Summa Technologiae

In September 1974, the American science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, wrote a letter to the FBI, claiming there was a communist conspiracy disguised as science-fiction literature. This conspiracy was orchestrated by a communist committee, which—according to Philip K. Dick—operated under the name of "Stanisław Lem."

While he was neither a committee, nor a conspiracy; Stanisław Lem was a writer that produced a body of work so vast and so far-reaching, that it is easy to understand Philip K. Dick's refusal to accept that it was the work of only one person.

Stanisław Lem's work used speculations on technology as a way to speak to philosophy, and philosophy as a means with which to understand technological developments, the nature of intelligence, and the possibility of communication both with other forms of intelligence but more importantly, with ourselves across timespans and distance.

Summa Technologiae—titled after a collections of philosophical essays by Stanisłav Lem—is a project that puts together three formats: the school, the conference, and the exhibition, in order to look at the impact of Lem’s work across disciplines: from literature to film, to philosophy, art, architecture, technological innovation, and computer science. 

Summa Technologiae begins as a pedagogical investigation consisting of six online seminars, taking place between November 2020 and October of 2021. With these seminars we approach the key question of translation as an ontological foundation—not only of relations between humans and the alien, but also human to human, and broadly speaking human to worlds, as translatability constitutes universal system-to-system information and energy flow.

Case studies from Lem and other source texts, films and sound help us to discuss, unpack, and explore the implications of universal languages, perfect codecs, or partial or absolute untranslatability—both for the foundation of a [cosmo]polity, and for the ways we can understand mind, biology, organism, technology, society—in our human framework, and cosmologically.  

As well as holding weekly discussion groups, the seminars work toward production of speculative texts, scripts, art objects, short videos, virtual environments, designed artifacts / objects / spaces; diagrams, languages or notational systems… a collection of “outcomes” that are made available on the Summa Technologiae project platform. 

Summa Technologiae seminars are organized by Julieta Aranda, as a cooperation between e-flux and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Upcoming seminars

Seminar 5:
Eben Kirksey
September 2021

Seminar 6:
“Nature’s Indifference”
Mareike Dittmer / Julieta Aranda
October 2021


Previous seminars (2020): 

Seminar 1:
"Constructing Time, Reinventing Nature"
Józefina Chętko / Mohammad Salemy
(with guest speakers Jason Mohahegh, Reza Negarestani, Patricia Reed and Francis Ruyter)

Seminar 2:
"The Untranslatable: Miracle, Oblivion, Affect"
Ed Keller / Carla Leitão

Seminar 3:
"The Planetarity of Intelligence: Materialism and Illusion on the Surface of Solaris"
Benjamin Bratton

Seminar 4:
"Mathematics is a Generator of Diversity"
Kodwo Eshun / Doreen Mende
(With guest speakers Bogna Konior and McKenzie Wark)

Data & Information, Technology, Architecture, Psychology & Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Nature & Ecology, Film
Historicity & Historiography, Science Fiction, Artistic Research, Evolution, Community, Artificial intelligence, Speculative Realism, Fiction, Mathematics, Experimental Film
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