Marie-Luise Angerer

Morphic Figurations

In the summer of 2019, James Lovelock, who formulated the Gaia hypothesis, celebrated his 100th birthday. With his theory that Earth (Greek: Gaia) is a living being, he prompted a shift in thinking the far-reaching implications of which are only now becoming apparent. Alarming levels of plastic in the environment, unprecedented numbers of species dying out, flight shame, extreme weather events, movements like Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion —all of this is dramatic evidence of the state of Earth as a living organism. Beginning in the 1960s, Lynn Margulis worked with Lovelock, building on his Gaia hypothesis to advance her theory of endosymbiosis. Rather than assuming that the survival of a species depends on its ability to adapt, her theory states that, to put it briefly, survival depends on both host and parasite. The one adapts to the other; everything snuggles up to everything else. It is no surprise, then, that Donna Haraway found in Margulis a supporter for her concept of companionship, with companions here including both animals and nature, both human and non-human actors. In this context, Haraway uses string figures as a metaphor for the way different ties and relations create a series of knots, which then come untied to form new knots, and so forth. Haraway refers to such nexuses of technology, knowledge, history and action as material-semiotic knots, which in turn feed into practice, including artistic practice.

Marie Luise Angerer
© Katja Davar

Marie-Luise Angerer is Professor of media studies at the European Media Studies program at the University of Potsdam. She is the spokesperson of the graduate program Sensing: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media(funded by Volkswagen Foundation) and Acting Director of the Brandenburg Center of Media Studies (ZeM). Her most recent publications include Feministisches Spekulieren. Genealogien, Zeitlichkeiten, Narrationen (co-edited with Naomie Gramlich, 2020), Ecology of Affect: Intensive Milieus and Contingent Encounters (2017), Desire After Affect (2014), Timing of Affect (co-edited with Bernd Bösel and Michaela Ott, 2014).