Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems (hereafter MTLS) is an arts-based research project funded by FWF (Austrian Science Fund)*, in partnership with the Institute of Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
MTLS is a generative virtual ecosystem that aims to foster exchange between a wide variety of practitioners including but not limited to artists, scientific researchers, science-fiction writers, poets, and critical theorists. The project develops from the creative potentials emerging through collaboration and interplay between AI and non-human entities. We investigate the emancipatory possibilities of myth-making and speculative thinking by fusing technoscientific research with artistic practice and critique. Our goal with MTLS is to de-center the anthropocentric reasoning that undergirds dominant and hegemonic forms of knowledge production, in order to forge new narratives. Throughout this investigation we aim to create a thinking space, a process that is open-ended, experimental, and collective. This method aims to recast the human as integrated within a self-producing and mutating techno-organic system.
Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems is a three years artist research project investigating the emancipatory possibilities of myth-making, speculative thinking in propelling a dialogue with non- human subjectivities. Fusing technoscientific research with artistic critique, Mythopoesis for Techno Living Systems strives to decentre the anthropocentric reasoning which undergirds many forms of knowledge production, in order to forge new narratives which foreground more-than- human care. Key to the project then is the following provocation: how can speculative fiction and feminist fabulation contribute to a generative methodology for bringing about other life worlds, worlds which value the role that nonhuman agency plays in the production of alternative epistemologies.
Humanism, as grounded in the colonial and imperial traditions of the Enlightenment, enthrones the human – which is constructed as white, cisheteronormative male and able-bodied – as a planetary regent. Underwriting such rulership, western modes of extractive technicity render all that is deemed nonhuman to be a resource. Interrogating the supposed naturalness of such anthropocentric hierarchies, posthumanism posits an extended ethics which reconfigures our understanding of humankind as merely one actor within an entangled ecology of being. This more expansive understanding of being, both challenges hegemonic modes of technicity, what Haraway has termed the “informatics of domination,” whilst also finding apertures of possibility, other ways of being in the world through and with technology. Pushing at such potentials, Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems thus seeks to redefine humankind as ever-emerging and mutating technico-organic systems. Systems which must be calibrated to a posthuman ethics where consciousness is constantly interfacing with myriad forms of being. Key to eroding the humanist presuppositions that being creates and orders knowledge, the posthuman acknowledges the inseparability and reciprocity between being and knowledge, what Karen Barad has called “onto-epistemologies”. Emphasising the co-productive operations of being and knowledge enables Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems to expose the contingency of humanist precepts around what comprises the human, thereby enabling the interrogation of intersectional issues relating to class, race, sexuality and gender.
Through such interrogations, this project propagates new configurations for posthuman futures with the arts-based method of ‘writing speculative collectivities’. For the duration of the project over three years, Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems invests in developing a non- public workshop; a progressively intelligent digital platform; a series of curated exchanges; symposia; commissioned artworks and text works including short stories of fiction and a critical reader publication. Taking the work of feminist Science Fiction writers such as Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin as guides, this project instigates a form of artistic research which works through creative and speculative forms of thought, to ultimately formulate new futurally orientated narratives. These new narratives and myths are premised upon posthuman ethics which valorize the mixed agencies of multiple entities and forms of being, in order to bring about new forms of world-making. Crucial to Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems is the formulation of alternative ways of being together through the collective writing of new myths.
The experimental forms of knowledge produced by artistic research provide an alternative matrix of interrelations that challenge conventional delineations between academic disciplines. The project Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems will promote such cross-pollination and contaminations of thought between the arts and humanities and the sciences. Fusing technoscientific research with artistic critique, for strives to decentre the anthropocentric reasoning which undergirds many forms of knowledge production, in order to forge new narratives.
Funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), PEEK Programme for Advancement and Development of Artistic Research, is a three-year program supporting high-quality and innovative arts-based research in which artistic practice is integral to the inquiry. The scope is to increase both public awareness and awareness within the academic and the arts communities of arts- based research and its potential application.
MTLS is initiated by Ursula Mayer and organized in collaboration with Attilia Fattori Franchini, Rachel Hill, Mirela Baciak and Rose-Anne Gush.