Technosphere

Semester: SS 19
Lecturers: Univ.-Lekt. Mag. Katrin Klingan & Univ.-Lekt. Nicholas Houde, MA

Technologies shape the world we inhabit. From satellite networks to domestic care techniques to sonic explorations of perception to automated global commodity chains to even language itself. With technologies playing such a large part in determining what forms of existence are possible on Earth, knowing how this global amalgam of technologies operates becomes an essential component of understanding the pressing issues of our time.

Yet how is it that one can talk about or describe such enormous shifts at the planetary scale? Across the sciences and humanities, many have begun addressing the Anthropocene (the geological age of mankind) using terms like the Technosphere in order to describe the interweaving of nature with human culture and technology that defines our contemporary world.

Over the course of four discussion-based lectures and an excursion to an event at HKW in Berlin, this class explored how this terms have been used and how one might begin to grasp it along with its consequences using multiple academic and artistic practices. In addition to just reading about these changes, the class engaged in multiple artistic works as knowledge material that form the basis for explorations in sensation and perception.

Overall, the class developed a series of inputs that were worked through collaboratively in discussions as well as immersed into experimental projects created by student groups at the end of the course. The aim was to foster a collaborative exploration of the Technosphere idea from multiple angles and ways of knowing iteratively and collaboratively.

Literature

  • Haff, Peter. “Humans and Technology in the Anthropocene: Six Rules.” The Anthropocene Review 1 (2014): 126–136.
  • “Phosphorus.” Dossier in Technosphere Magazine, 2016. https://technosphere-magazine.hkw.de/p/Phosphorus-vNsk6aX9Kgu1hfgMc7tY2n
  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197-222.
  • Mattern, Shannon. “Maintenance and Care.” Places Journal, https://placesjournal.org/article/maintenance-and-care/
  • Roosth, Sophia; Helmreich, Stefan. “Lifeforms: A Keyword Entry.” Representations 112 (2010): 27-53.
  • Hui Kyong Chun, Wendy. “On Hypo-Real Models or Global Climate Change: A Challenge for the Humanities.” Critical Inquiry 41, no. 3 (2015): 675-703.
  • Benson, Etienne. “The Virtual Field.” Technosphere Magazine (2016). https://technosphere-magazine.hkw.de/p/The-Virtual-Field wFiJgoK9YXZ5y9w4GZkvD2
  • Gleick, James. Prologue to The Information: A history, a theory, a flood. New York: Random House, 2011.
  • TallBear, Kim. “Genomic articulations of indigeneity.” Social Studies of Science 43, no. 4 (2013): 509–533.

Group Project
Group: Adaeze Ike, Phillip Miksch, Florian Schinnerl, Lisa-M. Weidl
Format: Paper and Presentation
Topic: Current Forms of Inductive Reasoning; Using narration to get from the particular to the general

The main assignment of the Technosphere seminar consisted of a group project that responded to the Life Forms event at HKW in Berlin. It took the material from the first two seminars in Vienna as background material for groups to create “experimental” presentations. The groups were formed prior to the first session in preparation for task 2 – concerning the four epistemic approaches. Students went to Berlin during the Lifeforms event to explore what is being presented. The aim was to reflect on this event and its contents in order to explore the four different “epistemic approaches” presented within session 2 and developed an experimental presentation given during session 4.