The "Anthropocene" is the name earth scientists and geologists have proposed to denote a new geologic and planetary epoch characterized by the force and intensity of human actions on Earth.
This week I have been reading a brilliant book called Architecture in the Anthropocene edited by Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin. Last weekend I visited the Forensis exhibition (curated by Anselm Franke) and the Anthropocene Observatory at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. A few thoughts have been surfacing in the process.
First is the idea proposed by Eyal Weizman that the term "forensis" not only connotes the process of crime scene investigation, but also the "forum" and its constitution. In the exhibition, forensis is understood not just a technique, but a research strategy and an attempt to bridge critique and action. It is a willingness to intervene in the world, rather than just produce written or visual reflections. The ethos of "forensic architecture" is something that might (should!) be considered in a discipline like geography, which at the moment is rippling with work on territory, volume and verticality, as well as the implications of climate thresholds.
In an interview involving John Palmesino and Anne-Sofi Ronnskog (from Architecture in the Anthropocene), John quotes visual critic Irit Rogoff professing that a theorist is "one who undoes." I like this idea of theory "unhinging reference points" and promoting a wild, "feral state" of ideas. It reminds one of the very real, messy even haphazard role of theory in various contexts; it also complicates the common understanding of theory as abstract, overly elegant and clean. From a Deleuzian perspective, a theory or philosophy is as "real" and textured as a scientific practice, with its own "plane" of striation, micro-movements and rhythm. As Nigel Clark has argued, restraint may not be the best ways to act in the Anthropocene, since the human species will need to react to and become-with a rapidly changing environment. Perhaps we need more generous and creative theories (and theorists), ones which compel lively, a little bit messy, and even exuberant action in the very uncertain future.