Critical Zones

I contributed the essay “Sensing a Moving Planet” to Critical Zones: The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth. Co-published by MIT Press and ZKM, and edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, this monumental volume captures the disorientation of life in a world facing climate change. It traces this disorientation to the disconnection between two different definitions of the land on which modern humans live: the sovereign nation from which they derive their rights, and another one, hidden, from which they gain their wealth — the land they live on, and the land they live from. Charting the land they will inhabit, they find not a globe, not the iconic « blue marble », but a series of critical zones — patchy, heterogeneous, discontinuous. With short texts, longer essays, and more than 500 illustrations, the contributors explore the new landscape on which it may be possible for humans to land, and what it means to be « on Earth » — whether the critical zone, the Gaia, or the terrestrial. They consider geopolitical conflicts and tools redesigned for the new « geopolitics of life forms ». The « thought exhibition » described in this book opens a fictional space to explore the new climate regime; the rest of the story is unknown.

This book accompanied the physical exhibition Critical Zones: Observatories for Earthly Politics at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe from 24 July 2020 – 9 January 2022. There is also the interactive digital exhibition, which is an ongoing and ever-evolving platform dedicated to the critical situation of this fragile membrane of life. I also contributed to a panel discussion for the launch of the exhibition on 22 May 2020.