Thinking through the milieu: decentralizing thinking while spending time with plants
Do you, like Robin Wall Kimmerer, have photosynthesis envy? Imagine the experience of bypassing your brain and sending messages directly from one finger to the next, like leaves’ ability to communicate directly to each other and to their roots. Please join us at the Grange Park for the first in a series of outdoor reading groups hosted by Gallery 44 Artist-in-Residence Soft Turns. Selected readings from the fields of philosophy, psychology, plant biology and media theory will engage discourses that consider alternate forms of thinking, like in plants or AI. Discussions will consider recent movements towards what some have called “decentralized thinking”, as part of a critique of Western thought’s primacy of the ‘individual’ alongside other efforts to recognize more-than-human agency.
Light snacks will be provided and with proximity to the playground, parents are welcome to bring their children.
Over the course of this series close readings of such authors as Teresa Castro, Thomas Fuchs, Sabu Kohso, Jussi Parikka, Matteo Pasquinelli, Isabelle Stengers, Hito Steyerl, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Elvia Wilk will be paired with material and visualization exercises designed to approach imagine and acknowledge emergent more-than-human relationships.
About the first reading, “The Mediated Plant” by Teresa Castro:
“The mediated, sentient, intelligent plant potentially invites us to think about nature, plants, technology and ourselves-as-humans in different ways. As plants in particular, are revealed as agentic, intentional beings, the mediated plant potentially invites us to develop more caring, attentive and communicative attitudes towards the vegetal. In this way the mediated plant can push us forward in the urgent “struggle to think differently” that Val Plumwood called us to join.
Perhaps the mediated, sentient, intelligent plant can help us to queer nature, to queer botanics, to queer ourselves-as-humans as we go onwards in a different mode of humanity. But why to queer ? Why not “simply” to “decolonize”?”
- Eflux journal (Issue #102, September 2019)
Grange Park is located behind the AGO between Beverley Street and McCaul Street, south of the Dundas St West, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Access reading group texts here.
Soft Turns is the collaborative effort of Wojciech Olejnik and Sarah Jane Gorlitz. Alongside simple mechanisms —pulleys, mirrors, paper, lenses—and crucially, their own bodies, they use stop-motion animation’s capacity to stretch and collapse time, to attempt to get as close as possible to the rhythms of their subjects. The results are slow-paced, immersive, intimate video-centred installations. Recent research interests include: controlled artificial environments such as greenhouses and data centres, plant-human interactions and the physics of information. Feature articles about their work have been published in Canadian Art and Esse. Their work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally, most recently at the Plumb (Toronto, 2021) 8eleven (Images Festival, 2018), and The Art Museum at the University of Toronto (2018). Sarah Jane is a white settler of English and Menonite descent and Wojciech immigrated from Poland as an adolescent. Together, they have been privileged to live and participate in several communities abroad and in Canada, including a pivotal three year residency at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph (2016-19). They currently work and live with their two young daughters in the Lakeshore Village Artist Co-op, on the lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, in what is commonly referred to as Toronto.