Archive for 2018

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[ecrea] New Publication: Glimpse, vol. 19, On the Anthropocene

Sun Jun 03 06:47:44 GMT 2018

/Glimpse /is a double-blind peer reviewed journal published by the Society for Phenomenology and Media (SPM) and distributed by the Philosophy Documentation Center. Enjoy a sneak peak at the contents of the latest issue focusing on the Anthropocene.
/Glimpse/, vol. 19, 2018
Founder’s Statement
LANGDON WINNER, Keynote Speaker
Biosphere Meets Public Sphere in the Post-Truth Era
Scientific Suspects, Romantic Witnesses? - Magic Technologies, Alienation, and Self-Destruction in the Anthropocene As in the Anthropocene the fates of humans and the planet become increasingly entangled, we have a paradoxical problem of agency in the face of the changes: we at the same time create the problem and are impotent when it comes to solving it. It seems that we are reduced to bystanders, or worse, distant witnesses. To understand this problem, in particular to identify what makes possible this deadlock in terms of agency and knowledge, this paper uses the concepts of “Earth alienation” (Arendt) and romantic technologies (Coeckelbergh and others). It then explores some paths which may help to deal with this problem: direct engagement with material and natural things, artistic work, changing our understanding of science and technology and of their relation to culture and politics, and critically studying the language and images we use in our analysis and discussion of the problem. It is concluded that the problem under investigation points us to deeper problems and complexities of modernity, to which there is no magic solution.
The Anthropocene as Event
The Anthropocene could become the defining name of our period, yet scholars continue to disagree over the very concept. One important challenge that remains to be addressed is the apparent inability to locate our experience of anthropogenic events into meaningful action. We see what is happening around us and we know that we need to do something. But in the end, there is no actual response. Even in our most promising scientific solutions, the evental nature of the Anthropocene is often overlooked. The very fact that we think about anthropogenic events from within the symbolic framework of science and technology obscures them. Drawing from the philosophy of technology and a critical engagement with Slavoj Žižek and Bernard Stiegler, I argue that technoscientific culture provides a fantasy of reality in our current age of human history, which is now inextricably bound up with the history of the Earth. Therefore, the Anthropocene is an event in every sense of the word, namely an object that is fundamentally transforming reality. It not only challenges the framework that regulates our access to reality - which would introduce it as just another fantasy - it shatters that reality completely. Understanding the Anthropocene as event may offer a solution to a general sense of disorientation that leaves human beings unable to react in ways other than merely acting out.
Re-Orienting the Noösphere - Imagining a New Role for Digital Media in the Era of the Anthropocene According to geologists and Earth System scientists, we are now living in the age of the Anthropocene, in which humans have become the most important geoforce, shaping the face of the planet more decisively than all natural forces combined. This brings with it a huge and unprecedented responsibility of humanity for the future of the biosphere. Humanity’s impact on the planet has been largely destructive until now, causing a rupture of the Earth System which completely changes the planetary conditions that characterized the Holocene, the generally benign period of the last 11,000 years in which human civilization as we know it has emerged and was able to flourish. In the Anthropocene these conditions can no longer be taken for granted. On the contrary, humanity itself will have to become responsible for the preservation of the biosphere as its ultimate life-support system. This means that its influence on the Earth System has to become a constructive one, among other things by inventing a cleaner and more sustainable modus vivendi on the planet. In this article it is claimed that such a transformation presupposes the invention of a global noösphere that allows humanity as a planetary collective to perceive and monitor the Earth System and interact more intelligently and sustainably with it. The response-ability required for taking responsibility for the Earth System presupposes the existence of a global noösphere that can both support a permanent collective awareness of our embedding in and critical dependence on the biosphere and function as a collective action platform. Based on a Stieglerian diagnosis of our current predicament, a case will be made for the huge potentials of digital media for our future task of caring for the earth.
A New Telluric Force - Humans in the Age of the Anthropocene
The Age of the Anthropocene must address the claim that human activity is one of the main factors in determining not just the course of biological life on planet Earth, but a force powerful enough to affect the Earth’s climate as well as the conditions of its oceans and its atmosphere, and in fact, all known life forms. We cannot go backward in time, and it is likely too late to reverse the changes we have already put in motion. We must therefore consider our alternatives for moving forward into the future of this new age. Whatever else is true, we must confront a long-standing problem in this regard, which is to determine who will lead the way, or at least point toward a path forward, in first acknowledging the meaning and implications of this new epoch and then, of course, in figuring out how to deal with the problematic situations that will accompany living in the age of the Anthropocene.
Hello Anthropocene, Goodbye Humanity - Reframing Transhumanism through Postphenomenology It seems paradoxical that the name of the new geologic age might be the Anthropocene, while converging NBIC technologies are advancing to the point where some transhumanists are predicting that humanity will potentially be evolving into a new post-human species in the next 50-100 years. New technologies, such as 3D printing of body parts and genetic engineering, bring about both exciting and potentially disturbing future scenarios. Transhumanists and bioconservatives bring opposing views to this human enhancement debate. However, they both start from a dualistic point of view, keeping the subject and object separate. The philosophical field of postphenomenology is an effective approach for pragmatically and empirically grounding the human-enhancement debate, providing tools such as embodied technological relations, the non-neutrality of technology, enabling and constraining aspects of all technologies, and the false dream of a perfectly transparent technology.
On- or Off-Life? - Life in the Era of Social Network
Online activities are becoming intertwined with almost everything we do. Social networks are so engrained in our lives that they have turned into a crucial part of what we do, both online and offline. Thus, the first question is, How are social media changing us? The second one is instead, How much has social media changed society? When a medium changes its form, human life is modified accordingly. Regarding the latter, if we assume a Foucaultian perspective, we should consider social media as the dispositif that can develop the subjectivity of individuals. Sharing information on social media represents something more than a simple act. This is a performative act à la Austin that shapes and disciplines human life by means of a virtual crowd which compulsively shares information and general opinions. The online dimension of life is either a technique or a practice that makes the dispositif operative. It enhances and maintains the exercise of institutional, physical and public power. What are the public and private consequences of virtual reality? In what kind of network of power is the virtual life enmeshed? According to Walter Benjamin, the digital era has a positive aspect: it allows humans to be aware of the poverty of human experience in general. However, this is not a lament for the old days. Benjamin introduces a new positive concept of barbarism. It has a creative force: the barbarian is a destroyer, but also a constructor. In this new Erlebnis, there is not a progressive linear time; rather, posting, sharing and experiencing happens simultaneously. Digital life is the beginning of a new historical orientation where virtual reality is an extension of the “offline” mode.
Facing the Digital Partner - A Phenomenological Analysis of Digital Otherness The aim of this work is to understand what kind of “other” a digital being can be, or the kind of “otherness” that can be attributed to a digital being. Digital technologies are emerging in our surroundings, and they are so close to us that they can be in intimate relationships with us. There are products like Gatebox, which are designed to produce digital entities that are not merely part of the surroundings, but that are also partners with which (or with whom) humans have relationships. In studying the kind of “otherness” these digital entities can have, the paper highlights the effects of different designs on the types of relations that are possible. Following a phenomenological point of view, the elements required to have a form of “otherness” similar to that of human beings is analyzed by focusing mainly on the resistance opposed by the “other.” According to these elements, the possible relations in which robots can engage is determined according to their specific design.
Living the Body as a New Anthropocene Experience?
In considering the performative work of the Argentinean artist, Nicola Costantino, this paper reflects on the meanings of the body as active material and conceptual support, regarding the arising of the Anthropocene. Faced with their own invention, humans engage in self-reference, which causes an estrangement and produces a given intrusion threatening the identity-integrity of the ego, inevitably resulting in repulsion. Actions performed in the process of cosmetic surgery and other scientific interventions in biological bodies manifest bodily dehiscence, in the form of expulsion and negation of morphogenetic nature. Thinkers such as Lacan and Déotte are used to examine the implementation of the “body object” as a knotting of meanings, given the impossibility of reticulate substance, humanity, and subject. What remains is to witness through the body an immanent Anthropocene experience rather than one of a transcendental character, achieved in an extreme way by organic and morphological modification, particularly through surgery. This marks the result of the historical passage to techno-science as well as interpreting an Anthropocene conversion as power-totalizing. The question is whether this convergence between knowledge and practice is shaping a new experience from the experience of a completely transformed body and under what conceptions or categories the new generations will embody the Anthropocene. That concept can accommodate the treatment of a Neo-Darwinism involving the adaptation of the human species under a new form of consciousness.
Anthropocene and Art
In this paper we offer some considerations about the Anthropocene as the period in Earth’s history marked by the presence of the human being as a geological factor, which is especially apparent when considering the products of urbanization: paved roads and night-time illumination when the Earth is viewed from space. Both factors show the scale of human presence on Earth and the corresponding impact on it as our environment. Building on these factors, we reflect on the relationship between art and the consciousness of the anthropocenic character of the epoch. The main point is that the contribution of art to localized or particular ecological changes as well as to changes in the way we think and behave thereby makes both art and human nature ecological.
Memory of the Future - Cecilia Vicuñia’s Participatory Poetics and Murray Bookchin’s Unfolding Dialectical Freedom Chilean poet, visual, conceptual, environmental artist, and filmmaker, Cecilia Vicuña, revalorizes the ancient Incan technology of quipu as a gathering of originary emptiness. In this empty core our essential connectedness can be realized. Vicuna’s complementary dialectic of openness and interdependence is theorized by North American philosopher, Murray Bookchin, as an ecology of freedom in which human being becomes aware of itself as nature’s own self-expression. This paper wonders the role of art in today’s field of intensifying ecological crisis and economic injustice and suggests that it may only be the art and activity that requires our participation in order to effectuate itself that has the power to heal our calcified discrete identities and return us to our evolutionary origins in an ecology of interdependence.
Art and Experiences of Embodied Disrupted Reality
The purpose of this paper is to identify the way in which art can disrupt the subject’s everyday experience of the world and self. The proposal starts from the hypothesis that art offers experiences of embodied disrupted reality, and this statement is based on the parallelism between certain artistic experiences and certain psychological conditions that are known as dissociative disorders (concretely, depersonalization and derealization), which challenge the subject’s sense of reality and self, and lead the subject to experience some level of detachment and a sense of loss of familiarity with respect to the world and the self. These aspects are also particularly felt in immersive environments. Immersive technologies (virtual and augmented reality) offer an important laboratory for perception and sensoriality, taking into consideration the embodied basis and the first-person perspective of the user-experimenter. In this context, art offers a series of strategies that allow the user to undergo a shift in experience, affecting the sense of embodiment and reality. To explore these notions, I refer to some phenomenological implications of the experience of dissociative disorders and the interrelation between art, technology, and dissociative disorders. Finally, I offer an analysis of three artistic interdisciplinary projects (“Systems,” by Briand, “Labyrinth Psychotica,” by Kanary, and “Decelerator Helmet,” by Potthast”), taking into account the particular ways of embodiment and sense of reality they trigger in the user. Based on the parallelism between art and dissociative disorders and its dialogue with immersive technologies, this article aims to contribute to a phenomenology of embodied disrupted reality from art.
Mediating Knowledges - How Theater Transmits Partial Perspectives
This article examines how the human perception of knowledge is structured in the empirical world. It is often argued by scientists that facts in this empirical world can be perceived, which makes us believe that this world is an objective world. However, the human way of making sense of the world is individual and embodied, which causes the creation of an individual world for every human: a body-world. The empirical world is in this case a shared space for multiple bodies that agree on the causality of certain events and objects in that space. Every body-world therefore has its own partial perspective on the knowledge in this shared space, which is formed by the physiology of the body, the cultural background, and the identity of the person. The theater has the power, through the techniques of re-enactment and disruption, to give its audience insight in other situated knowledges from different partial perspectives. It can therefore connect different situated knowledges and create ecological knowledge: the awareness of the connected network of knowledges that is produced in various body-worlds on what is happening in the shared space. Only then can we emancipate knowledge and embrace the various partial perspectives that this shared space of body-worlds has to offer.
Tools for New Lifestyles - Indigenous Stone Crushing and Public Perception of Television Environmental Reporting in Jos City The neglect of environmental reporting in television programming in Nigeria has led to a predicament. As global interest and attention mounts, with the Western media playing a positive and vital role in how the environment can impact the lives of people now and in the future, television stations in Nigeria fail to play a constructive role in enhancing public understanding by communicating information on the environment. Consumers of news and society in general do not seem to understand the broad challenges posed, particularly by the impact of indigenous stone crushing, an activity that is fast becoming a thriving business venture in recent years for many people. This study seeks to examine the role and the frequency of coverage of television environmental news reporting in Jos city, particularly in relation to public perception of indigenous stone crushing by women in Jos city. The study is anchored in the Agenda-setting Theory and the Perception Theory, which explains how people make sense of the words and images they get from the media. The paper provides a content analysis of three television stations in Jos city and a focus-group discussion on public perception of environmental reporting in television programming. The study shows that there is an increasing depletion of rock formations, endangering indigenous culture and the aesthetics of Jos city, even while the rocky formations serve as high altitude points for broadcast masts and satellites. There is also an increasing inability to restore the environment in terms of land reclamation and other restorative or protective actions. It recommends that television stations should provide the platform for discussing and understanding issues that are germane to the environment through improved, forthright, and high-quality environmental reporting.
Time Machines and the Appropriation of Time - Mediated, Unmediated, Immediated

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