We have entered the Anthropocene era—a geological age of our own making, in which what we have understood to be nature is made by man. We need a new way to understand the dynamics of a new epoch. These volumes offer writings that approach the Anthropocene through the perspectives of grain, vapor, and ray—the particulate, the volatile, and the radiant. The first three volumes—each devoted to one of the three textures—offer a series of paired texts, with contemporary writers responding to historic writings. A fourth volume offers a guide to the project as a whole. Grain: Granular materials add up to concrete forms; insignificant specks accumulate into complex entities. The texts in this volume narrate some of the fundamental qualities of the granular. In one pairing of texts, Robert Smithson compares the accumulation of thoughts to the aggregation of sediment, and an environmental historian writes about the stakes for earthly knowledge today. Other authors include Alfred Russel Wallace, Denis Diderot, and Georges Bataille. Vapor: The vaporous represents matter’s transformations. In this volume, a political scientist compares Kafka’s haunting “Odradek” to “vibrant matter”; a media theorist responds to poems and diagrams by Buckminster Fuller; and more, including texts by Hippocrates, Italo Calvino, and James Clerk Maxwell. Ray: A ray is an act of propagation and diffusion, encompassing a chain of interdependencies between energy and matter. This volume includes texts by Spinoza (with a reconceptualization by a contemporary philosopher), Jacques Lacan (followed by an anthropologist’s reflections on temporality), Thomas Pynchon (accompanied by an interpretation of Pynchon’s “electro-mysticism”), and others. These volumes constitute a unique experiment in design and composition as well as content. The mingling of texts and the juxtaposition of different areas of knowledge represented in a variety of forms express the dynamics of a world in change.
With contributions by Sabeth Buchmann, Mercedes Bunz, Diedrich Diederichsen, Kodwo Eshun, Anselm Franke, Erich Hörl, Norman M. Klein, Maurizio Lazzarato, Flora Lysen, Eva Meyer, John Palmesino, Laurence Rickels, Bernd M. Scherer, Fred Turner In the year 1966, a young man named Stewart Brand handed out buttons in San Francisco reading: “Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?” Two years later, the NASA photograph of the “blue planet” appeared on the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog. In creating the catalogue, frequently described as the analogue forerunner of Google, Brand had founded one of the most influential publications of recent decades. It mediated between cyberneticists and hippies, nature romantics and technology geeks, psychedelia and computer culture, and thus triggered defining impulses for the environmentalist movement and the rise of the digital network culture. The photo of the blue planet developed a sphere of influence like almost no other image: it stands not only for ecological awareness and crisis but also for a new sense of unity and globalization. The universal picture of “One Earth” hence anticipated an image of the end of the Cold War, whose expansion into space it accompanied, and overwrote or neutralized political lines of conflict by transferring classical politics and criticism of it to other categories, such as cybernetic management or ecology. The exhibition “The Whole Earth” is an essay composed of cultural-historical materials and artistic positions that critically address the rise of the image of “One Earth” and the ecological paradigm associated with it. The accompanying publication includes image-rich visual essays that explore key themes: “Universalism,” “Whole Systems,” “Boundless Interior,” and “Apocalypse, Babylon, Simulation,” among others. These are surrounded by critical essays that shed light onto 1960s California and the networked culture that emerged from it. Artists: Nabil Ahmed, Ant Farm, Eleanor Antin, Martin Beck, Jordan Belson, Ashley Bickerton, Dara Birnbaum, Erik Bulatov, Angela Bulloch, Bruce Conner, Öyvind Fahlström, Robert Frank, Jack Goldstein, Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, Lawrence Jordan, Silvia Kolbowski, Philipp Lachenmann, David Lamelas, Sharon Lockhart, Piero Manzoni, Raymond Pettibon, Adrian Piper, Robert Rauschenberg, Ira Schneider, Richard Serra, Alex Slade, Jack Smith, Josef Strau, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, The Otolith Group, Suzanne Treister, Andy Warhol, Bruce Yonemoto, et al.
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