Venue: Filzengraben 2, Academy for Media Arts Cologne (KHM), Germany
Species in the order of Octopoda are as intriguing as they are challenging to fathom. The images as monsters from the deep of unimaginable proportions reflect this strikingly, so does their prevalence as decoration, symbols and metaphors across cultures and times. Once you start looking for octopuses, you begin to see them everywhere. “Other Worlds” explores the octopus in reference to the title of Peter Godfrey-Smith’s book Other Minds as another consciousness and subject, to interrogate both the octopus’s world (or worlds) and the cultural and scientific worlds in which we encounter them – both physically and as representations. As such, it falls under the auspices of Human-Animal Studies, Environmental Humanities and the Blue Humanities.
In recent years, the octopus has undergone a significant epistemo-cultural change. She is seen not as monster so much anymore than as other subject, although the monstrous of course survives especially in film. The reevaluation is driven not the least by researchers such as Jennifer Mather and Peter Godfrey-Smith, as well as by science writers such as Sy Montgomery and Danna Staff, while historically it falls together with a reevaluation of our relationship to our environment driven by events such as climate change. These recalibrations require new approaches to nature in general and octopuses in particular, who underwent a dramatic rise from senseless suppliers of nerve fibers for the neurosciences to the most intelligent invertebrate in the ocean. Within all this, the octopus represents an immensely complex bio-cultural phenomenon that demands interdisciplinary perspectives to be unlocked, while the octopus can help us in unlocking new perspectives on the world and reshaping our approaches to the nonhuman world for the future. The octopus becomes a focal lens for our current historical ecological challenges.
“Other Worlds” is a project of OktoLab – Laboratory for Octopus Aesthetics, an international research lab for the interdisciplinary study of octopuses founded by researchers from the University of Tasmania, Australia and the University of Kassel, Germany. The conference commemorates the opening of the second exhibition OktoLab has curated in collaboration with GLASMOOG in Cologne and Plimsoll Gallery in Hobart and both artistic and scientific contributors. We thank everyone involved for their enthusiastic responses and immense generosity in making this work possible.
Registration: There is no fee for attending. Please register for the conference by 13 April at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funded by: DFG – German Research Council
The program will be announced soon.