The program of this AIL Topic addresses the eerie and analyse what haunts us in the here and now.
Which past haunts us? What futures can we imagine? What can we call upon in order to understand the present and that which is imminent? Can we predict the future? And can artificial intelligence do future?
Based on Jacques Derrida’s Hauntology, the specter represents the continuing effects of past and distant forces. We will look at phenomena that do not physically exist but still have an effect on the present. Digital technologies, for instance, are capable of creating multiple virtualities in space and time, thus collapsing spatial and temporal dimensions. In her materialist theory, feminist physicist Karen Barad also references Derrida. Based on the principle of quantum mechanics, she states that phenomena are connected in spooky and complex ways and exert influence beyond the subatomic level. Objects are therefore not static things but dynamic processes which change as they interact and intra-act with other objects. Sociologist Avery Gordon also makes haunting one of her research methods. She tracks down ghost stories to uncover blank spots in the current social situation – such as discriminatory exclusions – and to comprehend the conditions that underlie the creation of memory. Her aim is to establish a counter-memory, one that might help build a fairer future.
The first instalment of Haunted – Persistence of the Past, the sound performance series Sonic Specters. Between Nostalgia and Anticipation in collaboration with struma+iodine, took place in October 2023. The invited performers used eerie and futuristic sounds to search for traces of times past and times to come. The sound series Sonic Specters is concerned neither with resurrecting real events from the past nor with celebrating nostalgia, but sets out in search of lost futures (Mark Fisher) to elude eternally backward-looking feedback loops.
The second instalment will be the two-part performance of Re-enchantment in April 2024.
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Sidenote: What is an AIL Topic? In addition to presentations of university-wide artistic research projects, external collaborations and various kinds of events, AIL sets its own thematic priorities. Starting point for this was the cooperation project Decolonizing Technology, led by Clemens Apprich (Department of Media Theory) and Elisabeth Falkensteiner (AIL) in the fall of 2022. In October 2023, the following AIL Topic Haunted – Persistence of the Past has started with the sound performance series Sonic Specters and continues in Spring 2024 with the performance series of Re-enchantment.