Institute of the Cosmos

Initiated by
Arseny Zhilyaev and Anton Vidokle

Cosmic Bulletin
Edited by Marina Simakova (2020), Hallie Ayres (2021), and Anna Gorskaya (2022)

Timeline of Cosmism
Compiled by Anastasia Gacheva, Marina Simakova, Arseny Zhilyaev, and Anton Vidokle

Website design 
Alan Woo

The Institute of the Cosmos is an ongoing collective research project founded in 2019. The Institute is a space for a creative investigation of the materiality of the cosmos and its strange universalism, from the perspectives of philosophy, anthropology, history of science, and art. Through a combination of art projects, films, texts, and discursive events, the Institute reflects on the current understanding of our biological and social conditions, and maps vectors of our future development inspired by the history of cosmist thinking and the speculative practices that sustain it. The Institute seeks to unlock the hidden potential of radical imaginaries across multiple fields and histories of knowledge.

As a dynamic umbrella term, “cosmism” signifies an ensemble of projects—philosophical, scientific, and artistic alike—aiming to achieve ultimate universalism via cooperative creativity. It seeks to invent a synthetic approach to collective action in which reason and belief, art and science, nature and technology transduce their discursive discordances.

We have many urgent questions: How can our understanding of time and space be expanded? How can our life-span be extended? What are the horizons of organic and inorganic life? How to control time? How to understand the unity of all that exists? How does our post-secular society challenge contemporary science, and vice versa? What kind of sociality will a cosmist future bring? How can life on Earth and beyond be elaborated? What could extra-terrestrial art and literature be? Are plants conscious and should we eat them? How to live without killing any form of life?

We welcome you to think these questions through with us.

The Institute has six multifaceted sections: Cosmic Bulletin, Timeline of Cosmism, Cinema, Museum, Library, and School. The Cosmic Bulletin invites readers on a journey into cosmic and cosmist reflection through a constellation of theoretical essays, poetry, film scripts, and other textual pieces inspired by the history of cosmism, its transnational connections, and its cultural manifestations. The Timeline of Cosmism is a chronological mapping of key developments in art, literature, poetry, science, politics, technology, philosophy and numerous other fields, as they pertain to cosmism. The timeline traces the influence of cosmist thought on culture and society, starting with the sighting of the comet 3d/Biela, which triggered the global panic of the 1820s, to the present day. 

The Institute’s Cinema features films that probe cosmism’s relevance to contemporary life, while the Museum is comprised of an infinite number of rooms, each containing a permanent exhibit. An online library contains essential readings on and about cosmism. Until very recently, many of these key essays, treatises, poems, and novels have not been available in English. Those that have been translated have been scattered and difficult to find. The Institute’s researchers assembled this selection of historical and contemporary texts to make the intellectual context surrounding cosmism accessible. The School section of the Institute features a selection of edited video lectures and discussions of topics related to cosmism, by artists, researchers and theorists. Lastly, the Institute’s digital observatory displays an actual sky map calculated from real-time astronomical data, including positions of the planets of the solar system, stars, galaxies and various deep sky objects, as they appear above Greenwich, UK, at the current time.

All aspects of the Institute are ongoing: more content will be added as we move into the future and rediscover the past.

Museums, Film, Literature, Religion & Spirituality
Cosmism, Russia, Soviet Union, Post-Communism, Historicity & Historiography, Time, Museology, Science Fiction, Consciousness & Cognition, Science, Planet Earth, Outer Space, Experimental Film

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