What do contemporary urban ecologies teach human residents about ethics, epistemology, and media? First attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus by Plato, the remark that we cannot step in the same river twice is at once a statement about the nature of perpetual change and an acknowledgement of a tension between sensation and abstraction in human understandings of nature. More than twenty-five centuries later, the Indonesian island of Java is now inhabited by more residents than lived on Earth during Heraclitus’s time, with many living in densely arranged megacities. In fact, the greater metropolitan area of the capital, Jakarta, has more than 30 million people residing alongside thirteen rivers that run from the mountains of the Sunda Arc to the Java Sea.
What can we learn from the residential knowledges and itinerant practices that characterize this megacity? By way of a survey of his recent design projects with anexact office, Urban Lab Network Asia, MIT, and PetaBencana.id, Etienne Turpin will suggest how the Anthropocene is being locally instantiated through a parametrization of life on earth. Considering the ethical and epistemic consequences of residential life in the city—including dispositions toward nonhuman entities, mediations that enable collaboration and contestation, and contributions to postnatural ecologies—the presentation will unfold some concepts and concerns emerging from this torrential formation.
Etienne Turpin is a philosopher and Founding Director of anexact office, a design research office in Jakarta, Indonesia. He studies and designs knowledge infrastructure and produces platforms, exhibitions, and publications by combining design, archival research, documentary, and ethnography. Turpin also works as a Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBecana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene (Open Humanities Press, 2013) and co-editor of Fantasies of the Library (MIT Press, 2016), Art in the Anthropocene (Open Humanities Press, 2015), and Jakarta: Architecture + Adaptation (Universitas Indonesia Press, 2013).
Reception to follow in Communications 206