1948 Unbound – Unleashing the technical present

John Foster Dulles's picture
November 30, 2017 to December 2, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Contemporary History, Environmental History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Urban Design and Planning

1948 Unbound – Unleashing the technical present
Experimental conference

The year 1948 serves as an aperture through which we can rethink the history of the now; the decisive moment when the heap of fragments left by the fury of two world wars began to reassemble into new forms of technological, scientific, and cultural order that inform our contemporary situation. With the atomic age, the digital age and the age of the "hydrocarbon man” taking off, 1948 represents an inflection point for many developments and path dependencies to come. In fact, 1948 is one year of re-composing not only the world – the modern project of techno-cultural and geo-political design – but the planet. The technosphere is mobilized and with it we entered the Anthropocene.

From November 30th to December 2nd, lectures, performative elements, gatherings and installations, all differing in duration, visibility, and interaction investigate historic moments and the themes that tie them together. Diverse approaches from artistic research to historical groundwork will be taken to rework current epistemological categories and our ways of looking at the various histories that have striated this planet. Switches, Seeds, Hydrocarbons, Tokens, and Chance thus serve us as exemplary historical nuclides that contour the 1948 moment of the mobilization of the technosphere. These bit registers embroil topics such as the declaration of Universal Human Rights, the invention of the bipolar transistor and the invention of “the environment” as a global condition that required maintenance and control, the heyday of the experimental Black Mountain College with the arrival of Buckminster Fuller and John Cage, and the foundation of the pioneering military-academic-industrial think tank the RAND (Research ANd Development) corporation. The topics furthermore comprise the leap of petrochemical synthetics productions that led to an explosion of fossil-fuel waste, Stalin’s “Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature”, the advent of cybernetics, the measure of digital information (the bit), the Havana Charter governing international trade and investment, apartheid, the Xerox copier, and Tupperware.

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Concept and realization Katrin KlinganChristoph RosolNick HoudeJanek Müller.


Thursday, Nov 30

7pm Switches

Diskursive installation with Moenhshin Allahyari, Marie-Luise Angerer, Alexander R. Galloway, Gerald Nestler, Sophia Roosth, and others.

Friday, Dec 1

3 pm Seeds

Talks, presentations, performance with Luis CamposAna DelgadoknowbotiqAlexander Tarakhovsky, and others.

7:30 pm Hydrocarbons

Multi-channel video installation with Dieter HillerAlexander IlitschewskiKathryn Yusoff, and others.

Saturday, Dec 2

3 pm Tokens

Presentations, talks, performance with Benjamin BrattonOscar Guardiola-RiveraBoaz Levin, and others.

7:30 pm Chance

Visual performative experiment with Elena EspositoAlexander R. GallowayGiuseppe LongoNahum, and others.