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Anthropocene Seminar – Professor Teresa Dillon, 'Dancing with the Dog: Interspecies Cadence and Urban Life'

Calendar Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Calendar 13:00-15:00

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Dancing with the Dog: Interspecies Cadence and Urban Life

Teresa Dillon, Professor of City Futures, Bristol UWE—and Resident at the Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol

In ‘Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene’ (2016), Donna Haraway, proposes that a humanity with a more earthly integrity, ‘invites the priority of our pulling back and scaling down, of welcoming limitations of our numbers, economies, and habitats for the sake of a higher, more inclusive freedom and quality of life’ (p.50). While this statement carries capacities for imagining new ways of living, it equally raises the question what a more earthly integrity and inclusive freedom and quality of life, actually means? For Haraway this revolves around entangled understandings of kin, multispecies justice and feminist leadership. Tsing (2012, 2017) further expands on such knotted kinship by emphasising how our human nature is an interspecies relationship that emerges in part through what Vygotsky (1980) would consider as the active participation with others in meaning making, or what Barad (2007) would refer to as the materialisation of intra-action. Despite such worldly understandings, in the face of increased biodiversity loss, extreme weather events, and human-made and natural disasters, such tethered realities are often negated in favour of more state-centred politics and geo-economic logics. Given the dominance of such framings on the daily ordering of life, the need to carve out spaces for listening, care, attending and attuning to the nuanced understandings of our interspecies relationships becomes all the more important. This paper presents how contemporary artists are dealing with such relationships. Drawing on the work of Terike Haapoja, Maja Smrekar, Laurie Anderson and others, including that of the author, emphasis is placed on species presence, visibility and privilege, with a focus on urban contexts and settings. Links will be made to how such works and narratives play a vital role in the everyday understanding of human nature as an interspecies relationship.

Teresa Dillon is a multidisciplinary artist, researcher and educator. Her work emerges from a long-standing investigation into ideas of survival and the techno-civic with a critical focus on infrastructural histories, commoning and governance, hospitality and encountering. Recent work includes the installation AMHARC (2018), the performance MTCD-A Visual Anthology of My Machine Life (2017), and academic texts, ‘Working the breaking point: maintenance, repair and failure in art’ (2017) and ‘Listening Around: Sonic Extractions of the Electromagnetic Spectrum’ (forthcoming). Since 2013, Teresa has directed Urban Knights, a programme of talks and workshops that explores practical alternatives to city living and in 2018, established the international network Repair Acts. Twitter: @TeresaDillon

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