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2017 - current
Extending out of the 'MULTINATURALISM' topic started in 2017:
Nature lost its innocence! This statement, probably, provokes very different thoughts, ideas and reactions. Some of us will think of “pristine nature” as something that is the Other, the Non-culture, the Mother or the cruel and cool Destroyer; others will respond that “everything is nature” and that everything that is crafted, manipulated, built, manufactured, destroyed, is Nature or at least, part of it. Hence, some will argue nature always was, and always will remain, innocent; others will insist: it (nature) never was (innocent). But, stop! Since quite some time we became skeptical of all encompassing dichotomies – the either/or that makes “our” nature bifurcate. (Whitehead, 1920)
Furthermore, we learned that “the others” are no longer outside; that nonhumans (plants, animals, tools, artifacts etc.) have to be brought back into the description in a more active capacity. And that this marks the disappearance of older notions of nature and of its counterpart, namely culture. “A disappearance that is itself due to the fact that everybody (…) is pulled deeper and deeper into the same ecological maelstrom.” (Latour 2014)
The term “multinaturalism” emerges upon its juxtaposition with modern, “multiculturalist” cosmologies: where the latter rest on the mutual implication between the unity of nature and the multiplicity of cultures, the Amerindian conception presupposes, on the contrary, a unity of mind and a diversity of bodies, in other words, “culture” or subject as the form of the universal, and “nature” or object as the particular. (Viveiros de Castro 2015)
The goal of this project is to temporarily create a conceptual particle collider that juxtaposes, accelerates and detects cosmologies that are investigated experimentally by practices of natural sciences, the social sciences and humanities (High Energy Physics, Biology, Wildlife Ecology, Social Ecology, Forest- and Soil Sciences, Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, Eco Semiotics). The medium for making this collision of metaphysical schemes happen and the means for constructing this particle collider is provided by artistic research that aims at practicing “the permanent decolonization of thought.” (Viveiros de Castro, 2012).
NATURE STRIKES BACK - GAIA
How can “Nature strike back”? Even for those who applaud such an apocalyptic tone it would be quite disproportionate to assume that “Mother Nature” is planning an insidious attack on its children – the living creatures on the planet. For ancient Greece the idea of a vengeful act of Earth_Nature probably would not sound too absurd since the personification of Earth was called Gaia: the ancestral mother of all life. From a primordial Greek deity one can expect surprising plots. However, for a modern human audience a “Nature that strikes back” is nothing more than a powerful pedagogic metaphor that is capable to split it (the audience) into fervent supporters and cold-blooded sceptics. Or is it?
In the seventies, the so-called Gaia hypothesis was introduced. It proposed that “early after life began, it acquired control of the planetary environment and that this homeostasis by and for the biosphere has persisted ever since.” (Lovelock, J., Margulis, L., 1973) Are Lovelock et al–a group of new age crackpots asserting that our planet is alive? Interestingly, this hypothesis did not emerge from Western esotericism but from within two rather “innocent” disciplines of natural sciences (geochemistry and biology). Thus, Gaia, our planet, a living being that cares about the biosphere? The hypothesis (the metaphor if you like) was nurtured by the behaviour of models and simulations that were referring to empirical data from the biosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrospheres and the pedosphere.
For the topic of “multinaturalism” the Gaia-hypothesis serves as an interesting meeting point for reflecting ideas and concepts. Is Gaia more than a mere metaphor but a world animated by all sorts of entities and forces? And how does such an animistic “premodern” belief get along with the scientific belief in inanimate matter that produces its effects solely through the power of its causes? Is it right “to attribute values, price, agency, purpose to what cannot have and should not have any intrinsic value? Or, on the other hand: is inanimism the queer invention: an agency without agency constantly denied by (scientific) practice?
Is “the accusation of anthropomorphism so strong that it paralyzes all the efforts of many scientists in many fields (...) to go beyond the narrow constraints of what is believed to be “materialism” or “reductionism”? Why is the invention of inanimism tied to the hardheaded definition of “rational and “scientific” (Latour, B., 2010)?
Machines/Technology and Nature / planet as a living organism GAIA (Lovelock et al.) / Cosmopolitics, (I. Stengers, B. Latour, P. Descola, ), Agential realist onto-epistem-logy (K. Barad), Ecology of matter (J. Bennett), Social Ecology, Ecosemiotics (A. Hornborg, M. Fischer-Kowalski), Infrastructures (C. Bruun Jensen), forest ecosystem dynamics /R. Seidl), to be extended lecture series, literature, excursions
– Concept: Bernd Kräftner