Artists and scientists, video- and filmmakers, designers, programmers and (h)activists, researchers in media and network cultures, and others interested in interdisciplinary exchange are invited to join the conference, to discuss their ideas and projects, to share and to develop know-how both in theory and in practice.
Call for contributions and further information: www.interfiction.org
interfiction, a yearly workshop symposium, has been part of the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival since 1995. As the interdisciplinary section of the festival, interfiction’s aim is to bring together artists and scholars, theorists and practitioners in one event, in order to deal with the complex field of art, media and net culture together. Every year there is a new topic of focus. Based on the pressing questions of the issues, projects and hypothesis are presented and discussed, while workshops and talks enable a concentrated exchange, which is supposed to lead to a deeper reflection and show new perspectives.
interfiction is a forum for the exchange, networking and cooperation of producers of theory practice. The main structure of the event is reflected in the wish to function as a “temporary laboratory” – not only a platform for ideas and projects but to enable a direct and productive discussion about questions and problems which are essential to the participants.
Head of the section is Dr. Verena Kuni, professor for Visual Culture at the Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main.
This year's interfiction workshop-conference for art, media and network cultures takes another close look at techniques and technologies, forms and formats, imaginations and fictions, utopias and realities of more-than-human coexistence. Yes, indeed: we stay with the trouble we had decided to focus on in 2021. Our questions are still burning.
Under what conditions can coexistence between post-natural lifeforms, actors and agencies succeed? What can we learn from the practices of symbionts – and what can we learn from the art(s) of sympoiesis, and from sympoiesis in the arts? What can the latter contribute whenever we want SYM:BIO:FICTION(s) to become real?
SYM: All -- TOGETHER -- Now! So this is still possible, really? Sure, if not mandatory even – especially in and for an ECOLOGY AFTER NATURE. With a «nature» that always has been a phantasm, a projection surface for desires of all kind, colonial desires included. Telling a lot about this TOGETHER, defined by an animal that is used to enslave and feed on others, mistaking the wild with a buffet (all-you-can-eat, of course) and compensating this by imagining a paradise wherein all creatures coexist in peace.
But then, fortunately, another world is possible. And it is urgent to go for it, TOGETHER, to say the least. Not only among humans. SYM means more-than-human indeed.
BIOS: is for life, to live in and move in, for everything needed for this, for LIVING. How do we want to understand the TOGETHERNESS of SYM and BIOS? Do we find our own definition? And will we have the courage to flesh it out, and to embody it TOGETHER?
This is not a philosophical question. There is a need for action, and there is a need for agency. Certainly gaps between theory and practice are all but rare. Yet also in these cases coming TOGETHER is more than welcome – especially with an eye on time, as time is running out for LIFE of this planet. LIFE as we used to know it, at least.
SYMBIOSIS. In biosciences the term is not simply for LIVING TOGETHER or for all kinds of CO-EXISTENCE – as colloquial usage sometimes suggests. Rather, it is used to describe a long-term relationship between two different species that is shaped by relevant biological interactions. Science strives for clarity and precision, thus any lack of data allowing accurate captures and descriptions of symbiotic relations is considered as a problem. However, not only in many cases it is difficult to get hold of these data and to interpret them. Also the focus on dyadic relations seems inadequate for further considerations that want to consider biocoenosis and whole networks of relationships as well.
In the first place this bio-scientific definition is based on the benefits each partner gets from the relationship – be it a temporary, but regularly returning ALLIANCE or an existential INTERDEPENDENCY.
ALLIANCES, INTERDEPENDENCIES, COMPANIONSHIPS, COMMUNITIES, NETWORKS: RELATIONSHIPS are based on agency and/or generate the latter; sometimes it is deficient without the former, sometimes it is resulting from them and possible only through them. Seen from this angle, SYMBIOSES are actions. That is why Donna Haraway has brought the term SYMPOIESIS into play.
SYMPOIESIS means «making with» – CO-CREATION. Sounds good for the arts, and even better as an everyday practice: pure poetry! An art of LIVING becoming an art of CO-EXISTENCE. Making the TOGETHER productive. A worldly creation through and through, without hierarchies and without exclusions, as these are no longer necessary nor wanted... Yet, at the same time all this has nothing to do with farming a hedged paradise garden, but with worlding.
Is it possible to imagine all this not only among living creatures, but for RELATIONSHIPS of all kind, for all kind of ALLIANCES, INTERDEPENDENCIES, COMPANIONSHIPS, COMMUNITIES, NETWORKS between organisms, organs and organizations, between entities and systems? Decades before we have learned – again: from Donna Haraway – to understand both LIFE in general and thus also the biocoenoses on this planet as technologically interwoven NATURE(-)CULTURES, cybernetics has tried to describe ways such CORRELATIONS and CONNECTIVITIES could work. Today there is bio-cybernetics setting, together with bio-informatics setting a technological agenda for future ECOLOGIES. LIFE: A SYSTEM?
DATAFICATION, COMPUTATION, SIMULATION, CONTROL, OPTIMIZATION: In all areas of LIFE and of LIVING TOGETHER data are collected and processed in order to proceed to and succeed with digital modeling of the former. Data mining, pattern recognition, algorithmization, visualization: practices and procedures hiding their speculative parts behind the appealing appearance of instrumental objectivity and automated generation of evidence. «Now you can see it»!
Is this also true for TOGETHERNESS, COOPERATIONS, ENTANGLEMENTS? Cybernetic models seem to suggest this. Suddenly this overview: you only have to connect the knots, insert controllers… DATAFICATION, COMPUTATION, SIMULATION, CONTROL, OPTIMIZATION. Now you can see how it works.
THE EVIRONMENT IS NOT A SYSTEM – writes artist and environmental engineer Tega Brain, pointing us to the risks generated by cybernetics’ phantasies of power and control, especially when they are cultivated by companies such as those located in the infamous Silicon Valley, where Californian ideology still rules OK.
THIS IS (NOT) THE FUTURE. But real present and present reality. With and within their images machines are generating their very own realties – just as we used to know it from art. Hedged paradise gardens wherein not only patches and crops are calculated, but also the plants that have grown, that are growing and that will grow row by row. Remember Hito Steyerl’s project of the same title? Thus the question is probably rather why art is still considered as fiction, whereas belief is in machines.
Sooner or later we may long for strong Artificial Intelligence guiding us into that future, one that looks like and acts like Pinar Yoldas’ Kitty A.I. But then we should also know it better: Also the cutest kitten is a cat, reminding us of our own habit to make a bigger haul than our hunger would have demanded for. And better than any other species we know how to play cruel games both with others and with our equals. Against this background a Kitty A.I. is for sure the better option for this planet.
Of course we can imagine machines able to design if not future LIFE altogether, then certainly future lifeforms. Or future versions of already existing ones at least: micro-organisms, fungi, plants, animals. However, so far these creatures exist either within machines or as machines – while the majority of technologies processing LIFE is limited to an optimization of the well-known mechanisms of extractivism and exploitation that are consuming futures instead of creating them. Therefore it is probably not so easy to think of man-made machines enabling future ecologies that are not centered of human existence and human well-being. But given there were such systems: which actors and factors would they identify as too risky to keep with, so they would have be discarded right away in order to develop sustainable strategies for survival on this planet?
Or could we indeed develop COLLABORATIONS, in working TOGETHER towards new forms and formats of CO-EXISTENCE? Can we really think of new SYMBIOSES between human and non-human lifeforms, creatures and machines – and of new SYMPIOESES? Of CO-CREATIONS that also create a new TOGETHERNESS?
Beyond science fiction, questions like these are still answered under conditions set by the ongoing Capitalocene: DATAFICATION, COMPUTATION, SIMULATION, CONTROL, OPTIMIZATION. Subservient bots and other programs modeled after and configured according to systems of slavery – avidly spying and collecting data for the companies that have created them. How data are used and which systems are optimized on this basis is usually not decided by users. Not really smart or intelligent. Or is it indeed the other way round: is it us who should finally accept being data in order to be ready for new CONNECTIONS and CONNECTIVITIES of all kind?
So how can we achieve an alternate TOGETHERNESS in our TECHNO(‑)NATURE(‑)CULTURE, how can we create alternative forms and format of CO-EXISTENCE on this planet? From SYMBIOSIS to SYMPOIESIS to a pluriverse of SYMBIOSES: CYBORG ECOLOGY...