Friday, April 13, 2018

Video documentation: Nonhuman Agents in Art, Culture and Theory - 8th panel

Nonhuman Perspectives Under Threat
#6th species extinction #human destruction of environment #anthropocene
Moderator: Pablo Rojas

Mary Maggic (Artist, Vienna)
From Molecular Colonization to Molecular Collaborations 

Our world is an alien landscape filled with toxicities. Thanks to capitalist forces such as petrochemical, agricultural, and pharmaceutical industries, endocrine disrupting molecules mutate our bodies and bodies of non-human species, and at the same time “queer” our socio-cultural constructions of what is “normal” and what is “natural.” All-pervasive and inescapable, are we able to reposition our stance on molecular “disruption” and formulate new narratives for being-of-this-world? Therefore it urges us to consider the micro-performativity of hormonal substances as an agential power of not only molecular colonization but of molecular collaboration. 

David Sepkoski (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Are We Experiencing a ‘Sixth Extinction’ and Does It Matter? 

 The idea that we are currently experiencing a ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ developed during the late 1980s and early 1990s in the context of heightened awareness of global biodiversity loss. The term ‘Sixth Extinction’ is an explicit reference to the five major mass extinctions of the geological past, and reflects the important influence that paleontology –the study of life’s past –has had on estimates and predictions about the present and future of life on earth. However, while it has become an effective rhetorical tool, the term ‘Sixth Extinction’ also raises problems. On an empirical level, it is debatable whether comparisons of data and scale between past and present extinctions are valid –a concern raised by paleontologists themselves. And from an ethical and philosophical perspective, the analogy between the agency of humans and major geological events of the past flirts with an anthropocentrism that has often characterized the discourse around the ‘Anthropocene.’

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