ABOVE AND BELOW : ROOTS VINES AND OTHER NETWORKS OF VERTICAL DEEP TIME
Design: Antoine Iweins /CYO
This page is being updated...The information about final exhibition catalogue will be released on this page in April 2023
The theme of the Winter School 2023 is a world-making proposition, informed by thinking through and modeling within material temporalities that govern other-than-human cultures.
Today’s way of thinking about a more harmonious way of living with this planet occurs almost exclusively in the context of crisis-solving. Possible impending end-times are always at the forefront of the progressive discourse, within, and beyond, the field of architecture. In some lines of inquiries – usually in response to techno optimism – our time and the near-future is something to lament. In others, it’s either an apocalyptic or literal end of all hastily defined human temporality and purpose.
In combination with ever tighter deadlines for project delivery, this regime constitutes the ideal conditions for stagnant paralysis of imagination, overproduction, and recurrence. In particular, when it comes to envisioning the futures we actually want – so necessary in the meantime, no matter the inevitable end times.
To capture the complex depths and textures of this particular time - without nostalgia or morality, crisis, urgency, despair, and/or panic - the geographer Stephanie Wakefield defines the current era as the “back-loop”. A definition of progress Wakefield outlines as a back loop front loop non linear timeline. For ecologists, Wakefield explains, every system goes through a cycle with two phases, what they call a “front loop” and a “back loop” (together making up the “adaptive cycle). And if the front loop is mainly a time of growth or exploitation as well as relative stability of the systems, the back loop is time when structures fall apart. A back loop, she argues, is a time of release, fragmentation, and potential for reorientation - a temporality we already inhabit collectively with other species but rarely acknowledge. The time of crisis solving mode however belongs to the front-loop, a time period at least in human historical imagination associated with human progress.
For centuries, planning the future of humans has been a process of proposing even faster ways of extracting, mapping, separating, colonizing, and governing other-than-human agencies, with the intention of harvesting other-than-human intelligence and resources for exclusively human advantage. The methodology for a manageable planet is so deeply entrenched in our cultural practices to this day that this imperative dominates almost all future-centric technological research situated in the portfolio of eco-techno-futurism.
Nearly all research into the future of ecosystems ranging from speculative space exploration to conservation initiatives are focused on accelerating ways of harvesting knowledge about other intelligences by way of separating them from native ecosystems and reformatting this knowledge for use in human space-time models. Consider for example the Barcoding of Life Initiative (BOLI) whose objective is to catalogue all life on earth. Sure, planetary governance and master plans – as Benjamin Bratton has recently explored in his book, “The Revenge of the Real” – are the conditions of a planet that has been managed for so long paradoxically further managing may be precisely what will makes it unmanageable.
What does delving into other than major human temporalities offer us in terms of means for unlearning the managerial hierarchies? The philosopher of science Lorraine Daston argues that a state of shared transcendence, which I’d add can lead to thinking through systems, can be achieved, at least aspirationally, by way of embracing the idea that all perceiving subjects are dependent on the partial knowledge we possess; no species, or machine, however powerful, possesses more overall knowledge than any other. Focusing and refocusing on other than human temporalities, would allow us explore this rather broad aspiration during the winter school through a narrow prism.
Architecture like other disciplines in the cluster of earth (crisis) management is already routinely encountering other-than-human time by dealing with earthly entropy, the life span of materials, the demand for newness and overhaul, and the ensuring the life-spans of constructions, and more directly by prescribing certain aesthetic regimes of rest and productivity. But time , as an author and lecturer Tom Tyler has pinpointed (echoing both Kant and Deleuze but also the reasons behind certain materials aesthetics) is also the “inner sense” by means of which we inwardly init ourselves and our inner states. Time determines how we separate ourselves from others, it is an a priori intuition and the very means by which we experience and define ourselves. Without clearly intuited temporality, we would no longer have an experience of inner and outer.
Drawing on the nuanced and inspiring collection compiled for this schoo each of the our groups is asked to delve into the nesting temporalities of birds, of insects, the curatorial precision of fossils, the vanishing acts of cats, the extensive migration of snails, and other more-than-human timelines, to re-oriented within the socio-cultural and emotional experience of time(s) (considering, for example, whether other-than-humans experience past and future, regret, or indecision.
The overarching objective of the winter school lies in the process by which delving into other than human time, each group would be able to speculate the future of boundaries and territories - between inner and outer, self and other, process and object, which could allow other-than-humans to take part in the production of the models we make, the stories we tell, how we tell them. The collective purpose of this work is to create a proof that all of these transient forms of life, from the most permanent to the most ephemeral, are dynamically linked under transformation within the movement of becoming of the world as a whole.
Questions to work with:
What time were these places?
Is it still that time?
What do we know about the temporal regimes of the model in hindsight?
Which temporalities are clashing?
Is temporal linearity primary in the model?
How does time interact with other dimensionalities of the model?
Is temporal perception stable or unstable?
How could the experience of time be recontextualised in the model?