In partnership with AntiUniversity
Whether you smelt it, mine it, burn it, breathe it, or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction.
Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing earthly disease that is characterized by compulsive seeking and use of earth products, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because humankind changes the earth—they change its structure and how it works.
Soft Sickness is a one evening/one day workshop hosted by the research project Shift Register exploring the signs, symptoms, circulations, exchanges, consumptions, dependencies, and management implicit in the multifarious and pathological dependence on the earth which is now named by that word “Anthropocene”. Earthly addictions produce quantified-earth self-portraiture, GIS co-dependencies, and all other variants of planetary narcissism. Earth-scale sensor systems and media networks, swathing the planet in information about itself, are unveiled with media from on- and off-planet earth science field-stations and reflections thereupon. Dependencies bring anxieties about the impending doom of resource dearths to come. People manage these anxieties with new psychotropic medications, whereas artists represent and markets bet on them, against the health of the earth and its living bodies.
Soft Sickness divines the earth lines of the often contradictory ingestion of and repeating addiction to the earth and its productions, data, memory — its circulations, seasons and natures, to the plants, the mushrooms and the animals, to fossil fuels, metals, to liquid screens and smogged surfaces, to longevity and, finally, to the real. To the thing and things which we cannot help doing (things to). To compulsively consume (the earth) is to eat and subsequently to excrete ourselves, humankind, and this cycle can be termed addiction. We feed from the earth, feeding back to the earth a world and mind-changing chemistry.
During the workshop, participants and invited guests will discuss, map, extract, ingest and excrete relations of local earth manifested in Finsbury Park in North London. Plant and pharmaceutical toxicities/ psycho-pharmacologies, poison cures, geophagic gastronomics, esoteric pollution sensing and embrace, and the invention and embedding of folkloric and human to non-human ecologies constitute parts of this invitation. We will gather psycho-active dew, imagine tales for the mole people, bake bread for crows, and make the earthworlds flesh.
We wish to develop contemporary rituals articulating the polarised and overgrown junk-tions of shamanic spirit journeyings with addiction managements; cold kicking the earth habit or indulging absolutely in the (cannibal/capital) undergrounds and (fairie) overgrounds.
SHIFT REGISTER is a research project investigating how technological and infrastructural activities have made Earth into a planetary laboratory. The project maps and activates local dynamics and material shifts between human, earthly and planetary bodies and temporalities. Contemporary, mainstream science and technology are intersected with other knowledge systems to attempt a reconfiguration of relations between humans and the earth. SHIFT REGISTER is Jamie Allen, Martin Howse, Merle Ibach, Jonathan Kemp and Martin Sulzer at the Critical Media Lab, Basel.