‘Zooetics’ is a word in progress to explore new ways of engaging human knowledge and research with other forms of life and to imagine designs, prototypes and interfaces for future interspecies ecologies. Zooetics encompasses all life from mammals to mollusks to microbes, and addresses the paradigm shift in science, culture and society proposed in the argument of the Anthropocene. It engages with shifts in contemporary understandings of nature.

Zooetics as a platform addresses the site specificity of the Technology University in Kaunas where the campus is historically negotiating its borders with the National Zoo.

Zooetics launched with a series of public keynote lectures in December 2014. There is an evolving online Glossary and Reading Group, open to participation. A series of practice-led research workshops will take place over the next few years. An exhibition and symposium will be held at MIT, Cambridge, US in 2017. A book will be published in 2018. Zooetics eventually will serve as a pilot project leading to the launch of a new research institution in Kaunas in 2018.

A Novella About Exoplanet Meanda

BY The Editor
08.07.2016

Zooetics team member, Tracey Warr, has just published a novella called Meanda. J.G. Ballard’s living plant fictional technologies, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas’ experiments with mycelium, the Zooetics lecture series addressing the anthropocene, interspecies relations and the non-human, were all instrumental in helping Tracey to create this fictional world that attempts to go beyond biomimetic design, to imagine a radical shift in relationships between all living species.

The exoplanet, Meanda, is 90% water. Vast oceans are dotted with archipelagos of mountainous islands, where rivers meander to rejoin the sea. A human expedition arrives to establish an escape settlement for a few hugely wealthy people. The environment on Earth is seriously degraded and civil society is in rapid decline. The expedition’s instrumentation tells them that the exoplanet does not have any higher intelligence life-forms.

Meanda is published as a Kindle ebook in French and English available from Amazon, or as a free PDF until the 4th of September, 2016 on https://meanda.net. Also a daily Twitter version of Meanda runs until 4 September on @Meanda55555.

Zooetics team is pleased to publish the following excerpts showing Tracey drawing on the research performed together to write the novella.

 

***

“Jorunn easily lost her pursuer in the water, doubled back, swimming deep past him, and took his books. She watched him from the cover of the trees. When he left, she plugged her mycelium translator into a dangling sugary fruit. Charging would take a while. She leafed through the sketches he had made of trees, birds, fish and her broken fish-trap. She looked at the myriad ways he had drawn the water. The translator’s hum changed and she pressed it to her upper-arm where it sent out a snaking tendril, twisting around her arm, gently piercing her skin, linking to her neural network. She opened the journal at the first page.“

***

A face swam slowly through fog towards him. ‘Christ!’ Frank tried to sit, to scramble backwards away from it.

‘Careful! You’ve suffered an injury.’

Frank put a hand to his throbbing head and the leaves bound there. She had rescued him. The contours of her body were wavy, curves everywhere. Was it his shaky consciousness and vision or did she really look like that. She wore a very thin, short dress made from green waterweed. It clung to her breasts but then flared loosely over her bulging stomach. She was … pregnant? Her legs were long; sinuous muscles running up her calves, along her thighs. She had delicate, translucent, webs between her toes and long fingers. She wore a necklace – salt crystals perhaps. Her features were like a mix of human and otter. She smiled at him. Her tiny teeth bent slightly inwards like an eel’s.

‘You’ve been unconscious for many days.’

Frank moved slightly, sending a stabbing pain through his head. In response to his perplexed frown as to how they could understand one another, she tapped an armlet with tiny mushrooms sprouting from it, that had wrapped itself around her arm and shifted occasionally in response to their voices.

***

Tags: Dystopia, Exoplanet, Meanda

Zooetics Pavilion at Gallery Bunkier Sztuki in Krakow

BY The Editor
22.01.2016

Lithuanian culture in Poland is represented by Zooetics. The installation Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies, conceived by an international team of artists and scientists, is on display at the Gallery Bunkier Sztuki. It is part of an exhibition A Million Lines listed as one of the major events of a program called Lithuanian cultural season in Krakow.

The artifacts on view in the installation at Bunkier Sztuki were produced in an attempt to find a formula of the production of so called mycomorphs, forms made of mycelium mixed with other substances. Mycelium is a vegetative part of mushrooms. It is a life form that can cannibalise other cultures or materials, create hybrids, make new nets and constellations, that have been claimed as the “plastic of the future”.

The installation is initiated by MIT based artists Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas. First shown as a functioning Mycomorph Labaratory at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Psychotropic House tested an idea that objects, buildings and forms, rather than only being produced, can also be grown. This experiment aimed to push the common understanding about materiality towards a rhizomatic concept while using mycelium.

During Mycomorph Laboratory workshops in Vilnius artists, scientists, students, and school children mixed mycelium with organic material such as wood, straw, honey, yeast and many others. Trying to find a component, which would determine the new characteristics of the resulted matter, some of the attendees chose to leave the controlled laboratory environment and grow new material at their own studios, homes, or even the forest.

In the current display at Gallery Bunkier Sztuki in Krakow sound installation adjoins mycomorphs and connects them into one system. The sounds made by various life forms – maggots, crickets, stick-insects, seals and pelicans were recorded and produced by sound artist Antanas Dombrovski during the interspecies writing workshop Zoo Stories at Lithuanian National Zoo in Kaunas last October.

Video (): 
Sound by Antanas Dombrovski

Zooetics Pavilion is conceived by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, with Tracey Warr, and Viktorija Siaulyte. Project partner: Baltic Champs. The Mycomorph Laboratory architecture is realised in collaboration with Paulius Vaitiekūnas, Andrius Pukis, Jautra Bernotaitė, Mykolas Svirskis, Aistė Dzikaraitė and Sayjel Patel. Thanks to: Marijus Bakas, Dionizas Bajarūnas, Dalius Keršys, Paulius Pilipavičius, Gediminas Stoškus.

Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies is a part of the 5 year long cross-disciplinary exploration of future environmental fictions and models. Zooetics is part of the Outreach and Education Programme of the Frontiers in Retreat project funded with support from the European Commission. The exhibition A Million Lines  is organized by Contemporary Art Center and supported by Lithuanian Cultural Institute.

More information about exhibition A Million Lines on Facebook.

Slideshow (5): 
Mycomorph Laboratory at Gallery Bunkier Sztuki in Krakow, Poland
Tags: Gallery Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Mycomorph Laboratory, Poland, Zoo Stories, Zooetics Pavilion

Zooetics: A series of public lectures at Kaunas University of Technology

Zooetics began as an attempt to reinvent and rethink by weaving together human knowledge, the knowledge of other life forms, and poetics, without fully envisaging or knowing where that might go. In 2014, the first Zooetics lectures reevaluated and recombined the concepts: Anthropocene, Nature and Interspecies. In the second Zooetics lecture series in 2015 researchers Keller Easterling, Dimitris Papadopoulos and Matthew Fuller collide and elide radical ideas on spatial thinking, makers culture and human/other life interfaces.

Zooetics is a research expedition towards the knowledge of non-human life, using art and poetics – ‘infectious stories’ (Easterling), ‘a sensing into’ (Fuller), imaginaries of ‘communities of species’ (Papadopoulos), close encounters and proximities – to try to cross into this apparently impenetrable terrain.

Registration for the event here.

Podcasts of the lectures and discussions from the lecture series in 2014 are available below on this site.

Zooetics II

Thursday 1 October 2015

6 - 9 pm KTU “Santaka” Valley, K. Baršausko 59, Kaunas, Lithuania
Keller Easterling, Matthew Fuller, Dimitris Papadopoulos

Nature / Interspecies / Anthropocene

Friday 19 December 2014

1.00 p.m. - 4.30 p.m. KTU “Santaka” Valley, K. Baršausko 59, Kaunas, Lithuania
Timothy Morton, Jae Rhim Lee and John Palmesino & Ann-Sofi Rönnskog

Nature

Friday 12 December 2014

6.00 p.m. - 8.30 p.m. KTU “Santaka” Valley, K. Baršausko 59, Kaunas, Lithuania
Skylar Tibbits and Caleb Harper

Anthropocene / Interspecies

Friday 5 December 2014

6.00 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. KTU “Santaka” Valley, K. Baršausko 59, Kaunas, Lithuania
Christian Schwägerl and Natalie Jeremijenko

Workshop Programme 2015 – 2016

A series of workshops will be organised with small interdisciplinary research groups undertaking practice-based research. The research workshops will involve artists, architects, designers, engineers and technologists. The information regarding the workshops is still subject to change and will be updated soon. There will be a limited number of places open to postgraduate student and other researchers. Details on the application process will be announced soon.

Zooetics: an active glossary compiled and edited by Jutempus

This glossary is evolving alongside the Zooetics project. If you would like to contribute please register as a user by sending us an email with a paragraph about yourself to info@zooetics.net. You will receive a login and password from us.

The glossary aims to serve as a discursive and reflective tool supporting a transparent research process. It does not aim to be authoritative or to duplicate existing accessible sources but rather to act as a repository capturing the research process, continually updating and extending by enabling contributions from many perspectives and many voices. The development of the glossary will be punctuated by regular reflections on the accumulating material by invited writers and artists.

This is an active glossary with suggested short reading texts and invited comments. Contributors can contribute comments to existing terms, suggest new terms for the list, comment on suggested reading group texts, suggest new sources for the bibliography. Comments can be textual, visual, moving image, sonic. All contributions should be authored, rather than anonymous.

Definitions have drawn on dictionaries, encyclopedias and authoritative sources relating to the topic (such as the IPCC or the Anthropocene Working Group) and on published literature in a range of disciplines (detailed in the Bibliography).

Views expressed are the contributor’s own. New comments will be submitted to the glossary editors for approval and anything anonymous, offensive, abusive, promotional, or irrelevant will not be posted.

Contributors:

Viktorija Siaulyte, Jutempus

Gediminas Urbonas, Jutempus

Nomeda Urbonas, Jutempus

Tracey Warr, Jutempus

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About

Zooetics is a 5 year long art-led interdisciplinary research project organized by Jutempus Interdisciplinary Art Program within the framework of the Frontiers in Retreat network.

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Authors

The Zooetics organizing committee:


Gediminas Urbonas, artist and professor at the MIT Program in Art, Culture & Technology, Cambridge, USA
http://act.mit.edu/about-act/history/

Nomeda Urbonas, artist and PhD fellow at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Norway
http://www.nugu.lt/us

Dr Tracey Warr, writer and senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, UK

http://traceywarrwriting.com

Viktorija Siaulyte, curator and researcher at Jutempus Interdisciplinary Art Program, Lithuania

http://www.vilma.cc/jutempus/

Credits

Design: NODE Berlin Oslo
Programming: André Pahl

Zooetics is part of the outreach and education programme of Frontiers in Retreat (EACEA 2013-1297) project.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

This project is made possible by funding provided by:
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania; Lithuanian Council for Culture; Lithuania‘s Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA)

Zooetics lecture series and seminars are co-produced with Kaunas University of Technology (KTU).

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