Strange Ecologies #3: Irresolvability
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Olga Goriunova & Matthew Fuller

Jill Craigie Cinema, University of Plymouth 17:30 15.02.19

Irresolvable problems are those to which none of the answers available are the right ones. Irresolvability is the structural incapacity to sort out a problem, to be in a state of inhabiting a problem that both consists of you and that is outwith you. It is a means of establishing a certain kind of economy of deterrence, dysfunction, a generalised condition of sludginess. Irresolvability names the condition in which the structuring incapacity of action of strategic thought becomes, by means of related technologies, economic and organisational forms and processes of subjectivation a part of everyday infrastructure of feeling. Born in the game theoretical exuberance of the cold war, irresolvability names the rationalised technique, inaugurated at Hiroshima, of rendering a problem beyond reasonable choice. It thus establishes a connection between ecological obliteration and the prohibition of thought by means of reason.

This state of impossible choice becomes foundational to the modern world, but is one different to the choice of Sartre or of Kierkegaard. Gregory Bateson presents us with the form of the schizogenic double bind to articulate this condition and, reflecting on some particularly dark experiments on dolphins, notes that it is a formal condition that may be replicated across species.

But this condition is also that of a generalised proliferation of irresolvable problems, a world of debt that comes before persons and the fractal proliferation of deterrence that dissolves futures, and in which formalisms derived from the techniques of deterrence become structuring devices that saturate everyday life. In his regard, the paper develops a new reading of the work of Hayek in his work on economic automata as part of a generalised and nonlinear infrastructure of irresolvability.

Olga Goriunova is Reader at the department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway University of London. She is the author of Art Platforms (Routledge 2012) and, with Matthew Fuller, of Bleak Joys (Minnesota 2019). She has edited numerous volumes, including Fun and Software (Bloomsbury 2014).

Matthew Fuller is author of books including How to Sleep, the art biology and culture of unconsciousness and is Professor of Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.

ADA Public Programme 2018–19: Strange Ecologies

Series of talks from the School of Art, Design and Architecture (ADA)

All talks are FREE and open to all. The talks are organised in collaboration with The Arts Institute, The Atlantic Project and The Box.

The School of Art, Design and Architecture (ADA) at the University of Plymouth presents the Strange Ecologies talks series (2018-19), in partnership with The Arts Institute, The Atlantic Project and The Box.

“We need new social and aesthetic practices, new practices of the Self in relation to the other, to the foreign, the strange – a whole programme that seems far removed from current concerns. And yet, ultimately, we will only escape from the major crises of our era through the articulation of: - A nascent subjectivity - A constantly mutating socius - An environment in the process of being reinvented.”

We take this quote from Félix Guattari’s Three Ecologies (first published in 1989) as a starting point to explore the interconnected networks of mind, society and the environment now, and in turn to reflect the research strengths of the University in marine studies, cultural heritage and health.

The ADA Public Programme thus explores how transversal eco-aesthetic practices can respond to the damaging effects of integrated world capitalism (e.g. the increase of mental health and stress-related disorders; the rise of right-wing nationalism and fundamentalisms; ecological crisis on a global scale, climate change and natural resource depletion). Invited speakers respond to ecologies in their widest sense: to counter the pervasive atmosphere of inaction, and propose new social and aesthetic imaginaries.

Image: still from a film by Kira Muratova, Three Stories (1997).