Symposium: The return of materialism(s)? Matter between science, theory and art – University of Iceland, Lögberg 101, April 13 2018

In recent years scholars, artists and scientists have been exploring “how matter comes to matter” through what is called new materialism. The material, objective world is not a mute or a passive canvas for human life to act upon but full of diverse kinds of active meaning-making to be found within and between e.g. ecosystems, neurotransmissions, plants or animals. Objecting to the human-centric approach which limits agency and relationality to the social lives of humans, new materialist scholars do radically interdisciplinary research in order to respond to the current economic, ecological and political crises. Stock market crashes, earthquakes and the increasing complexification of political and social systems (and their breakdowns) demonstrate not only that a new epistemic perspective is needed but that we need to collaborate in affirmative ways over traditional disciplinary lines.

The symposium The return of materialism(s)? which the centre of philosophy holds in relation to the COST-funded network project New Materialism – ‘How matter comes to matter’. Iris van der Tuin and Felicity Colman will begin by introducing new materialism and the COST-project followed by the Icelandic artist Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir, who will give a paper about the Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson art project You must carry me now, which explores the interconnections between eco-systems and social systems around the Grand Canyon in USA. The philosopher Jan Overwijk will give a paper on how Niklas Luhmann conceptualises social systems and how his thought can interact with new materialism. Subsequently the Icelandic research-project Embodied Critical Thinking will be introduced by Sigríður Þorgeirsdóttir and Björn Þorsteinsson. The symposium will finish with a panel discussion on the value of new materialism for academic research and social issues today.


13.00: What is new materialism? ­– Iris van der Tuin and Felicity Colman

13.15: You must carry me now – Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir

13.45: Luhmann’s Autopoietic System ­– Jan Overwijk

14.15: Coffee break

14.30: Embodied Critical Thinking – Sigríður Þorgeirsdóttir and Björn Þorsteinsson

15.00: Panel and Q&A