Summa Technologiae begins as a pedagogical investigation based on the work of Stanisław Lem and its impact across disciplines: from Literature to Film, Philosophy, Sculpture, Architecture, Technological Innovation, and Computer Science.
The first phase of the project consists of 4 online seminars, taking place in November and December of 2020.
Summa Technologiae seminars are organized by Julieta Aranda, as a cooperation between
e-flux and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute
Summa Technologiae puts together three formats: the school, the conference, and the exhibition, in order to address three of the fields upon which the work of Stanisław Lem has been deeply influential: Literature, Philosophy, and Contemporary Art.
Summa Technologiae seminars will begin in the fall of 2020. Each seminar will have three sessions. Half of the participants to each seminar will be there by invitation, and the seminar leaders will choose the other half through a process of open application.
The main objective of these seminars is to understand the extension of Lem’s influence: across time, across geography, and across disciplines.
Stanisław Lem’s work used speculations on technology as a way to speak to philosophy, and philosophy as a means with which to understand technological developments, the nature of intelligence, and the possibility of communication both with other forms of intelligence but more importantly, with ourselves across timespans and distance.
In September 1974, the American science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, wrote a letter to the FBI, claiming there was a communist conspiracy disguised as science-fiction literature. This conspiracy was orchestrated by a communist committee, which — according to Philip K. Dick — operated under the name of “Stanisław Lem”.
While of course he was neither a committee, nor a conspiracy; Stanisław Lem was a writer that produced a body of work so vast and so far-reaching, that it is easy to understand Philip K. Dick’s refusal to accept that it was the work of only one person.
Stanisław Lem was born in the Polish city of Lviv (now Ukraine) on September 12, 1921. His family was of Jewish background, although Lem himself was never religiously observant.
In 1951, almost by accident, Lem turned to science fiction. After a casual discussion with a publishing official about the lack of science fiction in Polish, he received a book contract in the mail, with a blank space for the title. He filled in the blank with “Astronauci” (“Astronauts”) and quickly delivered the promised manuscript. Lem found that literary authorities considered science fiction a trivial genre and exercised less oversight when it came to his works in that genre. After the Soviet Union repressed a revolt by Hungarian reformers in 1956, Lem began to write science fiction prolifically. He never explicitly positioned himself as a dissident with respect to Poland’s Communist regime, but some of his works had a satirical streak that might have caused him trouble in any genre other than science fiction.
Besides science-fiction, Stanisław Lem wrote essays on various subjects, including philosophy, futurology, and literary criticism. He also wrote nonfiction science commentaries such as “Summa Technologiae” (1964), a play, literary essays, and magazine articles.
Lem’s books have been translated into 41 languages. From the 1950s to 2000s, he published many books, both science fiction and philosophical/futurological. Worldwide, he is best known as the author of the 1961 novel “Solaris”, which has been made into a feature film three times.
Benjamin H. Bratton is an American social theorist whose work spans Art and Architecture, Computer Science and Geopolitical Theory, and Philosophy of Technology. He is currently Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), Program Director of The Terraforming think-tank at Strelka Institute in Moscow, and Visiting Professor at SCI_Arc, European Graduate School, and NYU Shanghai. He is author of several books including The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2015), Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution (e-flux/Sternberg, 2015) and The Revenge of the Real: Post-Pandemic Politics (Verso, forthcoming 2021).
Lou Cantor is a lecturer at Academy of Fine Arts In Łódź and member of a Berlin-based artist collective whose main scope of interest is grounded in intersubjectivity and interpersonal communication. Lou Cantor’s recent projects include Dygresje at Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź and Oracle at European Media Art Festival.
Kodwo Eshun is a filmmaker, artist and theorist who currently teaches Theory Fiction at the CCCRP of the Visual Arts Department at HEAD Genève and co-directs the Visual Cultures PhD Seminar at Goldsmiths, University of London. Eshun is co-founder of The Otolith Group whose new video “ZONE 2” was commissioned for the online platform CC: WORLD by the House of World Cultures in Berlin. Their travelling exhibition “Xenogenesis” is currently on display at Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Canada.
Ed Keller is a designer, professor, writer, musician, multimedia artist, and independent scholar. From 2012-2020 he was the Director of the Center for Transformative Media (CTM) at The New School and from 2009-2020 was Associate Professor at Parsons.
Previous academic appointments include Columbia Univ. GSAPP (1998-2010) teaching advanced architecturaldesign graduate studios and seminars, and serving as the acting director of the AAD MS program in 2001; SCIArc 2004-09, where he founded and coordinated the MediaSCAPES program and was fulltime faculty 2007-09; and RPI, UPenn, Pratt, Parsons, FIU and Bennington, variously, between 1996-2010. He has spoken on architecture, film, artificial intelligence, technology and ecology internationally. Recent seminars at Parsons include Post-Planetary Design, Soundscape, and Designing AI.
Carla Leitão is an architect, professor, and writer. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Architecture since 2010: Leitão’s studios and seminars explore the intersection of architecture, urban systems, technology, ubiquitous cultures and immersive VR at RPI’s CRAIVE Lab. She curated and organized the event “Portugal Now” / Cornell AAP Folio, an exhibition of 20+ Portuguese offices with conferences in Ithaca and NYC (2007). Lives / works in New York, USA and Lisbon, Portugal.
Doreen Mende is a curator, theorist, writer, associate professor of the curatorial/politics seminar and directs the CCC RP, Master and PhD-Forum, of the Visual Arts Department at HEAD Genève. Mende is co-founder of the Harun Farocki Institut in Berlin and co-editor with e-flux journal of “Navigation Beyond Vision”. Her research study “Decolonizing Socialism. Entangled Internationalism”, funded by the Swiss Science Foundation 2019-2025, has led to the first curatorial iteration “inter∞note” currently on display at Kunstverein Leipzig.
Mohammad Salemy is an independent Berlin-based artist, critic and curator from Canada. He holds a BFA from Emily Carr University and an MA in Critical Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia. He has shown his works in Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works 7 (Beirut, 2015), Witte de With (Rotterdam,
- and Robot Love (Eindhoven, 2018). His writings have been published in e- flux, Flash Art, Third Rail, Brooklyn Rail, Ocula, Arts of the Working Class and Spike. Salemy’s curatorial experiment For Machine Use Only was included in the 11th edition of Gwangju Biennale (2016). Together with a changing cast, he forms the artist collective Alphabet Collection. Salemy is the Organizer at The New Centre for Research & Practice.
Intelligence is a stepping stone on a circular path back to mere brute being
Bogna Konior is a writer and a scholar currently based at NYU Shanghai, Interactive Media Arts department and the AI & Culture Research Centre.
Jason Mohaghegh is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Babson College and Programmer of Transdisciplinary Studies at The New Centre for Research & Practice. His scholarly focus is upon tracking currents of experimental thought between the Middle East and the West, with particular attention to exploring the concepts of chaos, violence, illusion, silence, madness, futurism, disappearance, and apocalyptic aesthetics. He has published several books to date, including “The Chaotic Imagination: New Literature and Philosophy of the Middle East” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); “Inflictions: The Writing of Violence in the Middle East” (Continuum, 2012), “The Radical Unspoken: Silence in Middle Eastern and Western Thought” (Routledge, 2013); “Insurgent, Poet, Mystic, Sectarian: The Four Masks of an Eastern Postmodernism” (SUNY, 2015); “Elemental Disappearances” (co-authored with Dejan Lukic; Punctum Books, 2016); “Omnicide: Mania, Fatality, and the Future- In-Delirium” (MIT Press/Urbanomic/Sequence, 2019); and “Night: A Philosophy of the After-Dark” (Zero Books, 2019). He is also the co-editor of the “Suspensions” book series with Bloomsbury Press, and the co-director of the 5th Disappearance Lab.
Reza Negarestani is a philosopher. He has contributed extensively to journals and anthologies and lectured at numerous international universities and institutes. His current philosophical project is focused on rationalist universalism beginning with the evolution of the modern system of knowledge and advancingtoward contemporary philosophies of rationalism, their procedures as well as their demands for special forms of human conduct. He is the author of “Cyclonopedia” (re.press) and “Intelligence and Spirit” (Urbanomic).
Patricia Reed is an artist, writer and designer based in Berlin. Recent writings have been published in “Pages Magazine” (forthcoming), “Glass Bead Journal”, “The New Normal” (Strelka Press, forthcoming), “Construction Site for Possible Worlds” (Urbanomic), “e-flux Journal”, “Making & Breaking, Para- Platforms” (Sternberg/Merve); “Post Memes” (Punctum Books); “e-flux Architecture”; and “Xeno-Architecture” (Sternberg).
Francis Ruyter works with issues of style and recognition behind image-making, and connects this activity to social and technological forces driving contemporary experience and historical archiving. In 2008, he began replacing his own photographic source material with the Library of Congress’ FSA/OWI archive of depression era photographs, conceptually locating ‘the archive’ as subject matter, in place of indexing his own lived experience.
Francis Ruyter (Washington DC) moved to NYC in 1986 to study art and began showing in 1993. Work is included in The Museum of Modern Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Le Consortium, Dijon, The Albertina, Vienna, and many other public collections. Francis Ruyter currently lives in Vienna, Austria where he has produced more than 30 exhibitions of other artists’ work since opening Galerie Lisa Ruyter there in 2003. He was a founder of Team Gallery in 1995/96 -2001. Collaborative work with other artists remains a high priority. He is currently a member of the board of the Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession.
McKenzie Wark is an Australian-born media theorist and professor of culture and media at the New School for Social Research in New York. Wark began writing about digital art in the 1990s, on early internet list servers that brought together new communities of artists, activists, and theorists. Her most recent books include “Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene” (Verso, 2015), “Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse?” (Verso, 2019) and “Reverse Cowgirl” (MIT, 2020). She is currently preparing a special issue on trans | fem aesthetics for e-flux journal.
The Summa Technologiae seminars are conceived for graduate students, with a background on art, philosophy, architecture, design, social sciences and/or critical theory.
Each seminar will accept a maximum of 15 participants. Participants from all over the world are encouraged to apply.
Applicants must have a degree on art, philosophy, architecture, design, social sceinces and/or critical theory, or equivalent experience that they can demonstrate.
While it is possible to apply to more than one seminar in the program, the applicants must state their first choice of seminar in case they are applying to more than one. The final decision will be made by the seminar selection committee, and it cannot be contested.
The language of instruction is English.
Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting a short piece of writing.