Afro and Indigenous Futures: Interfaces for the Earthverse (Online lecture)

Silvana Alvarez Basto's picture
March 24, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Digital Humanities, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies

The Afro and Indigenous Futures speaker series, organized by The New School's Liberal Studies Student Association, is thrilled to announce the online lecture "Interfaces for the Earthverse," with Ecuadorian artist Oscar Santillán on March 24, 2022 at 12:00 PM ET. The artist will engage with the notion of ‘decentralized cognition’, which has been vital to his artistic practice. It proposes that intelligence can emerge from infinite configurations; it is not the sole product of centralized brains. Following this premise, Oscar will explore ways in which diverse fields, such as A.I., scifi, ecology, indigenous worldings, and blockchain, may converge.


The notion of ‘decentralized cognition’ has been vital to the artof Oscar Santillán; it departs from the premise that intelligence can emerge from infinite configurations; it is not the sole product of centralized brains. Within Oscar’s practice, this notion first manifested in Solaris (2017), a work named after the 1961 sci-fi novel by Stanislaw Lem that depicts a faraway planet whose ocean shows clear signs of intelligence. His ‘Solaris’ was made in the Atacama desert, in Chile. It was there that a local ethnographer introduced the artist to the idea of ‘Earthbeings’, which is part of the cosmology of the region. An ‘Earthbeing’ could be described as an ecological entity –for instance, a mountain– who has cognitive capabilities that emerge from its own materiality. The realization that these two distinctive historical streams –science fiction and indigenous cosmologies– could envision convergent forms of decentralized cognition has continued to propel Oscar’s work ever since.

Two years ago, after receiving a long-term commission from the Holt/Smithson Foundation, aimed at exploring what kind of legacies Land Art is igniting in the 21st century, Oscar embarked on what may be his most radical take on the notion of ‘decentralized cognition’; he is searching for an interface capable of connecting A.I., ecological systems, and humans.

Oscar Santillán, founder of studio ANTIMUNDO, is an Ecuadorian artist and cybernetician who continuously collaborates with diverse knowledge producers ranging from scientists to plants. He is the co-author of the publication The Andean Information Age, which explores how ancient technologies can inform and fix our current technologies. This continuity among diverse forms of knowledge production is one of the fundamentals of his artistic practice. He was self-taught in Ecuador and obtained an MFA at the Sculpture Department of Virginia Commonwealth University. His work has been exhibited at the Yokohama Triennale, LACMA, MUAC, NRW FORUM Düsseldorf, Kröller-Müller Museum, Socrates Park, Bienal de Arte Paiz, FRAC Île-de-france, Ballroom Marfa, Kunstinstituut Melly, Museo de la Universidad Nacional - Bogotá, IMMA, Museum Voorlinden, among others. Currently, Oscar is a faculty member at Sint Joost and a visiting tutor at De Ateliers, in Amsterdam.

Contact Info: 

Liberal Studies Student Association -