Natascha Sadr Haghighian (inquirer, Berlin), John Tresch (Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania), and guests
An apparatus is a dispositif, a framework for reflecting on the assemblage of practices between technique, technology, and perception. As such, an apparatus can be examined as a cosmogram, a material inscription of the world that projects a particular sense of order, purpose, and meaning. The thermometer may, in the case of the Anthropocene, be the most enduring tool for communicating a concrete assessment of climate change. This “instrument” speaks with a combination of agencies, its parts and pieces unfolding to reveal socio-culturally negotiated ways of seeing and sensing, scientific fact-fictions, and the technospiritual infusion of participating observers. Mercury, as the thermometer’s primary (and historical) medium, is the focus of this session’s material inquiry. In form of the thermometer, mercury measures the dynamic state of bodies, mapping the sensible distinction between temperature and temperament. As an element, mercury carries with it the operations of numerous dispositifs within our assemblage of technical world-pictures: quicksilver, substance, poison—indispensable for alchemists of the past—a catalyst, always in-between, with no shape or form, an entire history of means and methods to describe it, capture it, tame it, put it to use, stimulate transformation. If “fever” is a metaphorical anamnesis for our planet, what practices must be afforded to address the totality of climate change without relying on representations?
With Manuela Heider de Jahnsen (Society of Friends, Berlin)