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avanessian – xenoarchitecture (draft

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Introduction
Armen Avanessian

“Man’s desire is the desire of the Other,” Lacan, Seminar XI, p. 235

Following Lacan’s infamous dictum, according to which desire is defined as the desire of the
Other, we could ask ourselves what a correlate methodology would look like for the
humanities (or should we say “the inhumanities”?). Obviously, the structure of the phrase is
ambiguous, or even tautological if taken as a predicative proposition. Instead, I propose to
read it as a speculative proposition: we do not simply desire what the other has or hasn’t got,
but we desire the state of being an Other, an othering, becoming a stranger to oneself and
others—literally alienating them as well as “ourselves.” A desire for the xeno?
This transformation has at least three central aspects: alienation (the negative
mirroring of a given reality), negation (the construction of an asymmetry that initiates an
annihilation of the positively given), and a recursion of alienation and negation through
speculation.1 It is a poietic qua productive and creative transformation in the sense that it
increases the scope of navigation and liberation by means of manipulation. Together with
others, I have thought, experimented, and written a lot about questions of othering and
“matching” experimental settings2 for the production of knowledge, tactical spaces in the
sense of Michel de Certeau, xeno-spaces that are defined by “a calculated action determined
by the absence of a proper locus. No delimitation of an exteriority, then, provides it with the
condition necessary for autonomy. The space of a tactic is the space of the Other. Thus, it
must play on and with a terrain imposed on it and organized by the law of a foreign power.”3
Maybe we are confronted here with a fantasy as old as philosophy itself, a kind of
dialogue (or trialogue? or …) of radical alienation that is passed on or handed to us from the
Platonic or Socratic dialogues, the idea of a radical recursive transformation of knowing into
not-knowing into knowing, an othering that also affects (and alienates) the idea of
communication at the very heart of the philosophical community. We are dealing here with a
communication not on the basis of an accumulation of different sorts of (positive) knowledge

1
I have developed these ideas in detail in my book Overwrite: Ethics of Knowledge – Poetics of Existence (Berlin: Sternberg
Press, 2017)
2
By “setting,” I mean the structure that prescribes what kind of knowledge emerges. In psychoanalysis and elsewhere, it is
the setting that prescribes the way in which knowledge can be produced as well as the position from which the subject sets
out to find its truth.
3
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984),
37.

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In our experimental arrangement. performance-artists. between the theoretician and the practitioner. Instead we tried to build an alternative setting—another xeno-architecture of reasoning. all leading toward an event on April 18. to its unknown outside? What would be a xeno-methodology that disables any guarantee of knowing how to trace its origins? And what would a xeno- architecture be like that is (and has as its basis) not an Architektur der reinen Vernunft— architecture of pure reason—as in Kant. the speculative task was clear: I would draw on previous experiences with poetic collaborations (with other writers. it changed how we spoke to each other. speculation takes the place of contemplation and the transformative dimension of recursion takes over from reflection. What would be a coextensive xeno-communication—or xeno-method—that opens itself to its Other. etc. can be transformed into […] “epistemic mediators” that give rise to new signs. between the abstract and the concrete). filmmakers. It has already changed our understanding of how to speak or write or think architecture. illustrators. It was obvious in any case that what had to be avoided was mere contemplation and reflection about architecture. First of all. so when Markus Miessen invited me to write the foreword to a book on his critical practice. Questions like these were already bothering me. on the contrary. new chances for interpretants. usually inert from the semiotic point of view. and new 2 . architects. and later to develop a project together with him. at the Kaaitheater in Brussels. as a debt and pledge). Maybe the series of encounters (between musicians. this book is dedicated to the attempt to develop an architecture of knowledge to match xenoism. 2017.) can be understood using a term borrowed from the philosophy of science: cognitive traps. performers. but. but in an ongoing drift of communicational settings. an impure reason that simultaneously affects its future and its recent past as well as its own origins (the arché). and artists) images nd experimentation with the concept of “xeno-architecture” with regard to the work of some contemporary architects. Here Lorenzo Magnani’s concept of “manipulative abduction” is especially relevant: Manipulative abduction occurs when many external things. not in a dialogue. And instead of installing a merely dialogic communication (between the philosopher and the architect.avanessian – xenoarchitecture (draft) but one in the radical sense carved out etymologically by Roberto Esposito: a communitas whose connections are established on the basis of subtraction and not addition (munus. These always-changing and developing traps of knowledge production are manipulations of the respective intellectual or practical context. philosophers.

and a xeno-architectural laboratory condition aimed at the actual production of knowledge. Our goal. we were aiming at a transformative environment. final conversation—we immediately decided to disappoint the expectation of a collaboration like ours (philosophers talking about or in an architectural setting). a manipulative setting that would be capable not just of alienating the individual protagonists and their audience (the problem of estrangement qua aesthetic experience without any further ramifications) but of creating an alienation. Perhaps xeno-architecture has long since started in the future and we just don’t know it yet. Abductive Cognition: The Epistemological and Eco-Cognitive Dimensions of Hypothetical Reasoning (Berlin: Springer. about doing. it might be both slightly different and the other way around. 174. Instead. 3 . 4 Lorenzo Magnani.avanessian – xenoarchitecture (draft) interpretations. For then. perforating what was previously a whole and recursively changing both the integrated parts and the integrating whole. for now. 2009). Because it might not only be high time for a xeno-architecture (of knowing) to match. We wanted to create settings that are in themselves xeno- architectural and could provide us with some insight into a hyperstitional or speculative concept like xeno-architecture. a conceptual fiction capable of realizing itself from the future. At the same time the idea was not to put on display what is supposed to be unique in each practice and overexpose its Other (or its many Others). representing this or that external idea in a pedagogical manner. an othering. triggered by constantly integrating parts and practices into wholly new ones. […] It happens when we are thinking through doing and not only. in a pragmatic sense. therefore. was focused not so much on a reflective unease but on a recursive disquiet.4 In organizing an event in Brussels—as the fifth and. and from a non-chronological point of view.

avanessian – xenoarchitecture (draft) 4 .

and not stand-alone) to mark a moment of transformation. 2014). since “metanoia” is the moment. instead of Patricia explaining xeno-feminism and Anke. Markus Miessen. I think ultimately one of the reasons why we are involved in this project is because we are concerned with the insularity and non- functionality of keeping these ideas chained to intellectual and academic communities. Secondly. My main interest in the prefix “xeno” is partly related to the work of Wilfrid Sellars and his concept of the “manifest image. Armen and Anke. makes explicit. in line with Reza Negarestani’s notion of inhumanism? What I’m getting at here is the idea of the interface as the technique of mediation. is deeply tied to the creating of new perspectives on the world. so hopefully not as heroic as a capital-E event that carries with it too much theo- political baggage for my taste. of self-transformation. How can or does metanoia go beyond an individual epiphany? Perhaps the ambition of xeno-poetics would be to examine how to collectivize this idea of a new perspective that results from the sense-event of metanoia. Can you define these processes? Or should I say.” which basically comes down to how humans understand themselves in the world (and the agency ingrained in this conceptual process). let me start by explaining how I relate to xeno-poetics. is important within this frame. or perhaps act. In your literary outline. The question that I’ve always had with metanoia.xenoarchitecture (draft) Conversation 1 01-26-2017. Patricia Reed Armen Avanessian: The reason why Markus and I decided to start the series of conversations with you. AA: Patricia. 11:00 CET+1 Armen Avanessian. I think that the work in your book Metanoia Spekulative Ontologie der Sprache (Merve. xeno-poetics. Patricia and Anke. you were talking about processes. as I understand it. these “xeno-processes”? 5 . Patricia Reed: Alright.” to the point where you can no longer return to your former perspective. which is what metanoia. So this metanoia. What I mean with “sense-event” (and why I think hyphenation is important) is firstly to express a continuum between perception and thinking. so our efforts are invested in trying to put these ideas to use. namely xeno-poetics and xeno-feminism. Anke Hennig. is how that process could be collectivized so that it actually becomes a transformation of the human’s self-image. is based on your respective implementation of the “xeno” into your practices. a general question as to how to unleash these processes. since I think we’ve all experienced this phenomenon on an individual level. which is related to the methodological question: How do we introduce these processes of new human self-understandings. This brings us to another interesting inquiry. to use the term “event” (lowercase. I would like to propose starting in a counter-intuitive way in which both of you explain each other’s practice. via a sense-event. it’s a sense-event resulting in a self-transformation whereby your view of reality is dramatically “othered.

and what is possible. such as writing texts or speaking in terms of dialogue and conversation. they do it via devices and technologies. xeno- feminism takes the idea of the human as an unsolved question and asks “What is human?” from a strong feminist point of view. I perceive it as a poetic feminism. a futurism and a collectivization. It might make sense to have a look at this philosophically and time-philosophically. Basically. the idea that every change. when xeno-feminists ask how human change is possible. and it is. Openness is not reduced to a neoliberalist interpretation of infinite market tolerances. is key here. it states that sex and gender aren’t given or present but are characteristics that have to be created. given the regressive. xeno-feminism is first of all a futurist feminism.xenoarchitecture (draft) PR: Much of my inspiration is derived from Reza Negarestani’s “inhumanism. is even more urgent. at creating a certain change which. AA: Anke. That is where I think ideas of the interface or techniques of mediation are essential to attract or seduce the outside to be able to have a “metanoian” effect on the human. I think the way he addresses “openness. it has to be a mode of seducing this radical outside—and by outside I mean here the infection of alien perspectives. does not just change the future but changes everything in our past and how we have seen the 6 . for example). aimed. AA: I think we should continue this xeno-comparison and see if it is a misunderstanding and whether we are merely falling into a trap because of the similarity within the concepts. It is a rationalist feminism. This is very important for Anke and myself. and is why we appreciated the work of Quentin Meillassoux. I’m very intrigued by your question. we constantly change and through this process we also change our past. In that sense. however. but it is the assumption that the “essence.” as it were. As Patricia said. Anke and I call it tense- philosophically—with regards to the grammar of time because there is one crucial element. You were both talking about the human and in one way or the other you were talking about the future. In literature or in other spheres of knowledge. Some elements have already emerged. which is rather rare in postfeminist times. one cannot just will xeno- poetics into being. that this could emerge. in the sense that there is no such thing as the human somewhere in the past (“Let’s make humans great again” doesn’t make sense. where they stand. It is not a “post”—as if there would be something “after the human”—but rather there is a change in temporality. this is not “inhumane” in the everyday sense of the word. My first intuitive answer would be that it is via writing in the broadest sense. also a speculative feminism. In other words. every metanoia. backward-looking “making-great-again” tendencies of our present. Patricia.” for example. namely the inhuman.” Just to be clear. which is not just another non-humanism or post-humanism. can you say something about xeno-poetics and relate it to xeno-feminism? Anke Hennig: From my point of view. of being human is mutability—a nonessential quality whereby humans continually redefine what they are. as xeno-feminism indicates. but it is where the outside permeates you—what he calls becoming “prey” to the outside. As I understand xeno-feminism. of how to collectivize metanoia: you see it as a xeno- poetic task to create a shift from an individual metanoia that comes across in reading to a collective metanoia that is a social metanoia or even a universal metanoia of the human.

” Armen wrote a very stimulating introduction to Crossbenching (Sternberg Press. and devoted to moral judgment. This is the task of the xeno. as an amateur and disturber of the status quo. To understand when to be part of something and when to be outside of it. This is precisely where the xeno comes in. I like to play with the idea that there is no kind of Zeitgenossenschaft (contemporaneity) in the sense of Gegenwartsgenossenschaft (companionship with the present). This disinterested notion of what I would like to refer to as the “uninvited outsider” puts forward the claim that universality always goes hand in hand with risk-taking. and as the author of a language that tries to speak truth to power. someone who can no longer understand why she or he had a certain opinion in the past. logistics. Accordingly. computer systems. Said speaks about intellectuals as figures whose public performance can neither be predicted nor reduced to a fixed dogma or party line. The “uninvited outsider” is someone who has a background within a particular (taught) discipline but ventures out of her or his milieu and immediate professional context. so to speak. As algorithms already do anyhow. the ideal intellectual works as an exile and marginal actor. is the driving force for such a practice. This spirit of productive and targeted opposition. rather than an expert who provides objective advice for pay. In Representations of the Intellectual (Vintage. we need to understand architecture not as a timeless art or as grounded in the present but as architectural thinking and practice (maybe there is not so much difference between the two) situated in the future and acting upon our present from the future. I call it a time-complex society that is no longer governed by the human—by what we perceive—but by very complex systems. especially in times like ours. the dérive). and I want to refine the concept. which automatically govern us “from the future. Markus Miessen: For me as an outsider to the xeno debate. becoming sauvage. In German. In his view. and then applying them to found situations and problematics—driven by a consciousness that is skeptical and engaged. one willingly reduces one’s audience to that of the already existing.xenoarchitecture (draft) world. or the futurist. 2014) do. and as the aliens in The Edge of Tomorrow (dir. most often disciplinary crowd of one’s 7 . For him. and so on. 1994). There are two ways of dealing with the societal challenges we are facing: either “to make humans great again. Becoming alien. I would like to contextualize this within the notion of “crossbenching. using a set of soft skills required elsewhere. instead it is influenced by the impact of technologies or the runaway technologies of our times that have now completely undermined the liberal subject.g. it is essential to break away from one’s milieu—otherwise. Either you become a Vergangenheitsgenosse (a companion of the past) or you become a Zukunftsgenosse (a companion of the future). In terms of communicating one’s message. albeit in a destructive manner. rather metaphoric perceptions (e. or collectively becoming alien is a necessity. one task of the intellectual is the effort to break down stereotypes as well as the reductive categories that limit human thought and communication. 2016). Edward Said introduces the public role of the intellectual as outsider.” which is the regressive option. xeno- option. Doug Liman. For example. rather than accommodation. which—in many ways—is also the reason why we are sitting here together today and why we have been invited to work on this project. infrastructures. algorithms.” It is important to distinguish the notion of the xeno from earlier poststructuralist.

In order to become active and productive as an instigator and initiator in the choreography of strategic conflicts. Amazon telling us which book to read. The outsider is someone who can use a general sense of abstraction in order for his or her knowledge to fuel an alternative and necessary debate. they already tell us what our future is like. It is constantly searching for how to provide a setting (work and writing settings) in which we are not in charge. Either we learn how to integrate them into who and what we are. exile can also be understood as a metaphorical condition. and so on. one must avoid a situation in which criticality turns into yet another modality of commodification. one and two others. The question one can ask within a mereological framework is. Like in the recent film Arrival (dir. and to decouple existing and deadlocked relationships and practices in a foreign context. or we just follow blindly all the pre-emptive mechanisms put in place. part and other. 2016): what we can learn from aliens and from being alien is to understand the future—time comes from the future—and our present as an asynchronous present. such as exile in other fields of expertise. and what I am interested in is how this building up of a setting—in our case. Perhaps it is not so easy to go from an individual to a collective. Such an understanding of surplus value through otherness is essentially antithetical to the notion of gnostic knowledge. This then starts to translate into a discipline without profession. For critical spatial practice to remain productive and unforeseen. The way we work together is characterized by always trying to push ourselves on all levels by doing what we dislike. do you regard it as some kind of outsider? AA: Outsiders are precisely the insiders in the context of xenoism.xenoarchitecture (draft) background: to produce new publics and audiences that would not convene without one’s practice. which is a theory that goes back to the Middle Ages. one and other. Anke and I thought a lot about “othering” as a methodological proposition. What does it mean to become software or algorithms? We already are anyhow. a parasitic and impartial form of consulting. becoming alien or non-human is a more radical way to integrate technologies. We have to both learn as aliens and learn to become aliens. the police locking people up simply because they are connected to this or that person and therefore might do this or that. one can appropriate the strength and potential of weak ties. In this project. These can be settings of talking. Whether they are just variables. in a way forcing the other to do what he or she cannot do. AH: I want to come back to the question of the human and how to collectivize a process of metanoia. like materials in a construction. the “othering” is experimented with on a very methodological level. Parship telling us what kind of partner will most likely make us happy in life. as the saying goes: one cannot be a prophet in one’s own country. Or. To get back to your notion of the alien. but we need to move through various parts. how 8 . or whether. a practice of writing—can be generalized in a methodological sense. of writing. which is already alien to itself. a discipline without a set of prescriptions or known knowledges but rather a framework of criticality: a discipline from the outside. Knowledge and the production of knowledge is not fueled by accumulation but by editing and sampling. Denis Villeneuve. in certain settings. In the context of the uninvited outsider. etc. settings of part and part. which is a process of becoming alien. reflecting on how parts relate to wholes. they form the actual whole as a constellation. We have worked a lot with mereology.

If you have natural numbers and you partition them. In that sense xeno-architecture could be a mereological architecture. it might be helpful to refer to spatial practice. something that works with parts and wholes and transforms them. instead of using the word “architecture. we need to start carving out what it could be. they also create a process of becoming “other. the film Arrival is a good example: the aliens come from the future. In the face of what we may currently assume. Also. it is not always the rational that makes us inhuman and that makes it possible to change the definition of what human is. etc. an inhuman relationship. not a natural metaphoric logic in which the local house is part of the country and the human is part of the house. MM: Yes. to some extent. but one that instead thinks of a metonymical relationship between humans and architecture.). This again goes back to Negarestani’s xeno-idea of mereological relations. physical practice. and an element of continuity. Obviously. definitely. and if you manage to decode their language. or housing for humans. a roof. There is also the irrational. we don’t yet know. I’m more interested in the discontinuity. right? AA: For some it remains a humanism. it is important to understand that alienation and inhuman are not referring to something negative. which is concerned with the production of space but not merely in a physical way. you then get irrational numbers that are bigger than the rational numbers. How can you make one whole part of another whole? How does this allow you to transform relations and settings? I have the feeling this would be relevant for our discussion of xeno-architecture. It seems to me that this is more about instituting a new continuity of what the human is. an answer to Patricia’s question about “how to collectivize a metanoia.xenoarchitecture (draft) can particles transform wholes? This is. Again. in terms of making holes into wholes.” which—to most people—connotes what you just described (a practical. especially with regard to surfaces or materials. I’m interested in what Armen said earlier about the inhuman not being a break from the human.” I think of collectivization in terms of employing mereology in the broader sense of thinking of how settings and constellations that include parts can form or transform wholes. Xeno-architecture is a speculative neologism. PR: Since we are aiming to come to some kind of working definition of xenoism. So what does that mean for xeno-poetic strategies in architecture. 9 . In that sense.” of being laid open. where any whole relates to a hole instead of a part as an element. you can learn from them in order to understand the future and the algorithms that constitute that future. It is not just a process of rationality. The other important element in relation to the notion of the alien is to understand how alienation is more than just something negative. the holes that are created by that process are creating an openness. an architecture that is no longer metaphoric but metonymic? An architecture that is not simply responsible for providing shelter. let’s ask ourselves what an inhuman or alienating architecture could be that triggers these processes of alienation or xenoism. and its force or its truth doesn’t lie in its precise description of a given situation but of a future one.

g. Wholes that form surfaces and wholes as a spatial practice. etc. then perhaps a vermicular space has very alienating effects. I thought a xeno-whole would be a whole that is a vermicular space. for example. like. as exemplified by the London metro which is called “the tube. I called it “archeotecture” to differentiate between an architecture that. however. as Armen says. the cables attached to the façade of the Centre Pompidou and the cables inside the Google data center. protocols. like Wurmräume or worm spaces. I understand it in this way: it might not come from there. A metanoietic change of time also entails a liberation from enslavement by a future horizon. I would say that this needs to be understood as an important component and material in and of architecture. etymologically connotes “origins” and the xeno (the other or the alienating).xenoarchitecture (draft) AH: In terms of spatial practices.” I see a strong connection between these technological xeno-spaces and part–whole relationships. these present a physical reality that one is confronted with. water systems. Armen claims that time comes from the future. and time codes are that have an effect on a particular space. since they are not eternal. urban transport). the laws of the country I am living in. I am wondering how this links not only to Anke’s example of the Centre Pompidou but also to infrastructural spaces such as server farms. remind us of three-dimensional spaces. I took into consideration the architectural materials. I see a reality one can directly interact or interfere with. To me. which mostly show literal physical infrastructural elements—pipe and cabling work and so on. but it is anchored there. And. Hence. My idea was that forms of futurist architecture where all the vermicular spaces are tied to technology. I see this idea manifest in a technological practice of infrastructure (e. if you compare this to the very traditional interpretation of architecture as a practice that creates houses and shelters. since it has a lot to do with how spaces are programmed. cabling. Could you elaborate a bit on this temporal dimension? 10 . what the policies. These are usually technological spatial practices which all operate with vermicular spaces. what I decide to do now depends on that horizon. whereas when Anke describes the temporal dimension. the horizon of the future comes first and decisions about the present come after. I decide to take action in relation to a future horizon that I set up. A predictive horizon that demands I take into account my insurances. This also impacts on architecture. And on top of that. how can we think of an architecture that changes in its past? MM: You mentioned the temporal dimension. My other thought on xeno in relation to architecture—and Armen previously touched upon it briefly— addresses a kind of speculative temporality. I have difficulties perceiving them in a traditional Euclidean way. I can act now according to a future I imagine. whatever that future horizon is. of mereology. a speculative futurism opens up unpredictable and unforeseen new pasts.

xenoarchitecture (draft) AH: Initially. For example. it would not aim to eternalize the specific moment it was built in AD 113 up into the present. Thus. As someone interested in perspectivism. because I experience them as problematic and they themselves indicate a series of geometrical limitations. the problem arises that these materials change in time and are unpredictable or may be hard to program. let’s take past architecture such as Trajan’s Column: an archeotectural approach would not be concerned with a conservative practice. it would be opposed to restoration and reconstruction. if you think of ecological architecture. and what 11 . the evocation of the horizon where the speculative future comes from: you look toward the future that influences your actions and that is why our behavior can be said to be coming from the future. archeotecture would not try to keep the body of past architecture in the state it was imagined back then. thus making you forget that architecture has a temporal dimension at all. For example. I’d like to unpack these geometrical metaphors we commonly use and dig into how they may constrain us from thinking/acting otherwise. The xeno is tied to a realist philosophy. this is not the case with construction sketches made on parchment which last thousands of years. I thought about this notion from a material point of view since architecture is bound to materials either in their physical or in their biological character. but we have to be aware that they do represent and entail a certain limitation about how we imagine our world to be.” It seems hard to imagine what the pastness of architecture could be. In the case of Trajan’s Column. I think it is interesting that we continue to evoke this image of the horizon as a notion providing some sort of guidance. So the claim would be to open up architecture’s past from its conservative—that is. which uses biological materials. I’d like to start thinking about archeotecture from exactly those aspects of past architecture that can be subjected to xeno-architectural treatment. but maybe we actually need to develop new modes of geometrical representation that more accurately describe the spatial reality that we inhabit. as Anke mentioned. which is displayed on the pillar. Archeotecture seems so alien that I thought of it as a case of xeno-architecture. Archeotecture concerns the transformations of architecture in the past—in the temporal mode of its pastness—and would look there for deviations from the origin. I named the zone of thinking about architecture’s pastness “archeotecture. and of course we know that the only reality of the horizon is that it is a mimicry of the limitations of our bio-sensory interface system. it is the alphabet and the typeface of capitalis monumentalis. What would be the implications of that geometrical-representational transformation upon the discipline of architecture? I don’t think that it’s trivial that we continue using these terms. creating something in the past. For instance. maybe in a poetic sense. That is to say. I thought that the temporality of architecture is most visible within the material dimension of architecture. Though this example might seem a bit literal. which obviously does not end with the illusion of a horizon. to some degree. once we have taken into account a temporal dimension of architecture—and agreed that xeno comes to signify a deviation from a chronological image of time—we could go one step further and ask about architecture’s relationship to the past. preservative— mode of existence. However. that form the zone of archeotectural action. Nonetheless. PR: I find some words that have been going around interesting.

without the production of something. that it is not an aesthetic approach. So every basic act of understanding and seeing entails a kind of poietic creation. By asking ourselves what the sound of architecture could be. AH: I relate more literally. This is absolutely decisive when we think about xenopoetics as opposed to aesthetics. One of our premises has always been. instead of designating what is actually desired with the acknowledgement of a xenoism and its effect on temporality. how does this affect architecture.” It signals phenomenology’s shifts toward existentialism. MM: Basically. in the same way that computational architecture cannot be reduced to smooth surfaces in the style of Patrik Schumacher. I agree that it cannot be thought of in a phenomenological way—this is also how I understand Anke: namely. we are trying to transcend the visual. we are no longer in the Fordist mechanistic or industrial paradigm. in a Heideggerian sense. AA: The problem with the notion of the horizon is that it is in itself a phenomenological metaphor. If I were to think of it geometrically or aesthetically. even though we don’t know yet how our new inhuman apparatus of the senses will be different and will have—to use a Russian formalist expression—a disparate dominance of one sense that structures everything else (which differs from a hegemony of one sense). If the dominant sense might no longer be the visual. I find the speculation about different forms of “geometric” realities that we (could) inhabit deeply problematic—mostly from the point of view of the architectural discourse of the last fifteen years. architects and designers have been developing tools and formats to deal with this mediation and communication challenge. in which a mostly formal debate on a computer-driven design discourse has produced an architecture completely devoid of content. from what we experience to how it is actually located in time. The architectural patrimony is not merely about what is built or its form. That is where the concept of horizon sits for me philosophically. visualization. that there is no aisthesis and no noesis (no perception and no understanding) without poiesis. or the smell of thinking. However. the coming into being of something new. “To be” also evokes too much of a linear model of time and causation leading to the status quo we see right now. In this sense. it is about integrating non-physical components that have an effect on space. in our book on metanoia and elsewhere. AA: Yes. indeed. which will continue to be built and seen? This means that the logic or the metaphor of the horizon is problematic on all levels. to the use of the word “horizon. and drawing as tools to communicate between different actors and constituencies.xenoarchitecture (draft) sorts of interventions/actions are possible within it. first of all because it is an aesthetic one. where the tendency is to measure contingency and at the same time close it. which is focused on the visual. This also explains why Markus and I want to work with scent and sound as an architectural intervention at the Kaaitheater in Brussels. then an example of a horizon would be the 12 . since all new technologies imply a new ordering of our senses. MM: With regard to the question of representation. the future is precisely a horizon.

One never reaches the horizon. was part of a group of Berlin-based poets. Xeno-architecture shouldn’t be a gloomy business. This resonates in Anke and Armen’s practice. My suggestion comes from our understanding of speculative poetics as a practice of language that highlights the creative and cognitive potentials of language.xenoarchitecture (draft) moment when a Euclidean surface turns out to be actually round. Noiesis doesn’t come without poiesis and can’t be reduced to aisthesis. is that language is being introduced again. just as we are doing now with regard to architecture. So speaking of xenoism without a minimum of creativity on the level of language risks fabricating a concept that is too dogmatic. While we were speaking.” Continue with this practice until you come up with a list of words.” to make a sweeping generalization. but rather focusing on an ontology of language. What I find interesting. post-structuralism. to the disavowal of a reality which is invariant and/or indifferent to us. with a speculative turn in theory as a way to confront some of the limitations of poststructuralist ideals wherein the linguistic is highlighted as a principle driver of reality. and so on—versus the new ontological return of the real already formed the starting point of our project Speculative Poetics some years ago. It seems most of us here are aligned.” speak of “poetix” instead of “poetics. to stimulate collective metanoia via writing in the broadest sense. Daniel Falb. who will be included in the next conversation. What if we put an “x” instead of a “c” wherever we can? Speak of “archeotexture” instead of “archeotecture. AA: The unhelpful distinction between the philosophically informed tradition of language in the linguistics of the last three to four decades—structuralism. we don’t want to end up saying that making a new vocabulary will be sufficient—is the model of how you see the actual ability of language tied to the idea of concept creation through language: how these new words or literary framings help us generate concepts to find orientation in the world. to a certain degree. But I am also thinking of other philosophers such as Reza Negarestani and Peter Wolfendale. the horizon is that which orientates you. It is a speculative concept that is created for orientation in the present. PR: Let’s put some emphasis back on the term xeno itself for a moment. and our project departed from an attempt to combine the two: not thinking of language as the “other” of ontology. Anke and I thought that this distinction was an empty rhetoric that was not going to last. after roughly fifteen years of fighting against “language. Right from the beginning of many shallow discussions about Speculative Realism and other trends. The xenoist procedure of putting x’s into the words for respectable xoncepts also seeks to introduce some randomness and ultimately some fun into xloning and xlowning concepts. I had a very practical and literary idea of making a concept out of the xeno related to our first definition of xeno at the very beginning of our conversation. where you focus on how language connects with reality in a broad and elaborated spectrum of practices and methodologies. What I would like to question—because. One of the first things that we did was to try to come up with new methodologies. of course. with whom we made a whole series about the question of neologisms and 13 . from whom I have recently heard lectures centered on language—mainly in relation to computation and discussions of Artificial General Intelligence. which is in fact the subtitle of our book Metanoia. though it remains ungraspable.

the philosopher. academic or otherwise). Markus. Opening up to what’s strange or alien to us. Again. When you apply the xeno to architectural practice. Not only do we not know what it looks like. that you are referring to the infrastructural component of architecture because of the exemplification of its “other side. I would say: let’s make decisions together. their form (the form of writing. Architecture is design and design is decision-making. It is the central mode of inference related to temporality. but rather. Not deductive—top-down—but also not related to the realm of inference.” which is usually hidden in conventional architectural constructions. without poetics—a speculative. how to think about it. These conversations and the event in Brussels are an attempt to abductively produce something new and change the tools with which we are working. and scent artist meet? As for the poet. while the subject is sublated or drowns. We are aiming not for a reflexive encounter (even though here and now we are mainly talking to each other) but a recursive one that proceeds via the alienating integration of one discourse or practice into the other. we were trying to get into a conversation with poets without talking about their own work or their theoretical understanding of literature (which is the usual approach of the critic. and the manipulation and alienation on all levels is the key element. we focused on the production of concepts. using the force of the other. “where the subject and predicate do not remain distinguished”. The architect.). are you also referring to a particular practice that leads toward this kind of space? AH: I am wondering about and interested to understand the degree to which an infrastructural practice of architecture would be indeed vermicular and find its expression in worm spaces. The situation with architects is obviously rather different. How do I do literary theory? How do I do philosophy? Not about another practice where I remain secure in my field and the other is the object of the inquiry. This was actually a search for xenoism and “othering” as a methodology. precisely because we don’t yet know what xeno-architecture is. letters. Or. 14 . It is both the particular and the logical operator. but we don’t know how to work on it. etc.xenoarchitecture (draft) new concepts: How do you come up with new concepts? How do you invent them? How do you “read”? The conversations also touched upon this inquiry in order to find a common ground between philosophers and poets. architecture all need to come out differently. And your question. What does it say on a methodological level if a thinker and an architect. Anke. is actually related to Patricia’s statement that Armen and I are playing around with words in order to develop a new concept. 2) the concept these relate to. it is rather the predicate that takes over. and 3) the things. phenomena. as Hegel literally describes the speculative sentence or utterance. In a classical analytical theory of language there are three elements: 1) the words. it seems. that’s part of any xeno-methodology. The process is thinking by doing. or a poet. which is actually a universal conceptual space that sorts things into different categories and is basically continuous. experimental xenopoetics—becoming a meta-discourse of the other. MM: I would like to quickly pick up on what Armen said about the question of not yet knowing how thinkers can interfere with architecture. I emphasized “abduction” since it is primordial in such a process. the rule needs to be developed in the making. musician. it’s a speculative methodology opposed to a critical one that delineates borders and frontlines.

try to change language. like hyperstition in some way. we were mostly interested in the third component—the things. we will have something like a realist practice of language. We wanted to think about concepts. one of the most crucial components of xenoism. If we do the process of creating words. It may be interesting to think within the context of this project about the specificity of the “nonhuman” characteristic since architecture in its conventional form is very human-based. then come the words and then—to put it somewhat sardonically—we all have to become philosophers to make a concept out of them. PR: This reminds me of the idea in The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press. let’s be up front. The idea is that a kind of axxelerationism is needed to turn temporal relationships around. the temporal ordering is very important for us. or spatial practices or subjects in the world. It seems pretty clear that in order to attempt to divert the impending climate catastrophe before us. Again. to have a language and concepts for things to come. Not to think of things words already refer to. We thought that if we reverse the temporal relationship we will arrive at realism. thinking about their concepts and doing something that they then refer to.xenoarchitecture (draft) structures. One dimension always gets assimilated or folded into the other two or cut off. was important because I believe that the development of technology has been so rapid since the Industrial Revolution that we simply cannot move fast enough to have words for all the things we need to name. Bratton where he describes the tendency to “anthropomorphize the new. so that it is not strictly bound to human drives. we will need to have the capacity to become “other” and integrate “othering” as a methodology into a political infrastructure. But ultimately. and lastly find out whether there are things in the world that can be made to form a new relationship to these three basic components of language. Our attempt was to explore a three-dimensional model of language through its poetic creativity. A problem with much of the analytical philosophy of language is the willful reduction of a threefold concept of language to a two-dimensional one. As a consequence. These three elements relate to one other. It commonly begins with things.” the tendency to humanize something new and unseen—particularly new technologies. Because. architecture became responsible for the drives and needs of humans. that are already given. is that it cannot just be human. MM: That is basically the infrastructure you refer to. we name something that comes into being. We were interested in reversing the temporal logic of this construction. I am curious about how the new functioning of language you mention could help break that cycle: rather than seeing something and subsequently naming it. right? 15 . the xeno has to include the nonhuman as well. In our attempt to combine ontology and the achievements of the philosophy of language. 2015) by Benjamin H.

but would take into account our technological impact on these natural conditions. what would a new political structure be that actually accommodates these other alien forces. the current debates often end up with discussions about parametricism. What I’m getting at are the big repercussions of technology for the non-human. xeno’s would take an alien nature into account. I’m not sure I would call technology nonhuman because I am not aware of any technology that is not created by humans. for example. this is the way I would frame its urgency. going back to the village and so on. geological. which is problematic in terms of the outsourcing of responsibility and so on. natural. unleash metanoia into existence as a transformed self-image. But the influence of technology can feel alien or alienating so that it becomes threatening. AH: Somehow. in other words. Hence. if you ask me why we are talking about xeno and why it has an importance to people outside this discourse. So. on the level of technology and infrastructure xeno is the discovery of the alien on the level of nature. lies in the speculative practice which does not necessitate thinking about a physical output or object but can be something else having an effect on space.xenoarchitecture (draft) PR: I don’t know if it necessarily needs to be infrastructure. but rather in the realm of speculation. beings. how the human is defined. Infrastructure could also refer to a system of protocols. It doesn’t need to actually be built. to a certain degree prehuman—maybe “natural” or “given”—and then there is technology. I believe it is not going to happen until humans undergo a collective transformation. I always get a little scared when people talk about architecture and technology. one that is physical. Especially in relation to something like the Anthropocene. I would relate “the alien”—the nonhuman—to a geological. So at both ends (nature and technology). the “xeno. absolutely not. It’s pretty speculative. there are at least two different nonhumans. The law. Perhaps one could call “xeno” a very specific form of the inhuman in the human. MM: I would mostly agree with you but I don’t think all of this happens in the field of the technological.” for me. it creates a natural non-human. though it is not going to be answered immediately. Perhaps it is xeno-human. and requirements? This is an immense conceptual problem in terms of the xeno. Ultimately. AH: With regard to Markus’s question. a xeno-architecture would not necessarily be about going back to the origins of a human or a natural architecture. So. This seems to me to be a very important question at the moment. PR: Thinking about infrastructures. PR: I wouldn’t say that technology is non-human. is a kind of infrastructure as well. biological “otherness” of humans. it seems when we were talking about the nonhuman. It actually underpins to a large degree what the human is. 16 .

they are both drifting out of the old global logic or paradigm. xeno-politics has nothing to do with an attempt to think of the universe without human beings. We are already in some kind of xeno-political period. The two decisive events of 2016. So I think it will be interesting to address xeno-poetics or xeno-economics in terms of alienation and a self-alienation of the Westphalian logic without saying that it is just going to disappear. the liberal left needs to alienate itself. it needs to embrace this alienation. Will the UK become a large offshore zone? Will London become a kind of miserable grey European Dubai? The same can be said of the US. can we give it an emancipatory direction. although this scenario is in fact becoming an increasing possibility due to the “Thanatos drive” of neofascism. where it is no longer clear which territory or country they belong to. That is my political hypothesis for now. These topics—which relate to the topic of mereology. but I can already touch upon them briefly now. the question of parts and whole. a globalization of speculative finance that leads to an undermining of the sovereign nation-state. the stranger. What is important is that this xenoism is going on anyhow.” but neither will happen. or a mereotopolitics. I am interested in xeno-politics not so much in the sense of the alien or the non-human but with regards to a new geopolitics. because otherwise it also falls into the trap of its own illusionary “Make America naturally great again” or “Make the natural great again. a counteracting of globalization and the neoliberal goods that we somehow enjoyed criticizing in the last decades.xenoarchitecture (draft) AA: On a political level. they are xenophobic and they are highly artificial. it is an accelerationist move. unfortunately just a regressive xenophobic variation of it. the reterritorialization that we see today is a renationalization. It is not that we need xeno-practices in order to fight against the natural “Make America great again” claim. as Luciana Parisi calls it. What kind of juridical system do they function under? Why do nation- states have an interest in producing parasites from which they then feed parasitically (with para-sites seen as a variation of xeno-spaces)? We might slowly be recognizing a new political paradigm that replaces the neoliberal Washington consensus. But they do it only in a truly ‘“symptomatic” way. a mereotopology. with both we see a shift in the political itself. We are witnessing today the growing of different free zones of legality. a shift of the territorial logic that we’ve gotten used to. Trump and Brexit. Rather. which is something I am curious about—will definitely be discussed in the upcoming conversations with some experts in offshore economies. and the alien are figures of post- contemporary fear—modern-day neofascism is the exact opposite of a progressive xeno-politics. but for us the question is. can we navigate it or use it in a progressive way? Again. the foreigner. as we all know. 17 . Ultimately. How are we to react to this new configuration? To use a Deleuzian term. must not be simply understood as a unidirectional undermining of the Westphalian logic. No.