Technoscience Salon

Compositions and Decompositions of an Oak Savannah, Images by Ayelen Liberona


(De)Composing Futures

In the wake of anxieties about looming ruin and apocalypse, this year’s Technoscience Salon opens up a space for artists, scientists, activists, and scholars to consider anew how it is we grapple with uncertain futures. Each of our events gathers together makers and thinkers to question the imaginaries shaping prevailing visions of “the future.” We ask: Is it possible to disrupt assumptions about the inevitability of some futures and the impossibility of others? What alter-futurities might be fomented? Which are already in-the-making? And which appear to be foreclosed? What might be dismantled to make room for other futurities?  How might different orientations to time and temporalities transform how we imagine futures?

The aim of this series is to summon other ways of doing life by thinking alongside and athwart technoscience. One way to do this is to activate other ways of storying pasts, presents, and futures. Eschewing the teleological, progressivist temporalities that have shaped Anthropocene-thinking and the inevitability of apocalypse, this year’s events draw on the themes of composition and decomposition as we reimagine relations among pasts, presents and futures. We highlight processes of decay to help us think about the crucial role of disintegration and disassembly in the shaping of what might come.  (De)composing futures prompts a decentering of “life” as our primary analytic, and so we look to new ways of thinking between the living, once-lived, and nonliving world. How might an approach to “more-than-life” potentiate other ways of imagining futures?

This year’s events directly engage sites that are potent for thinking alter-life and alter-futures as more-than-life becomings.  In the Fall we visit High Park’s remnant Oak Savannah ecosystem to think alongside artists, storytellers, naturalists, and park stewards about the future of an urban ecology that is both in the making and coming undone. In the Winter we turn our attention to decay and decomposition by exploring how seeing and sensing can propel alter-futurities. In the Spring the Salon will host experiments in plant/human collaboration as we gather plant studies scholars and artists together to imagine ways of doing life in the Planthroposcene, an aspirational episteme in which people learn how to conspire with the plants. We take inspiration from forms of life already in the making in the wake of the Anthropocene concept.

Photo credit: ‘Compositions and Decompositions in an Oak Savannah,’ by Ayelen Liberona.