notes : Scott Gabriel Knowles

excerpted from Notes : Scott Gabriel Knowles

[1] EDITORS’ NOTE: This disjointed and disconnected technosphere calls to mind the resourcification Godofredo Pereira discusses, “Techno-scientific modes of seeing, classifying, and measuring the earth are reformulating the ways in which territorial disputes are currently played out. Due to the mobilisation of science by capital, we today inhabit an earth that is being reduced to discrete components.” Godofredo Pereira. “The Underground Frontiercontinent. 4, no. 4 (2015): 4–11.

A quantification of being—a fragmentation of self and environment. In the essay “Uncommoning Nature,” Marisol de la Cadena writes of the Peruvian populist resistance against the sale of land and water to mining corporations, where she explores the trace of an interdependent cosmology in the rhetoric of indigenous Peruvian communities. The language used to relate to the land, Cadena writes, reveals “an ecologized nature of interdependent entities that simultaneously coincides, differs, and even exceeds – also because it includes humans—the object that the state, the mining corporation, and environmentalists seek to translate into resources, whether for exploitation or to be defended.” Marisol de la Cadena. “Uncommoning Naturee-flux. Apocalypsis. August 22, 2015.

[2] EDITORS’ NOTE: The political valence Scott Knowles refers to incites an upheaval of Western hegemonic understandings of the relationship of the human to ecological, planetary systems and, increasingly, on an extraterrestrial vanguard.

In an ethnographic excursion through social relationships to land, Edward S. Casey writes in Getting Back into Place about the effects of colonialism upon the Navajo as not just a physical displacement, but a displacement that incurs “both culture loss and memory loss resulting from the loss of the land itself, each being a symptom of the disorientation wrought by relocation.” Western colonialism brought with it concepts and language that inform a cosmology of separateness between the human and non-human—or being and environment, contaminating the tradition of interconnectedness and entanglement, and shaking the foundation of this complex existential orientation across generations.

“It follows as a devastating deduction that to take away land is to take away life, that the major cause of illness is not something ‘physical’ or ‘psychological’ in the usual bifurcated Cartesian senses of these words but, instead, the loss of landed place itself […] To take a people’s land away altogether, so that reciprocating with it is not even possible, is to disrupt the sacred balance even more drastically.” Edward S. Casey. Getting Back into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 37. [See also: Industrialisation.]

In discussing the technosphere, interviewees frequently expressed an intuitive alignment with ideas that are present in many Indigenous cosmologies and rhetorics. More now than ever, where state agents are being called to accountability and reconciliation with displaced Indigenous communities, the nuances of these cosmologies would have significant impact on the ethical and legal systems that frame (and reflect) human relationships to the earth and to non-humans, and ultimately shape environmental policies and industrial practices. What Knowles calls an “edgy assembly of all the pieces in one” would necessitate a reconnection with this complex interdependency of self and place, a type of re-indigenisation, a reconnection, of beings and technologies with a more intimate experience of place.

[3] EDITORS’ NOTE: [See also: Mushon Zer-Aviv on the affordances and interfaces in this issue; Lucy Suchman on military technologies also in this issue.]

[4] EDITORS’ NOTE: Lucy Suchman writes on the transition of public interfaces onto the intimate body through wearable technology: “My concern, then, is with the kinds of ‘we’s’ that are posited by this future vision, widening the circle of those who employ, manage, and command to include more and more of ‘us,’ while those who serve us are re-fantasized from problematic human workers to the now-quite imitable in silicon Jeeves. Discourses of agency at the interface at once naturalize the desirability of “service provision,” and further obscure the specific sociomaterial infrastructures—including growing numbers of human workers – on which smooth interactions at the interface continue to depend.” Lucy Suchman. Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 225.

[5] EDITORS’ NOTE: As addressed in several of the interviews, the ecological and social crises that in part necessitate discussion around a technosphere, originate out of a divide between the human and the environmental—a schism of self and place. The planetary trauma of industrialisation was fundamentally permitted through a perception of the earth as resource. This legacy of exploitation is evident in the ongoing pacification of Anishinaabek demands for returning federal, provincial and municipal land-holdings to Indigenous stewardship (the term “ownership” allowing misrepresentation of human relationship to the land). The ongoing industrial and luxury residential development of Asinabka is an example of the permeation of this schism into the so-called “green economies” of developing cities:

“In 1800, Philemon Wright saw Asinabka as a place to settle and, by employing labour for the transformation of nature (land use!), a means to build a community. When Robert Randall surveyed the Chaudière Falls in 1807, he saw water and force, and a means to extract power from nature for economic gain. In 2006, Domtar seized an opportunity to invest capital into its extractive infrastructure, expand its facility, and in so doing, increase profit. Each of these ‘colonial moments’ was made possible because of an a priori perception of the relationship between people and land. Battiste and Henderson (2000), in their critique of Eurocentric ontology, describe this perception as a consciousness that ‘artificially constructs a place for existence’ then ‘treats the natural world as a practical source of the means to achieve its own objectives’. All three moments were made possible by period-specific political technologies, respectively: a land survey, a colonial missive, and an environmental screening report.” Eric L. Smith. “An Urban Epicentre of Decolonization in Canada: The Indigenous-Settler Alliance To Make a Place for Peace at Asinabka.” Masters thesis. Carleton University. (2011), 55.

[6] EDITORS’ NOTE: See also: TERADA Masahiro (寺田匡宏) on co-evolution. Negarestani’s “mutual affordance between surfaces or the entity and its environment, that is to say, according to the eco-logical web, the Whole” [or “()hole”]. Reza Negarestani. Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials. (Melbourne: re-press, 2008), 46.

[7] EDITORS’ NOTE: [See also: Abstract, Complexity, Interconnectedness, Everything–Everything–Everything.]