ELAINE GAN, BETTINA STOETZER, ANNA TSING

FERAL TECHNOLOGIES, 2016-7

What are we to make of a growing number of crises: environmental degradation, forced migration, extinction, debt? They unfold simultaneously within a golden age of technological innovation, the wonders of natural, social, and artificial intelligence. Everyday, we bounce between catastrophe and creativity, love and rage. The paradoxes are not hard to enumerate. The real challenge lies in describing their entanglement, in understanding more-than-human capacities to order lifeways that sediment into landscapes. And yet, the Anthropocene trips up our hard-earned categories and practices; it presents a big puzzle that calls for novel approaches to social dynamics. When nature and culture can no longer be studied as exclusively human, nonhuman or machine, how might we approach this puzzle?

Convened as part of HKW's Curriculum on the Technosphere, our answer to the puzzle takes the form of a seminar, field observations, and a design workshop. We put forward a concept of Feral Technologies, defined as nonhuman capacities for resurgence that exceed human schemes and systems of mastery and control. We consider the Technosphere as an unintended and unruly muddle of multispecies relations that emerge from postwar rubble, toxic flows, and global exchanges. To study ferality, we take landscape as our unit of analysis and propose a speculative toolkit that combines (1) readings in multispecies ethnography and environmental history; (2) guided field walks through Schöneberger Südgelände, a former train switch yard during the war; and (3) collaborative design of a multispecies clock or game using materials gathered around the city. Natural history observation and art making inform our experimental method.

Images on the right document the seminar that we co-convened at HKW in April 2016, some feral trees and fungi that we encountered during our walks through the abandoned switch yard, and garbage and found materials that we gathered and used to design clocks and games.

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Download the seminar syllabus.

Or, go to HKW Anthropocene Curriculum.

Or, play the video below to hear more about feral technologies.