CLIMATE AS THE LAST WILDERNESS

3 03 2009

By VÁCLAV CÍLEK

We are nostalgiac when we lose the phenomena we have fought with – open unknown seas, rainy forests, high plateaus or deep caves. We as the mankind we have grown through these fights and we have gradually becomed stronger than most of the sea storms, underground rivers and deep forests. Civilisations are evolving when they fight with nature and shrinking when they start to fight with themselves. The last wilderness that remains is climate. This relationship is far from being friendly or melancholic one. It is a threat of the magnitude of Pacific Ocean in 15th century. We know now that climate is stronger and does not care about consequences. What we should talk about are not only the real impacts of climate change but the archaic processes how we deal with wilderness – fears, awe, conflicts, reconciliations and finally protection. But we are at this moment at the very beginning of a deal with a new God of Climate Change.

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VÁCLAV CÍLEK

3 03 2009

Autoportrét u Ruprechta

Vaclav Cilek (*1955, Czech Republic)

Institute of Geology, Czech Academy of Science, senior geologist, e-amil: cilek(at)gli.cas.cz.

V. Cilek studied Mining Institute and Faculty of Natural Science of Charles University. Be became involved in study of hydrothermal deposits, later he studied samples brought from Moon by Russian satellites and then he focused some twenty years ago on climate change and environmental issues. He combines the knowledge of humanities with natural science. He is author of aprox. 400 scientific topics and several books including award winning „Inscapes and landscapes; Makom book of places“ .





LIMITS OF COGNITION: ARTISTS IN THE DARK UNIVERSE

1 03 2009

By ROGER F MALINA

Discoveries in cosmology reveal that 97% of the energy and matter content of the universe is in a form that is of an unknown nature, called dark matter and dark energy. For all of human history, our species has been studying only the same kind of matter that it is made of (baryonic matter), and this matter and energy is a minor constituent of the world. The human senses are very badly designed to investigate the total content of the world.

Science and technology have led to the development of a large range of different kinds of instruments to allow us to perceive parts of the world below the thresholds of our unaided senses. Other kinds of instruments allow us to access parts of the world that emit energy of a kind that our senses cannot even detect in principle. There seems to be an innate human urge to continue exploring current limits of our perceptual systems, building new cognitive territories. Such a urge would presumably have survival advantages for the human species resulting in a selective advantage during human pre-history. Now they provide the ground for development of new human cultures.

The role of artists is essential in helping us develop the kinds of intuitions, new metaphors, explanatory concepts, and linguistic elements that are needed as we explore the new extreme territories, from micro to macro scale. As scientists continue to extend the limits of perception and cognition, artists have an important role in shaping the science of the future and new possibilities for art-science collaboration exist..

New generations of artists are sufficiently trained in science to begin to contribute actively to the exploration of these extreme environments. Artists in residence, such as the one co sponsored by the Leonardo organization at the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, are helping to provide platforms for new art-science collaborations. Through such collaborations we can imagine that the experience of extreme environments will become culturally appropriated with the development of new languages, analogical and metaphorical frameworks and indeed new intuitions that will frame our imagination and artistic and scientific futures.

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ROGER F. MALINA

1 03 2009

roger

Roger F. Malina is a space scientist and astronomer, with a specialty in space instrumentation and optics. Previously he was Director of the NASA EUVE Observatory at the University of California, Berkeley, and more recently director of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille CNRS. He currently serves on the Comite National of the French CNRS for astronomy and on the French National Commission on Cosmology. His current research interests are in observational cosmology and the SNAP Consortium project for a space observatory dedicated to elucidating the nature of dark energy and dark matter. He is Chairman of the Board of Leonardo/International Society for the Arts/Sciences and Technology in San Francisco and President of the sister Association Leonardo in Paris. These organizations are dedicated to creating links between artists, scientists and engineers.





TERROR INCOGNITO: STEPS TOWARD AN EXTREMITY OF MIND

1 03 2009

By ROY ASCOTT

Reductionist alert! A health warning to our friends in the reductionist camp: artists will look anywhere, into any discipline, scientific or spiritual, any view of the world, however extreme or esoteric, any culture, immediate or distant in space or time, any technology, ancient or modern, in order to find ideas and processes which allow for untrammelled navigation of mind, and the open-ended exploration of consciousness. We recognise no meta-language or meta-system that places one discipline or world-view automatically above all others. This is why we look in all directions for inspiration and understanding: to the East as well as the West; the left hand path as well as the right; working with both reason and intuition, sense and nonsense, subtlety and sensibility. It is a transdisciplinary syncretism that best informs artistic research, just as it is cyberception that enables our focus on multiple realities, and technoetic instrumentality that supports our self-creation, and our telematic distribution of presence and re-configuration of identity. Fundamentalist Materialists may find some content of this text offensive.

Earlier societies approached unknown lands, the terra incognito of the unmapped planet, with fearful caution. Citizens in many states today view their own cities with similar fearfulness, as a terror incognito, in the face, not only of terrorist threats from unknown quarters but of the very provisions claimed to ensure their civic safety – intensive surveillance, where every public space is monitored by police cameras, arbitrary powers of arrest for reasons unstated and unknown, indefinite imprisonment without trial, state approved torture – signalling the emergence of a political environment that exerts inordinate social control, leading inexorably to the loss of our personal liberty. This cloud of unknowing shrouds us in anxiety and fear. This is the military/industrial complex running wild, using paranoia to control the financial and political will of elected governments. It is a paranoia challenged by the liberating telenoia of the Net, the joy of connectedness that is universally celebrated in cyberspace. None the less, who knows who will strike next, the terrorist or agents of the state? Here indeed is terror incognito.

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ROY ASCOTT

1 03 2009

roy ascott

Roy Ascott, (26 October 1934). Professor of Technoetic Arts, President of the Planetary Collegium, University of Plymouth; Visiting Professor, Design|Media Arts, UCLA. www.planetary-collegium.net. roy.ascott(at)btinternet.com.

Formerly: Dean of San Francisco Art Institute; Professor for Communications Theory, University of Applied Arts, Vienna; President of Ontario College of Art. Exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Ars Electronica Linz, Milan Triennale, Biennale do Mercosul, Brazil, European Media Festival, and Electra Paris, Founding editor of Technoetic Arts. Has advised media art organisations in Europe, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Korea and the USA, as well as the CEC and UNESCO. Convenes the annual Consciousness Reframed conferences.





WE ARE EXTREMOPHILES

24 02 2009

By LOUISE BEC

We are all extremophiles. (1)

Life is undergoing tension.

Life is undergoing pressure.

Life is undergoing depression.

Life is undergoing transgression.

The biomass is being shaken, destabilised…

How shall we respond to the urgent questions regarding survival and meaningfulness…

How shall we elaborate new strategies for inventive adaptation in order to persist, faced as we are with the degradation of the conditions of life and our environments, which are becoming progressively more toxic – and sometimes even deadly.

We are all extremophiles who possess the memory of the origin of life.

Life developed in an unwelcoming world, bringing with it a long-lasting transformation of the environment through the creation of an atmosphere. (2)

Life has invented various strategies in order to leave the oceans and occupy the ensemble of ecosystems and the greatest possible number of ecological niches.

We are therefore accountable for this ‘living whole’ – not only because we are part of it, but because of our growing awareness that it is becoming fragile, falling apart and undergoing dramatic amputations as a result of the planet’s ‘ecosystemic turbulences’.

We are extremophiles immersed in a labyrinth of prejudicial aggressions.

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