November 7, 2022

Deep Material Futures

Matters of Activity, Cluster of Excellence at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Aerial view, Melaka Gateway, Malaysia, 2020. © Konstantin Mitrokhov and Michaela Büsse. Design: NODE Berlin Oslo.

Exploring the different temporalities of active matter.

The old light of stars still shines on us even if they had disappeared long before the beginning of the earth. In the same way as mineralized geological processes in the shape of stones do, this shows that simultaneity and present moments are, in fact, a multiplicity of time. On a planetary scale, our deep earthly future can be seen as a deep past of other planets, such as Mars. Looking back to earth, as first emblematically staged by the "Whole Earth Catalog" in 1968, directs us to material futures with a particular focus on matter and its inner activities and dynamics. Driven by the flood of sunlight, the solid, liquid and gaseous active matter implies different temporalities inherent to the diverse mineral, biological, or artificial status.

It is this very multiplicity of space, time, and scale we want to face in "Deep Material Futures". The Annual Conference of the Cluster of Excellence "Matters of Activity. Image Space Material" raises the question of what goes wrong on earth and how the different deep, slow, fast and future times intervene in the worlds to come. By looking at very different scales, from the internal structures of matter and the interaction of objects and living beings to geological formations and atmospheric dynamics, the conference asks about the different temporalities of active matter, which not only shape pasts and presents but futures.

Active materialities such as water, oxygen or carbon obtain an event character with different speeds and times, thus dissolving the classical notion of a spatial, static and solid matter. These various manifestations intersect and overlap in a present that appears as an entanglement of multiple clock frequencies (generations, living beings, ocean tides, day and night, quartz oscillations) of different materialized times and temporalized matters. Matter’s temporalities encode and activate modes of material becoming and decay, yet they do so on registers that are oftentimes too slow, too small, or too vast to grasp. Developments and dangers that have been latent over a long period of time might unfold their effects in the very distant future. Speed and slowness can equally create invisibility in a more-than-human world perceived by only humans. Nevertheless, they always already do affect our actions and activities today.

With "Deep Material Futures", we also want to rethink the potentialities, strategies, expectances, predictions and imaginaries of desirable futures in terms of interspecies and transgenerational justice. The temporalities of active matter we speak of are always about incommensurable spaces of memory and oblivion, of extinction and survival. What new and other ways of politics, design, and "healing" through materialized action might there than be at all levels of space, time, and scale?

In the four panels "Wastelands", "Earthly Matter", "Matter Across Scales" and "Future Materials" we will discuss with many international speakers such as Sandra Jasper, Nigel Clark, James Weaver, Jeff Diamanti, Cymene Howe, Admir Masic, and Vera Meyer! Last but not least, the conference will be accompanied by the premiere of the video installation "White Elephant" by Michaela Büsse. Join us on November 16!

To attend on-site or online, please register here.

The exhibition DAOULA—sheen: West African Wild Silk on its Way will be opened November 17 at 6pm and will also be on view from November 18, 2022 through April 29, 2023 at Tieranatomisches Theater Berlin as part of "Matters of Activity. Image Space Material".

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