Launching later this month, ‘The Speculative Space of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums’ project will comprise a series of creative workshops that explore the critical ground that exists between science fiction (sf) and Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum (GLAM) spaces and collections. It will consider depictions of GLAM spaces in sf media, existing collections and exhibitions which contain sf media, and sf as a creative practice for engagement and critical reflection within GLAM spaces, looking to the imaginative futures and alternate presents of sf to critically reflect on the futures of these spaces and institutions.
In November 2022, Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, Amy Butt, and I ran a workshop at Winchester School of Art called ‘Retracing the Library’. The workshop was part of the UK’s Being Human Festival, an annual event that showcases work across the Arts and Humanities.
We came together to try and find ways to make something new and collaborative out of our shared interests in artists’ books, critical making, science fiction, environment, and the institutional spaces we occupy. For the first workshop we settled on Winchester School of Art library as a location, both because Noriko and I are based in Winchester, and because the library here has a particularly interesting environment and history.
Over the course of two hours, participants traced the library’s journey from the overflow shelves at its current location, to the gallery space it was rescued from during the flood of 1999, to the moated glass Rotunda where it began life in 1965. In each space participants were asked to remake and reimagine the library in a way that was meaningful to them.
Join us for a free creative workshop where you will become part of the strange ebb and flow of Winchester School of Art Library! This session is part of both the Creative Posthumanism series and the UK’s Being Human Festival. It will take place in person on 16th November, 2022 (2-4pm UK time) and will start at Winchester School of Art library, West Side Building, Park Avenue, Winchester.
If you enjoyed the last two workshops from the Creative Posthumanism project, or if you wanted to attend but couldn’t make it, we’d like to welcome you to our third and final event of the summer, ‘Monstrous Words: Writing and Incoherence’ (Wednesday 27 July 2022, 2-4pm BST)
Join artist Rebecca Jagoe in a play with language and writing incoherence. Incoherence can be expressed in writing on many levels, for instance in terms of narrative, in the sense of neologisms (for instance in the different spellings of Middle English), or in the transcription of nonverbal sound into roman or other characters. We will think together about how a language deficit or specific forms of speech have been used to deny access to the category of the human. This means we will also be writing in defiance of the idea of rationality and knowability—not only of subjects, but of the ability of language to catalogue and define them. We will work towards what Erin Manning (2020) calls a pragmatics of the useless; ‘the way the work’s work eludes us, escapes us, the way it delays the affirmation of its tenuous apparition, the way it touches us, in the lag’ (p. 15).
The second workshop in this year’s Creative Posthumanism series took place on June 1st, 2022. Workshop coordinators Angela YT Chan and Cristina Diamant invited participants to ‘scrapbook the wasteland’. We did so by looking at the mix of extractive practices that (re)produce wastelands, drawing together a variety of materials and theories to “reconfigure the relationship between our own situated embodiments and technological developments from a more-than-human ethical perspective, acknowledging the affect behind our response and confronting the biases that hold us back”.
Are you interested in critical posthumanism and the creative arts? Did you see images from our zine-making workshop and wish you’d been able to join us? Now is your chance! Our next Creative Posthumanism workshop will be on Wednesday, 1st June 2022, from 2-4pm at Winchester School of Art. This week, our theme (and the focus of our collaborative making project) is ‘Scrapbooking the Wasteland—A Posthumanist Terror Management Theory Toolkit’.
Last week we ran a pilot event in the Creative Posthumanism project, specially for the postgraduate research (PhD) community at Winchester School of Art (WSA). The event was facilitated by me and Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, an artist, artist’s book-maker, and fellow bibliophile who has also worked with me on several previous zine workshops. The theme? ‘Being Human under Technocapitalism’.
The plan was to create something collaboratively, using the creative process to think differently about topics we might historically have only considered academically or through critical writing. The exact format of the zine was decided on the day, once we could see how many participants we had and could discuss what everyone felt comfortable with. In the end we had a nice small group of around six people, which meant we could all speak to each other and work together around the same table.
In the first part of the session we introduced participants to the process of making an individual zine, including the work of folding and cutting the paper and the types of things you might have as topics or content. We also introduced them to the materials we had assembled: magazines, patches, bits of washi tape, stickers, and other decorations.
This summer I’ll be launching a series of pilot workshops as part of the Creative Posthumanism project, including sessions on zine-making, scrapbooking, and performance art. More news on these sessions will follow soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little bit about the rationale behind the project. Humanistic principles underpin key discourses in biology (we are individual entities), psychology (we are individual actors), economics (we are rational actors), law (we are responsible for our actions), art (we are individual authors of human stories), AI research (the goal is to produce computers which “think like us”), medicine (there is a clear idea of a healthy human which we should aim to remain in line with), and ecology (the earth should be optimised for human habitation). In many of these areas, however, the centrality of such thought is being questioned. Critical posthumanism is an academic field of inquiry that deconstructs the human (and humanitarian) impacts of these liberal humanist systems and institutions, particularly in the ways that they have been accelerated and exacerbated by advancing technologies.