Forum Lectures #17: Richard Grusin

Credit: Richard Grusin

Arboreal Infrastructures: Trees, Technics, Mediation

In the late 1990s, the heyday of internet enthusiasm in the west, the concept of a "wood-wide web" was coined by botanists and other natural scientists, based upon research showing that trees communicated with mycorrhizal fungi through infrastructural networks that were analogized to the World-Wide Web. But trees are infrastructural in other ways as well. Wood can be seen as forming a kind of internal infrastructure for individual trees and has been used for millennia as infrastructural for building and construction in human societies. More recently trees themselves have been recognized as a key part of green urban infrastructures, particularly in relation to recreation and water management. And of course trees play a huge role in the Earth's climatic infrastructure, removing CO2 from the atmosphere and producing oxygen in exchange. In this lecture I will explore the fruitful relatikons among arboreal and technical infrastructures. In so doing I hope to demonstrate the ways in which technical, arboreal, and mycorrhizal infrastructures are linked by their participation in what I have elsewhere called "radical mediation."

About Richard Grusin

Richard Grusin is Distinguished Professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he served as Director of the Center for 21st Century Studies from 2010-15 and 2017-21. He has published numerous articles and book chapters and authored five books: Transcendentalist Hermeneutics: Institutional Authority and the Higher Criticism of the Bible (Duke, 1991); Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT, 1999), co-authored with Jay David Bolter; Culture, Technology, and the Creation of America’s National Parks (Cambridge, 2004); Premediation: Affect and Mediality After 9/11 (Palgrave, 2010); and Radical Mediation: Cinema, Estetica, e Tecnologie Digitali, ed. and trans. Angela Maiello (Cosenza, Italy: Pellegrini Editor, 2017). He has edited or co-edited six volumes of essays, all with Minnesota: The Nonhuman Turn (2015); Anthropocene Feminism (2017); After Extinction (2018); Ends of Cinema (2020); Insecurity (2022); and The Long 2020 (2022). His current research is focused on the arboreal humanities, which he will talk about today.

Forum Lectures

Forum Lectures is a series of lectures by Danish and international thinkers and cultural workers reflecting on how art co-forms communality. Forum Lectures brings thinking and shared study back to the university and invites for public lectures the last Tuesday every month at 17:00 - 19:00. 

The initiative is hosted by the research group of the New Carlsberg Foundation research center Art as Forum. Our researchers are occupied by a.o. the infrastructures of the arts, collective modes of production, the entanglement of political theory and aesthetic theory, assembling strategies of curation, dematerialized art, acts of strategic separatism and temporality in digital art.

The lecture is for free and open for everyone interested.