The art world, recently quite excited about theories of speculative realism, now brandishes the theoretical banners of the Anthropocene, even at the risk of some annoying misunderstandings. On the face of it, we can only be suspicious given that, in most instances, the only reference cited is limited to Paul Crutzen, a scientist who coined this neologism, which refers to joint human responsibility in the accelerated deterioration of planet Earth that will inevitably lead to the end of the world, at least the one we know. Fortunately, these debates seem to be heading in different if not politically opposite directions, distinguished from one another by the use of words such as Gaia, radical ecology, and ecosophy.
Movements spawned by Occupy Wall Street have even taken this same term, Anthropocene, and made political use of it through anarchist thinking, ignoring the fact that it is also used by proponents of advanced Silicon Valley neoliberalism. In a post-Sandy atmosphere, New York could indeed almost be seen in recent years as a laboratory for certain urbanistic, ecological and political transformations. The aim is to rethink the representation of the human being in a totally altered environment, seeking to propose new epistemological alternatives to kantian thinking. So the title for this issue could have been: An Anthropocene State of Mind: Hazarding a New York Mood Against a European Mood. Even if the New York mood seems to emanate from a more political agenda, discussions in France are taking on a new critical turn with a group of philosophers and anthropologists from the University of Nanterre and the EHESS (Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales). The anthology of texts published lasy Spring by Émilie Hache is an obvious proof of this.
What interests us in this issue is knowing how aesthetic and political fields may converge towards these issues of radical ecology, and around what types of forms and spaces—whether this involves producing a criticism of the new trends of an ecological life style, depicting filmic forms of eschatological narratives or embarking on a line of thinking about a possible epistemological revolution which would upset our relation to knowledge, and in particular affect historical, philosophical and sociological models, and, as a result, the current conditions of art production and reception.
We are very well aware of taking part, in our turn, in this endeavour to re-circulate a new theoretical current within the art system, and we have accordingly witnessed the way in which ways of thinking, ranging from activist to artistic, meet —two at times irreconcilable systems — which all share in common their quest to think about an outside, but without remaining outside.
-  Émilie Hache (ed.), De l’univers clos au monde infini (From the Closed Univers to the Infinite World) (Bellevaux: Éditions Dehors, 2014). ↩