‘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.

Writing algae and other life

BY Tracey Warr
12.02.2017

Slideshow (4): 
Algae

Creating his portrait of Isaac Newton at the end of the 18th century, William Blake was critical of the rigid, reductive influence of Newton’s ideas, of his insensibility to vision or ethical restraint. Describing Blake’s portrait, Alan Moore remarks that: ‘Newton sits in single-minded concentration, crouched above his calculations and immune to the more fractal charm of blue and orange lichens spattering the rocky backdrop, his chill bench has the distinct appearance of a bidet or commode. Enthroned, a god of knowledge showers his pearls of wisdom on the species through a process of mere peristalsis, heedless of the fact that mankind’s dream-life is thus rendered a materialist latrine.’

In October 2016 Zooetics went to Iceland in search of the fractal charm of lichens and algae in the Future Fictions Summit. Researchers met at the Asbru Enterprise Park, Reykjavik – the former NATO naval and military base – to exchange ideas and generate narratives of future multispecies co-existence. The summit included a field trip to the slippery algae beach on Hafnir shore led by Eydís Mary Jónsdóttir, and culminated at Reykjavik Art Museum with Jennifer Gabrys’s lecture on lichens, bioindication and environmental politics, discussing the lived effects of pollution as experienced by nonhuman organisms; a future fiction performance-lecture; and algae culinary exploration with Hinrik Carl Ellertsson from DILL Restaurant.

[Extract from a text on human-algae symbiosis research]

‘Obs.: Enhanced taste capacities in salty range; pigmentation shifts, thickening of skin which is demonstrating patches of heavily whorled textures….Stage 2. Subjects developed holdfast feet complexes. Under-skin vesicles developed, particularly clustered around collar-bone area. Arms have lengthened and are tending towards frond-like flagellata….Rhythmic shifts in verticality and horizontality observed i.e. Subjects are erect during sea immersions and layered horizontally in periods of air exposure….the mouth can function as a knowledge sensor….Nothing intelligible yet, however embodied sensory dialogue with algae appears increasingly likely….Subjects are able to taste impacts from chemical and other marine contaminants….Some subjects demonstrate adaptation to tidal and seasonal rhythms. Greatly enhanced consciousness of interscalar and trans-systemic relationships are being recorded. Prolonged rhythmic immersions are resulting in reflexive consciousness, a form of self-archaeology….Visions of new ecologies glimpsed. Confronting light is the darkness. The awe-ful rainbow.’

Text developed by Tracey Warr in collaboration with Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Kristopas Sabolius, Nikola Bojić, Lucas Freeman, and other researchers at the Zooetics Future Fictions Summit, Iceland, October 2016.

 

The Future Fictions Summit was the most recent instalment of Zooetics – a project exploring intersections between the human, non-human and poetic knowledge spheres. There were research presentations from: Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, artists (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA); Tinna Grétarsdóttir and Sigurjón Baldur Hafsteinsson, anthropologists (University of Iceland, IS); Oksana Anilionytė, fashion designer (Royal College of Art, UK); Nikola Bojić, designer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA); Garðar Eyjólfsson, designer (Iceland Academy of the Arts, IS); Lucas Freeman, writer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA); Ari Jónsson, designer (IS); Eydís Mary Jónsdóttir (IS); Ashley Rizzo Moss, performer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA); Thomas Pausz, designer (Iceland Academy of the Arts, IS); Kristupas Sabolius, philosopher (Vilnius University, LT); Hildigunnur Sverrisdóttir, architect (Iceland Academy of the Arts, IS); Viktorija Šiaulytė, curator (LT); Sigrún Thorlacius, designer (IS); Tracey Warr, writer (UK); and other researchers on the Iceland Academy of the Arts Product Design courses.

A full summary of the project and Jennifer Gabrys’s lecture are on the OH Project site.

An interview with Jennifer Gabrys by Viktorija Šiaulytė will be published later this year.

A collection of Tracey Warr’s zooetic fictions will be published later this year.

Tags: Algae, Fiction, Iceland, William Blake

Mucus technologies

BY Tracey Warr
03.02.2017

Parrotfish in mucus sleeping bag to repel predators

Zooetics writer in residence, Tracey Warr, has been researching the behaviours and properties of water, and the characteristics of aquatic life-forms, to inform her future fiction writing. She published the novella, Meanda, in English and French, in 2016 as an ebook and twitter fiction. The story of Meanda is set on an exoplanet that is 90% water. Extracts from the text were installed along the footpath beside the River Lot in France in the Exoplanet Lot exhibition. She is currently working on new future fictions, focusing on the mucus technologies of aquatic life.

Slideshow (3): 
Meanda, Exoplanet Lot, France
Tags: Aquatic, Water

Zooetics: A series of public lectures

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 collided and elided 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.

Podcasts of the lectures and discussions from the lecture series in 2014-2015 are available below on this site.

Future Fictions Summit

Saturday 22 October 2016

3.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m. Reykjavík Art Museum, Hafnarhús, Tryggvagata 17, Reykjavík, Iceland
Jennifer Gabrys

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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