McKenzie Wark on Molecular Red


For the 2018 FORART lecture, McKenzie Wark (New School of Social Research, New York), revisits economist and philosopher Alexander Bogdanov’s early 20th century theories on climate change in order to rethink labor with nature in the age of the anthropocene. The Friday lecture is followed by a Saturday seminar on the art and politics of The Situationist Times.

Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene
Reorienting thinking for the Anthropocene may be a more profound problem than we like to admit. There is no historical memory of having to revise worldviews to meet a change in geological time. And since the problems the Anthropocene presents such as climate change and ocean acidification are pressing, there is not time to embark on a long research program. However it may be of some use to take a step back into the archive, to find useful intellectual resources, in order to take two steps forward. In Molecular Red, I start with Alexander Bogdanov. He was Lenin’s rival for the leadership of the Bolsheviks, before Lenin had him expelled from the faction. He was an organiser, theorist, scientist and the author of science fiction. He got the principles of climate change more or less right, twice. From Bogdanov, Molecular Red takes us on a journey through the archive, finding unlikely sources who took seriously the problem of organizing our labors in and against nature for long term survival.

McKenzie (Ken) Wark is Professor of Culture and Media in Liberal Studies at The New School for Social Research. His research interests are media theory, new media, critical theory, cinema, music, and visual art. His publications include Virtual Geography: Living with Global Media Events, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994, A Hacker Manifesto, Harvard University Press, 2004,  Gamer Theory, Harvard University Press, 2007, 50 Years of Recuperation: The Situationist International 1957-2007, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008. The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International, London: Verso, 2011. The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages out of the Twentieth Century, London: Verso, 2013. Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene, London: Verso, 2015, and General Intellects: Twenty-One Thinkers for the Twenty First Century, London: Verso, 2017.

He has also published the Molecular Red Reader, a companion volume to Molecular Red (London: Verso, 2015), and has co-written  Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation with Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker (University of Chicago Press, 2013). His correspondence with Kathy Acker, I’m Very Into You. Correspondence 1995–1996, was published by Semiotexte in 2015.