Outlines for polyphonic communities
Online–Symposium with Lars Blank, Rosi Braidotti & Johannes Paul Raether

For years, experts from all fields of knowledge have been occupied with the complex interconnections and vital dependencies between the human and the non-human. In November 2020 under the title ›Planetary Alliances - Outlines for polyphonic communities‹, IMPACT20 opened a polylogue on relationship networks in which humans are just one actor among many.

As a scientific and artistic think-tank, IMPACT20 criss-crossed perspectives from biotechnology, natural science, philosophy and contemporary art: Lars Blank, Rosi Braidotti and Johannes Paul Raether reflected on the relativities, metabolisms and relationships between the elements and protagonists of our world and how these impact on ecological, social, economic and technological developments in a community. How can new alliances that no longer place humankind at the centre of perception, shape and define new models of societies?

The symposium, which took place for the first time in a hybrid form, consisted of two modules: The impulse lectures and talks by and with Rosi Braidotti, Lars Blank and Johannes Paul Raether were streamed live from the main stage at PACT. The second element was the Assembly where participants from the fields of performing and visual arts, science, technology, journalism, activism, social work and architecture discussed their own projects in an internal online meeting. This edition of IMPACT heralded the launch of JUNCTIONS, an initiative specifically aimed at supporting longer-term research projects by IMPACT participants.

The lectures and talk are available online to view in English.

Further information about the yearly symposium IMPACT

A project within the framework of the Alliance of International Production Houses supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.


Programme – Lectures and Discussion

Lecture: Rosi Braidotti ›Posthuman Critical Thought‹

As a pioneer of posthumanism and a feminist theorist, Prof. Dr. Rosi Braidotti is a seminal figure in contemporary philosophical discourse. As the boundaries between the human and its others are becoming increasingly blurred, through our digital lives and reproductive technologies, the question of what it means to be human is taking a new turn. Braidotti proposes new and affirmative ways of producing knowledge and building communities.

Lecture: Johannes Paul Raether ›aLifveForms in Presence, in between Appearances: Surrogates‹

At the centre of artist Johannes Paul Raether’s work are constructed identities made up of language, technological skins, digital devices and bodies. In his lecture Raether considers aLifveForms - a group of constructed identities he enables, which, as new bodies, develop their own forms of reproduction and mutation. Thus, the protectoramae lifeline crystallized out of a multitude of SelfSisters and AlterIdentities.

Lecture: Lars Blank ›You might want to ask what microbes can do for you and you for the microbes‹

Prof. Dr. Ing. Lars M. Blank is head of the Institute of Applied Microbiology at the RWTH Aachen University. In his reasearch he focuses on fundamental and applied aspects of microbial metabolism, and in particular on the interaction between the metabolic network and the introduced genetic and environmental perturbations.

Talk with Lars Blank, Rosi Braidotti, Johannes Paul Raether & Sarah Johanna Theurer

In a roundtable talk, Lars Blank, Rosi Braidotti and Johannes Paul Raether, together with author and curator Sarah Johanna Theurer, delved deeper into the various approaches and theories raised in the lectures and discussed potential ›Planetary Alliances‹ emerging from them. The talk was the closing event of the public programme and moderated by Gabriele Gramelsberger (RWTH Aachen).

Assembly – Visualizations by Abdul Dube

The internal programme module during IMPACT20 took place in the form of an assembly, where 22 invited artists, scientists and experts from all over the world presented their projects and plans. During the 10-hour video conference, illustrator Abdul Dube produced visualizations of the contributors’ presentations that capture the complexity of their contexts in a playful and associative way. In his graphic mind maps, Dube condenses the multi-layered theses and themes surrounding alliances between humans and the planet that surrounds them. The resulting panorama ranges from useful microorganisms to the pollution of the world's oceans and from local weather phenomena to the current state of the earth's atmosphere. The renaturation of the local river Emscher is as much a topic as the situation in the countries of the Global South; at the same time, the human body in all its diversity moves into focus and is also explored with regard to the algorithms that increasingly shape our reality.

Behind the Scenes

Articles for IMPACT