Events Lecture: Adam Nocek

Lecture: Adam Nocek

12/03/ 2023

As a part of the exhibition Landscapes of Disturbance the Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje will present the public lecture by Adam Nocek, titled On the Planetary Architectures of Urban Agroecosystems.

This talk serves as a critical meditation on the various ways in which technologies of urbanization mediate human and nonhuman habitation of the Earth. Focusing on urban agglomerations in the MENA region and Southeast Asia, I discuss how the urbanization of the planet is felt unevenly across the globe, and underscore what is already well known: urbanization is a geological force (marked by an increase in SUNDAcarbon emissions and a decrease carbon sink capacity; an acceleration in wealth, food security, and health inequalities; the degradation of soil, water, air quality; and the loss of biodiversity), and the inhabitants of megacities like Cairo and Bangkok bear the weight of these geological designs.

It’s with these observations in mind that I approach recent social and ecological interventions made by what has come to be known as “urban agroecology.” This work functions as an important intervention into two modes of modern extractivism: fusing the critiques of modern urbanization on the one hand and industrial agriculture on the other, urban agroecology envisions the design of interwoven plant and microbial ecosystems that aim to promote social and ecological justice and repair the extraction and exploitation wrought by unchecked urban development and industrial food production.

What’s become clear, however, is that in order for agroecological technologies to make lasting impact, especially in the face of the grossly uneven patterns of urbanization, new ways of thinking about the scales and technologies of the urban form are required. This will open up a host of new questions about how to govern such interventions at scale, and whether advanced computational technologies offer possibilities for urban agro-governance that would otherwise be unthinkable. Along the way, I review different proposals for urban design and governance by what I call the “automated Left,” and conclude by offering a proposal for the design of planetary urban agroecosystems, specifically attuned to asymmetries in urban development.


Adam Nocek is Associate Professor in the Philosophy of Technology and Science and Technology Studies in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University. He is also the Founding Director of ASU’s Center for Philosophical Technologies. Nocek has published widely on the philosophy of media and science; speculative philosophy (especially Whitehead); design philosophy, history, and practice; and critical and speculative theories of computational media. His most recent book is Molecular Capture: The Animation of Biology (Minnesota, 2021), and is working two follow-up book projects. Along with Katerina Kolozova, Nocek also co-directs the School of Materialist Research.





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