Graphics: Brishty Alam (c) 2017

Distributing Chains

Workshop with Jaya Klara Brekke

Entanglement, contingency, intra-action - these are some of the ways that Karen Barad articulates her onto-epistemology. Taking as a starting point the scientific measuring apparatus she discusses the ways in which the apparatus itself is part of the measured phenomenon by directly stabilising otherwise indeterminate characteristics. Expanding the significance of this observation to non-human agencies, she proposes a radical shift in our understanding of material reality, objectivity, agency and knowledge: There is no stable objective outside only different configurations that stabilise matter in different ways. We are already and always implicated in our practices of materialisation, and therefore also immediately accountable.

This seminar will explore Karen Barad’s thinking in relation to research into the politics of blockchain technology. Her radical reconfiguration of core concepts such as agency, objectivity, materiality and accountability can be hugely fruitful for overcoming issues of social or technological determinism. But there are unresolved questions.

What exactly does intra-action mean? How is agency mobilised? What causes the materialising “cut”? Is it enough to say that effects are contingent? Is it enough to state that the world is full of complex entanglements? How does one trace such entanglements in ways that clarify instead of obfuscate? Are there ways of understanding multiple human and non-agencies that up for accountability instead of diffusion?

Jaya Klara Brekke is a researcher and creative producer working between London, Athens and Durham where she is currently writing a PhD on the political geography of the blockchain at Durham University.

In the context of doing artworks, publications and political actions, we would like to look at different methods for each that reflect on their processes of production. Through lectures, workshops and excursions various publishing formats will be reflected that show how their methods and matter of production intra-act to produce the investigated phenomena.

Fact Box

Distributing Chains
November 13, 2017, 09:30h