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Poetry of the Real Lectures

Lecture series

20. November
On Redrawing the Limits of Imagination

Pakui Hardware
The performative lecture involves intermingling bacterial bodies, capital, indeterminacy and synthetic biology in one complex bio-technical assemblage. Synthetic biology claims to be able to create life from scratch. Such a claim immediately challenges the established notions between “natural” and “artificial”, between given and man-made. By opening up the possibility of designing nature, this new type of biology not only fires the imaginations (and also reveals their limitations) of artists, designers, philosophers and even theologists, but also poses a question – how to make this additional human penetration in the environment less anthropocentric? Perhaps it could be done by decoupling synthetic biology and the Promethean project of capitalism? Theorist Luciana Parisi offers us a tool for dismantling this relationship – indeterminacy. Indeterminacy, unpredictability, contingency are the features of matter that synthetic biology embraces and that escape the computational rational logic of capital. Indeterminacy also points us back to the imagination: are we ready to design the given?

27. November
The Joy of Not Knowing : With Active Materials

Karmen Franinovic
How can we enable flows of matter and thought that escape solidification into fixed objects and concepts? How can we think materials actively and how can we engage with them in an active rather than controlling manner? Active materials, often labeled “smart”, have been developed for purposes of efficiency and functionality. At Enactive Environments Lab, we search for new ways of thinking and creating with such materials. Enactive stands for an embodied and situated type of knowledge found both in hands-on research processes and in the interaction with physical worlds. Theories of enactive cognition show that the world helps guide or modulate action that, in turn, continuously results in the body realigning and remaking that world. Theoretically and practically, we aim to investigate enactive approaches beyond living and non-living dichotomies. We take active material processes outside scientific labs and into the hands of researchers. We embrace the disobedience of active matter and work with “errors”, qualities which are undesired in engineering contexts. Through hands-on experiments, we follow what the materials propose conceptually and aesthetically instead of imposing ideas on matter. By opening up alternative paths for materials, we let them flow and leak into the world, affect our imagination and thought and intertwine with them in unexpected ways.

Datum und Zeit

20.11.2018 17:15 - 27.11.2018 18:45 iCal


FHNW Academy of Art and Design
Freilager-Platz 1
CH-4002 Basel

High-rise, Building D, EG, Studiokino


Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst

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