Terrestrial University: Oceans in Transformation

with John Palmesino, Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, Markus Reymann, Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel and Bettina Korintenberg

with John Palmesino, Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, Markus Reymann, Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel and Bettina Korintenberg
with John Palmesino, Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, Markus Reymann, Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel and Bettina Korintenberg

The ocean is a sensorium. It records in its complex dynamics the transformations of the Earth, and it inscribes its cycles back into the activities of life-forms. The global ocean is changing its circulations, energies, interactions, and ecologies. It is the most dynamic and sensitive component of our living planet. How can we think from and with the ocean?

The ocean is in a new phase of its dynamic history, shaped by intensifications of the impact of human activities on planetary systems. The transformations are plural: they traverse a multiplicity of elements, circulations, life forms, environments, and operate across a gradient of dimensions, energies and rhythms. 

How are we to understand the current sets of transformations changing the ocean without reverting to an all-sweeping new horizon, one single line of sight? How to become sensible to the multiple refractions and circulations that are coupled in the making of the Anthropocene ocean?

TBA21–Academy and Territorial Agency are collaborating to connect new forms of visibility and understanding of the ocean brought by science, culture, and art. Linking scientists, artists, policy makers, and conservationists by way of shared images, data sets, and narratives, the project is structured as an instigation for new cognitive modes of encountering the ocean and a line towards attainable solutions to safe-guard the oceans.

»Oceans in Transformation« is a multi-year research project by Territorial Agency, commissioned by TBA21-Academy. 

The project is highlighted in the exhibition »Critical Zones« with a multimedia installation investigating the architecture of the continental shelf, and how they are being transformed into a complex architecture of extraction. Fossil resources are being extracted at larger and larger risk, excessive fishing is depleting the livelihood of marine life, the ploughing of the seabed through trawling is rearranging the sedimentary strata and eradicating life.

About the participants

John Palmesino is an architect and urbanist, born in Switzerland. He has established, together with Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, Territorial Agency, which has designed the integrated vision for the future of the Markermeer, in the Netherlands. In his scientific as well as artistic work, he focuses on the territorial transformations.

Ann-Sofi Rönnskog is an architect and urbanist from Finland. Together with John Palmesino, she has established Territorial Agency . Her work focuses on the architectural and spatial analysis of contemporary city transformation processes. 

Markus Reymann is the director of TBA21-Academy. Between July, 2011 and today, Reymann initiated and conducted numerous expeditions. Each trip is designed as a collaboration with invited artists, scientists and thinker's eager to embark on oceanic explorations. Inspired by this unusual encounter with both human and natural elements, the Academy commissions ambitious projects informed by the itinerary of the research vessel Dardanella.

Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza is the Founder and Chair of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21). Driven by a belief in the power of art to serve as an agent of change, she has supported artists throughout her career in the production and creation of new work that fuels engagement with the most pressing issues of our times.

Bruno Latour is a philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist. He curated the exhibition »Critical Zones«, which puts the focus on the thin surface of the earth, in which all transactions of life are mutually dependent. In his latest publication »Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime« he demands to define politics as what leads toward the Earth and not toward the global or the national.

Peter Weibel is the chairman of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. He studied literature, medicine, logic, philosophy, and film. On account of his various activities as artist, media theorist, curator, and as a nomad between art and science, he became a central figure in European media art. He also curated the exhibition »Critical Zones«

Bettina Korintenberg is a cultural studies scholar whose work focuses on the areas where art, architecture, and literature intersect. Her curatorial and academic practice centers on critically questioning and reflecting on paradigms of modernity against the backdrop of contemporary social and ecological transformations. She also curated the exhibition »Critical Zones«.

n cooperation with

Territorial Agency

This event is organized in collaboration with the digital program of Oceans in Transformation, live on ocean-archive.org in anticipation of a major exhibition at Ocean Space, church of San Lorenzo, Venice, opening on August 27, 2020. »Oceans in Transformation—The architecture of the continental shelf« is part of the exhibition »Critical Zones« at ZKM Karlsruhe.