Festival theme: Exit Human

The Conflux 2022 theme ‘Exit Human’ originated from the various questions that arise when thinking of humans and their relationship with the constant transformation within technology, ecology, society and space. During the conference thinkers, artists and performers reflect on this year's theme and explore radical new ideas on how the Post-Anthropocene will come into being. How will our bodies adapt? How will our senses evolve? Or are we bound to exit stage left and stop to exist.

With the rise of planetary-scale computational networks powered by artificially intelligent sensory systems, a posthuman machine infrastructure is progressively taking hold of the world. The archaic human-nature distinction is giving way to an entangled conception of human and nonhuman intelligences acting as agents of change on the interconnected global cybernetic landscape.

Biotechnological advancements, such as mRNA vaccines and CRISPR gene editing, increasingly blur the boundaries between computational and biological systems. The interplanetary expansion of human-robotic hybrids to neighboring planets and nearby asteroids and the looming possibility of space colonization furthermore consolidate our path to a post-anthropocenic future.

The question then arises: What role will humans play in this future? Are we bound to exit stage left or will we continue to adapt to our current cyborgian reality? Technofuturistic utopianism points us in the direction of an existence in which the borders between characteristics such as the race, gender, species or biochemistry of sentient beings become porous and malleable. The barriers between human and nonhuman agents will dissolve. Through technomaterialist and biotechnological efforts a multispecies ecology will emerge that is inclusive of different modes of knowing and being, such as the perception of scale and spacetime, patterns of information storage and retrieval, and structures of self-organization. This new ecology dispels traditional notions of identity and ushers in an alternative understanding of kinship and interconnectedness between humans, machines, nature, geology, and the universe.

Technoscientific imagination is the driving force behind the transformation from our present anthropocenic focus to a conception that takes the significance of the kinship between human and nonhuman agents into account. However, while on the surface technology seems to bring progress, we also have to consider the responsibilities it imposes and the likelihood of negative consequences from a technologically augmented future. The notion that all terrestrial and societal problems can be solved by techno-utopian thinking doesn’t seem realistic given that many current technological developments sow division instead of unity and growth. The accelerated expansion of technology and urbanization is leading to the mass extinction of species, the rapid proliferation of disinformation, and the growing inequality in wealth and resources. This will lead to further disruptions and distrust between and within societies, species and ecologies. Our ability to adapt is being stress-tested and we will have to search for alternative methods to successfully transform and reshape society under constant technological pressure.

Conflux festival’s four-day program will investigate the current state of the human race and its natural and technological environments. Through adventurous cultural and artistic practices, Conflux invites thinkers, artists, musicians, and creatives to collectively explore the relation between humans, technology, ecology, society, space, and the future.

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