p.3 - address the geological reformation of the human species
What does it mean for art to encounter the Anthropocene?
If art is now a practice condemned to a homolithic earth—that is, to a world “going to pieces” as the literal sediment of human activity—how can aesthetic practices address the social and political spheres that are being set in stone?
Addressing the geological reformation of the human species.
It is not from some desire to add another conjunctive term to the growing literature on the Anthropocene that we turn to art; rather, art, as the vehicle of aesthesis, is central to thinking with and feeling through the Anthropocene. Inherent relation between the two.
1) Anthropocene is primarily a sensorial phenomenon: the experience of living in an increasingly diminished and toxic world;
2) Anthropocene has frequently been framed through modes of the visual;
3) Art provides a polyarchic site of experimentation for “living in a damaged world”.
Anna Tsing: non-moral form of address that offers a range of discursive, visual, and sensual strategies that are not confined by the regimes of scientific objectivity, political moralism, or psychological depression.
2002 - term of anthropocene coined by Paul J. Crutzen.
2007 - Jan Zalasiewicz proposes a review of the term.
1) the rise of agriculture and attendant deforestation;
2) the extraction of coal, oil, and gas, and their atmospheric consequences;
3) the combustion of carbon-based fuels and emissions;
4) coral reef loss; ocean acidification;
5) soil degradation;
6) a rate of life-form extinction occurring at thousands of times higher than throughout most of the last half-billion years;
7) a rate of human propagation
p.4 From geologist point of view, Anthropocene is still in the making.
Three dominant positions now shape the geological debate:
1) William Ruddiman: since the most recent ice age
2) Crutzen: 1789, steam engine, Kant’s “Copernican Revolution”
3) 1945, atomic bombing of Japan (“Great Acceleration”)
Catastrophy = general equivalents of exchange.
Considerations of arrival and departure.
p. 6- Four especially intense trajectories of the Anthropocene:
1) “Extrapolations Beyond Geology” (concerns other intellectual orbits well beyond stratigraphy and geology)
2) “Spatial Politics to Contested Territories” (narrate some of the critical transformations within the field of aesthetics)
3) “Numeracy and the Survival of Worlds”
4) what imaginaries might be possible under the sign of the Anthropocene? -> propositional itinerary, accompanied by some preliminary heuristics, for encountering art in the Anthropocene.
1) “Extrapolations Beyond Geology”
Anthropocene : a call to re-imagine the human through biology and geology.
A. beckons environmental justice thinking.
A need to think through the interconnections and interactions of [climate change and the so-called Sixth Extinction] in conjunction with political economic logics and their attendant debts to the future.
p.7 These effects derive from a particular nexus of epistemic, technological, social, and political economic coalescences figured in the contemporary reality of petrocapitalism.
Capitalocene - (Donna Haraway) voracious political economic system that knows no bounds, one where human lives, the lives of other creatures, and the beauty and wealth of the earth itself are figured as mere resources and externalities. “Profit above all else” - the most destructive force the world has ever seen.
The asymmetrical power relations have resulted in the massive transformation of the Earth through industrialized agriculture, resource extraction, energy production, and petrochemicals.
P. 8 - “Technosphere” (Jean-Luc Nancy and Peter Sloterdijk). “Eurocene.” (colonial implications - Plantationocene).
1610 (the “Orbis Spike”) - Columbus discovery of America, largest population replacement.
The Anthropocene, by this dating, is thus the era of colonial genocide.
Sara Ahmed : “white men as buildings”.
Argument: Anthropocene - teleological fact implicating all humans as equally culpable for the current socio-economic, ecological, and political state of the world VS“ecological imagination”.
P.9 - Chthulucene (Haraway).
Anthropocene is not merely descriptive; it is a social imaginary that has exceeded its intended categorization and whose parameters delimit ways of thinking about the world well beyond the confines of geo-scientific debate.
Bruno Latour: “Let’s limit the numbers of things that you can attribute to capitalism and let’s distribute them and see what’s actually happening”.
Environmental crisis: Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The “environment” can never be assumed as a universal sign: multitude of agendas of petrocapitalism.
Amy Balkin: aesthetic of smog
Pinar Yoldas: bio-futures
P.10 - “Earth System governance”
Maurizio Lazzarato: “The state is no longer able to represent the general interest; on the contrary, it is radically subordinated to financial logic, functioning as a component part of its mechanisms.”
Coordinated extermination of difference in the name of the “general equivalence” of profit that retains the name “civilization”.
Baudrillard: human species are capable of enduring the aggregated outcomes of human activity.
P.11 - The Anthropocene can be framed as the global condition of being born into a world that no longer exists - We are all “being overtaken by processes that are unmaking the world that any of us ever knew”.
Edward Burtynksy and Vincent Laforet: industrial photographs.
The Anthropocene is so built in to our senses that it determines our perceptions, hence it is aesthetic.
Susan Sontag presciently warned: “Shock can become familiar. Shock can wear off.”
P. 12 -
The Anthropocene has altered the terms and parameters of perception itself.
It is not just the number of species that are being reduced, but entire ways of feeling, thinking, acting, and being.
Ursula Biemann examines the “specific material-mental configuration” of metachemistry along the Nile that opens up new connections, times, and perceptions within the mediatized spaces of the Anthropocene.
Time is central to the conceptualization of the Anthropocene, for it forces evolutionary and geological considerations into Western thought.
Smailbegović: “many of the temporalities that are relevant for developing a politics of time in the Anthropocene may not be directly available to the human sensorium”.
Time is written into our bodies, composing the relations we have to all the other things around us.
Umwelt, a concept proposed by Jakob von Uexküll, affords us the possibility of opening up and onto the life worlds of other species. Meta-species thinking—exposing the interconnections, while allowing other animals to come to the fore.
Umwelt ("self-centered world”) - biological foundations that lie at the very epicenter of the study of both communication and signification in the human [and non-human] animal. Uexküll theorised that organisms can have different umwelten, even though they share the same environment.
Terike Haapoja and Laura Gustafsson’s “A History According to Cattle” and Ho Tzu Nyen’s “We’re Tigers”.
From Spatial Politics to Contested Territories
p.13 - Gallery -> everyday life
Rosalyn Deutsche: Urban space is the product of conflict.
Lucy Lippard: 60-70’s “number shows” - interactivity between human settlements, resource areas, conceptual frames, and feminist practices.
Center for Land Use Interpretation,
Mary Mattingly: studio -> landfill
Vincent Normand’s essay “In the Planetarium”: the museum as “an imminent entity in the anthropological matrix of modernity, inseparable from its dynamic lines of transfer between subjects and objects, purification and hybridization.”
Ida Soulard and Fabien Giraud: new modes of navigation and new vehicles for inquiry.
P. 15 - Surveillance and control: In the twenty-first century, the spatial enframing of the Earth as “resource” is also complicated by the proliferation and ubiquity of communication technologies.
Trevor Paglen’s landscape photography of military black sites
Cartographic work of Paglen’s predecessor Mark Lombardi.
Art in the Anthropocene is a definitive recognition that what we are here calling “art” is produced according to an “internal” logic of lineages and referents, but also by way of innumerable external social pressures, technical innovations, and geopolitical transformations that also shape the spatial tactics and operative strategies of contemporary art practice.
“Art” -> outside (printed matter).
60-70’s. Zone Books.
Art at the end of the twentieth century moved increasingly away from deconstruction and psychoanalysis toward an open field of naturecultures, infrastructure assemblages, and other newly contested territories.
Zone 1|2: The Contemporary City, Zone 6: Incorporations.
Eyal Weizman: pushing questions of spatial politics conceptual terrain of evidence production, forensic aesthetics, and remote-sensing and satellite imagery within the context of various modes of violence.
Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism: brought together questions of visual culture in the context of activist practice and political struggle.
Further break apart categories and disciplines, looking more attentively for what works than for what it means.
Paul Edwards: transfer of technologies from the military to the world of civilian and commercial operations.
Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr: #misanthropocene
Numeracy and the Survival of Worlds
Within the global political economy, numeracy has become an increasingly valuable form of knowledge.
The present/future is increasingly represented as a long string of numbers.
To Our Friends, The Invisible Committee: “At the apex of his insanity, Man has even proclaimed himself a “geological force”.
P.17 - Can we be so sure that the scientific study of climate change is a mode of excluding the “sensible experiences” of the birds, insects, and plants that confirm, at least to these authors, that changes are really happening?
Science = formalization of communities of sense experience. “synthetic situation”
On the other hand, scientific objectivity is patterned and animated by subjective, affective structures of perception.
P.18 - Peter Galison: technologies of the self - > subjectivity.
Shiv Visvanathan: numeracy is a critical element of contemporary social emancipation.
Numeracy is the ability to see discrete entities in a connected whole or continuum.
Deficiencies that can create survival problems:
1) inability to see discreteness in continuity;
2) to see only discreteness and not to perceive the continuum at all
‘Time is an essential constituent of numeracy, in fact time is the prime numeraire.’
Understanding numbers in this view has a close affinity with struggle and a sensitivity to suffering.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos, João Arriscado Nunes, and Maria Paula Meneses:
The ecology of knowledges - an invitation to the promotion of non-relativistic dialogues among knowledges.
P.19 - pragmatism: The very action of knowing, as pragmatist philosophers have repeatedly reminded us, is an intervention in the world, which places us within it as active contributors to its making.
A revolutionary perspective no longer focuses on an institutional reorganization of society, but on the technical configurations of worlds.
Numeracy’s possible trajectory - recognition of the limitations of continuity.
Open revolt as a scientific model.
Naomi Klein: resistance — movements of ‘people or groups of people’ who ‘adopt a certain set of dynamics that [do] not fit within the capitalist culture.’
Reimagining revolutionary subjectivization in the context of our geological reformation.
Futures Worth Imagining
William S. Burroughs: “A government is never more dangerous than when embarking on a self-defeating or downright suicidal course.”
P.20 - Illana Halperin makes this clear: we’ve been full of geology all along and we couldn’t have it any other way, even if we wanted to.
McKenzie Wark - Anthopocene = geology.
Deleuze: There is no more a method for learning than there is a method for finding treasures, but a violent training, a paideia, which affects the entire individual.
The Anthropocene does not mean we are merely “all in it together”; we are in it inasmuch as it is in us, this geological reformation, through our shared separation. Art is not a palliative mode of reconciliation. We are not free, as we like to think, but lost.
We like to think that Anthropos is merely a place-holder, whose substantive articulation is held in abeyance and articulated by the work of the work of art.
Kairos - the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). Kairos -> <- chronos.
John Paul Ricco, The Decision Between Us: Sharing in separation is the praxis of coexistence—of being-together.
P. 22 - Raqs Media Collective: Without a recalibration of the senses, we cannot conceive of another mode of production, another set of social relations, another ethic of husbandry between ourselves and the earth.
The world is all, that is the case.