Talk introduction

‘Xeno’, the theme of this year’s festival, considers otherness through a range of different optics. It approaches the concept critically. Not with the presumption of exclusion or a hostile otherness, but rather with interest in the multitude of implications and possibilities it may afford us. The investigation shall not be reduced to black and white, but rather recognized for its extraordinary scale.

This sense of scale is investigated in the work of Benjamin Bratton which theorizes a planetary megastructure, an organizing mechanism that encompasses the whole world through global computation, natural resource management, social, cultural and infrastructural organization among others. It continues into the vast ramifications of artificial superintelligence and what it means to be human in a world where we are not the dominant intelligence.

The term ‘Xeno’ often invokes politics of authoritarianism, race, gender, oppression and exploitation, but we might consider alienation as an emancipatory force, a quality which is inherent to all humans, as suggested by the xenofeminist collective, Laboria Cuboniks. This opens for new possibilities, ways of organizing and understanding.

Keynote speaker N. Katherine Hayles has played a large role in renegotiating the concept of ‘human’, expanding the notion of what is exclusive to humanity and its assumed primacy in the world. Her work connects the human with the posthuman through technology, eliminating naturalist notions in a project that has since had vast influence and has been carried on in e.g. the work by Laboria Cuboniks.

These positions are central in the exhibition program of CLICK Festival, as it explores more-than-human interconnections, non-hierarchical being, gender liquidity, sociality and planetary scale cognition represented in the works of Johannes Paul Raether and Jenna Sutela, both of whom will present their work as part of the talk program. It is with these speculative positions that we hope to illuminate a multitude of possibilities, futures and worldings for more-than-human inhabitation.