Interdisciplinary art research platform Jutempus (Vilnius, Lithuania) launches Zooetics, a 5 year long exploration of future environmental fictions and models. ‘Zooetics’ is a notion in progress to explore new ways to engage human knowledge and research with other forms of life — from mammals to microbes to molluscs — and to imagine designs, prototypes and interfaces for future interspecies ecologies.

The Zooetics research aims to address the crisis in human relationships with the environment by unpacking notions of Anthropocene, Nature and Interspecies and looking at new conjunctions across these concepts. Part of the Zooetics process will involve finding a common language across disciplines in the sciences and arts. Another part will engage the frontier site of disconnection between human knowledge and the knowledge of other life, by using fiction (literary and visual) as a method to engage with the unknown, unknowable and apparently insoluble.

With its initial event—a series of public lectures and workshops in December 2014—Zooetics addresses the paradigm shift in science, culture and society proposed in posthumanist research and in arguments for the Anthropocene age. This discourse is inspired by and situated within the site of the historically negotiated border between Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) and the Lithuanian National Zoo.

Leading thinkers and practitioners from the cross-disciplinary fields engaging science, technology, art, design, and architecture will converse in a three week series of keynote lectures in KTU Santaka Valley (59 K.Baršausko str., Kaunas), followed by conversations:

Friday, December 5, 2014: 6:00 – 8:00 pm Artist, engineer and inventor Natalie Jeremijenko, founder of the Environmental Health Clinic (The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education & Human Development at New York University, USA) and Christian Schwägerl, science and politics journalist and author of “The Anthropocene. The Human Era and how it shapes our Planet” (Germany);

Friday, December 12, 2014: 6:00 – 8:00 pm Caleb Harper, researcher on future urban food and founder of CityFARM research group (MIT Media Lab, USA), and Skylar Tibbits, architect and director of Self-Assembly Lab, working on programmable material technologies rethinking novel manufacture and construction processes (MIT Architecture, USA);

Friday, December 19, 2014: 1:00 – 4:00 pm Timothy Morton, philosopher and author of the “Hyperobjects” and “The Ecological Thought” (Rice University, USA); visual artist and designer Jae Rhim Lee, founder of Infinity Burial Project, developing a unique strain of mushroom to facilitate post-mortem decomposition (Institute of Design, Stanford University, USA); and Territorial Agency — architects and urbanists John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog—co-authors of Anthropocene Observatory project (Architectural Association, UK).

On December 6, 13 & 20 – from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm scientists and artists will meet to discuss perspectives of future research developments together with the keynote speakers in Kaunas in closed seminars. Researchers, designers or artists, willing to participate in these seminars are asked to apply by sending a short bio and a description of their research and interest area to info@zooetics.net by 1st of December.

The lectures will instigate further research to be followed up in a series of incubators in Finland, Iceland and Lithuania 2015-2017. The research process in-between actual meetings will be facilitated with an evolving online glossary and reading group, available on www.zooetics.net. The outcomes of the Zooetics long-term programme will be presented through an exhibition and symposium in 2017 and will eventually serve as a pilot project leading to the launch of new research institution in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Jutempus team, 2014-2018: Gediminas Urbonas, artist and professor at the MIT Program in Art, Culture & Technology, Cambridge, USA; Nomeda Urbonas, artist and PhD fellow at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Norway; Tracey Warr, writer and senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, UK; Viktorija Šiaulytė, curator and researcher at Jutempus Interdisciplinary Art Program, Lithuania.

Zooetics is part of the Outreach and Education Programme of the Frontiers in Retreat project, developed in partnership with Kaunas University of Technology. The Frontiers in Retreat project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Zooetics is also supported by Lithuania’s Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA), Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and Lithuanian Council for Culture.

More information on the lecture series: www.zooetics.net.

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