Roundtable with Bruno Latour – (CRA + SPEAP)

Roundtable with Bruno Latour – (CRA + SPEAP)

“If nature is no longer a mere background for human activities, what change does it entail for the arts and the social sciences?” — Roundtable Seminar – Bruno Latour and  The Programme for Experimentation in Art and Politics – SPEAP (SciencesPo) together with the Centre for Research Architecture.


Monday March 5th 2012, 10:00 for a 10:30 start, in our studio/ RHB 312

The day is open to all members of the Centre for Research Architecture (MAs, PhD and CRA staff and FA fellows).


Eyal Weizman: brief intro to the Centre
Susan Schuppli Forensic Architecture.
Bruno Latour introduced the theme/question he proposed for the seminar:
“If nature is no longer a mere background for human activities, what change does it entail for the arts and the social sciences?”


11:20 > Paulo Tavares (an architect undertaking PhD at the Centre for Research Architecture and MARA coordinator)

Murky Evidence: Because nature has become a fundamental space to which cultural and political rights are bound, with increasing frequency and relevance, ecological systems tend to inhabit the courtrooms of national and trans-national forums as potential witness of legal violations. As the Earth enters the legal arena, the scientific and documentary techniques employed to mediate its testimony appear as sites through which the construction of historical-political narratives are disputed. Following the histories inscribed in murky earth-samples extracted from the soils of an environmental disaster zone in the Amazon, this presentation attempt to map out the messy assemblages of scientific practices, ngo-advocay, international law and global geopolitics that gathers around nature. Shattering the limits of pre-defined forums, nature participates in a scale-less political construct that connects the particular and the universal by articulating ethical engagements on behalf of humanity with the contingency of political-material histories. Animated by a legal court, organic-matter becomes vibrant and talkative entities whose opaque speech calls for a “radical universality” according to which human and non-human rights are mutually constitutive and interdependent.


11:40 > Nabil Ahmed (an artist undertaking PhD at the Centre for research architecture)

Radical Meteorology: The contemporary history of Bangladesh is one of the starkest examples of the politicization of natural disasters. The devastating 1970 Bhola cyclone, for example, had a direct impact on its war for independence from Pakistan. Coastal zones on the Bay of Bengal that form part of the Indian Ocean rupture nature and the political in a way where geologic, atmospheric and oceanologic forces resist and collide with human populations in dramatic fashion. At the same time recent discovery of oil and gas deposits is transforming the disaster zone into an area of renewed interest for global capital. Entangled within this calculus of risk, giant brown clouds, cyclones, the supreme terror from the sea and the dead buried there speak for a new political ecology in the age of man.


12:00 > Discussion
1:00-2:00pm > LUNCH

2:00 >Presentation by a group of 3 SPEAP students
3:00 > discussion

3:20 >John Palmesino, (architect, principle of Territorial Agency, MA lecturer, undertaking PhD at the centre)

NORTH: The architecture of a territory open on all sides: Today a number of surveying practices are reshaping the relation between contemporary polities and their spaces of operation. At the higher latitudes remote sensing, satellite imagery, multispectrum scans, biological prospecting, seismic analysis are being combined to present a set of images of possible industrial, geopolitical, logistic, and military reorganization. The North presents architecture with an escalating demand to re-conceptualise change and transformation: to what degree of magnitude can architecture operate? Can architecture supplement the grid of rules, criteria, laws that characterise the showcasing of human intervention at the higher latitudes by integrating spatial analysis with image making, geographic knowledge, remote sensing? How to think new processes and processions where knowledge production is intertwined with the forming of inhabited territories? Can architecture rethink its agency?
3:40 >general discussion followed on from John’s presentation
4:00 > END of Seminar

IMG – Archive North, Territorial Agency

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