International conference at Department of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, 28-30 June 2023
How do we get to know the world, and how do we locate ourselves within it? For spatial practitioners these are crucial questions that guide the way we produce knowledge, and the kinds of practices we value in our work.
For full call: https://www.weaving.world/
Deadline for submissions: 15th March 2023
n recent years, mapping and modelling have become key tools through which we understand spatial situations and are often also central to forms of intervention. While the practice of mapping has been thoroughly deconstructed, as can be discerned in the use of terms such as counter/radical cartography, counter mapping etc., within the realm of the digital many familiar problems have returned in a different guise, such as externalised reference points, immutable base maps, or simply our own unacknowledged presence. The digital realm also produces representations of worlds that are all encompassing, where paradigms of existence beyond the statistical, capitalist and imperial logic of the model are difficult to imagine (Galloway, 2014). Such technologies have enabled new forms of colonisation and are complicit in the ending of many lifeworlds. If we were to learn from indigenous thinkers that we live in ‘a world of many worlds’ (Cadena & Blaser, 2018) that are deeply entangled, how might this transform our practices of mapping and modelling to apprehend heterogeneous, material and situated worlds? What would an intensive practice of mapping look like? What might it mean to know the world through multiple reference points? If maps are tools that conceptualise ways of knowing and aid navigation, how might we produce them differently to help us place ourselves within multiple constellations?
What in more optimistic times was considered the democratising influence of social media has produced a highly complex landscape where the line between fact and fiction has blurred. In such a context, evidentiary ways `of knowing have become more popular across the arts and culture contributing towards a forensic turn. Such work is situated within the idiom of the juridical and through an investment in certain forms of evidence producing unquestionable truths (Weizman, 2019). Visual regimes of modelling and mapping are also imbricated in the production of such evidence. In a post-truth world, the ‘return’ to this unitary truth runs the risk of reproducing universality in a different guise. How might we resist disentangling the knotty world of social relations to produce unitary truths? One approach has been to expand the practice of witnessing beyond the individual subject, to include the relationship between the production of truth and the social, political and environmental contexts within which such truths are embedded. This shift towards situating witnessing within a wider context has led to the emergence of what has been referred to as constellations of witnessing, that is an assemblage of humans and other-than-humans imbricated within the process of witnessing (Kramer and Weigel 2019). Such practices point towards ways we might acknowledge the existence of multiple worlds and the need for a shared ground.
At a time when evidentiary practices have been positioned as an antidote to a ‘post-truth’ world, how can we mobilise other ways of knowing? Wendy Chun in writing about climate change identifies unknowable risks as incalculable yet estimable. What approximate narratives and future worlds can we imagine on a planet faced with multiple crises (Tyszczuk, 2019)? Rather than basing our politics on a logic of pre-emption and optimisation that reproduces a world based on its own narrow understandings of risk and threat, and of cause and effect, we might need to create speculative models that work with multiple truths and actively envision other realities. In this sense, a critical approach might not only analyse the modelled spaces of standards, practices and computational geometries, but would also deploy ‘agential cuts’ (Barad) through the extractive geometries of digital modelling to reveal thick surfaces for action and for alternative interpretations. How might we reimagine the practice of representation as a turn towards this thick surface that we always already inhabit, and how might we account for the ‘racialised assemblages’ and ‘heavy waves and vibrations’ (McKittrick & Weheliye, 2012) of life that run through it? To weave new worlds through such understandings, we need to pay equal attention to the binary tendencies of a certain practice of weaving (weft and warp) and also to the way weaving in many cultures is both the production of textile surfaces and the weaving of stories as (often) women sit together and speculate on alternative pasts and other futures. This means giving precedence to different ways of knowing the world, to other forms of intelligence, and a commitment to developing forms of practice that weave together what might be contradictory positions into future scenarios.