Nature as Ecological Infrastructure
I have already said that we think like the world; now I am saying that the world thinks like us. — Michel Serres
The conference Encountering Materiality: Science, Art, Language will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 23-25 June 2016, in the newly-renovated Batiment des Philosophes (Philosophers’ Building), located on 22 Boulevard des Philosophes, 1205 Genève. This conference is co-organized by the English Department of the University of Geneva and by the Dirt Foundation. The conference features in conjunction, an art exhibition entitled Material Encounters | Rencontres Matérielles, organized by the Association Rencontres et Matérialités. Critical Media Lab’s Senior Researcher Jamie Allen has been invited to give a talk entitled Nature as Ecological Infrastructure.
Jamie’s presentation will discuss how in the ‘anthropocene’, which precipitates and is precipitated by the ‘technosphere’, the earth is manipulable, informational and mediatic—relations to nature are turned into an infrastructural relation of access and exchange. This just as human infrastructures proliferate at reticular scales, making them seem more and more ‘natural.’ Our activities of communication and networking, signal-derivation and algorithmic computation provide ample empirical conditions wherein the difference between the materiality of biospheres, lithospheres and hydrospheres and the media, signaletic and ‘cultural’ activities of humans tends toward the infinitesimal. Specifically, the presentation will address where ’technical infrastructure’ and ‘environmental ecologies’ interact, are antagonistic or are indistinguishable (sharks chewing on undersea cabling, cloud computing servers changing the behaviour of actual clouds, electrical power transformers providing nests for magnetoreceptive ants). The increased frequency of encounters between nonhuman ecologies and media infrastructures recount a geopolitic of the nonhuman and technological that is as violent as it is revealingly constructive.