Design for the human planet

Lecture by Karolina Sobecka

The description of Anthropocene tells of people having the agency to change the world, but our abilities to do so being far from equal, – Mark Maslin and Simon Lewis, “The Human Planet” (2018)

As scientific algorithms and projections conjure up a rather dark and precarious array of possible futures dominated by specters of uncertainty and speculation, art disciplines are called in to help navigate the haze of unknowns and contingencies, presumably being more capable at ‘dead reckoning.’ This talk examines how such new position of the artist is occupied, tested and examined in practices responding to emerging technologies of planetary engineering. Technologies carry a certain “promise” – both in a sense of “potential” and an “obligation” to be carried out for the public good. Experimental designs and their mediation are mechanisms of ‘steering’ of emerging technologies, and their operationalization towards certain futures. Can art play a role in  organizing and mediating their transformative powers?