- DateThursday 8. June
- TimeKl. 09:00
- PlaceThe Concert Hall
- PriceDKK 225-475
Imagine Earth will gather internationally prominent researchers, artists and young researchers related to the field of environmental humanities. It will take the form of a two-day conference held at the museum 8-9 June.
The purpose of Imagine Earth is to provide a forum for reflections on the urgent task of developing an aesthetics of the age commonly but also contestedly designated the Anthropocene, focusing in particular on imagining and imaging the earth, its processes and transformations in non-dominant ways. See programme and further introduction below or download programme as PDF.
THURSDAY 8 JUNE
Registration and coffee
Poul Erik Tøjner (DK), Director, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Michael Kjær (DK), University of Copenhagen, and Jacob Lund (DK), Aarhus University
SESSION 1: IMAGINARIES OF THE EARTH
Tone Bjordam (NO) and Marten Scheffer (NL)
Keynote: What Earth Imagines
Emanuele Coccia (IT), École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
Chair: Jacob Lund (DK), Aarhus University.
Response: Susan Schuppli and Q/A
“Tangential to the World at Large”: Images of Earth and Geo-graphy in Cormac McCarthy’s Novels
Stefanie Heine (CH/AT), University of Copenhagen
Moving Image Moving Earth
Elisabeth Brun (NO), Independent artistic researcher
The Changing Temporalities of Imagining in the Age of Planetarity
Jacob Lund (DK), Aarhus University
Moderator: Mikkel Krause Frantzen (DK), University of Copenhagen
Lunch in the Boat House
SESSION 2: CRITICAL SENSIBILITIES BEYOND THE HUMAN
Artistic Research: Co-creation with other than Human Species
Studio ThinkingHand (AUS/DK), Artists
Chair: Eva la Cour (DK), University of Copenhagen
Seas Deeper than one can Imagine
Michael Kjær (DK), University of Copenhagen
Eva la Cour (DK), University of Copenhagen
A Call to Bear Witness
Christina Varvia (GR), Forensic Architecture, London and Aarhus University
Moderator: Henrik Oxvig (DK), Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
Keynote: Sensing Ice: From Cryoception to the CryoSat
Susan Schuppli (CA), Goldsmiths, University of London
Chair: Jacob Lund (DK), Aarhus University
Response: Emanuele Coccia and Q/A
FRIDAY 9 JUNE
Registration and coffee
SESSION 3: INHABITING A NEW EARTH
Artistic Research: Exposed Terrains, Predicted Skies
Nanna Debois Buhl (DK), Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
Chair: Ida Bencke (DK), Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, Copenhagen
Keynote: Mapping a New Earth: Arts and Sciences as Tools of Exploration
Frédérique Aït-Touati (FR), Sciences Po, Paris
Chair: Michael Kjær (DK), University of Copenhagen
Response: T. J. Demos and Q/A
Critical Zones and Thought Exhibitions: Curatorial Experiments Beyond the Anthropocene
Daniel Irrgang (DE), University of Copenhagen
Politics of Hosting, Im/possibilities of Invitation
Ida Bencke (DK), Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, Copenhagen
New Situationism and Architecture
Henrik Oxvig (DK), Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
Moderator: Christina Varvia (GR), Forensic Architecture, London and Aarhus University
Lunch in the Boat House
SESSION 4 SCALES AND GEOLOGIES OF RESISTANCE
Architectural Research: The Anthropocene Museum
Cave_bureau by Stella Mutegi (KE) and Kabage Karanja (KE), Architects, Nairobi
Chair: Martin Søberg (DK), Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
Doing the Dishes, Making it Okay
Mikkel Krause Frantzen (DK), University of Copenhagen
Small Scales, Large Problems – Sensing the World in a Weed
Line Marie Thorsen (DK), University of Copenhagen
Moderator: Stefanie Heine (CH/AT), University of Copenhagen
Keynote: Aesthetics of the Illiberal Anthropocene: Cop City, Counterinsurgency, Resistance
T.J. Demos (US), University of California, Santa Cruz
Chair: Michael Kjær (DK), University of Copenhagen
Response: Frédérique Aït-Touati and Q&A
Closing remarks: Michael Kjær and Jacob Lund
Frédérique Aït-Touati (FR)
A theatre director and historian of science at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris. Frédérique Aït-Touati's research focuses on the relationship between science and art, and the aesthetics of the Anthropocene. She has published Contes de la Lune (translated as Fictions of the Cosmos, 2011), Terra Forma: A Book of Speculative Maps (2022) and recently The Terrestrial Trilogy (co-authored with Bruno Latour, 2022). Lecturer at the University of Oxford from 2007 to 2014, she now teaches at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, and is the scientific director of the master’s programme in political arts (SPEAP), Sciences Po, Paris.
Mapping a New Earth: Arts and Sciences as Tools of Exploration
The Earth is difficult to grasp. Faced with the gap between our perception and this entity that goes beyond us, Western modernity has invented a multitude of optical, architectural, cartographic and conceptual devices to conceive and represent our planet: atlases, globes and theatres of the world have constructed our image of the world. However, for the past few decades, the Earth as we’ve conceived it, seems to be changing its shape, agency and definition. It reacts to our actions. It is no longer just time, it is space that is ‘out of joint’, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said. The concepts of Gaia, critical zone, earth system, terrestrial or planetary invite us to rethink or expand its definition.
Over the last 12 years, the late French philosopher and sociologist of science Bruno Latour and Frédérique Aït-Touati have been experimenting with the anthropological, aesthetic and political consequences of entering the new climate regime. In this lecture, Aït-Touati will present these stage experiments (especially the performance Terrestrial Trilogy) which borrow from theatre, the history of science, politics and anthropology, to test, each time, how these disciplines are able to absorb the shock of the new earth sciences.
The arts and sciences are once again joining forces in an attempt to understand, and accompany, the metamorphoses of the Earth.
Emanuele Coccia (IT)
An associate professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris since 2011. Emanuele Coccia has been visiting professor at the universities of Buenos Aires, Columbia New York, Harvard, Munich, Venice, Tokyo and Weimar. He is the author of Sensible Life (2010), The Life of Plants (2018), Metamorphosis (2021) and Philosophy of the Home (2023) and Modern Alchemy (with Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen, 2022). He has co-directed the animation films Quercus (with Formafantasma, 2019), Heaven in Matter (with Faye Formisano, 2021) and Portal of Mysteries (with Dotdotdot, 2022). He contributed to the exhibition Nous les Arbres (Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2019). He is currently writing a four-handed work on the relationship between fashion and philosophy with Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele.
What Earth Imagines
Earth is not a space. It is not even a form. What we call Earth is the force that allows all living things to be born and generated from each other and all from the same matter on the planet and in the cosmos. This force, however, is not only mechanical in nature. It is an immense sensory: a kind of transcendental imagination that runs through the matter of the planet and allows us to feel the forms that living things use and generate. The Earth is this sensorium that runs through and guides everything that lives: It is this sensitive life that the other planets lack. And it is only by trying to simultaneously imagine and collect the sensation of all forms of life and all individuals that it is possible to approach an image of the Earth: as the actual sensation of its living matter.
Susan Schuppli (CA)
An artist-researcher based in London whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters and climate change. Current research is focused on learning from ice and the politics of cold. She has exhibited throughout Europe, Asia, Canada and the US. Schuppli is a recipient of a COP26 Creative Commission “Listening to Ice” (2021) sponsored by the British Council, which involved scientific and community-based work at Drang Drung Glacier in Ladakh. She has published widely within the context of media and politics and is author of Material Witness: Media, Forensics, Evidence (2020). She is director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London, and board chair of the research agency Forensic Architecture.
Sensing Ice: From Cryoception to the CryoSat
Earlier this year, scientists working with data from Landsat Earth observation satellites found that ice loss from Himalayan glaciers terminating in lakes was underestimated by at least 6.5 percent. Monitoring ice loss from remote sensing platforms has primarily focused on mapping the spatio-temporal distribution of visible ice, whereas the extension of glaciers beneath lakes and subsequent melt has not been factored into datasets.
“While satellites provide a wealth of information about our changing world, they cannot ‘see’ underwater. We can only use satellite data to measure a lake’s surface, but not the ice below that is replaced by water. This had led to a gap in our understanding of the full extent of ice being lost from lake-terminating glaciers,” said scholar Tobias Bolch, co-author of the report “Underestimated mass loss from lake-terminating glaciers in the greater Himalaya” (2023).
In this presentation Susan Schuppli argues that this enormous volume of lost ice vanished not just physically because of atmospheric warming. Nor did it simply disappear quantitatively from environmental datasets because scientists used traditional modes of assessment. But rather, ice was also lost aesthetically because of the ways that optical systems such as Landsat organise the Earth into a gridded patchwork of scans in which the depths of matter must be deduced by way of comparative analysis to changes in surface events. This ‘epistemic reliance’ (Jussi Parikka) upon the planar image to produce knowledge of volumetric ice loss could not grapple with the fact that surface and depth were endlessly recomposing themselves as a geologic and hydrologic continuum despite their origins in distinct states of matter.
Characterising ice loss as an aesthetic loss also refers to the etymological underpinning of aesthetics in which the senses perceive of events and make them known. To “sense ice” even at a distance, would need to include the many non-visual ways that we might perceive of glaciers through haptic encounters, sonic expressions, thermal interactions, embodied experiences, affective relations, local knowledges and intergenerational stories of climate change. A form of ‘cryoception’ or sense perception of cold matters. This raises a methodological prompt as to how technical modes of sensing ice, including the European Space Agency missions CryoSat-2 and Copernicus CRISTAL, which measure the thinning of Arctic sea ice, could be integrated into socio-cultural assemblies to produce an ecology of icy practices around cryospheric knowledge.
T.J. Demos (US)
Teaches art history and visual culture at University of California, Santa Cruz, and directs its Center for Creative Ecologies. He writes about contemporary art, global politics and ecology and is the author of numerous books, including Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and Political Ecology (2016), Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today (2017) and most recently, Radical Futurisms: Ecologies of Collapse, Chronopolitics, and Justice-to-Come (2023).
Aesthetics of the Illiberal Anthropocene: Cop City, Counterinsurgency, Resistance
With origins in the ecocide and genocide perpetrated during the 16th century colonial conquest of the Americas, the Anthropocene continues to enact socio-environmental violence today. The illiberal Anthropocene of war ecology, counterinsurgency policing and militarism – exemplified in the current case of “Cop City”: a deforestation where a proposed police training centre near Atlanta, Georgia, US, will be build, accompanied by mass protests in the US in the beginning of 2023 – brings multiple challenges to ecocritical research methods. It enacts the withdrawal of visuality from public perceptibility, representability and accountability, even as it symptomatizes the present entanglement of the ecological and the political in structural climate violence. With a scale potentially cast into the long-term future, the present conjuncture – better identified as the racial Capitalocene – demands a radical political aesthetics, with resources found in current practice, even while the latter may lack social compositions capable of systemic transformation.
In seeking ways to imagine Earth, and to imagine it otherwise, this presentation proposes a “prehensive” visual culture, a militant research, in advance of specific politico-aesthetic practice, but prefigurative in the act.
FURTHER INTRODUCTION TO THE CONFERENCE
The conference Imagine Earth assembles researchers and artists related to the field of ecocriticism to reflect on the urgent task of developing an aesthetics of the age commonly but also contestedly designated the Anthropocene, focusing in particular on imagining and imaging the earth, its processes and transformations.
The urgency of developing an aesthetics of our age is stressed by a discrepancy described among others by science and technology scholar Sheila Jasanoff: “Climate science detaches knowledge from meaning. Climate facts arise from impersonal scientific observation whereas meanings emerge from embedded experience. Climate science thus cuts against the grain of common sense and undermines existing social institutions and ethical commitments at four levels: communal, political, spatial and temporal” (2010). The undermining and even paralyzing effect on the ethical commitments of our societies as described here is the key incentive of Imagine Earth: Not only is human-initiated climate change today to a large degree overruling the reach and powers of our established political spheres – it does not seem within our existing powers to revert these changes – we are also in lack of enabling ways to sense, perceive and relate to these changes. We are in other words in lack of an aesthetics of our age and hence of ways to imagine the earth going forward.
The theoretical frame of the conference builds on an ongoing inter-disciplinary turn in contemporary critical thinking on the relationship between human and earth. It is a turn that is prevalent in branches of philosophy, anthropology, literary studies, cultural studies and art history as well as in curating and contemporary art. The turn can be described as an attempt at reverting the agential relations between human and earth. In broad terms the gist of this turn is the belief that the privileged agency to represent the state of the earth is no longer that of the human being; humans instead have to become involved translators or sensors of the indications given by the matter and processes of the earth. In this dynamic between indication and sensuous translation, the development of new kinds of sensibility and new forms of perception is crucial.
Within the above frame the conference is particularly aimed at probing the possibilities for developing new earthly imaginaries. As recently pointed out by philosopher and sociologist Bruno Latour we have to destruct our abstract image of living on a ‘globe’, before we can begin to face the task of living with the earth in all its material and sensuous density. As simple as this may sound, the conference is also cautiously sceptical in its outset. The critical situation is all-encompassing, and our human imaginative grip on the worlds around us firmer than we thought until recently. Then how do we come about letting the living and the non-living emerge in processes of sensation, perception and attention in their own rights? How do we open the imaginary field as areas of exhange and entanglement populated not just by human forms and drives, not just by living beings, but by all living and non-living in the perpetual metamorphosis needed to keep life from deteriorating into bare and thus destructed life? How do we open and keep open imagination and imaging to scales, movements and forces outside our reach or powers?
The conference presentations aim to cover a wide array of sensibilities and attentions toward the earth. These range from attention to direct aesthetic representations of the earth to sensibilities toward the semiotics of the materialities of the earth itself as well as the non-semantic sensory dimensions of the earth. The conference also include speakers not directly associated with the field of ecocritical research to widen the approaches applied to the theme in question, as the challenge of formulating new earthly imaginaries is still at an experimental stage calling for an open-minded approach.
Lectures and panels will be recorded to be publicized via Louisiana Research on Vimeo.
The conference is organized in a collaboration between University of Copenhagen, Centre for Research in Artistic Practice under Contemporary Conditions Aarhus University and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and is supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.