Cosmopolitics 1 + 2
The term Cosmopolitics refers to the cosmos and its politics; Isabelle Stenger argues that politics not attached to a cosmos is contentious, and that a cosmos detached from politics is irrelevant. Bruno Latour refers to Cosmopolitics as the “progressive composition of a common world”, in which the non-human entities and the human are entwined, through this our definitions of what it is ‘to belong’ or ‘to exist’ to the world are questioned.
Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime
Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime is an extended reworking of Bruno Latour’s 2013 Gifford lectures delivered at Edinburgh University. He is critical of the use of the term Gaia as a genesis for Earth, based on Hesiod’s Theogony, where Gaia is a feminised primordial deity who emerges with Eros and Tartarus out of the predecessor of Chaos to become "the ever-sure foundations of the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus". Bruno Latour, emphasises that Gaia is a secular figure for the earth: a "name proposed for all the intermingled and unpredictable consequences of the agents, each of which is pursuing its own interest". It is "an entity composed of multiple, reciprocally linked, but ungoverned self-advancing processes". Not "a kindly figure of unification", it does not denote the existence of a "higher system than the life forms it manipulates" since it isn’t itself something unified. Gaia does not offer the possibility of a global view, but a partial, terrestrial one.
Rosi Braidotti analyses the escalating effects of post-anthropocentric thought, which encompass not only other species, but also the sustainability of our planet as a whole. Rosi Braidotti is using the term ‘posthumanism’, in a distinctly anti-humanist tradition, central theme is ‘Zoe-centric’ ethics, an ethical model that values a generic, not-specifically-human life force, which, she suggests, would decentralise 'The Human' from questions of ethics, and instead encourage us to make choices that take into consideration all forms of life.
Technic and Magic: The Reconstruction of Reality
'Reality' varies with each era of the world, in turn shaping the field of what is possible to do, think and imagine. Our contemporary age has embraced a troubling and painful form of reality: Technic. In Technic and Magic: The Reconstruction of Reality, Federico Campagna, delivers a new oppositional term to Technic, something beyond debates on politics or economics. Magic is presented as an alternative system of reality to Technic. While Technic attempts to capture the world through an 'absolute language', Magic centres its reconstruction of the world around spiritual awareness. A whole new ‘cosmology’ of the world is being presented that will shift out current ‘reality-setting’.
Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences Into Democracy
In Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy, Bruno Latour propsosing a radical change to our current definitions of ‘political ecology,’ arguing that mainstream environmental movements are doomed to fail so long as they imagine that political ecology is inextricably tied to the protection and management of nature through political methodologies and policies. His book acts as a warning, that in our rush to separate human from non-human, interests from nature, and politics from ecology, we have jeopardized the foundation of democracy. Nature is not to be conquered, controlled, or even protected, but our conceptions of natural fact and reality must be re-examined in order or make room for other members of the political-ecological collective.
The New Dark Age
As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes. This is the premise of James Bridle’s book: The New Dark Age, he explains the tension between the belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world. But in reality, we are lost in a sea of information, increasingly divided by bias, conspiracy theories and post-factual politics, with apparent abundant access to information and data, we are failing to adequately understand the technology we have come to rely on. We are opening ourselves up to The New Dark Age. In a series with Verso, James explains some of the arguments from his book.
Het Nieuwe Instituut
Supplementary to the exhibition Control Syntax Rio: Monitoring the Collective Body, which ran from June 2016 to January 2017 at Het Nieuwe Instituut, there was a series of Thursday Night Live! events and lectures. James Bridle delivered a talk on the topic of the ‘End of Predictability’, bridging the relationship between tracking technologies developed for the sports field, to surveillance technologies used in the city. Starting from his essay Sneakers and Snoopers, he took the camera technology that captures the athlete's performance in the Rio Olympic stadium and then zoomed out to the scale of the city and analysed the way in which Rio will be monitored until well after the Games. Watch full documentation of the event here.
Annihilation (2018) is a science fiction horror film, the story follows a group of military scientists who enter ‘The Shimmer’, a mysterious quarantined zone of mutating plants and animals. ‘The Shimmer’ is discovered to be a prism, it can refract light and radio waves, which disrupts their communications, and creates hybrids by mixing DNA. The scientists come face to face with mutated creatures, such as an alligator, which is hybridized with a shark.
The film Solaris (1972), is based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem. Lem's novel discussed the existence of solaristics; the study of an outlying star system that had bizarre effects on human psychology. Tarkovsky took this idea, and turned it into a dreamlike interrogation of what it means to be human and our relationships with the world and those who inhabit it. The message of the film, can be understood with these words said by the disillusioned and paranoid, Dr Snaut onboard the space station: “We don't want to conquer space at all. We want to expand Earth endlessly. We don't want other worlds; we want a mirror.”
Stalker (1979), follows three men - the Scientist, the Writer, and the Stalker- as they travel through a mysterious and forbidden territory in the Russian wilderness called the "Zone." In the Zone, nothing is what it seems. Objects change places, the landscape shifts and rearranges itself. In the Zone, there is said to be a bunker, and in the bunker there is a magical room which has the power to make wishes come true. The Stalker is the hired guide for the journey who has, through repeated visits to the Zone, become accustomed to its complex traps and subtle distortions.