The Otolith Group

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Rare Earth
Boris Ondreička, Nadim Samman (Eds.)

Texts by Iain Ball, Erick Beltrán, Jane Bennett, Benjamin H. Bratton, Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Erik Davis, John Durham Peters & Paul Feigelfeld, Mircea Eliade, Boris Groys, Marguerite Humeau, Timothy Morton & Emilija Skarnulyte, Boris Ondreička, The Otolith Group, Jussi Parikka, Matteo Pasquinelli, Nadim Samman, Charles Stankievech

Rare Earth is an attempt to define the spirit of an age. Exploring how today’s myths, identities, and cosmologies relate to current advances in technology—through reference to the material basis to our most developed weapons and tools; a class of seventeen rare earth elements from the periodic table—Rare Earth challenges the rhetoric of immateriality associated with our hypermodern condition.

Rare earth elements are the game-changing foundation of our most powerful innovations, are fundamental to contemporary accoutrements such as mobile phones, iPods and iPads, liquid crystal displays, LEDs, light bulbs, CDs and DVDs. Often described as conflict materials due to the limited number of easily accessible mines, they are also integral to weapon systems used for cyber-warfare, medical technologies (including MRI scanning equipment), hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, and other green energy applications. Consequently, rare earth elements play an increasing role in global affairs and power inventions that facilitate our changing self-image—giving birth to today’s emergent myths and identities.

Rare Earth grounds our strange, seemingly weightless cultural moment. While we may design our technologies, these tools and weapons shape us in turn. It may seem that we dream the contemporary into existence, but perhaps rare earth elements are dreaming through us. After the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, this is the age of Rare Earth.

Copublished with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna on the occasion of the exhibition “Rare Earth,” February 19–May 31, 2015, with works by Iain Ball, Erick Beltrán, Julian Charriere, Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Camille Henrot, Roger Hiorns, Marguerite Humeau, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Oliver Laric, Ursula Mayer, The Otolith Group, Katie Paterson, Charles Stankievech, Suzanne Treister, Ai Weiwei, Guan Xiao, Arseniy Zhilyaev

Design by David Rudnick and Raf Rennie

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Rare Earth
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The Whole Earth – California and the Disappearance of the Outside
Diedrich Diederichsen, Anselm Franke (Eds.)

With contributions by Sabeth Buchmann, Mercedes Bunz, Diedrich Diederichsen, Kodwo Eshun, Anselm Franke, Erich Hörl, Norman M. Klein, Maurizio Lazzarato, Flora Lysen, Eva Meyer, John Palmesino, Laurence Rickels, Bernd M. Scherer, Fred Turner

In the year 1966, a young man named Stewart Brand handed out buttons in San Francisco reading: “Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?” Two years later, the NASA photograph of the “blue planet” appeared on the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog. In creating the catalogue, frequently described as the analogue forerunner of Google, Brand had founded one of the most influential publications of recent decades. It mediated between cyberneticists and hippies, nature romantics and technology geeks, psychedelia and computer culture, and thus triggered defining impulses for the environmentalist movement and the rise of the digital network culture.

The photo of the blue planet developed a sphere of influence like almost no other image: it stands not only for ecological awareness and crisis but also for a new sense of unity and globalization. The universal picture of “One Earth” hence anticipated an image of the end of the Cold War, whose expansion into space it accompanied, and overwrote or neutralized political lines of conflict by transferring classical politics and criticism of it to other categories, such as cybernetic management or ecology.

The exhibition “The Whole Earth” is an essay composed of cultural-historical materials and artistic positions that critically address the rise of the image of “One Earth” and the ecological paradigm associated with it. The accompanying publication includes image-rich visual essays that explore key themes: “Universalism,” “Whole Systems,” “Boundless Interior,” and “Apocalypse, Babylon, Simulation,” among others. These are surrounded by critical essays that shed light onto 1960s California and the networked culture that emerged from it.

Artists: Nabil Ahmed, Ant Farm, Eleanor Antin, Martin Beck, Jordan Belson, Ashley Bickerton, Dara Birnbaum, Erik Bulatov, Angela Bulloch, Bruce Conner, Öyvind Fahlström, Robert Frank, Jack Goldstein, Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, Lawrence Jordan, Silvia Kolbowski, Philipp Lachenmann, David Lamelas, Sharon Lockhart, Piero Manzoni, Raymond Pettibon, Adrian Piper, Robert Rauschenberg, Ira Schneider, Richard Serra, Alex Slade, Jack Smith, Josef Strau, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, The Otolith Group, Suzanne Treister, Andy Warhol, Bruce Yonemoto, et al.

Copublished with Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Design by Studio Matthias Görlich

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The Whole Earth California and the Disappearance of the Outside
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