continent. maps a topology of unstable confluences and ranges across new thinking, traversing interstices and alternate directions in culture, theory, biopolitics and art.

Fieldtalks, at the Anthropocene Campus Philadelphia

FieldtalksThe Phonetic Speaker (1847) &
Pennsylvania State Railroad Commission in the Matter of the Complaints Against the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (1911)

“I wonder sometimes, am I artificial or natural? Could anything ‘natural’ come out a place they used to call the “Workshop of the World”? Surely, I was processed, I did not just come as I am… starting underground in Québec, brought a few miles away from here to Ambler, and turned into fireproof cement. They used to call us the ‘miracle mineral’ before disposing of us en masse when they slowly realised we were messing up their lungs... What about you?” — Asbestos

What would a conversation with a piece of asbestos, or a piece of plastic stranded on the shore of the Schuylkill River be like? And how could a conversation transpire, between things and researchers and other things, if they landed in the same place and found for themselves a common language? Imprinted by Philadelphia’s singular industrial and technological history, the soils, water systems, and infrastructures of the Delaware Valley tell a story of the Anthropocene, the contentious and debated terminology for this “new” and anthropocentric geological era in which human activities have forever altered Earth's ecosystems.

For the Anthropocene Campus Philadelphia (ACP), continent. attempted to listen to the material utterances of sites that voice intertwined economic, technological, and political histories of “The Athens of America”, a city, a factory, a riverbed, a valley, an escarpment. Collaborating with researchers, activists, scientists and student groups, continent. conducted a set of field walks and discussions that gathered objects, samples, sounds, stories, soundscapes and conversations. We visited former asbestos production areas at Ambler, called on the developments around Philly’s harbour and waterfront developments, checked out conditions along the Schuylkill River and examined archives at the Academy of Natural Sciences, amongst other areas of interest.

Brought to the APC to constitute an anthropocenic evidence locker, a sample table for the technosphere, these artifacts provided material interfaces and witnesseses in the institutional ecosystem of the campus. Inviting so-called human and linguistic beings to think with and through these collected materials, continent. issued a series of recorded audio interviews, subject and objects in discussion. Fieldtalks is a continent. podcast at the Anthropocene Campus Philadelphia:

 

WHEN:

October 22–26, 2017

WHERE:

Drexel University, Philadelphia

WHAT:

Based on observations and collections of materials at symptomatic and Anthropocenic sites, continent. hosted and recorded Fieldtalks in and around the Anthropocene Campus Philadelphia. Participants were invited to think about and bring along documents, objects, artifacts, images, texts that speak to their experience of industrial activity and ecological interactions in the region. 

Fieldtalks, at the Anthropocene Campus Philadelphia is a collaboration the ANTHROPOCENE CAMPUS PHILADELPHIA (ACP), Scott Knowles and his students preceding the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology.