The Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva (TAAG)
© HEAD – Genève

The Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva (TAAG). Representations of Global Environmental Change in Geneva's Urban Ecologies

December 2016 to December 2018

Project led by: Gene Ray, Professor visual arts (HEAD – Genève)
Team: Aurélien Gamboni, Janis Schroeder, Kathleen Stevenson
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (FNS)
Lain Boal, Retort Collective, Berkeley and London
David Cross, Chelsea College of Arts, London
Hannah Entwisle, Chelsea College of Arts, London
Anna Grichting, Qatar University
Sacha Kagan, Leuphana University, Lüneburg
Armin Linke, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe
Nils Norman, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
Catherine Quéloz, HEAD – Genève
Grégory Quenet, Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
Philippe Rekacewicz, United Nations Environment Programme
Liliane Schneiter, HEAD – Genève
Paolo Tavarez, Center for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College, London
Chris Wainwright, Camberwell Chelsea Wimbledon Colleges of Arts, London

Contact: Gene Ray


The planet is changing, and the mild climate and abundant biodiversity of the last 11,700 years (the Holocene) is becoming something else, something unprecedented in human history. As geologists consider re-naming the current period, and as debates about the so-called Anthropocene reverberate through the sciences and humanities, the urgencies of planetary change have become the stuff of daily news. 
The Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva (TAAG) is an evolving online research platform. The project studies how the human and nonhuman assemblages of one urban ecology are responding to anthropogenic planetary change. A research focus on local networks of human actors (including citizens and artists as well as scientific institutions, international organizations and NGOs) establishes a context for encounters with nonhuman actants and agents (migrating climates, trees with ritual functions, rocks bearing names, mobile toxins). 
With its rich networks, Geneva is an exemplary terrain for launching such an investigation. What scientific, political, and artistic representations emerge in this context? In what ways do these representations render human impacts available to reflection and feelings? How are such knowledges performed in situated everyday practices? And how do such knowledges put into question longstanding assumptions about the human and the nonhuman?
TAAG brings together a team of researchers in art and philosophy at HEAD – Genève / Geneva School of Art and Design and a supporting international network of interdisciplinary researchers. The investigation takes place over two years (2016-2018), during which time this online platform will be updated and developed into a public Atlas and Glossary. Public symposia in Geneva will survey and reflect on the developing research. 

Methods and Research Statement
Situated in the institutional context of HEAD – Genève and SNSF, TAAG belongs to, and is not outside of, the local and contemporary relational assemblages it studies and reflects on. As research by means of art, TAAG develops its own process of inquiry. Inspired by Aby Warburg’s re-conception of the multi-media atlas in his celebrated Mnemosyne project (1924-29), TAAG’s research process combines transversal and combinatory modes of investigation with video interviews and other forms of localized ethnographic attention. The results of these forms of attention are initially gathered in the Atlas of this developing online platform; the Atlas is organized with the aim of multiplying local points of view and opening multiple paths of transversal navigation among and across them. It is supplemented by a growing Glossary that reviews and reflects on relevant concepts gleaned from the published literature on planetary change, as well as from persons interviewed in the course of the research. In archiving the voices and gestures of diverse actors and actants of Geneva’s urban ecologies, TAAG thinks with and borrows methods from interdisciplinary research communities investigating aspects of the Anthropocene. These research communities include science studies, environmental humanities and animal studies, all of which draw on recent work in anthropology, sociology, philosophy and critical theory, as well as earth and life sciences. The study of responses to anthropogenic planetary change is by necessity transdisciplinary, as it draws on the findings of natural and social sciences as well as the humanities, including art. Moreover, critical reflection on the biases and limitations of modernist structures of knowledge production has become a recurrent theme of both academic and popular debates about the so-called Anthropocene. The cosmologies and knowledge systems of Indigenous and non-modern peoples and collectives, for example, have become actants in these debates, even as the claim of modern science to act as “supreme arbiter” of all matters of fact has been strongly challenged within numerous academic disciplines (See Danowski & Viveiros de Castro, Haraway, Latour, Stengers). Art, as a sensorial and aesthetic as well as conceptual and symbolic practice, has been greatly stimulated by these research communities, and also contributes actively to them.

Today, reflection on the ethical, political, cultural, social and ecological implications of planetary change takes place in a situation increasingly acknowledged to be one of urgency. Climate change, toxification and the extinction of species and cultures are aspects of the Anthropocene that have been broadly registered in public awareness and everyday life. The questions raised and problems posed (or re-posed) have generated vigorous debates across the academic disciplines and beyond. One of the most challenging and momentous points of discussion has opened up around a deep rethinking of the human relation to the nonhuman – a term which encompasses all the diverse earthly existents that modern science and humanist culture formerly classified under the name of “Nature.” At this time, it remains unclear what transformations await the anthropocentrism that has organized modern thought and practice for more than 300 years. However, no research project, TAAG included, can ignore these continuing discussions.
The TAAG online platform will continue to grow as new local places, interviews, actants, and terms are added to the Atlas and Glossary, from November 2017 to December 2018.

International symposium's program " The Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva", 18 October 2017

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