Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Swamps and the New imagination. On the Future of Cohabitation in Art, Architecture and Philosophy (Sternberg Press, 2021)

Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas with Kristupas Sabolius (eds.) Performative book presentation at the Terrestrial University, ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany

Gediminas Urbonas, associate professor MIT
Nomeda Urbonas, MIT research affiliate

Swamps are not only sinks for carbon but also vessels for our imagination. By providing habitats to a plethora of beings, they facilitate the biodiversity that flourish in the morass. The book »Swamps and the New imagination. On the Future of Cohabitation in Art, Architecture and Philosophy« (Sternberg Press, 2021) invokes the concept of a »swamp« as a tool to address the vital urgency of human cohabitation with other forms of life, placing the swamp at the crossroads of disciplines and practices.

The term »swamp« belongs to the family of wetlands that, together with marshes, bogs, mires, fens, mangroves, and meadows refer to the gray zones that sit between land and water. In that sense, the term can be considered a metonym attributed to a variety of transitional ecosystems and functions. Charged with cultural political symbolism, swamp is also an irritant term that delineates an uncanny territory in between the solidity of determined real and the illusions of fluctuating otherness.

A »swamp« is more than a biological ecosystem, it is a milieu of manifold relationships, which fosters discussions about the possibility of sympoietic co-existence—i.e. the human becoming shaped collectively with plants, animals, bacteria, fungi and minerals. Being a very particular modality—»an interface of Gaia«—offering a »face«, a certain physiognomy to a faceless networks of relations, swamp can teach us about the ways of co-existence conceived as co-creation. The contributors to this book expand on swampy notions, probe experimental art and architecture, intercalate philosophy and queer theory, and filter ideas through the lens of post-humanist ecology, informed by the histories and theories of cybernetics, sociology, and the commons.

An introduction by editors Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas with Kristupas Sabolius will be followed by Joan Jonas’s reading performance and visuals from NODE Berlin Oslo. Contributors to the book Vittoria Di PalmaMaría Puig de la Bellacasa and Dimitris Papadopoulos, Jennifer Gabrys and Astrida Neimanis will unpack the emergent worlds discussed in their essays. With questions from Nikola Bojić and the audience.

The event is part of the Terrestrial University, an experimental lecture series in the context of the exhibition Critical Zones – Observatories for Earthly Politics, thought experiment and exhibition developed by Bruno Latour with Peter Weibel and curated with Martin Guinard, Bettina Korintenberg and Daria Mille at the ZKM in Karlsruhe.

Participants in the event
Vittoria Di Palma, architectural historian and Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, author of the Wasteland: A History(Yale University Press, 2014)

Jennifer Gabrys, sociologist and Chair in Media, Culture and Environment at the University of Cambridge, author of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (Minnesota University Press, 2016)

Joan Jonas, pioneer of video and performance art and Professor Emerita at MIT’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology, recipient of the Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy (2018)

Astrida Neimanis, feminist cultural theorist and Associate Professor at the UBC Okanagan, author of Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (Bloomsbury, 2017)

Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, STS scholar and Associate Professor at the University of Warwick, author of Matters of Care. Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds (Minnesota University Press, 2017)

Dimitris Papadopoulos, STS scholar, Professor and Director of the Institute for Science and Society at the University of Nottingham, author of Experimental Practice. Technoscience, Alterontologies and More-Than-Social Movements (Duke University Press 2018)

Nikola Bojić, art historian, Academy of Fine Art in Zagreb, Croatia

NODE Berlin Oslo, design studio founded by Serge Rompza and Anders Hofgaard in 2003

Kristupas Sabolius, philosopher and Professor at Vilnius University, Lithuania, author of Proteus and the Radical Imaginary (Bunkier Sztuki, 2015)

Nomeda Urbonas, artist and researcher at ACT / MIT, co-author of Swamp School and The Swamp Observatory (2018-21)

Gediminas Urbonas, artist and Associate Professor at ACT / MIT, co-author of Public Space Lost & Found (MIT Press 2017)

The event will be held in English.

The Swamps and the New imagination. On the Future of Cohabitation in Art, Architecture and Philosophy is published by Sternberg Press and distributed by MIT Press.

Contributors to the book include: Lorena Bello, Nikola Bojić, Chiara Bottici, Tega Brain, Jonathan Jae-an Crisman, Sigurjón Baldur Hafsteinsson, Newton Harrison, Monica Hutton, Glorianna Davenport, TJ Demos, Vittoria Di Palma, Gershon Dublon, Jennifer Gabrys, Tinna Grétarsdóttir, Stefan Helmreich, Stefanie Hessler, Ingela Ihrman, Giedrė Jankevičiūtė, Caroline A. Jones, Lars Bang Larsen, Bruno Latour, Caroline Malmström, Astrida Neimanis, Kate Orff, Dimitris Papadopoulos, Andrew Pickering, Kristina Lee Podesva, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, María Puig de la Bellacasa, Thomas Pausz , Cristina Ricupero, Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, Brent D. Ryan, Kristupas Sabolius, Saskia Sassen, Caterina Scaramelli, Marco Scotini, Sandra Skurvida, Pelin Tan, Indrė Umbrasaitė, Angela Vettese, Mariel Villeré.

The production of the book is kindly supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture and Architektūros fondas, Council for the Arts at MIT, John & Cynthia Reed Foundation, Iuav University of Venice and the CESCOT VENETO, BALTO print, and Skubios Siuntos UAB.

Telegram Chat

Viewers have the opportunity to accompany the conversation with questions, thoughts and suggestions in the chat of the Critical Zones Telegram group.

Please click here to download the instructions for Telegram.

Related Links:
Terrestrial University: Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, 2021

The Swamps and the New imagination. On the Future of Cohabitation in Art, Architecture and Philosophy, MIT Press, 2021