From November 5, 2018, Jill will be the RM Archive resident.
Rm Conversation Pit
Over the next twelve weeks Rm Archive will host Rm Conversation Pit, a series of habitable installations and amicable talking events. Adopting the impromptu format of a happening and the architectural intent of a conversation pit, each Rm Conversation Pit will bring together a small group of people and a provocation on re-thinking nature-culture through which to engender speculative freeform discussion. Conversation Pit invites participants to share in a dynamic of thinking-together, a process articulated by object-oriented ontology philosopher Timothy Morton as “a physical process that happens in-between people and in interactions with people”[*] For each conversation a conversation pit (or nook, cranny, hut or den) will be constructed in the Archive room, an evocative dwelling-space in which to incubate small moments of re-thinking-together and hopefully seeding ongoing thinking and sharing.
A common thread that may be traced through discourse surrounding the changed state of our planet, often referred to as the ‘Anthropocene’,[†] is the urgent role of active imagination in making the transition from an anthropocentric stance to the yet un-named identify-value arrangement we are, literally, dreaming up for ourselves. This project directly engages contemporary art practice as a modality for this imaginative passage from disempowered, passive consumption in the Holocene to the active caring required in the Anthropocene. These conversations set out to catalyse moments of active engagement in which we might ponder together the implications of this re-imagined being. To speculate on how we might act and interact now that we find that we are human, and not our anthropocentric alter-ego Human. These concerns may be addressed in many ways and via various terminology; Rm Conversation Pit sets out to hold space for all voices as we talk our way into small steps of reimaging the here and now of dwelling together.
You are invited to enlist in a conversation or conversations of your choosing, please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and availability within the allocated time-frame. Conversations will be convened in groups of 3-5 participants and will be two hours in duration. Unless otherwise arranged they will be 6-8pm weekdays and 4-6 pm weekends.
Rm Conversation Pit Part 2
22 – 27 February 2019
For the duration of this event Rm Archive has been transformed into a conversation pit, a relaxed summer space for talking and sipping a cool beverage. Conversations will happen daily and can be arranged to suit. Suggested times are Lunch time (lunch provided), after work or weekend afternoon (for a cool cocktail) at 5.30pm, or evening (for a wine and snacks) 7.30pm. If you would like to be part of this talk-fest please contact us on email@example.com with you name, contact details and preferred time(s) and date(s).
The environmental crisis has toppled our self-appointed Western position as masters of the Natural World. A so-called Natural Order in which, subservient only to God and Angels, it was proper for Humans to (in descending order and variable over time), admire (whales, dolphins) nurture as companions (dogs, horses, cats) raise to eat (sheep, cows, pigs, chickens) kill as vermin (rats, stoats, possums) plunder to eat (fish, sea food, ‘game’ animals and birds) grow to eat (fruits, vegetables, nuts) cultivate to host the above (soil, land) build on, mine, drain (land) throw unwanted material items into as ‘waste’ (land, sea, atmosphere) As this hierarchy collapses around us we are beset with questions of how we should now live. Rm Conversation Pit Part 2 invites you to think-together on two of these questions
what, or who, should we eat?
The above ‘Western position’ expects urban and suburban dwellers to be passive consumers, how might we reclaim roles of active participation?
I am hungry, I have teeth, what can I eat?
In a post-Holocene Earth eating becomes strategic, what can I eat if I care? What can we eat and survive as a biosphere? How can I eat and not participate in resource hungry Capitalist consumption?
In this charnel ground we are preparing for ourselves, this polluted, denuded and climate changed earth what is there for a person to eat?
Not a passive consumer
Under the banner of Modernism urban and suburban dwelling evolved as a passive transition point between a flow of resources from a generalised and abundant ‘somewhere’ and an unseen and endless ‘away’. If we now accept that nature is not that thing over yonder, existing perfectly in wilderness and imperfectly in farmland, but rather is an immersive biosphere in which all participate how then should we live?
Could we, should we and how might we transition from site of passive consumption toward a role active participation in a cyclic domestic hub?
What happens to the category of things we now term ‘waste’ garbage’ or ‘rubbish’ now we know there is no away? How might we live with nonhuman others now that we are not at the top of an anthropocentric hierarchy?
In Rm Conversation Pit Part 2 Rm Archive resident Jill Sorensen invites you to take part in a meandering, amicable conversation about urban dwelling and ecology. While Rm Conversation Pit Part 1 engaged with academic discourse, Part 2 of the project aims to draw on every-day knowledges, DIY ideas, and personal opinion.
Thursday 22 November, 6 – 8pm
Tuesday 27 November, 6 – 8pm
+ Drop in Saturday – informal meeting and talking space with the artist
1-3pm Saturday 24 November
Sharing in an intimate world: Rethinking human vs nature
sharing in an intimate world acknowledges the impossibility of maintaining an anthropocentric worldview[‡] in an era of eco-crisis and invites us to tease out ways to orient ourselves within a biosphere in which we are continuous with the network of entities we previously called nature.
This re-imagined world-view has been described as the third-place (Bruno Latour) or in the words of Timothy Morton, an experience of intimacy and closeness with nonhuman entities, which may include the bacteria in our bodies, the biota, animals and plants with whom we cohabit, but also trash; the plastic, chemical and biological waste we have carelessly spread around and are now intimately surrounded by.
I would like to draw attention to the semantic origins of the term intimacy, a noun deriving from the Latin root intimus, meaning innermost, most personal, profound. If we put aside the anthropocentric usage of intimacy as referring solely to close and/or sexual relations between humans, we may find the original meaning instructional for addressing this unexpected encroachment of nonhumans into physical and psychological human space. When intimacy is extended to include nonhumans, it appears less comfortable, indicating a close, family-like connection between disparate entities. Close, as in next to your skin and embedded in your thinking, and family-like as in inherited, an inescapable birth-right.
Monday 3 December, 6 – 8pm
Tuesday 4 December, 6 – 8pm
+ Drop in Saturday – informal meeting and talking space with the artist
1-3pm Saturday 1 November
The Agency of Things
Water, soil, rock, a tree, a chicken, a cat, some wheat, some excrement, a plastic bottle, a river. Our relationships with these things may be articulated as resources and waste that we need to manage but also as entities with whom our lives are intertwined. Both statements extort us to act responsibly toward these things, however the dynamic at stake in each is significantly different. In the first and more familiar statement, we adopt the position of guardian and primary actor in an active/passive relationship. In contrast to this, the second statement reflects emerging thinking and language elicited by the realisation that human activity has irreversibly changed the planet. It suggests a recalibration of human identity to a less anthropocentric role in which we interact with the autonomous agency of other entities, of things.
Our language, the vehicle of our thinking, falters here; It is telling that the word ‘thing’ appears to fill a gap in English language, operating as a proxy-term that stands in for those ‘objects’ and ‘materials’ we are not quite able to imagine as entities, beings or persons. We can acknowledge effects of things (carbon becomes coal, becomes carbon dioxide and energy, a cow eats, farts and produces carbon dioxide and milk), but we baulk at ascribing things agency as such. While we can scientifically imagine a timeframe in which we can apprehend their action we fail to philosophically imagine this more-than-human scale activity as a mode of being.
Tues 11 December, 6-8pm
Tues 18 December, 6-8pm
Between elsewhere and away: reimagining the suburban/urban home
The big wake-up call of the environmental crisis is the reminder that we are not separate from nature, Earth is not an infinite resource for our progress, and there is no away. Urban dwelling emerged from a culture in which we imagined our human selves as cradled between infinite earthly resource and a mythical ‘away’. Home became normalised as a house and garden, a two-part structure demarking an inside for human dwelling and an outside for all other entities. The permeability of the house is strictly monitored; there are clearly defined orifices for the entry of entities, energies, goods and resources. There are equally well-defined orifices for departure; the multifunction entry/exit for inhabitants (human, companion and machine) are supplemented by multiple exits to ‘away’ for entities no longer required, which exit discreetly as ‘waste’.
Like all mammals, we are made up of a plethora of entities; bacteria, microorganisms, viruses and inherited DNA. Like all mammals we are permeable; food, water, oxygen, oils and chemicals move continually between our environments and our bodies. Unlike other mammals we dwell extravagantly, co-opting soil, water, building materials, solar energy, wind, air CO2, oxygen, biota, plants, animals (as pets, food or pests), consumer goods and fossil fuels to use and discard. However, despite sectioning ourselves off into a human enclave, I suggest that we still desire connection with nonhuman others, and this desire emerges as accultured nature; we keep pets, we value views out across the land and sea, we cultivate gardens. It emerges as vicarious care, we watch nature documentaries and YouTube videos of funny cats and heart rendering animal rescues.
How might we, speculatively or pragmatically, reimaging dwelling as continuous with a complex web of biota?
This research project is informed from and sets out to test, interrogate and build upon the speculations of some key thinkers:
Object-Oriented Ontologist Timothy Morton[§]; in particular his thinking on the symbiotic real, solidarity with nonhuman people and of collectivity[**] as active and uneasy cohabitation. In particular I recommend Timothy Morton in Conversation with Verso Books sections ‘the individual and the collective’ and ‘the ontological is political’ at time point 9:40 – 15:45
Science Studies writer/philosopher Bruno Latour articulation of the third place[††]which he articulates in Why Gaia Is Not the Globe, 2016,
Nature/culture writer Michael Pollan on nonhuman agency and taking a non-anthropocentric view of evolution and symbiosis.
Donna Haraway, feminist, science and technology scholar and storyteller, in particular, the tentacular complexity Haraway acknowledges in making-do with nonhumans[‡‡].SF: String Figures, Multispecies Muddles, Staying with the Trouble. In the four minute section from 20:00 – 24:40min Haraway talks through her process of thinking with other thinkers, highlighting the importance of how we think and what platforms we think from. It is this self-reflexive mode of thought that I hope to foster in Conversation Pit.
Levi R Bryant, philosopher, Lacanian Psychoanalyst and champion of all things ontic. A formative thinker in defining the field of Object Oriented Ontology, currently researching a line of object-oriented thought, called which he terms ‘onticology’
I welcome your suggestion of thinkers and resources to add to the mix to expand and complicate the discussion.
[*] SCI-Arc Channel, ‘B. Arch Program Chair Tom Wiscombe Interviews Timothy Morton’, accessed 26 April 2018, (section 1:03 – 1:45)
[†] The term Anthropocene was coined by atmospheric Chemist Paul J. Crutzen and currently under review by the International Union of Geological Sciences as the geological age in which the most profound influence for the change has been human activity.
[‡] In which Humans are separate from the Nature, a construction in which the natural world exists over yonder, providing both resource and backdrop for human activities.
[§] Morton, Timothy, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People (London. New York: Verso Books, 2017).
[**] Verso Books, ‘Timothy Morton in Conversation with Verso Books’, accessed 26 April 2018, .
[††] Faculty of Arts, Aarhus Universitet, Bruno Latour: Why Gaia Is Not the Globe, 2016,
[‡‡] Donna Jeanne Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Experimental Futures Technological Lives, Scientific Arts, Anthropological Voices (Durham London: Duke University Press, 2016).