Last month the book The KelpCongress (in English) / Tangboka (in Norwegian), edited by Hilde Mehti, Neal Cahoon and Annette Wolfsberger, was published by NNKS Press (Nordnorsk kunstnersenter). The volume contains contributions by the participants of the Kelp Congress, an event forming part of Lofoten International Art Festival, which took place in September 2019. Among many brilliant chapters by artists and researchers you may also find an essay by Cecilia Åsberg, Janna Holmstedt and myself, entitled ‘Methodologies of Kelp: On Feminist Posthumanities, Transversal Knowledge Production and Multispecies Ethics in an Age of Entanglement’.
STREAMS is an international conference for the Environmental Humanities (EH) that gathers researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines as well as artists, activists and practitioners. It takes place on 3-5 August 2021 in Stockholm.
Yet, as you may know from our previous post, already this year you could join a virtual event (ahead of the next year’s conference on location): Streaming STREAMS, which was held last week (5-7 Aug).
To whet your appetite for the many affordances of feminist posthumanities and multispecies futures and the more-than-human arts – collected under of the streams of this conference in 2021 – this trailer will take you on a journey via Art Lab Gnesta. Here you will get to know some of the people and projects of The Posthumanities Hub. You get to meet artists, archaeologist, feminist philosophers and environmental humanities people like Signe Johannessen, Christina Fredengren, Janna Holmstedt, Marietta Radomska and Cecilia Åsberg.
Prepare to submerge, and visit exposures that catalyse and cultivate a range of stories on thinking, eating and socializing for multispecies futures together with The Posthumanities Hub, and …
Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, 21st February, 17:00-18:30
As part of Zoönomic Futures – an immersive workshop on ethics for a society that is no longer human-centric – The Posthumanities Hub researcher and artist Janna Holmstedt will present her talk Follow the Blind, Mimic a Worm, and Listen to the Tangle. The talk will be followed by a conversation with Anne van Leeuwen (board member at the Embassy of the North Sea) and Het Nieuwe Instituut researcher Klaas Kuitenbrouwer.
In a combined lecture performance and reading, Janna revisits neurophysiologist John C. Lilly’s interspecies communication experiments, carried out in the 1950s and 60s and partly funded by NASA, where dolphins were supposed to learn to speak English with their blowholes. At the centre of her session are tape recordings from language lessons with the dolphins, and a woman whom during 75 days tried to live under equal conditions with the dolphin Peter in a flooded house. She will also talk about touching the matter of language, points of listening, and snuggle technologies.
The event is hosted within the framework of the independent course “Sound as Critical practice” at the Department of Film and Media at Uniarts/StDH.
In the pilot project “Popularizing environmental humanities: Film and media resources for young adults pondering the stakes for the future”* (Formas communication grant), the challenge of “popularizing” was approached through integrative learning and co-storytelling in the classroom. Instead of creating media resources for the students to digest, they were asked to critically engage with environmental issues through creative storytelling and film making. In this Roundtable session, the project will be introduced and some key questions concerning teaching and communicating EH addressed. Another approach to teaching and communicating has been practiced by Marco Armiero in his open-air classes during Fridays for Future climate strikes, and through this Roundtable we wish to share and compare experiences from these two approaches.
Participants: Marco Armiero, Janna Holmstedts, Jesse Petersen, Lotten Wiklund and Cecilia Åsberg. Chair: Roberta Biasillo.
*”Popularizing environmental humanities”, a collaboration between Professor Cecilia Åsberg (pi), the Posthumanities Hub, KTH, and Lotten Wiklund (co-pi), science journalist at Kajman Media, was implemented mainly during spring 2019 together with researchers affiliated with the Posthumanities Hub, and a group of third grade students attending Samhällsvetenskapsprogrammet at Bromma gymnasium in Stockholm. Janna Holmstedt, PhD, acted as facilitator for the workshops. Participating researchers were Christina Fredengren, Jesse Petersen, Vera Weetzel, Janna Holmstedt and Cecila Åsberg.
We are here! Cecilia Åsberg, Marietta Radomska and Janna Holmstedt are taking part in three different research strands in various locations in Lofoten, 16-20 Sep, called Coast, Line (navigated by Futurefarmers), Kelp Diagram Collective (navigated by Sabine Popp) and Kelp Curing (navigated by Sarah Blissett). These will be followed by a three-day public symposium in Svolvaer, 17-22 Sep, that seeks to explore the artistic and cultural dimensions related to kelp and other macroalgae. Cecilia will deliver a keynote 20 Sep, 18:00-19:00, and Marietta will moderate a Q&A with Astrida Neimanis, 21 sep 10:00-11:00. Insights and processes from the Coast, Line, Kelp Curing and Kelp Diagramme Collective research workshops will be shared on the 20th in the evening.
The LIAF cuators together with Annette Wolfsberger, initiated the Kelp Congress with input from several artist-run organisations and research centres based in the Nordic countries and Northwest Russia: the Posthumanities Hub, ArtLab Gnesta, Fridaymilk, Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, Mustarinda, Skaftfell – Center for Visual Art, and The Department of Seaweed. Read more about the program and exhibition on LIAF website.
16 Aug 2019, 13:00-16:00 R1 Reactor hall, KTH, Stockholm (Drottning Kristinas väg 51)
In this mixed and postdisciplinary gathering,
with listening sessions and talks by artists and researchers, we will visit the
limits of communication(s) – when our technologies, ideas, languages and
intentions fail us. We will among other things encounter phenomena that
cannot be decoded, interspecies communication experiments, and speculations
about how we can communicate with not only aliens but also inhabitants on
planet Earth in a distant future.
In a society imbued with communication technologies and a
positive belief in the possibilities of accurately
formulating, transmitting, receiving and archiving,
it might be sobering to consider situations where the communicative attempt
takes us elsewhere. Where it derails
our assumptions and intentions and where we admittedly are out of control. What
can be gleaned from these limits and borderlands? What can be unlearned? What
ethico-political considerations do they confront us with?
Participants Cecilia Åsberg (founder and director of the Posthumanities Hub, KTH/Linköping Univ., SE), Marietta Radomska (co-director of the Posthumanities Hub, Linköping Univ., SE/Univ. of Helsinki, FI), Janna Holmstedt (artist, SE), mirko nikolić (artist, SE/FI), Jacek Smolicki, (artist, SE/PL).
Curated by Janna Holmstedt, the Posthumanities Hub, in collaboration with Jacek Smolicki, Fragmentarium Club, at the invitation of the Public Art Agency. The session will take place inside the large-scale art installation “The Interplanetary Species Society (ISS)” by Jonas Staal. ISS is part of the project “Choreograhies of the Social” curated by Edi Muka, the Public Art Agency Sweden (Statens Konstråd). More information and full program for all the events, 13-25 Aug: www.publicartagencysweden.com
Program, 16 Aug, 13:00-16:00 (in no specific order):
Cecilia Åsberg, Planetary Speculation: Cultivating
Ursula K Le Guin stated: “The only thing that
makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what
comes next”. Today we have, dare I say, enough science facts and credible
information to convince us that planetary changes like rampant mass species
extinction rates, climate change, glacial melting and sea rise, plastic
pollution and environmental health concerns are a very real part of the
planetary challenges we now face. What we do not have enough of,
perhaps, seem like a sense of belonging to the ecologies of this
planet, or enough of an ecological sense of wonder and curiosity to close the
emotional gap between values and action, and to sway our ways in more
sustainable directions. This is why we need to cultivate the more than human
arts of living on a damaged planet. Art and humanities have a particular role
to play here, and so does the notion of planetarity. In my talk, while
discussing a few unexpected vistas of environmental feminism, I will discuss
what the role and function of planetary speculation might entail for more
careful ways of knowing.
Cecilia Åsberg, PhD, is Guest Professor of STS, Gender
and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm 2018-2020,
and since 2015 Professor of Gender, Nature, Culture at Linköping University.
She is Founding Director of the Posthumanities Hub, and of the Seed Box: An
Environmental Humanities Collaboratory, and associate editor of the journal
Environmental Humanities (Duke University Press). Recent publications:
“Feminist Posthumanities in the Anthropocene: Forays into the Postnatural” in
Journal of Posthuman Studies; Animal Places – Lively 15 Cartographies of
Human-Animal Relations, (Routledge, eds with Jacob Bull and Tora Holmberg), and
A Feminist Companion to the Posthumanities (Springer, ed with Rosi Braidotti).
mirko nikolić , lie and
shine: eleven steps of
A listening session, a walk along a narrow boundary of extraction,
presently in the process of negotiation in the semi-periphery of the European
North. Gold, water, arsenic and physical asset currency embody vectors of
interest or disinterest by various power formations. Most of the forces operate
without prior or informed consent, decisions are being largely made in the
absence of the bodies that will experience the material effects. Silent
neighbours are not that silent. Communication waves shimmer with dispersals of
toxicity and gatherings of resilience.
Through performance and critical writing, mirko
nikolić seeks to prefigure more just collaborations among different species and
heterogeneous bodies. In recent projects, mirko has been working on
counter-extractivist ontopolitics, multispecies commoning, performativity of
vegetal touch, and unlearning of anthropocentric and capitalist survival
ideologies. mirko holds a PhD in Arts & Media Practice from the University
of Westminster, London.
Janna Holmstedt, The
Order of the Dolphin
What do we hear when we think we listen? In 1961, a prominent flock of researchers were invited to a semi-secret conference arranged by NASA’s Space Science Board to discuss a subject not yet considered scientifically legitimate: What are the conditions required for establishing contact with other worlds? Could engaging in communication with dolphins prepare us for an encounter with non-human intelligence? At this time, attempts to reach out to intelligent life on other planets happened to coincided with attempts to get inside the minds and bodies of bottlenose dolphins. In this listening session, I’ll move between the human, the synthetic and the beastly while revisiting some of the interspecies communication experiments that were carried out in the 1950s and 60s, partly funded by NASA, where dolphins were supposed to learn to speak English with their blowholes. At the centre of my session are tape recordings from language lessons with dolphins, and a woman, whom during 75 days tried to live under equal conditions with the dolphin Peter in a flooded house.
Janna Holmstedt is an artist and researcher based in
Stockholm. She works across various media, ranging between installation, sonic
fiction, text, drawing, mapping and performance, with a particular interest in
listening, storying and situated practices. Her projects work transversally in order to weave a
web of parasitic relations in an attempt to story more-than-human relations and
less anthropocentric we-formations. She explores entangled
issues such as multispecies relations, interspecies communication, and the
intra-action of bodies, environs and technology. She holds a PhD in Fine Arts
in Visual Arts from Lund University, is affiliated researcher with the
Posthumanities Hub, and currently research engineer at the Division of History
of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH. More: www.jannaholmstedt.com
Marietta Radomska, From Terminal Ecologies to the
Non/Living Earth: Storying an Archive
her work on queer ecocriticism, literary scholar Sarah Ensor offers the concept
of ‘terminality’ understood as a state, a practice, an intimate belonging, and
a horizon; in other words, a ‘lifelong’ and shared condition, characterised by
the potential for relations, non-linear temporality, and an ongoing
responsibility for and accountability towards the harmed, the ill, the
perishing, and the dead (environments, ecosystems, organisms, and other
entities). Staying with the trouble of terminality is but one example of a
biophilosophical approach that does not start from a given image of life, but
instead, from a multiplicity of relations, forces, and materialities (that
which transforms and traverses life) encompassing the potentials for both
growth/development and decomposition/decay. Against the backdrop of the current
ecological crisis, this short intervention asks what it means to story(tell) an
archive of ‘terminal ecologies’, what modes of (non)communication it might
entail, and how it matters in an ethico-political sense.
Radomska, PhD, is a Postdoc at the Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping
University, SE, and at the Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki, FI.
She is the co-director of The Posthumanities Hub; founder of The Eco- and
Bioart Research Network, co-founder of International Network for ECOcritical
and DECOlonial Studies and a founding member of Queer Death Studies Network.
Her current research focuses on ecologies of death in the context of
contemporary art. She is the author of the monograph Uncontainable Life: A
Biophilosophy of Bioart (2016), and has published in Australian Feminist
Studies, Somatechnics, and Angelaki, among others. More: www.mariettaradomska.com
Jacek Smolicki, Per
Aspera Ad Astra
Per Aspera Ad Astra (from Latin ‘through hardship to the stars’) was a morse-coded sentence launched alongside other sound recordings onboard Voyager space probe sent into space in 1977. Just like many other signals sent by humans to reach extraterrestrial beings, the Voyager message has so far remained unanswered. Per Aspera Ad Astra is an ongoing artistic and media archaeological exploration of our persistent desire to connect with the non-human, and, more specifically, the extraterrestrial. The project takes the form of a performative soundscape composition built successively of archival material and sounds characterizing technologies used historically to establish contact with aliens. The archival recordings include glitches from digitized interviews with UFO witnesses from the Sweden’s Archive for the Unexplained, snippets from the famous Voyager message, radio signals from the outer space, and reenactments of historical messages sent into space. All these are combined with gradually intercepted remediations of Stanislaw Lem’s deliberations on the inherently flawed idea of establishing contact with other-than-human residents of the deep space.
Jacek Smolickiis a cross-media artist, designer,
researcher and “walker” exploring intersections of aesthetics,
technology, memory and everyday life. In his design and art practice, besides
engaging with existing archives and heritage, Smolicki develops new techniques
for recording, experiencing, and para-archiving human and other-than-human
environments. In his research, informed by art practice, philosophy of
technology, and media archaeology, Smolicki explores how transformations of
communication, recording, and computing technologies have been affecting
aesthetic, material, performative, and ethical aspects of archiving and memory
practices (both personal and public), but also everyday life practices at
large. In 2017, he completed his PhD from the School of Arts and Communication
at Malmö University where he was a member of the Living Archives, a research
project funded by the Swedish Research Council. In 2016 Smolicki
founded Fragmentarium Club, an independent initiative uniting enthusiasts
of listening, soundwalking, field recording, and soundscape archiving. More: www.smolicki.com and www.fragmentarium.club
Meet the Posthumanities Hub! The program of this day represents a smorgasbord of the many projects and activities – and of course some of the collaborating scholars – working together within The Posthumanities Hub.
Part I. Venue: Salongen, KTHB.
10.15-12.00 “Practicing posthumanities” – introductory lecture with Prof. Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths University of London, UK and, The Posthumanities International Network. Commentary: Renée Valiquette, PhD, Nipissing University, Canada.
Welcome with Cecilia Åsberg, prof of Gender, nature, culture LiU, Founding Director The Posthumanities Hub (PH), and KTH Guest Prof of Science and technology studies of Gender and Environment, and VR-postdoc Marietta Radomska, Co-Director of The PH.
Part II. Venue: Seminar room, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH.
13.15-13.30 Welcome with the Posthumanities Hub, a community of scholars now also at KTH, by Cecilia Åsberg, Prof and Founding Director, and Marietta Radomska, PhD, Co-Director of The PH and VR-postdoc. Welcome words by Sabine Höhler, PhD Head of Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment – host of the PH. 13.30-13.35 “Deep Time and Intragenerational Justice” by Christina Fredengren, PhD, Docent Archeology (SU), Research Director at National Historical Museums. 13.35-13.45 “Prion Stories”, and “Tears for Fish” by Justin Makii and Vera Weetzel, PhD-students. 13.45-13.50 “Flock Frequency” by artist Janna Holmquist, PhD.
13.50-13.55 “A Feminist Feeling for the Forest” by Olga Cielemęcka, PhD, The Seed Box Postdoc. 13.55-14.00 “Popularizing Posthumanities” by Lotten Wiklund, The Posthumanities Hub science journalist.
— Break —
14.15-14.20 “Ecologies of Death” by Marietta Radomska, PhD, VR-postdoc, Co-Director of the Hub. 14.20-14.25 “Death in the Life Sciences” by Tara Mehrabi, PhD. 14.25-14.30 “Feminist Environmental Humanities”, and “Herbaria 3.0” by Lauren LaFauci, PhD. 14.30-14.45 Virtual messages from honorary members. 14.45-15.00 Wrapping up with Cecilia Åsberg and Marietta Radomska.
Part III. Venue: Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH.
15.00-16.00 Snacks and “mingle” with the companions of The Posthumanities Hub.
The Posthumanities Hub is a research group, a lively community, and a platform for postdisciplinary humanities and more-than-human humanities, for philosophy, arts, and sciences informed by advanced cultural critique and some seriously humorous feminist creativity. In our research, we specialize in the human and more-than-human condition, and inventive feminist materialist philosophies. This entails work in environmental humanities, human animal studies, cultural studies of science and technology, new media, citizen science/citizen humanities, digital and techno-humanities, medical humanities and environmental health (especially toxic embodiment), the posthuman, a-human, inhuman, nonhuman, and trans-, queer or anti-imperialist theory-practices, feminist science studies, and other inter- and/or postdisciplinary areas of researching a complex and changing world that does not admit to old academic divisions of labour (i.e., that research on “culture” is for the humanities and “nature” for science.) We work to meet up with pressing societal challenges, across the natureculture divide and target specific cases. Curiously, creatively, and critically.