Interdisciplinary Conference
Nonhuman Agents in Art, Culture and Theory

24-26 November, 2017

Art Laboratory Berlin
Prinzenallee 58, 13359 Berlin-Wedding (Across the street from the Art Laboratory Berlin exhibition space)

*image credits below

Nonhuman Agents takes into account recent philosophical approaches which question anthropocentrism. These discourses emphasise nonhuman perspectives through object-oriented ontology (Harman and Meillasoux); discuss nonhuman / human encounters (Haraway); postulate a posthumanism (Braidotti); and examine various posthuman performative strategies such as intra-acting (Barad). A new 'de-centring' lets us draw our attention to a reality that can no longer be described in purely anthropocentric parameters.

As a theoretical addition to our ongoing series Nonhuman Agents (June - December 2017) Art Laboratory Berlin - along with our partners, The Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam - has brought together international artists, scholars, and scientists from different disciplines to discuss artistic, philosophical, ethical and scientific approaches to nonhuman agency. Previous positions from our Nonhuman Subjectivities series (2016-17) were also be included.

The conferencestarted with a reflection on post-anthropocentrism by redefining intelligence (human, animal and plant intelligence), agency and sentience. An in-depth consideration included the role of fungi: mycelium, the Internet of trees and yeasts. Microbial agency was explored via the phenomenon of quorum sensing and biofilms, proposing a micro-subjectivity. There were contributions on the microbiome and holobiome, taking into consideration the human as nonhuman. We sought to open up a discussion to endosymbiosis and sympoiesis, reflecting symbiotic relationships, horizontal gene transfer and the role of Lynn Margulis in 21st century Biology and Science and Technology Studies. Finally, the conference discussed nonhuman perspectives under threat and proposed an ethology for the techno-scientific era.

-Regine Rapp & Christian de Lutz


Abstracts and biographies

Photography: Tim Deussen

Friday, 24 November, 2017

9:00: Registration

Regine Rapp, Christian de Lutz (Art Laboratory Berlin)
Welcome and Introduction

Other Subjectivities. Redefining Intelligence, Agency and Sentience
#post anthropocentrism #animal intelligence #definition of sentience
Moderator: Regine Rapp

Rahma Khazam (Philosophy, Art Theory, Paris)
When the sardine can looks back...

Desiree Förster (Media Ecology, Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam)
Environments of Shared Concern

Maja Smrekar (Artist, Ljubljana)
The Wolf-human-dog Continuum

12:30 Lunch break

Fungal Perspectives. From the Viewpoint of a Mushroom
#mycelium #Internet of trees # wood wide web #yeasts
Moderator: Eliot Morrison

Saša Spačal (Artist, Ljubljana)
Mycohuman Relationships. Fungi as Interspecies Connectors, Companion Species and Human Symbionts

Mirjan Švagelj (Microbiologist, Aceis Bio, Ljubljana)
Mushrooms as Teachers. Mushrooms in Human Societies

Vera Meyer (Applied and Molecular Microbiology, Institute of Biotechnology, Technical University Berlin)
Fungal Biotechnology – What We Do with Fungi (and What Fungi Do With Us)

15:30 Break

Plant Intelligence
#plants #botany #redefining intelligence
Moderator: Desiree Förster

Špela Petrič (Scientist & artist, Amsterdam/ Ljubljana)
The Vegetal, Intimately

Joana Bergmann (Institute of Biology, Free University Berlin)
Hand in Hand. Root Morphological Traits and Their Mediation by Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi

Literature List for Joana Bergmann

17:30 Break


Monika Bakke (Institute of Philosophy, Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan)
The Force of Radical Openness: Multispecies Alliances Beyond the Biological
Moderator: Christian de Lutz

Reception at Art Laboratory Berlin, on view is the current exhibition Nonhuman Networks (More information)

Saturday, 25 November, 2017

Microbial Agency. Proposing Micro-Subjectivity
#bacteria #quorum sensing #microbiology and philosophy
Moderator: Pablo Rojas

Ingeborg Reichle (Media Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna)
Biome and Biomatter

Regine Hengge (Institute of Biology, Dep. of Microbiology, Humboldt University Berlin)
Biofilms - invisible cities of microbes from the Petri dish to the human body

Anna Dumitriu (Artist, Brighton)
Make Do and Mend

12:30 Lunch break

Human as Nonhuman. Microbiome and holobiome
#human microbiome #holobiont #redefining ourselves
Moderator: Marta de Menezes

François-Joseph Lapointe (Artist and microbiologist, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Montreal)
Performative Microbiome Experiments

Tarsh Bates (Artist, SymbioticA, University of Western Australia, Perth)
On Being a Microbioartist: Making Art in a Microbiology Lab

Regine Rapp (Art Theory, Curatorial Research, Art Laboratory Berlin)
Nonhuman Subjectivities. Artistic Strategies towards a Multispecies Performativity

15:30 Break

Endosymbiosis and Sympoiesis
#Lynn Margulis #symbiotic relationships #horizontal gene transfer #autopoiesis and sympoiesis
Moderator: Desiree Förster

Rachel Mayeri (Artist, Media Studies, Harvey Mudd College, Los Angeles)
Orfeo Nel Canale Alimentare

Heather Barnett (Artist, Researcher, Central St. Martins, London)
Many-Headed: Co-creation across Scales and Species

Daniel Renato Lammel (Institute of Biology, Free University Berlin)
Endosymbiosis and "Love Stories" between Plants and Microorganisms

Laura Benítez Valero (Institute of Philosophy, Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Biosophy and Mutagenesis. Towards an Alien Sym_poiesis

18:15 Break

Nonhuman Agents. A report
Alanna Lynch, Margherita Pevere, Theresa Schubert, Sarah Hermanutz, Heather Barnett and plan b (Sophia New & Daniel Belasco Rogers)
Moderator: Florence Razoux

Sunday, 26 November, 2017

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

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

12.30 Break

Beyond the Animal as Machine. Ethology in the Age of Technoscience
#animal-machine interfaces #ethology #Uexküll
Moderator: Christian de Lutz

Birgit Schneider (Media Ecology, Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam)
Through the Eye of an Animal. Uexküll’s Perceptual Worlds in 360°?

Robertina Šebjanič (Artist, Ljubljana)
Sounds of Troubled Worlds = Songs for Serenity

Vivian Xu (Artist, Designer, Shanghai)
The Silkworm Project

15:00 Final Discussion - END

With the generous support of:

Media partner:

Cooperation partners:

Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam

PA 58


* Image credits: left: Theresa Schubert, still from the workshop The forestal psyche, August 2017, photo:Tim Deussen/Studio Deussen; center: Robertina Šebjanic: Aurelia 1+Hz / proto viva generator, Installation with living system, 2014, photo: Hana Jošic; right Saša Spacal with Mirjan Švagelj and Anil Podgornik, Mycophone_unison, Responsive installation: electronics, sound, and biological material, 2013; Petri dish, detail of installation. Photo: Tim Deussen/Studio Deussen;

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