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Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems

Project leader:
Ursula Mayer (IKW)

Project team:
Attilia Fattori Franchini

3 years

Funded by:
FWF – Austrian Science Fund | PEEK (AR658)


FWF I PEEK project
led by Ursula Mayer, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Duration: 1.6.2021 – 31.5.2024

With learning algorithms, robotics and virtual reality, our contemporary moment is defined by advancing technologies. In light of this, the project "Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems" asks the question: can the practices of speculative fiction and feminist fabulation be a methodology for incorporating non-human entities within the production of alternative knowledge. Furthermore, how do these and other technologies enable us to challenge and reconfigure how the "human" is perceived? Probing these and a multitude of related questions, this project will use technoscience scholar Donna Haraway’s mythological "cyborg", a no-longer human or "posthuman" figure at the intersection of organic and computational worlds, as its symbolic mascot. The cyborg will serve as the starting point through which to initiate discussions around posthuman embodiment and technology, to consider how we can speculatively create the future collectively. Intersectional in its scope, this project will also consider the changing relationship to ideas of race, class and gender written into how we perceive and configure technology. We hypothesise that now, in times of ecological devastation and technological acceleration, it is crucial to examine our entanglements with nonhuman animals and non-organic phenomena.

"Mythopoesis for Techno-Living Systems" will comprise of an artsbased research method called "writing speculative collectivities", which deploys the strategy of feminist communal action, in order to build new dissenting narratives together. Dwelling at the intersection between human communication and algorithmic control, this project will deploy speculative forms of fiction as a source method through which to interrogate the potential future trajectories of these technologies. Instigating open discussion between artists, scientists, science-fiction writers and theorists, this project will span topics including artificial intelligence (AI), artificial life (AL) and machine learning, highlighting their effect on (post)human identity.

This project is unique, as it will create a space in which to bring together a wide variety of people from different spheres and disciplines to collectively imagine and build new ways of being in our increasingly technological milieu. Speculative thought experiments will provide both the stimulus for critiquing of current socio-political conditions, as well as the foundation upon which the writing of speculative collectivities will be premised. The findings of these events will be aggregated and funnelled into a digitalplatform that will host a number of commissioned digital artworks and texts, and which will be interacted with through mutant algorithmic programmes.