‘Harbour Imaginaries from Below – on the aesthetics of limits to cheap labour and nature’ talk

I give a talk, ‘Harbour Imaginaries from Below – on the aesthetics of limits to cheap labour and nature’, on Friday 8. January, 2016, at the MUHKA Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp as part of the School of Missing Studies’ Lodgers #4 program.

Could the desire for the fully automated movements of goods also be a desire for silence, for the tyranny of a single anecdote?

From January 4-16 Lodgers #4  presents a series of reading-, scriptwriting, – and performance workshops, departing form the harbour as a plethora of disparate languages. Each stage in the reception, processing and distribution of goods comes with its own syntax, vocabulary and infrastructure. Each of these languages also has its own history and evolution.

We will be looking at the coded communication between ships, the harbour master, dockworkers – but also at the PR language used to present the ideal harbour; the programming language of automatization, the human language of formal and informal labour protest, and the gaps in the story that the colonial leaves.

Accumulated, this Babel-like situation marks a point on the evolution of the harbour, one that offers an insightful opportunity to investigate the many facets of its influence and breadth. For some, automatization threatens the future of the voice(s) that the harbour can speak with – traditionally the setting for interaction and tales of fantasy. For others, the future harbour is a utopian site where humans are emancipated from the location itself, leaving the harbour silent and speaking in inaudible code.

Participants are invited to participate and engage in a collaborative process incorporating the many disparate languages with which a harbour ‘converses’ – working on a speculative narrative that takes place in the harbour of 2050. Departure points for this narrative are silence as a political imperative of infrastructure, and the role that silence will play in the future harbour both in its human and automated state. In proposing that the future harbour may be silent, we’d like to increase the volume of the stories, which must be told now.

More information on the program: Lodgers #4

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