In this colloquium session, Joseph Popper will discuss his early-stage PhD research that he is doing at IXDM in the framework of the ECAM graduate school:

In the coming colloquium I look forward to presenting my PhD project, entitled “Missions to the Outer Fringes: imagining as a way of knowing”. I will present a summary of my research so far, discussing particular themes and ideas I currently find most interesting and also presenting a couple of practical experiments.

The project concerns how imagination can be a means of generating knowledge, how imagining can be a way of thinking about reality, possibility and alterity. My research so far has been primarily exploring the poetics of Science Fiction – its particular and defining critical functions as a kind of imagining, and how these functions move beyond the genre to intersect with different aesthetic practices as the Science Fictional: a recognisable attitude or approach towards contemporary concerns that broadly positions itself against “consensus reality”. I will present what I find most interesting about the Science Fictional through various works of artists, filmmakers and writers, and discuss how my findings are shaping questions and next steps in my research-in-progress.

I will also present a second kind of imagining entitled “resonance”, a concept offered by anthropologist Lisa Messeri through her study of planetary scientists conducting analog fieldwork on a Mars Desert Research Centre. Resonance describes how scientists combine imagination and knowledge to generate affective experiences of ‘being on Mars’, which in turn lead to deeper understandings of distant planets. I find interesting comparisons and contrasts between the practice of resonance and the poetics of science fiction, as two kinds of imagining and transformative modes of thought.

Before the colloquium, I am sharing two short texts which summarise my ideas about the “Science Fictional” and “Resonance”, respectively. Please see these texts more as (I hope useful) primers – I will not discuss them in particular, and will cover the main points in my presentation.

The texts are available upon request by email. Give a note to Moritz Greiner-Petter if you plan to come.

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