Haus der Berliner Festspiele

Haus der Berliner Festspiele

© Phillip Aumann

Conference
Thinking Together

Time Wars

Thinking Together – Conference, part 1 | part 2

  • In English with simultaneous translation

Past Dates

Temporalities are at war. Less tangible, perhaps, than today’s countless material and immaterial conflicts, but no less real. The systemic temporal violence unleashed by turbocapitalism; the proliferation of non-human, digital time; the slow violence of environmental degradation; the relentless speeds and spans of media attention; the terror of a permanent state of exception in the name of a mutated warfare without end; the dispossessed temporalities of migration – these are but some of the time-related forces operating at present.

Thinking Together 2018 proposes to probe the current state of affairs through the lens of time by collectively considering what today’s “beings in time” experience on a daily basis, exposed as they are to diverging and colliding temporal forces: flexibilization, fragmentation and the maxing out of capacities; time horizons shrunk, stretched and warped; the vertigo of reciprocal speed and slowness; the loss of temporal claim and agency.

Maybe more than ever, time – as a political category – is of the essence when it comes to learning to read through, past and within the erratic commotions of the present.

“Thinking Together” is a discourse format dedicated to exploring the phenomenon of time in its socio-political, philosophical and artistic dimensions. It provides a space for transdisciplinary exchange, collective learning and unlearning. Freely accessible, the project is a contact zone between audiences, festival artists and international guests.

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Yassin al-Haj Saleh
Living in the Temporary

Time perceptions vary according to the spaces of life and to our movement in and from them: home, jail, exile. For the exiled, especially the forcibly displaced, time is fractured: a past of uprootedness, a present of stuckedness (G. Hage) and a future of uncertainty. Still the homeless do not completely lose agency: they try to create homes. This is a basic precondition for developing personal and family time, and for making their lives after displacement a continuation to their lives before it. Reconnecting what was ruptured is the displaced’s main method to overcome the temporary. It is a battle against the precariousness and unpredictability of the temporary, a battle that never ends.

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Orit Halpern
The Planetary Test

In 1943, in the midst of the war, the famous architect Richard Neutra was commissioned by the government of Puerto Rico to build hospitals and schools. In response, he produced a number of prototypes and processes investigating different ways to ventilate and climate control buildings in the sub-tropical environment of the island. His prime concern was to improve social conditions with limited capital outlay through attention to the management of climate. Neutra famously labeled his work in Puerto Rico a “Planetary Test”.

Neutra had always been a global architect and at the time, he was the US representative for the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and would be the CIAM representative in San Francisco at the inauguration of the United Nations in 1945. Within this context of both growing globalization and modernist architectural ideals of international style, this conception of a “planetary test” is, therefore, not insignificant. I want to take seriously what it means historically for architects to understand human habitation, and even entire cities and countries as “test-beds” and experimental sites for the future of human life and habitation. Neutra, as architectural historian Daniel Barber notes, signals a moment when the question of “International” becomes “Planetary” on the very site of designing habitation, environment, and climates. Climate control, it appears, becomes planetary control, and design will manage the futures of both geophysical forces and geopolitics, through “tests”, perhaps what we also label prototypes, versions, and demos in our present.

A test however is not a simulation. The “planetary test” that has now become our habitat neither represents nor predicts stable set outcomes. Rather, the forms of testing—for example stress testing in finance, scenario planning in supply chain design and insurance industries, complex dynamic systems modelling in ecology and meteorology, and demoing, rapid prototyping, and versioning in software development, architecture and urban design, are ways of inhabiting disastrous conditions and managing uncertainty without endpoint. They are technologies of time, capitalizing and turning the uncertainties that exist between the many temporalities that co-exist in our world into opportunities for arbitrage —those of biology, geology, chemistry, industry, and computation. No longer linked to calculable endpoints, we have now developed new modes of practice that defer representation of endpoints in the name of constant forms of derivation and speculation managing time differentials and uncertainties through algorithmic and financial technologies developed since the 1970s.

This form of demoing and testing has now become the central vision in design, planning and engineering for managing human (and planetary) life in an age of real and imagined terran-scale disasters. Neutra’s “planetary test” has now become a global infrastructure that colonizes space and life and has transformed the weather into climate and the environment into ecology (and finance). The question of the “test-bed” is indeed one of a war with time. Battles over what time the bet will take and what are the stakes of this “planetary test”.

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Maurizio Lazzarato
(Time)Wars and Capital

In their latest book, “Wars and Capital”, Éric Alliez and Maurizio Lazzarato propose a counter-history of capitalism to recover the reality of the wars that are inflicted on us and denied to us. We experience not the ideal war of philosophers, but wars of class, race, sex and gender; wars of civilization and the environment; wars of subjectivity that are raging within populations and that constitute the secret motor of liberal governmentality. By naming the enemy (refugees, migrants, Muslims), the new fascisms establish their hegemony on the processes of political subjectivation by reducing them to racist, sexist and xenophobic slogans, fanning the flames of war among the poor and maintaining the total war philosophy of neoliberalism.

In response to this year’s “Thinking Together” conference on “Time Wars”, Maurizio Lazzarato will speak about the main themes of his new book, drawing back on his earlier work on questions related to the politics of time.

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Tim Stevens
The Sliding Moment: Cybersecurity and the Politics of Time

Cybersecurity has emerged as a strategic response to the threats and opportunities of the global Internet. It seeks to protect hyperconnected societies from digital attack and subversion and to exploit information technologies for political ends. Cybersecurity juxtaposes humans, code and machines in a global assemblage, not only of people and things, but of temporalities. These temporalities clash and combine in multiple ways that expose time itself as a conflict between the world and those who dwell in it. Tim Stevens addresses the social construction of time, its political nature, and its implications for security politics in the digital 21st century.

Due to a cancellation of short notice by Timothy Morton Tim Stevens, lecturer at King’s College London, will hold a lecture. Please note the modified time table.

12:00 Yassin al-Haj Saleh
Living in the Temporary

13:30 Orit Halpern
The Planetary Test

15:00 Maurizio Lazzarato
(Time)Wars and Capital

16:30 Tim Stevens
The Sliding Moment: Cybersecurity and the Politics of Time