Monthly Archives: May 2013

New Materialism, Fragility, and Activism, William E.Connolly

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Keynote talk by William E. Connolly at the 3rd Annual Radical Democracy Conference on March 16, 2013 at The New School in New York. Talk on “The New Materialism, Fragility, and Activism.”
For more information visit http://www.radicaldemocracy.org.

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The paper village coral reef

Interesting post of a local community project followed and participated in by Joanna Mann as part of her research on craft and communities of matter.

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For the last six months 38 crocheters, knitters, and needlefelters have worked together with the community arts and crafts shop paper village to create a woolly coral reef.

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It’s been a great project to get involved with, for not only did participants get to practice new skills – I learnt ‘hyperbolic crochet’ and how to needlefelt – but it was a fab opportunity to meet other crafty people in the local area. Since beginning back in November all sorts of lovely coral models and fishy friends have been brought into Vicky at the shop, but it was only when it all came together in to one window display last week that you really got a sense of how much work had gone into the reef and how beautiful it looks. The photos really don’t do it justice. 

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I mentioned hyperbolic crochet – this is a fascinating technique pioneered by University lecturer Daina…

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On the Surface of a Dust Particle

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“Dear Radioactive Friends, today I have done a terrible thing for a theoretical physicist, that is, to introduce a new particle that nobody will ever be able to see.”
—Wolfgang Pauli, 1930s

It’s been said that we are a geological force. Over the short history of humankind we have learned to transform materials from the biosphere to our convenience. Technicians have been trained in the art of transforming rocks into square-shaped hills for us to inhabit. Communication technologies have also contributed to the formation of new landscapes on our planet’s surface. Recent efforts in science have attempted to develop design methods and tools towards an integrated biologically-engineered environment, and synthetic biology is emerging as a promising field towards a soft and evolutive process of integration with nature. We are now able to engineer matter itself. But according to astrophysics such matter and all visible matter in our immense universe scarcely…

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# WEAPONIZED ARCHITECTURE /// Designing Volumes of Energy: A Materialist Reading of the Explosion

An interesting reflection, but one that ends somewhat less radically than perhaps it hopes. We need also to consider recognising the non-anthropocentric physical as political.

The Funambulist

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Destruction of the Glencairn Tower in Motherwell (near Glasgow) / Photograph by Sam Hardie

Explosions are so ubiquitous in Hollywood Cinema, and the emotion is so intense when one torn-down reality that we do not quite seem to realize what they really are. In 2007, Mike Davis was trying to historicize the car bomb and its urban consequences in his book Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb (Verso, 2007) but his analysis was legitimately anthropocentric, which I want to avoid in this specific article. “Leaving the human” can sometimes be risky as it potentially leads to the depoliticization of things – depolitics being a form of politics too and a rather totalitarian one – but it also allows to think of a better understanding of the material world in which we live, and from which we exist as a body.

What is an explosion at the pure…

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Workshop follow-up

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Many thanks to all those who participated in the two day Politics and Matter Workshop last December in Bristol. It was great to introduce the Politics and Matter research cluster to an audience and think through some of our key concerns as a group with others broadly affiliated with the new materialist turn.

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Some inspiring conversations were generated around the themes of ‘concepts’, ‘techniques’ and ‘ethics/aesthetics’ that queried, amongst many things, practices of writing and presenting research, the difficulties of practicing more-than-human methodologies, and the application of different theoretical perspectives. Throughout the workshop we were presented with the diverse ways in which people are using and exploring these themes and which indicate the breadth and magnitude of new materialisms in contemporary geography.

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The discussions opened up a number of stimulating problematics that we plan to develop with some future collaborations. Watch this space…

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Contagious Architecture, Immanent Thought …

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Luciana Parisi’s Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013) forms the latest installment of the ‘Technologies of Lived Abstraction’ series – a growing body of book-length publications, co-edited by Brian Massumi and Erin Manning for the MIT Press. There is an awful lot going on in the book, which sees Parisi jump between various empirical encounters and highly abstract conceptual arguments at an exhilarating speed. Contagious Architecture is a highly theoretical adventure addressing a somewhat intimidating range of conceptual debates, from William James’ notion of radical empiricism to the recent turn towards Object-Oriented Ontology à la Graham Harman. It is clear from the outset, however, that Parisi’s main theoretical drive comes from a meticulous and original engagement with Alfred North Whitehead.  

Whilst a full review of Parisi’s thesis is beyond me at present, it strikes me that there is an important theme rumbling close to the surface throughout the book’s…

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Archiving OIL (as part of Museums at Night) – All Welcome

Experimental Geography in Practice

Please Join Neville Gabie and I on Thursday 16 May in the Geological Collections Stores at the University of Bristol where we will be ‘Archiving Oil’:

Neville Gabie: Archiving OIL (as part of Museums at Night)

Thursday 16 May, 6 pm -10 pm

Geology Collection Basement Stores

Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol

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The Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol has created a structure through which researchers from all fields can contribute to inter-disciplinary dialogue and research under a common umbrella.

From the Cabot Institute, Artist in Residence Neville Gabie and Cultural Geographer Merle Patchett, invite you to join them in Archiving Oil as part of the University of Bristol’s Museums at Night event – ‘Alight – The unexpected in the dark’ in the Wills Memorial Building.

Of all substances what is more ubiquitous than oil. Fossil fuels, oil in particular, have entirely shaped our evolution since…

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