Terrestrial University: Observing-Participating-Commoning
Round collage of photos of a meadow with trees under a cloudy sky.
Sam Skinner and Mirko Nikolić in conversation
Thu, September 09, 2021 7 pm CEST, Talk
Language: English

What could artist-led observatory/observation be in the 21st century, which might begin to see through and beyond our intersecting planetary crises?

How do the activities of measurement, sense, and observation change when enacted through, and with, experimental modes of (collectivized) noticing, (community) building, (communal) imagination, and (collaborative) activism? How might ideas such as »participant observation« in anthropology, »observing systems« in cybernetics, and the »observer effect« in quantum physics, speak with radically different, but kindred discourses and processes, such as embodied perception and feminist »situated knowledges«?

This Terrestrial University session will sketch and prefigure alternative visions for observing and caring for what Sam Skinner and Mirko Nikolić call »material communities«. Based on their interdependent and collaborative research and praxis it will connect an artist-led horticulture project in Oxford with the river basins of Korenita and Jadar in the Balkans. The river sites are under threat of old and new large-scale extractivist operations. The above drawn-out questions and sites are unravelled and entangled from the positions of regenerative practices of horticulture and de-extractivist poetry.

The event is held in English.

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Sam Skinner is an artist, curator, and publisher working on intersections between community, technology, and horticulture. He completed a practice-based PhD at Manchester School of Art in 2019, which investigated the history of observatories and observation, with research translating into co-curation of »The New Observatory« exhibition at FACT, Liverpool and the artist book »Obs«, published by Broken Dimanche Press. Sam was co-chair of Working Group 1 of the COST Action on New Materialism and co-edited the project »almanac«. He co-directs Torque Editions, an experimental digital literacy and publishing project, recent books include »Artists Re: Thinking the Blockchain and The Act of Reading«. Skinner has recently launched a new art and horticulture project entitled »Fig«, see www.fig.studio for more info. 

Mirko Nikolić’s practice seeks to contribute to climate and earth justice through performance and text. His current long-term project »water is (non)life« based at Linköping University moves in a space between art and environmental humanities. It deals with entanglements between climate and social justice in the regions of intense extractivist exploitation in the semi-peripheries of Europe. Nikolić completed a PhD at the Centre for Research, Education in Arts and Media at the University of Westminster, London, in 2017, with the project titled »minoritarian ecologies: performance before a more-than-human world«. Working member of various collectives and collaborations, among which Pluriversal Radio and Mustarinda Association.

Terrestrial University

Viewers have the opportunity to accompany the conversation with questions, thoughts and suggestions in the chat of the Critical Zones Telegram group (zkm_criticalzones).

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The event via live stream
Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

Accompanying program