It is scientifically accepted to refer to the present time as the age of the anthropocene; characterised by irrecoverable human-made impacts on the eco-systems of the earth. In the anthropocene, the (self)destructive activities of the human are irrevocably encased in the geological data of the earth; a sinister signature to recover even millenia after our civilisation has taken its last breath.
The anthropocene addresses a speculative scenario of the post-apocalyptic: it forces us to reconcile with the idea of a world without humans. Ironically, this radically ‘human time’ thus confronts us with the non-human that constitutes ‘our’ world. Here, we are forced to take the otherseriously. The things there are too many of (CO2, plastic bottles, factory farms, etc.), as well as the things there are too few of (ice capes, Schaus Swallowtail, the bumblebee, etc.). We are confronted with the innumerable alliances and entanglements between us and the others in this world. The anthropocene calls for attempts to dislocate from the anthropocentric vantage point that sees the human as Archimedean point for being, knowledge and agency. In the anthropocene, it suddenly becomes clear that Man is a dangerous fantasy, and that our grammatical categories need a critical update. ‘I’ am a colonization of a vast ‘we’ – an assembly of others, of bacteria, fungi and cells that compose ‘our’ bodies, but do not carry the same genetic code as ourselves. ‘We have never been human’ as Donna Haraway puts it: ‘To be one is always to become with many’.
Our planet is buzzing with various forms of life, dwelling places and biotopes that all offer other stories of (im)possible strategies for managing existence: That movement and development can be prompted by something else than linear growth and internal competition and that trans-species symbiosis and interdependence, rather than ‘survival of the fittest’ is the name of the game for the majority of the agents in the organic materiality we call ‘nature’.
Laboratory for Aesthetic and Ecology believe in the potential for art and literature to create open, experimental spaces allowing us to make inquiries into the planetary others without assimilating their responses to pre-given structures. Spaces where alternative means of knowing and communicating refute human(istic) authority by accepting indeterminacy and contingency in those ontological apparatuses that define and secure the differences between human and non-human. Eccentric spaces for planetary becoming.
We believe in a speculative practice not afraid to be flawed by error, daring to approach the inevitable epistemological challenges inherent in a strange and thoroughly queer multiverse. We believe in an art that takes the imperative of the anthropocene serious, and work to build new phantasmagoric and tentative relations to the others of the planet; a radical reconfiguration of existence on the verge of man-made catastrophe(s).
With Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, we wish to launch and support investigations into the unknown others that inhabit this world with us. We want a radical renegotiation of the concept of a public that legally, linguistically and politically is able to involve the non-human. The Laboratory does not subscribe to a romanticising - ultimately anthropocentric - idea of an ahistorical and unitary Nature. We believe that any eco-aesthetic attempt must plunge into an epistemological abyss of semiotic-material entanglements and complications in an assembly of strangers – a cacophony of different and often indecipherable voices.
Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology is a multidisciplinary platform, an ongoinginvestigation inviting an array of (im)possible agents to take part in the experiment of moving beyond Anthropos. The Laboratory unfolds its activities in the space between the dystopic and the utopic; between the fragile biotopes that currently outline the basic terms for our existence, and our utopias, hopes and ideas for how we might also in the future survive together. Somewhere in between what has already been lost and what we still might hope to achieve.