As the dull glow of nationalism and cold war politics has faded from governmental space programs it is little surprise that space exploration has undergone widespread privatization.
Yet it is only recently that potentially massive profitability has accelerated off-planet projects, replacing narrower and perhaps unrealistic dreams of space tourism with asteroid mining (purportedly a multi-trillion dollar industry) and long term Mars colonization. Such projects present an odd combination of new technologies (especially advanced robotics) and lower cost older technologies (rocket propulsion) deployed in unfamiliar and lawless territory.
While much has been said regarding the internal limits of capital, much yet remains to be said about how capitalist imperatives can be taken off-world, questioning whether capital[ism] has external limits as it begins to spread across the solar system and out into space. Is the fact that asteroid mining extends an old logic of environmental degradation rendered moot by its non-terrestrial location? Does off-world colonization by non-governmental entities lay troubling ground work for the advent of mega-corporations and unregulatable capitalism?
Furthermore, the complicity between capitalist expansion and space exploration which centers upon large-scale collective action potentially questions stock oppositions between capital and ecological betterment, technological progression and radical politics, as well as space travel and non-national collectivity. This one day symposium aims to address the potential strategies and claims surrounding these issues.Post Planetary Capital is organized by Ben Woodard, and Ed Keller. Ben Woodard is the author of this book I've already mentioned On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy. As for Ed Keller, he is the co-editor of Leper Creativity: Cyclonopedia Symposium with Ed Keller, Nicola Masciandaro and Eugene Thacker. Two years ago, his lecture Massive Addressability and Post-Planetary Design at The Bartlett discussed this notion of addressability: "a defining characteristic of our rapidly accelerating global network of connections, and emerges when cities, buildings, materials, objects, creatures, sites, books, words, molecules, all act as agents in a global, reciprocal ontology of things that can find each other. Across longer timeframes- decades, centuries or millennia- this set of relations inevitably scales up to the post-planetary. We cannot think of design a century from now without taking it off planet. The consequences of this leap are profound. What could be more disruptive to a human-centered model of ecology than this reframing of the agency of things? What new economies, what new modes of individual and collective sovereignty, will emerge as design goes beyond geopolitics and comes to grips with an increasingly urgent cosmopolitics?"
He is also the editor of this tumblr Post-Planetary Design. If you are interested in his research, visit his tumblr.
As for the participants, Benjamin Bratton, Ed Keller, Kai Bosworth, Carla Leitao, Geoff Manaugh (and Gizmodo), Rory Rowan, Keith Tilford, Ken Wark, Ben Woodard, and Kazys Varnelis. A very great panel!
I'll be following this conference. I hope to have further information soon including a livestreaming, hashtag…
Post Planetary Capital Symposium will be held at The Center for Transformative Media, New York, Monday, March 24, 2014 from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.
In order to patiently wait for this conference, I recommend this round-table Google/ Arctic/Mars at Studio-X NYC/ GSAPP Columbia on May 8th 2012. This round-table gathers Ed Keller, Benjamin Bratton and Geoff Manaugh on the emergence of a new geography — from the virtual to the off-world — and speculating a to its future political organization.
Credit video: Google/ Arctic/ Mars Round Table | © GSAPP Columbia