, ed with Rosi Braidotti).
mirko nikolić , lie and
shine: eleven steps of
A listening session, a walk along a narrow boundary of extraction,
presently in the process of negotiation in the semi-periphery of the European
North. Gold, water, arsenic and physical asset currency embody vectors of
interest or disinterest by various power formations. Most of the forces operate
without prior or informed consent, decisions are being largely made in the
absence of the bodies that will experience the material effects. Silent
neighbours are not that silent. Communication waves shimmer with dispersals of
toxicity and gatherings of resilience.
Through performance and critical writing, mirko
nikolić seeks to prefigure more just collaborations among different species and
heterogeneous bodies. In recent projects, mirko has been working on
counter-extractivist ontopolitics, multispecies commoning, performativity of
vegetal touch, and unlearning of anthropocentric and capitalist survival
ideologies. mirko holds a PhD in Arts & Media Practice from the University
of Westminster, London.
Janna Holmstedt, The
Order of the Dolphin
What do we hear when we think we listen? In 1961, a prominent flock of researchers were invited to a semi-secret conference arranged by NASA’s Space Science Board to discuss a subject not yet considered scientifically legitimate: What are the conditions required for establishing contact with other worlds? Could engaging in communication with dolphins prepare us for an encounter with non-human intelligence? At this time, attempts to reach out to intelligent life on other planets happened to coincided with attempts to get inside the minds and bodies of bottlenose dolphins. In this listening session, I’ll move between the human, the synthetic and the beastly while revisiting some of the interspecies communication experiments that were carried out in the 1950s and 60s, partly funded by NASA, where dolphins were supposed to learn to speak English with their blowholes. At the centre of my session are tape recordings from language lessons with dolphins, and a woman, whom during 75 days tried to live under equal conditions with the dolphin Peter in a flooded house.
Janna Holmstedt is an artist and researcher based in
Stockholm. She works across various media, ranging between installation, sonic
fiction, text, drawing, mapping and performance, with a particular interest in
listening, storying and situated practices. Her projects work transversally in order to weave a
web of parasitic relations in an attempt to story more-than-human relations and
less anthropocentric we-formations. She explores entangled
issues such as multispecies relations, interspecies communication, and the
intra-action of bodies, environs and technology. She holds a PhD in Fine Arts
in Visual Arts from Lund University, is affiliated researcher with the
Posthumanities Hub, and currently research engineer at the Division of History
of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH. More: www.jannaholmstedt.com
Marietta Radomska, From Terminal Ecologies to the
Non/Living Earth: Storying an Archive
her work on queer ecocriticism, literary scholar Sarah Ensor offers the concept
of ‘terminality’ understood as a state, a practice, an intimate belonging, and
a horizon; in other words, a ‘lifelong’ and shared condition, characterised by
the potential for relations, non-linear temporality, and an ongoing
responsibility for and accountability towards the harmed, the ill, the
perishing, and the dead (environments, ecosystems, organisms, and other
entities). Staying with the trouble of terminality is but one example of a
biophilosophical approach that does not start from a given image of life, but
instead, from a multiplicity of relations, forces, and materialities (that
which transforms and traverses life) encompassing the potentials for both
growth/development and decomposition/decay. Against the backdrop of the current
ecological crisis, this short intervention asks what it means to story(tell) an
archive of ‘terminal ecologies’, what modes of (non)communication it might
entail, and how it matters in an ethico-political sense.
Radomska, PhD, is a Postdoc at the Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping
University, SE, and at the Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki, FI.
She is the co-director of The Posthumanities Hub; founder of The Eco- and
Bioart Research Network, co-founder of International Network for ECOcritical
and DECOlonial Studies and a founding member of Queer Death Studies Network.
Her current research focuses on ecologies of death in the context of
contemporary art. She is the author of the monograph Uncontainable Life: A
Biophilosophy of Bioart (2016), and has published in Australian Feminist
Studies, Somatechnics, and Angelaki, among others. More: www.mariettaradomska.com
Jacek Smolicki, Per
Aspera Ad Astra
Per Aspera Ad Astra (from Latin ‘through hardship to the stars’) was a morse-coded sentence launched alongside other sound recordings onboard Voyager space probe sent into space in 1977. Just like many other signals sent by humans to reach extraterrestrial beings, the Voyager message has so far remained unanswered. Per Aspera Ad Astra is an ongoing artistic and media archaeological exploration of our persistent desire to connect with the non-human, and, more specifically, the extraterrestrial. The project takes the form of a performative soundscape composition built successively of archival material and sounds characterizing technologies used historically to establish contact with aliens. The archival recordings include glitches from digitized interviews with UFO witnesses from the Sweden’s Archive for the Unexplained, snippets from the famous Voyager message, radio signals from the outer space, and reenactments of historical messages sent into space. All these are combined with gradually intercepted remediations of Stanislaw Lem’s deliberations on the inherently flawed idea of establishing contact with other-than-human residents of the deep space.
Jacek Smolickiis a cross-media artist, designer,
researcher and “walker” exploring intersections of aesthetics,
technology, memory and everyday life. In his design and art practice, besides
engaging with existing archives and heritage, Smolicki develops new techniques
for recording, experiencing, and para-archiving human and other-than-human
environments. In his research, informed by art practice, philosophy of
technology, and media archaeology, Smolicki explores how transformations of
communication, recording, and computing technologies have been affecting
aesthetic, material, performative, and ethical aspects of archiving and memory
practices (both personal and public), but also everyday life practices at
large. In 2017, he completed his PhD from the School of Arts and Communication
at Malmö University where he was a member of the Living Archives, a research
project funded by the Swedish Research Council. In 2016 Smolicki
founded Fragmentarium Club, an independent initiative uniting enthusiasts
of listening, soundwalking, field recording, and soundscape archiving. More: www.smolicki.com and www.fragmentarium.club
Today it is our great pleasure to introduce you to our second speaker, Prof. Nina Lykke!
Nina Lykke, Professor Emerita, Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. Co-founder of Network for Queer Death Studies, and Network for Ecocritical and Decolonial Research. Her current research focuses on queering of cancer, death, and mourning in queerfeminist materialist, decolonial and eco-critical perspectives, and on autophenomenographic and poetic writing. Recent publications: Queer Widowhood. Lambda Nordica. 2015:4; Academic Feminisms: Between Disidentification, Messy Everyday Utopianism, and Cruel Optimism. Feminist Encounters. 2017:1(1); When death cuts apart: On affective difference, compassionate companionship and lesbian widowhood. T.Juvonen and M.Kohlemainen (eds): Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships. Routledge, New York, London (2018).
Becoming with algae. Exploring Speculative Stories of Reimagining the Imperceptible.
Diatomite earth is fossilized remains of diatoms, single-celled aquatic algae. In the paper, I use diatoms as lens to ask, what diatomite earth may tell about a flat life/death ontology, and which possibilities for speculative story-telling it may open. My focus is a diatomite cliff formation on the Danish island of Fur – and my life partner’s ashes, spread in the waters beneath. I reflect on my co-becoming with my partner through a combination of poetic, autophenomenographic, and philosophic-cultural reflections on her becoming imperceptible in a Deleuzean sense, and her transforming into a body of ashes, now mixed with diatomite sand. The paper’s analysis is based on examples from these writings.
The symposium takes place on 5th April 2018, 13:15 – 16:30 at Linköping University (room: Faros; Tema building; Campus Valla).
More specifically, every second day (counting from today) we’ll give you a little insight into what our speakers are going to talk about. Or, in other words, every second day you’ll be able to learn a bit more about each presenter and their paper! Stay tuned!
And of course, we start the presentation series with our very special guest, artist Katja Aglert!
Katja Aglert is an independent artist and researcher who’s practice is transdisciplinary in nature, and includes both individual and collaborative projects. She exhibited widely in Sweden and internationally including solo exhibitions at Polarmuseet, Tromsø, Norway (2017/2018); Biologiska Museet, Stockholm (2016); FLORA ars+natura, Bogota, Colombia (2015/2016) Museum for Contemporary Art, Santiago, Chile (2015/2016); Marabouparken, Stockholm (2014). As artist she teaches regularly at institutions such as Stockholm University, and Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts, and Design. For more info: katjaaglert.com
< > ‘Dial: C-A-R-E-T-O-D-A-N-C-E (the first encounter)’ > <
This presentation unfolds some of the research related to the artistic project ’Dial: C-A-R-E-T-O-D-A-N-C-E (the first encounter)’. It discusses how speculative forms of storytelling developed through artistic experiments in practice, can become means for new materialisations and worldings beyond the binary views. The project explores possibilities of inter-species communication with alien aquatic beings through sound frequencies in marine environments. Exchange between diverse beings has a rich spectrum and is, amongst other things, related to the preference of speed. In other words, we cannot greet a crab on the same frequency as a clam. Furthermore, will someone reply, and how?
Becoming with Alien Encounters and Speculative Storytelling
5th April 2018
13:15 – 16:30
Room: Faros, Tema building (Campus Valla)
Speculative fiction – as an ‘umbrella term’ – refers to a wide range of narrative fiction that employs ‘fantastic’, supernatural or non-mimetic elements. In the times of the climate change and environmental crises accompanied by futuristic ‘technology-will-save-us’ scenarios on the one hand, and visions of ‘doom and gloom’, on the other, speculative fiction has gained a momentum as an alternative way to reimagine the future in the ‘Anthropocene’.
As feminist scholar Donna Haraway writes, the ‘speculative’ element of story-telling leads to ‘opening up what is yet-to-come in protean entangled times’ pasts, presents, and futures.’ (2011).
Taking this as our starting point, we see speculative narratives that combine reality and fiction, and philosophy, science and art, as a prolific site for the emergence of different ontological, epistemological and ethico-political possibilities. Through the stories of experimental encounters with alien species, in/organic entities, non/living assemblages and the void, we explore ethico-onto-epistemologies of becoming in a more-than-human world.