The Animal Hacker: Queer encounters with dark arts and Bioanalytics _Helen Pritchard

A talk by Helen Pritchard organized by Hangar in the framework of the Biennal del Pensament at the Meier MACBA Auditorium.


The scope of bioanalytics now extends its practices to a worldmaking scale, enrolling the labours of nonhuman animals and organisms in networked infrastructures. From genetically engineered organisms “designed” as computer components, to living sensors designed to generate streams of data, biocomputing and its production of new ecological arrangements stretches out beyond the lab and encompasses both the internet and other digital informational networks­­—arrangements, which allow some lives to flourish and not others.

Consequently, and as a queer experiment, this talk pays attention to damage, injury and the constraints placed on the possibilities of life brought about through analytics. Here, we are interested in sites of politics that emerge from engagements with that which we can hardly know and can never flourish with: the darker, murkier “in-between”. Illuminating relationalities and hauntings of otherness that are torques of recognition and misrecognition, reorganisations of desire, anxiety and affinities that make appear and disappear shimmering affinities of affect and ethico-political kinships. The talk proposes that if we focus on a genealogy of injury in queer studies we can recognise a willingness to investigate darker aspects of experience (Love 2009).

In particular this talk aims to outline how, drawing on queer, feminist and poetic approaches, collectives might revolt against the narrow imaginations of computation and the environment. Imaginations that often limit nonhuman animals as inputs or hosts for computational processes. I get to grips with what is happening in the contemporary entanglements of capitalism, computers and environments in the context of the anthropocene, and re-imagine other, more affirmative, forms of entanglements that multiply the ways we know that people have lived and can live, so that it might be possible to take up any number of positions during and in life in order to have “a life” that is not repressed by dominant and confining modes of normativity (Berlant 2011). At the intersection of geography, computational aesthetics and feminist technoscience, this talk focuses on that which is beyond affirmation, as an ethical model for collective living. As a response and in punk solidarity queer theories that concern personal injury into more-than-human ensembles in order to consider the damages shared by humans and nonhumans in entanglements of advanced capitalism. We propose that by engaging with difficult/troubling/hardly-knowable-barely-sovereign arrangements of bio-analytics might just provide an ethics of engagement that is not predicated on the creativity of engagements but instead on their dark arts.

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