Friday April 27, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
What Does Ecosystemic Thinking Mean Today?
Cary Wolfe and Sophia Roosth
Respondent: Lars Bang Larsen
Cary Wolfe, `There Is No World’: Current Developments in Deconstruction and Theoretical Biology
This talk will use recent work in theoretical biology to give a robust naturalistic redescription of Jacques Derrida’s seemingly counter-intuitive assertion in the second set of seminars on The Beast and the Sovereign that “there is no world”—a statement we must hear against the backdrop not just of Heidegger’s work, but also of Jakob von Uexkull’s, which Heidegger read and knew. With that connection in mind, we will trace a line of development from Conrad Waddington’s work on “developmental landscapes” in the late 50s to theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman’s recent theorization of the “non-entailed” and “non-ergodic” evolution of the biosphere. This will enable us, in turn, to rethink the relevance of deconstruction for ecological thought in the larger context of a current movement away from the neo-Darwinian reductionist paradigm of evolution—a movement propelled in no small part by recent work in immunology and epigenetics.
Sophia Roosth, A Mineral Autobiography
Naturalists and scholars from Paracelsus to Hooke to contemporary geologists have been at a loss as to whether spherical sand-like entities named “ooids” (or their fossilized forms, oolites) are inorganic minerals or living organisms, even symbiotic organic microcosms. Found in locales from the Bahamian seas to Arctic stones to British tea kettles, ooids have long animated debates about what qualities define life – form or substance, self-organization or metabolic self-sufficiency. In this talk, ooids will for the first time speak for themselves, offering a longue durée account of both life on this planet and scientific inquiries into the ontologies of these dubiously living stones. This mineral autobiography experiments with the limits of writing at the interface of cultural and natural history. I here offer one avenue of thinking in which rocks, like other things, materialize and are made sense of at the interface of scientific inquiries and sociocultural histories. These stones are not universalized formalisms to which we can generously ascribe vitality, but peculiar particularities that embed and catalyze theories, queries, ontologies, taxonomies, social practices, and myriad life-ways.
Lars Bang Larsen
Symbiopoiesis, or the sympoietic, is a term that potentially enables us to think larger cultural assemblages and technological forms of being outside of biology. To biologist Scott Gilbert, symbiosis appears to be the rule rather than the exception: nature may be selecting ‘relationships’ rather than individuals or genomes. Perhaps it is our networked existence as a newly plugged-in species that has alerted us to the fact that life must be considered in terms of co-existence and interference, or in terms of a becoming on the ‘organic lines’ that lie between systems (to borrow from Lygia Clark). Unlike earlier versions of systemic thinking this is no promise of harmony, wholeness, or understandable totality, but a story of parasitism, irritability, and being through supplements. A properly cosmological outlook.
Friday, April 27, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Knowledge Production Through Making and Living with Other Species
Scott Gilbert and Stefan Helmreich
Moderator: Caitlin Berrigan
Respondent: Caroline A Jones
Scott Gilbert, Becoming with Others: Better Living through Sympoiesis
Our bodies are not merely the cellular products of the zygote. Rather, animal bodies are composed of zygote-derived cells entangled with symbiotic microbes from many species. These microbes play important roles in our anatomical, physiological, immunological, and (perhaps even) mental constitution. Animals and plants are thus “holobionts,” collectivities of different species. Moreover, these microbes play numerous roles in forming our bodies. So embryology must expand to become a study of sympoiesis, the collective coming-into-being of our body through the entanglements of many species. We find, for example, that bacteria are needed for the formation of the gut-associated capillaries (which deliver food to the body) and the gut-associated immune cells of mammals. In insects, microbes are often needed for the maintenance of gonadal tissues and for metamorphosis. In fish, symbiotic microbes are critical for the normal formation of the insulin-secreting pancreatic cells as well as for the proper division of gut stem cells. Several studies have concluded that several mammalian social behaviors depend on symbiotic bacteria. Mammals have also evolved ways of transmitting these microbes to their offspring at a relatively high frequency. We literally become with others.
Stefan Helmreich, MultiMultispecies/Thinking against Species
This talk will provide an anthropologically tuned history of multispecies ethnography as a mode of encountering various animals, plants, fungi, and microbial life not only as tokens and technologies of human concerns, but also as others (significant and detached) and as agents (organic, semiotic) on something like their own terms. It will offer ways of thinking with/against/across the very concept of “species” that underwrites so much multispecies ethnography, and will therefore look and listen toward unexpected recombinations of science, art, nature/culture.
Reflecting Donna Haraway’s wordplay with ontics and antics, Caroline Jones’ panel response calls for a new aesthetic of “Symbiontics” — a critical subset of bio-art tuned to the new biology we are starting to feel and aspirationally be. Galvanized by the science of bionts, holobionts, the hologenome, horizontal inheritance, and metagenomics, artists are moving in where individualist philosophy fears to tread. Symbiontics proposes we join the gathering cultural evolution towards sensing our utter dependency on, and in, the planetary life systems.
Friday, April 27, 3:10 PM – 4:30 PM
The Radical Imagination: Toward Overcoming the Human
Chiara Bottici, Richard Kearney and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Respondent: Kristupas Sabolius
Chiara Bottici, The Imaginal and the Transindividual
In this talk, I will discuss how the concept of imaginal and its correlated the ontology of the transindividual, can help us to set up the framework for zooethics[VS1] . Whereas the concept of imagination tends to be understood as an individual (human) faculty, and the social imaginary, as a (human) social context, the imaginal, as a space populated by images, that is by representations that are also presences in themselves, does not make any ontological assumptions as to the nature of the subject of imagining. As such, it is it is a better tool for thinking about zooethics[VS2] , that is, about a form of ethics that escapes the humanistic prejudice and focuses instead on the trans-individual relationships between all living beings.
Richard Kearney, Beasts, Golems and Monsters: as the limits of the Human.
Most human cultures from their beginnings have sought to differentiate the human from the non-human, either celebrating the Other as divine or scapegoating it as beast or monster. There are also stories of created non-human beings called Golems, treated ambivalently as either saviors or destroyers of human kind – a paradox running from Talmudic and Kabbalistic legends to the modern stories of Frankensteins and simulated cyber beings (particularly in postmodern cinema and gaming). The presentation will look at some examples of this paradoxical phenomenon of the human becoming inhuman and explore its critical implications for both poetics and ethics.
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Critical Imaginaries and Generative Terrains
Design is a process to change an existing situation into a preferred one, suggested political scientist Herbert Simon. To design is to project oneself into the fictional space of the future, imagining how things could be otherwise. Simon gives us one way to see humans: dissatisfied, striving, and always imagining. Now, as new technologies like synthetic biology enable certain humans to design biology to their increasingly exact specifications, we must ask whose preference is being gratified, and at what cost to other humans, other species, or to the planet? The Oxitec Friendly™ Aedes mosquito, a male engineered to produce no offspring, may be better for humans, but is it better for the mosquito that never lives? How might we imagine what other worlds might be possible? First describing my research into social imaginaries of better futures, powerful dreams that materialise in synthetic biology as objects like designed mosquitoes, I then propose the design of “critical imaginaries”, heterotopian spaces where we can explore and generate simultaneous worlds to reflect on our own. By designing the conditions of these worlds, rather than their precise paths, could emergent art/design works help us imagine different ways of being?
Thinking of imagination in terms of essentially human, we used to lose its primordial power, i.e. the power to empower the transformation and to migrate outside the zone of comfortable anthropomorphic habits. However, is it possible transcend human imagination? What would a nonhuman imagination look like? The imaginary has always appeared as the surplus of the human. Today we could see it as a radical chance to revision our realities. Radical imagination leads to the recognition of worldly creativity – as sympoiesis that necessarily occurs through autopoiesis. In this sense, the imaginary can be conceived as a constant expansion of mind outside itself – the process of creating novel regimes of interaction with other species, discovering and embracing alternative understandings of material intelligence, reformulating and learning new ethics that emerge in the light of non-human factors, recognizing and intensifying the ways of creativity outside the subordinating schemata of our needs and purposes.
Saturday, April 28, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Artistic Intelligence, Speculation, Prototypes, Fiction. Learning Through Artistic Methods
Heather Davis and Sheila Kennedy
Respondents: Larissa Harris and Laura Serejo Genes
Sheila Kennedy, 4 RIVERS
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA, Professor of Architecture at MIT, will give a talk that reflects on the agency of design in the contemporary anthropocene, when people, technology and the built environment intersect in unexpected ways with the dynamic flows of moving water and changing climates. Drawing from her interdisciplinary work and research, Kennedy will discuss recent projects on sentient nature across four global contexts: North America, Europe, Brazil, and the Atlantic.
Heather Davis, On Becoming Plural
Amitav Ghosh wrote in his recent book The Great Derangement that “What we need … is to find a way out of the individualizing imaginary in which we are trapped” in order to adequately respond to the challenges of climate change. The work of sympoeisis is therefore vital in confronting new understandings of what it means to be human that embrace the plural, the hybrid, the incomplete and the collective. Drawing upon thinking from microbiome science, black studies and feminist theory, this talk will explore the more-than-human as a conceptual framework that pushes beyond the dangers of individualism while attending to questions of environmental justice in the service of more liveable worlds.
Saturday, April 28, 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Creating Indigenous Futures
Courtney M. Leonard (Shinnecock), Jackson Polys (Tlingit), Kite (Oglala Lakota)
Respondent: Mario Caro
In this presentation, Kite will discuss her art and research practice using the framework of ‘responsible truth’ versus “epistemologies of domination and control” as proposed by Lee Hester. What is contemporary Lakota mythology? How are these investigations made possible through wearable computing? Contemporary mythology is created through rumor, conspiracy, belief, storytelling and non-human knowledge as well as through ideas of ancestral land-base, ‘cosmologyscape’, and events in time forming space. She will present her current computational body-interface as an example of wearable technology as Lakota knowledge-making and computer-human interactions as a way to explore Lakota ontologies of non-human interiority.
Saturday, April 28, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Futures of Symbiotic Assemblages: Multi-naturalism, Monoculture Resistance and “The Permanent Decolonization of Thought”
Emmanuel Alloa, Kim TallBear
Respondents: Gediminas Urbonas, Laura Knott, Nuno Loureiro, and Nolan Dennis
Emmanuel Alloa, From Another Vantage Point. Towards an Imaginative Perspectivism
In the age of post-truth, claiming the need to defend alternative approaches brings one into the dangerous vicinities of alternative facts, alternative truth and alternative right. In the face of this hijacking of alternativity, it has never been more urgent to defend the need for other, alternative vantage points. By introducing and comparing different theoretical moves that can be made with regard to the issue of perspectivalness (phenomenology, developmental psychology, literature and anthropology, with a special focus on the Descola-De Castro debate), the presentation will subsequently analyze three modalities where alternative takes on reality coexist: the coexistence of time, the coexistence of species and the coexistence of beings. The point will be to highlight in what sense the capacity for taking another stance deeply rest on the imaginative force.
Kim Tallbear, Settler Relations as Property
My longer-standing work on the ethics and politics of Indigenous DNA research, commercial genetic ancestry testing, and the use of DNA testing in tribal citizenship practices in the US has segued into work on Indigenous materialisms and decolonial sexualities. My approach to examining relations between human bodies and with other-than-human entities has also been informed by critical race scholar Cheryl Harris’s ground-breaking work on whiteness as property. In that paradigm-shifting 1993 Harvard Law Review article, she explains the links between private property and white supremacy in the US settler state. My empirical work analyzed in part through Harris’s lens, shows how the settler state turns all relations into property—be they human or other-than-human, e.g. land, water, and “resources” including biological (re)sources. Settler relations as property are also made manifest in the cultural-regulatory bundle of marriage/monogamy/nuclear family/private property that was imposed by settler states such as the US and Canada onto Indigenous peoples and other aspiring citizens. The settler state that privileges hierarchies among beings cannot be our guiding hope. An ethic of Indigenous relationality or being in good relation with one another and with our other-than-human relatives is an alternative guiding narrative in this time of planetary transition.
Emmanuel Alloa is Research Leader in Philosophy at the University of St. Gallen and teaches Aesthetics at the University of Paris 8. He is the author of various book and numerous articles at the intersection of continental philosophy, aesthetics, and social theory. He has held Invited Visiting Professorships at various international universities (Columbia University, Belo Horizonte, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, UC Berkeley and University of Vienna) and was recipient of the Latsis Prize 2016 for his early scientific achievements. Among his recent publications: Resistance of the Sensible World. An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty (New York 2017) ; Penser l’image III: Comment lire les images (Dijon 2017) ; Das durchscheinende Bild (Zurich 2018); Partages de la perspective (Paris, forthcoming 2018).
Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa studied at the Basque Country University of Fine Arts, then moved to Paris, where he attended Paris’s École des beaux-arts (ENSBA) and read philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII and the Collège international de philosophie. He lives and works in Paris and San Sebastian. Juan’s work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions, including Populism (Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Oslo, Vilnius, 2005), chacun à son goût, Bilbao Guggenheim museum, and the 2007 Lyon, 2014 São Paulo and 2015 Jakarta Biennials. Solo exhibitions include the MuHKA in Antwerp, and the Reina Sofia in Madrid. Since 2006, Juan has regularly collaborated with the Éditions Matière, designing five books together: Camarades, à présent je suis de droite (2005); Faible passion du réel / Le Théorisme, méthode de salut public (2006); Concert pour poing levé (2007), Citations pour le président Sarkozy (2009); and Rééducation (2012).
Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla have collaborated on an extensive body of work since 1995. Through a research-based approach, their works trace intersections of history, material culture, and politics through performance, sculpture, sound, video, and photography. Their work has been exhibited and collected widely in public institutions and private collections. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented at the Fundacion Antonio Tapies, Barcelona, (2018); MAXXI, Rome (2018); DIA Art Foundation (2015); Philadelphia Museum of Art (2014); Trussardi Foundation, Milan (2013); Indianapolis Museum of Art (2012); the US Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); the Museum of Modern Art (2010); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2008); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2008); Serpentine Gallery, London (2007); and the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2007). Numerous group exhibitions include Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); the 5th, 7th, and 10th Gwangju Biennials, South Korea (2004, 2008, 2014); and the 24th and the 29th São Paulo Biennial (1998, 2010). The artists live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jennifer is an MIT alumna in visual art.
Judith Barry’s immersive environments are based on experiments incorporating architecture, sculpture, performance, theatre, film/video/new media, graphics, and interactivity. Since her first performances in the late 1970’s, she has produced unique, habitable, visual environments that are activated by the viewer. She has exhibited internationally at such venues as the Berlin Biennale, Carnegie International, Documenta, Nagoya Biennale, Sao Paolo Biennale, Sydney Biennale, Sharjah Biennial, Venice Biennale(s) of Art/Architecture, and the Whitney Biennale, among others. Her awards include the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts (2000), “Best Pavilion” at the Cairo Biennale (2001), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011). Public Fantasy, a collection of Barry’s essays, was published by the ICA in London (1991). Other publications include Projections: mise en abyme (1997), The Study for the Mirror and Garden (2003) and Judith Barry: body without limits (2009). Judith is Professor and Director of the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology.
Caitlin Berrigan works as an artist across performance, video, sculpture, text, and choreographies to engage with the intimate and embodied dimensions of power, politics, and capitalism. Her artist’s book Imaginary Explosions (Broken Dimanche Press, 2018) is the subject of solo exhibitions this year in Berlin and Schloss Solitude, and her book Unfinished State is forthcoming from Archive Books with support from the Graham Foundation. Her work has been shown at the Whitney, Storefront for Art & Architecture, Harvard Carpenter Center, Hammer Museum, Anthology Film Archives, LACMA, Goldsmith’s London, and Homeworks Beirut, among others. She holds a Master’s from MIT Art, Culture and Technology, and a B.A. from Hampshire College. She teaches emerging media at NYU Tisch Photography & Imaging and is an affiliate of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Technology, Culture and Society.
Chiara Bottici is a philosopher and writer. She is Associate Professor of Philosophy at New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College (New York). She is the author of Imaginal Politics: Images beyond Imagination and The Imaginary (Columbia University Press, 2014), A Philosophy of Political Myth (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Men and States (Palgrave, 2009). With Benoit Challand, she also co-authored Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations (Routledge, 2010). She also co-edited the collections of essays The Politics of Imagination (Routledge, 2011, with Benoit Challand), The Anarchist Turn (Pluto 2013, with Simon Critchley and Jacob Blumenfeld) and Feminism, Capitalism and Critique (Palgrave 2017, with Banu Bargu). Her short stories have appeared in Il Caffe illustrato, while her novel Per tre miti, forse quattro was published by Manni Editore in 2016.
Mario A. Caro is a critic, historian, and curator of contemporary Indigenous art. His research topics include the representation of Indigenous cultures within the museum; the visual production of an“aesthetics of nostalgia” within photographic practices; and a critique of art historical methodologies as colonial discourses. He has curated national and international exhibitions and was the curator of exhibitions at Alaska House, New York in Soho. Mario is a Lecturer in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, and has taught at institutions including The Evergreen State College, Otis School of Art and Design, and Indiana University, where he held the post of Public Scholar for Civic Engagement, and New York University as a fellow in the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Program in Humanities and Social Thought. He is the founding editor of Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture.
Heather Davis is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at McGill University. There, she researches plastic and its links to petrocapitalism for a monograph entitled Plastic: The Afterlife of Oil. Previously, she held fellowships at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Pennsylvania State University and Duke University. She has written widely for art and academic publications on questions of contemporary art, politics and ecology. She is the editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies (Open Humanities Press, 2015) and Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada (MAWA and McGill Queen’s UP, 2017.
Nolan Oswald Dennis is an interdisciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. His practice explores what he calls “a black consciousness of space”: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization. He is in interested in decolonial solidarity as an eco-systematic network which implicates different bodies in specific co-constitutive relationships towards the production of worlds. Nolan is currently thinking about geo-politics as an aspect of geological rather than geographic relations, and what it means to live in a dream. He holds a degree in Architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and is a Master of Science candidate in the Art, Culture and Technology program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Corinne Diserens was the curator of Taipei Biennial 2016 (Taiwan), between 2011 and 2016 the director of erg – higher art&research academy, Brussels (Belgium), and the jury chairwoman of the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart (Germany). From 1989 to 1993, Corinne was curator at IVAM, Valencia (Spain), and between 1996 and 2008 she directed the Musées de Marseille, the Musée des beaux-arts de Nantes (France), Museion, Bolzano (Italy), and organized international co-productions for MACBA, Barcelona (Spain). She has curated retrospectives of seminal artists, biennials, monographic and thematic exhibitions as well as directed numerous publications, researches, symposiums, and workshops. After studying art history at the university Pantheon-Sorbonne in Paris, she was in 1984-85 Fellow at the Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.
Laura Serejo Genes is an artist, architect and second year Master of Science candidate in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT. Working through performance, sculpture, and photography her recent projects tackle the question of how to make art “on campus” and how the university environment can be a place to activate forms of citizenship that are not accessible or attainable on a larger scale. As she prepares to step out of this institutional safe-zone, she is refocusing her research efforts around the site of the US Embassy building in Havana, Cuba. Laura holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the Cooper Union.
Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) is a first year graduate student in the MIT Art, Culture and Technology program. Her work has focused on creating a powerful presence of Indigenous epistemologies in the arts and sciences with a goal of fostering an evolution of thought and practice in societal instruments that are aligned with the cycles of the natural world and the potential of humanity. She has a Master of Public Administration in Tribal Governance and her professional background is in Indigenous peoples’ cultural resources and education. She has worked as a community organizer and cultural worker in her communities. She is a practicing artist fluent in 2 and 3D forms and is currently exploring digital fabrication, sound, performance, immersive theater and public art interfaces.
Scott Gilbert is the Howard A. Schneiderman Professor of Biology (emeritus) at Swarthmore College and a Finland Distinguished Professor (emeritus) at the University of Helsinki. He received his MA in the history of science at the Johns Hopkins University and his PhD in biology from the same institution. His research concerns the development of evolutionarily novel structures (involving such questions as how the turtle gets its shell) and how organisms of different species cooperate to construct a body. He has also written articles on the historiography of embryology and genetics; the use of embryos in the artwork of Klimt, Kahlo, and Rivera; and the identity of the bone that formed Eve. Scott lives with Anne Raunio in Portland, Oregon, and is the author of textbooks in developmental biology as well as the trade-book Fear, Wonder, and Science in the New Age of Reproductive Biotechnology.
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is an artist, designer, and writer. Her experimental practice explores values that shape design, science, and emerging technology through the design of objects, fictions, writing, and curating. Daisy has spent ten years researching synthetic biology and the design of living matter, and is lead author of Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature (MIT Press, 2014). In 2017, she completed Better, her PhD in Design Interactions at London’s Royal College of Art, interrogating powerful promises of “better” futures. Daisy received the London Design Medal for Emerging Talent in 2012, and the World Technology Award for design in 2011. Her work has been shown at MoMA New York, London’s Design Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Israel Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and the National Museum of China, and is in museum and private collections.
Larissa Harris is a curator at the Queens Museum, where she has organized exhibitions including Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center with Damon Rich (2009), which came out of a Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) residency at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies; The Curse of Bigness, which included Dexter Sinister, J Morgan Puett, Survival Research Laboratories and others (2010); the first US museum show of Korean artist Sung Hwan Kim (2011), a major new work with Pedro Reyes, The People’s United Nations (pUN) (2013–14), and a thirty-year retrospective of work by performance group Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) (2014). With critic Patti Phillips, Larissa organized the first survey of the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles (2016). Between 2004 and 2008, she was associate director of MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies; in 2002-3 associate editor at Artforum Magazine, and from 1997-2002, programs associate at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center.
Stefan Helmreich is Professor of Anthropology at MIT. He is the author of Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas (University of California Press, 2009) and, most recently, of Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond (Princeton University Press, 2016). His essays have appeared in Critical Inquiry, Representations, American Anthropologist, Environmental Humanities, and The Wire.
Caroline A. Jones is Professor in the History, Theory, and Criticism section, Department of Architecture, MIT. She studies modern and contemporary art, focusing on its technological modes of production, distribution, and reception, and on its interface with science. She has also worked as a curator, recently in three exhibitions at MIT’s List Visual Art Center: Hans Haacke 1967 (2011); Video Trajectories(2007-08); and Sensorium (2006-07). Her exhibitions and/or films have been shown at NY MoMA, SF MoMA, the Hirshhorn DC, and the Hara Museum Tokyo, among other venues. Publications include Machine in the Studio (1996/98), Picturing Science, Producing Art (co-editor, 1998), Sensorium (editor2006), Eyesight Alone (2005/08), Experience (co-editor, 2016), and The Global Work of Art (2016). Caroline is currently researching patterns of occlusion and political contestation in what she calls “the anthropogenic image” of environmental disaster, in collaboration with historian of science Peter Galison.
Richard Kearney holds the Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College and has authored many books on imagination including: Poétique du Possible (1984), The Wake of Imagination (1987), Poetics of Imagining: Modern and Postmodern (1992), and Poetics of Modernity: The Hermeneutic Imagination (1994). He has also written several books on the ‘monstrous’ as limit and limitation of the human, most notably Strangers Gods and Monsters (2002) and On Stories (2003). Richard is a published novelist and poet and co-author of several multi-media performances with Boston artist, Sheila Gallagher, most recently, Twinsome Minds (2016) and Wounds into Scars (2018).
Sheila Kennedy is an American architect, innovator and educator. She is a Professor of Architecture at MIT and a founding Principal of KVA Matx, an interdisciplinary practice widely recognized for innovation in architecture, material research, and the design of soft infrastructure for emerging public needs. Kennedy received the 2014 Innovator Award from Architectural Record and is the 2015 recipient of the Rupp Prize and the 2016 Lemulson Foundation grant for Green Innovation. Sheila directs KVA’s material research division Matx, which works with business leaders, cultural institutions and public agencies to design resilient ‘soft’ infrastructure for networked cities and urbanizing global regions. Her design work has been widely published, and has been exhibited at the United States Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, at MoMA, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the International Rotterdam Biennial, the Vitra Design Museum, and the TED conference in California.
Kite aka Suzanne Kite is an Oglala Lakota performance artist, visual artist, and composer raised in Southern California, with a BFA from CalArts in music composition and an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School. She is currently a PhD student at Concordia University and a research assistant for the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Her research investigates contemporary Lakota mythologies and epistemologies through research-creation, computational media, and performance practice. Recently, Kite has been developing a body interface for movement performances, carbon fiber sculptures, immersive video and sound installations, as well as co-running the experimental electronic imprint, Unheard Records.
Laura Knott is an alumna of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, where she studied environmental art and performance, and Consulting Curator at the Program in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT. Her work has been presented at the documenta exhibition, in the California desert, and, recently, in a lobby on the MIT campus that houses a portrait of David Koch. Laura was the first dance graduate of Duke University, where she also studied political science and international relations. In 1998, she created Worldwide Simultaneous Dance, an exploration of place in an online environment, in which dancers danced at the same time in 11 countries around the world, live-streamed. She started doing museum work in 2005, to satisfy her curiosity about how curatorial decisions are made. Laura teaches as often as possible, most recently at ACT and in The February School, a free school organized by ACT’s graduate students.
Lars Bang Larsen is an adjunct curator of international art at Moderna Museet, and guest professor at the Royal Art Academy, both in Stockholm. As curator, he was a (co-)curator of exhibitions such as the 2016 São Paulo Bienal, Incerteza Viva, Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings (Courtauld Gallery, 2016), Reflections from Damaged Life (Raven Row, 2013), and Populism (Stedelijk Museum, Frankfurter Kunstverein and other institutions, 2005). He is author of Sture Johannesson (Sternberg Press, 2002), The Model. A Model For a Qualitative Society 1968 (MACBA, 2010), Networks (Whitechapel / MIT Press, 2014) and Arte y Norma (Cruce Casa, 2016). In his PhD A History of Irritated Material, Lars investigated relationships among art, psychedelia, connectivity, and cybernetics in the 1960s and 1970s, and their resonances in contemporary art.
Courtney M. Leonard (Shinnecock) is an artist and filmmaker, who has contributed to the Offshore Art movement. Her current work embodies the multiple definitions of “breach”, an exploration and documentation of historical ties to water, whale and material sustainability. In collaboration with national and international museums, U.S. embassies, cultural institutions, and Indigenous communities in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand, her practice investigates narratives of cultural viability as a reflection of environmental record. She holds an MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design, as well a BA from the College of Ceramics at Alfred University, with additional studies at The Sheridan Center For Teaching and Learning at Brown University, and at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where she concentrated in Museum Studies and 3D Design.
Nuno Loureiro obtained a PhD in physics from Imperial College London in 2005, specializing in plasma physics. He subsequently moved to Princeton University as a post-doctoral assistant, and from there to the U.K.’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy as a Fusion Fellow. He returned to his native Portugal in 2009 to work as a researcher at the Institute for Plasmas and Nuclear Fusion of IST Lisbon. Nuno joined MIT in 2016 as Assistant Professor of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. He was promoted Associate Professor with tenure in 2017, and obtained a secondary appointment with MIT’s Physics Department in the same year. Nuno’s research focuses on theory and simulations of astrophysical and laboratory plasmas. He is the 2015 recipient of the Thomas H. Stix Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Plasma Physics Research of the American Physical Society, and an NSF CAREER awardee.
Rikke Luther’s current work explores the new interrelations created by environmental crisis as they relate to landscape, language, politics, financialization, law, biology and economy, expressed in drawn images, photography, film, and pedagogical strategies. She has held teaching positions in Denmark and given numerous guest lectures around the world. Her work has been presented in Biennales and Triennales including Venice, Singapore, Echigo-Tsumari and Auckland, museums: Moderna Museum, Kunsthaus Bregenz, The New Museum, Museo Tamayo, Smart Museum, and exhibitions includingnBeyond Green: Towards a Sustainable Art, 48C Public.Art.Ecology, Über Lebenskunst and Weather Report: Art & Climate Change. Rikke’s first solo work was exhibited at the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo in 2016. Prior to that, she worked exclusively in art collectives, as a co-founder of Learning Site (active 2004 to 2015) and of N55 (active with original members from 1996 through to 2003).
Jackson Polys (Tlingit) lives and works between what are currently called Alaska and New York. His work examines the limits and viability of desires for Indigenous growth. He began carving with his father, Tlingit artist Nathan Jackson, from the Lukaax.ádi Clan of the Lk̲óot K̲wáan, and had solo exhibitions at the Alaska State Museum and the Anchorage Museum before receiving a BA in Art History and Visual Arts, and an MFA in Visual Arts, both from Columbia University. He taught at Columbia (2016-17), and was advisor to Indigenous New York with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. Jackson received a 2017 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Mentor Artist Fellowship. His individual and collaborative works reside in collections of the Burke Museum, Cities of Ketchikan and Saxman, Field Museum, and the Übersee Museum-Bremen, and have appeared at Artists Space, Hercules Art/Studio Program, James Gallery, Ketchikan Museums, Microscope Gallery, and the Sundance Film Festival.
Sophia Roosth is the Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. Roosth was the 2016 Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin and the Joy Foundation Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2013-2014). She earned her PhD in 2010 in the HASTS Program at MIT. Roosth has published widely in journals including Critical Inquiry, Representations, Differences, American Anthropologist, Science, and Grey Room, as well as in popular venues such as Slate, The Los Angeles Review of Books, e-flux, and Aeon. In her first book, Synthetic: How Life Got Made, Roosth asks what happens to “life” as a conceptual category when experimentation and fabrication converge. Her next book, The Quick and the Dead, will offer a historically and ethnographically informed travelogue into the worlds of contemporary geobiologists, scientists seeking ancient microbial life-forms fossilized in stone.
Kristupas Sabolius is an associate professor of philosophy at Vilnius University (Lithuania) and a Fulbright Scholar alumnus at SUNY (Stony Brook). He is the author of Proteus and the Radical Imaginary (2015, Bunkier Sztuki, in Polish and English) The Imaginary (2013, Vilnius University Press, in Lithuanian), and Furious Sleep. Imagination and Phenomenology (2012, Vilnius University Press, in Lithuanian) as well as numerous essays, signalizing the contradictory function of imagination, appearing in all the major theories of Western thought. He is also an active public intellectual and a writer of novels, theatre plays and scripts, including The Gambler, Lithuania’s nomination for the foreign-language category at the 2015 Oscars.
Florian Schneider is the Head of the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology where he runs the pilot project Art and Ocean, bringing together artists and scientists to explore new forms of collaborations. With Irit Rogoff, he recently initiated the European Forum for Advanced Practices (EFAP), an independent gathering of artistic and practice-based researchers. From 2014 to 2017, Florian developed and led the artistic research project Divisions funded by the Norwegian Program for Artistic Research. His PhD on Imaginary Property was submitted at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. As a documentary filmmaker, he has written, lectured, produced, exhibited, curated and collaborated across a wide range of media, fields, disciplines and contexts, such as: kein mensch ist illegal (1997-now), Make World Festival (2001 and 2004), Dictionary of War (2005-2010), Summit of non-aligned initiatives in education culture (2007), Imaginary Property (2005-2014), The Henningsvær Charter (2017).
Viktorija Šiaulytė is an independent curator and producer working within the fields of contemporary art, architecture and film. Since 2013, she has been a researcher and co-curator for the project A___Zooetics, organized by Jutempus Interdisciplinary Art Program in Vilnius, Lithuania. Together with filmmakers Marta Dauliute and Elisabeth Marjanovic’ Cronvall she co-founded Last Project, a platform for new ways of working with audience engagement through long-term collaborative productions. They are currently working on a research and documentary film project “Good Life” and have been awarded the Vilém Flusser Residency for Artistic Research at UdK and transmediale, Berlin, Germany.
Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits are artists, educators, and cultural innovators, founders of RIXC Center for New Media Culture in Riga, curators of RIXC Art and Science festival, and chief editors of the Acoustic Space journal and book series. They are currently visiting lecturers in the MIT Art, Culture and Technology Program. Rasa and Raitas’ pioneering internet project, Xchange Net.Radio Network, was awarded the PRIX Ars Electronica (1998). More recently, Talk to Me, a human-plant communication project, and Biotricity, a real-time data visualization and multi-channel sound installation exploring a poetics of green energy, have been exhibited in HeK Basel (2012), Ars Electronica Center Linz (2013-2014), National Science and Technology Museum Stockholm (2015), Van Abbe Museum for Modern and Contemporary Arts (2016), and ZKM (2017-2018). Rasa and Raitis are working on Swamp Radio, an immersive visualization and sonification environment, which will be presented in the Swamp Pavilion, curated by Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas, at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennial.
Kim Tallbear is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience & Environment, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta. She is the author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. Building on lessons learned about how settler states engage in biological colonialism, Kim also studies the colonization of Indigenous sexuality, including compulsory monogamy and the imposition of state-sanctioned marriage. She combines anthropological approaches with community-based research, arts-based research, and performance. She co-produces the Edmonton decolonial sexy storytelling show, Tipi Confessions, modeled on the popular Austin, Texas show, Bedpost Confessions. Tipi Confessions has also appeared in Ottawa, Saskatoon, and Vancouver. Shows are planned for Toronto, Winnipeg, Seattle, and New Zealand. Kim is a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.
Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas are artists, educators, and co-founders of the Urbonas Studio, an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries. The Urbonas’s work has been exhibited at the São Paulo, Berlin, Moscow, Lyon, Gwangju biennales, and Folkestone Triennial; at the Manifesta and Documenta exhibitions; and in solo shows at the Venice Biennale and the MACBA in Barcelona among others. Urbonas co-edited Public Space? Lost and Found (MIT Press, 2017) an examination of the complex interrelations between the creation and uses of public space and the roles that art plays therein. Urbonas are curating the upcoming “Swamp pavilion” – future learning environment at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. Gediminas Urbonas is Associate Professor at the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (MIT). Nomeda Urbonas is PhD researcher at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) and MIT research affiliate.
Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English at Rice University, where he is also founding director of 3CT: The Center for Critical and Cultural Theory. His books include Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003), What Is Posthumanism? (2010), and Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame (2013). He has also participated in multi-author projects involving J.M. Coetzee, Cora Diamond, Stanley Cavell, Paola Cavalieri, and others. Since 2007 he has been founding editor of the series Posthumanities at the University of Minnesota Press, which has published over forty volumes to date.
Gary Zhexi Zhang is an artist and writer interested in socio-technical objects. His current work explores decentralization organizations such as swarms, mycelia, and markets within the context of aesthetics, cryptography, and work. He works with film, installation and software, and is a first year graduate student in the Program in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT. Recent projects and exhibitions include Cross-feed at Glasgow International (2018), vdrome.org (online), Vorephilia: The Opera at the Cambridge Junction, ALL CHANNELS OPEN at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire (2017) and Hereafter at The White Building, London (2017). Gary has held residencies at PRAKSIS, SPACE Art & Technology, London; Oslo; Collusion AI Lab, Centre for the Future of Intelligence; BALTIC, Gateshead; CCA, Glasgow and Wysing Arts Centre, Bourn. He is a curatorial advisor for Science Gallery London’s Dark Matter season (2019), and a regular contributor for Frieze and Elephant magazines.