Horizonless Futures at Simon Fraser University

17 Oct, 2018

Talk at SFU Woodwards in Vancouver, CA on 17 October, 2018 – 7pm.

The difficulty in speaking of the future without evoking a horizon, points to the ubiquity this particular concept holds over our imaginaries that grapple with the unknown and the anticipatory. The persistence of this notion, in both spatial and metaphorical uses, however, highlights the general impact that geometric representations possess in undergirding our (inter-)relations to and in the world, guiding our mobility and senses of orientation within it.

While the title of this talk may sound dismally depressing, it points, rather, to the inadequacy of the ‘horizon’ in modelling orientation today, arguing for an update of our geometric concepts, and the subsequent perspectives that emerge from them. As a representational trope mimicking human optics, in linear perspective the horizon indexes not only our bio-sensory limitations, but also emphasizes vantage points emanating from individual (often static positions), obfuscating a reality that lays beyond our immediate optical reach (presentism), as well as modes of representing collective orientation.

Within our moment of heightened complexity, systemic interdependencies, and planetary-scale computation captured by the logic of platforms, such dynamics place us in conditions where governance takes place in multiple geographies simultaneously. ‘Situatedness’ is thusly distributed, and modes of representation commensurate with these dynamics compels us equally to develop diagrams of distributed perspectivalism. If, as Donna Haraway insisted, feminism must demand better accounts of reality, so too must we insist on better representational and/or metaphorical accounts of it as well. In this way, our futural orientation does not require the setting of a horizon, but an alienation from the conceptual schematic horizons, as such, delineate.