Anthropocene: The Geological Epoch of Humanity

Arkady Astapovich, untitled, 1920s.

“How can knowledge and labor be organized to extract a living from nature when that very process produces secondary effects that undermine its own ongoing life?” In the Anthropocene, the geological epoch of humanity, the relation between thinking, acting, and effect needs to be radically reorganized.

In the framework of the series Anthropocene Lectures, media theorist McKenzie Wark presents his critical theory for the Anthropocene on May 18, 2017, 7pm at Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

In his book Molecular Red. Theory for the Anthropocene (Verso Books 2015, Matthes & Seitz Berlin 2017) Wark develops a new understanding of labor and nature. In light of rapid global change, he urges his readers “to consider not yet another philosophy, but a poetics and technics for the organization of knowledge.” Referring to utopian concepts formulated by Marxist thinkers such as the philosopher and economist Alexander Bogdanov and the author and engineer Andrej Platonov as well as contemporaries such as the philosopher and biologist Donna Haraway, and the science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, he suggests an alternative realism where the very role of the working human needs to be rethought.

The keynote will be followed by a discussion between Wark and the science historian Giulia Rispoli on these positions and figures and how they translate into a different perception of the geological turning point we are currently living in.

McKenzie Wark has come to be known through his writings on the politics and esthetics of media, critical theory and the Situationist International, among them A Hacker Manifesto (2004) and Gamer Theory (2007). He is professor for culture and media at The New School, New York.

Giulia Rispoli is fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She investigates the antecedents of the Anthropocene concept from the 20th century, in particular the societal and ecological discourse in the Soviet Union.

The evening is part of the long-term series Anthropocene Lectures, a platform for inviting a number of prominent speakers to further accentuate and develop the concept of a geological age of humanity. HKW has pursued its investigations towards the Anthropocene concept as a societal paradigm shift since 2013 and is continuing the discussion at www.anthropocene-curriculum.org, a trans-disciplinary platform for anthropocenic research and education collaborating with partnering projects internationally.

The series Anthropocene Lectures is being developed in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.

Anthropocene Lecture: McKenzie Wark
Keynote, Discussion
May 18, 2017, 7 pm, free entrance
in English
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