“To think positively about our prospects, we must first be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents: mental time travel, the ability to move back and forth through time and space in one’s mind. Although most of us take this ability for granted, our capacity to envision a different time and place is in fact critical to our survival. It is easy to see why cognitive time travel was naturally selected for over the course of evolution. It allows us to plan ahead, to save food and resources for times of scarcity and to endure hard work in anticipation of a future reward. It also lets us forecast how our current behaviour may influence future generations. If we were not able to picture the world in a hundred years or more, would we be concerned with global warming? Would we attempt to live healthily? Would we have children?”

Text: Tali Sharot, The Optimism Bias, TIME

Pic: Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840.


“A numberof theorists of “risk society” have suggested that, in our current social context, science and technology in general have serious public relations problems. Risk theory posits that the management of risk forms the basis of government rationality in late modernity, replacing the distribution of social wealth and the protection against dangers. The origin of risk society is found in a fundamental process of modernity – the replacement of local knowledge by technical expert-knowledge systems.These knowledge systems render social relations abstract and invert the causal linkage of past, present,and future: the present becomes an outcome, not of the receding past,but of the emerging risks of the future. Yet these expert systems are not seamless. Risk theorists argue that the traditionally privileged position of science and technology as knowledge systems has come under scrutiny as their limits have become apparent. Contrary to Enlightenment expectations,the more that scientific knowledge has developed, the more complex, contradictory, and indeterminate it has become. The constant revision of knowledge, the disagreement among its practitioners, and the evident failures of science over the course of the twentieth century have tended to undermine utopian promises of progress; certain knowledge and rational control over nature have given way to a permanent sense of anxiety, as people contemplate the potential failure of globalised technologic scientific and economic systems”.

Text: Sheryl N. Hamilton, Traces of the Future: Biotechnology, Science Fiction, and the Media


“Unlike crop circles, these regular stone patterns are no hoax. A stone circle begins to form in autumn, when daily freeze-thaw cycles cause a lens-shaped pocket of ice to form under the soil. The lens grows as water trickles in, pushing the earth up and forming a mound on the surface. Larger sediments roll off the mound, collecting around the edges, while the finer sediments in the middle settle, leaving a distinctive stone ring. When many rings neighbour each other they form polygons. On steep slopes this process forms stone stripes. As the Earth warms, regions that were once frozen year-round will start undergoing freeze-thaw cycles, so more stone circles may emerge. However, we may see fewer circles forming in regions that warm so much they no longer freeze at all.”

Text: New Scientist, Six bizarre landforms created by global warming.

Image: Richard Long, Touareg Circle, Sahara, 1988. Via RichardLong.org


BB: Could we say that you’re attempting to establish a relationship between scientific and artistic modes of thought?

JFL: Undoubtedly. The idea of artistic creation is a notion that comes from the aesthetics of romanticism, the aesthetics of the idea of genius. And I’m sure you’ll agree that the idea of the artist as “creator” is, to say the least, of strictly limited utility in our world today. That’s no longer where we really are. We’re no longer concerned with the philosophy of subjective genius and all the “aura” that goes along with it. With Duchamp, we already find ourselves in an area that has an aspect of bricolage, there’s that side where you think of him as an “inventeur du temps gratuit.”

BB: But wouldn’t you still think of the work of Duchamp as something relative rather than some kind of transhistorical value?

JFL: Well, really, both yes and no, since that’s the way it always is with art: it always has a value as an expression of its time, but there’s also a way in which it can always be perceived as lying outside of the time that produced it. There’s always something that turns art into a transhistorical truth, and that’s the part of the art that I think of as “philosophical.” It’s within this part of art that it poses the question of what it has at stake. Art, after all, is a relatively modern notion. Even Greek tragedy couldn’t have been said to be art for the Greeks—it was still something else, and it’s clear that we have to wait at least until the close of the Middle Ages to discover the emergence of an art that isn’t simply an expression, for instance, of metaphysics or religion, or political praise. What strikes me, if we can start out from Duchamp, is the way it can seem, from a certain point of view, to be difficult to be an artist if one isn’t a philosopher as well. I don’t mean that the artist will have to read Plato or Aristotle, I mean that he has to posit the question of what he has at stake, he has to ask himself about the nature of what he’s involved in doing.

Precisely this question is the most interesting thing to be found in the works of art that are strongest today, it’s the thing in which these works are most interested. What’s at stake is something that’s extraordinarily serious, and it’s not at all a question of pleasure, and not even of the way the pleasure of the sublime is intermixed with pain; it’s a question instead of a relationship to time and space and sensibility, even though I don’t like to make use of that word. What I mean to say is that certain works have a structure that keeps them from being concerned with their existence as events; they do something entirely different as an attentive observer comes away with the feeling that their engagement with the senses, if any such engagement exists at all, is of far less importance than a primary interest in the most fundamental philosophical question of all, “Why does something happen, rather than nothing?”

Text: Les Immatériaux: A Conversation with Jean-François Lyotard and Bernard Blistène, Art Agenda.




“Plants on the earth rooted in the soil, under the command of gravity. Roots, soil and gravity – by giving up the links to life, what kind of “beauty” shall be born? Within the harsh “nature”, at an attitude of 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees Celsius, the plants evolve into EXBIOTA (extraterrestrial life). A pine tree confronting the ridge line of the Earth. A bouquet of flowers marching towards the sun hit by the intense wind. Freed from everything, the plants shall head to the space.”

AMKK – Exobiotanica



“Once, in a cheap science fiction novel, Fat had come across a perfect description of the Black Iron Prison but set in the far future. So if you superimposed the past (ancient Rome) over the present (California in the twentieth century) and superimposed the far future world of The Android Cried Me a River over that, you got the Empire, the Black Iron Prison, as the supra- or trans-temporal constant. Every¬one who had ever lived was literally surrounded by the iron walls of the prison; they were all inside it and none of them knew it-except for the gray-robed secret Christians. That made the early, secret Christians supra – or trans-temporal, too, which is to say present at all times, a situation which Fat could not fathom. How could they be early but in the present and the future? And if they existed in the present, why couldn’t anyone see them. On the other hand, why couldn’t anyone see the walls of the Black Iron Prison which enclosed everyone, including himself, on all sides? Why did these antithetical forces emerge into palpability only when the past, present and future somehow – for whatever reason – got superimposed?

“Maybe in the bushmen’s dream-time no time existed. But if no time existed, how could the early, secret Christians be scampering away in glee from the Black Iron Prison which they had just succeeded in blowing up? And how could they blow it up back in Rome circa 70 C.E., since no explosives existed in those days? And now [sic], if no time passed in the dream-time, could the prison come to an end? It reminded Fat of the peculiar statement in Parsifal: “You see, my son, here time turns into space.”

“During his religious experience in March of 1974, Fat had seen an augmentation of space: yards and yards of space, extending all the way to the stars; space opened up around him as if a confining box had been removed. He had felt like a tomcat which had been carried inside a box on a car drive, and then they’d reached their destination and he had been let out of the box, let free. And at night in sleep he had dreamed of a measureless void, yet a void which was alive. The void extended and drifted and seemed totally empty and yet it possessed personality. The void expressed delight in seeing Fat, who, in the dreams, had no body; he, like the boundless void, merely drifted, very slowly; and he could, in addition, hear a faint humming, like music. Apparently the void communicated through this echo, this humming…”

Philip K Dick, Valis.

Pics: Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, Life Span, 2009. VHS videos, silicone, 625 x 320 x 524cms.


“In science fiction, the dynamics of preservation and access to the archive involve entropy and amnesia. The question of the archive’s legibility arises when processes of obsolescence, which amount to a technological ‘forgetting’, ensure new media technologies are unable to retrieve the information of the obsolesced forerunner. The archive becomes unreadable. In terms of science fiction, once the archive is illegible, existing in a state that permits no access to accessible meaning through lived human memory, it swiftly ends up being no archive at all. Time passed renders the archive not only incomprehensible in terms of its content, but a priori unfathomable qua archive. In science fiction the corollary of this is the immanence of the archive. In the context of the science fiction narrative, when an archive becomes post-archival (in the sense that it is no longer connected to the now-vanished culture that had assigned to it the meaning of ‘an archive’), it assumes its new existence as an anomalous amalgamation of things or images (assuming the category of objects known as ‘images’ pertains in the science fiction universe in question). At this point the typology of the archive is not an issue, as its formal qualities, features and structure could be instantiated in any way. At this stage, in a post-archival world, nothing and everything can be an archive depending not on its properties but its place in the science fiction text: a point which changes, reveals and to some extent recovers a lost world.”

Text: Chris Horrocks, Disinterring the Present: Science Fiction, Media Technology and the Ends of the Archive, Journal of Visual Culture 2013.

Image: The Morlock Sphynx, The Time Machine, Dir. George Pal, 1960.


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