From January 21-25, the fourth sitting of the research seminar with the French philosopher Bruno Latour took place. Together with the winter excursion to the Observatoire Hydro-Géochimique de l’Environnement of the University of Strasbourg in Strengbach-Tal, France, were many other highlights of the week including guest speakers Emeka Ogboh, John Tresch and Matteo Pasquinelli. Lead by Bruno Latour and in cooperation with Daniel Irrgang (media scientist, HfG Karlsruhe) and Martin Guinard-Terrin (curator), the participants of the research seminar “Critical Zones” prepared for an exhibition to be presented at ZKM Karlsruhe in 2020.
The term “critical zone” is taken from the geosciences and points to the biochemical, at times fragile layer of earth, the surface on which life originates.
The term is broadened by Prof. Latour to a critical, participatory relation to our living world whose threatened state has reached a hitherto unseen scale in the earth’s history marked by the presence of humans. Prof. Latour describes our current global situation as the “New Climate Regime” that is not only limited to the ecological crisis but poses questions of politics and cultural history as well as changes in epistemological perspective.
During the week guest professors presented their research projects that fit into the seminar’s thematic field of conflict. The artist Emeka Ogboh is known for his sound installations, perhaps for his contributions to documenta 14 and Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017. In his lecture, he discusses his artistic research into discourse on migration, globalization and post-colonialism, dealing with the perspective of the other culture, and being foreign in the global wave of migration. John Tresch, professor for history and philosophy of science at the Warburg Institute in London, gave an introductory presentation of his term “cosmogram.” This refers to material artefacts of cultural history – from Mayan temple formations to geological representations of Jesuit scholars – in which the respective cosmologies of their time and culture are mirrored. In the final exchange, the seminar participants were able to discuss their own projects with Prof. Tresch. Matteo Pasquinelli, professor for media theory at HfG Karlsruhe, applied his critically, historically and philosophically informed position to the current hype of machine-learning and artificial intelligence. The acceleration of cultural development under the narrative of technological innovation negotiated in this context, belongs to one of the critically discussed areas in the exhibition.
A detailed interview on the research seminar questions and exhibition project took place in May 2018 lead by Yohji Suzuki, a participant of the seminar, in an interview with Prof. Latour. It has been published in English on the website of Tokyo University of the Arts.
The interview can be found at: ga.geidai.ac.jp/en/indepth/bruno2018en/
Bruno Latour’s professorship at the HfG Karlsruhe was made possible by the cooperation with ZKM Karlsruhe. Since 2005, Peter Weibel and Bruno Latour have developed three major action and thought spaces for the museum context: “Icono-Clash,” “Things Going Public” and “Reset Modernity.” "Critical Zones" will work out the quintessence from this collaboration and conclude it.