War against the sun

1st, 2nd and 3rd of March 2013, London
Mute magazine offices at Limehouse Town Hall


War against the sun is the third event in The Matter of Contradiction series

In 1991 the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines injected sulfate particles into the stratosphere, shading the earth and cooling the air by 0.5°c. It has been suggested that one of the best strategies against global warming would be to mimic the effect of such an eruption. Planes and artillery equipped with particle cannons would send aerosols into the stratosphere to deflect solar rays, thus protecting us from the adverse rise in temperature. Geoengineering and other such acts of solar management constitute a desperate attempt to use technological and scientific advancements for the ongoing exploitation of natural resources by an expanding capitalist economy. Such an operation is an attempt to shield the human from the reality of a radically indifferent world.

If the project of the Enlightenment was to ensure the mastery of man via an emancipation from nature then the capacity to control and exploit natural resources has only led to an amplification of the damaging effects of contingent material forces. The more we attempt to manage and extract energy from the material world, the larger the repercussions in the form of entropic degradation. In its attempt to mitigate the consequences of previous actions, the geo-engineered solar shield indicates a critical phase in the intrinsic feedback effect that has accelerated since the Enlightenment. This war against the sun is a battle of Reason against its own effects.

In the last iteration of our ongoing symposia project, The Matter of Contradiction: Ungrounding the Object, held in Limousin in September 2012, we argued that art has been historically positioned as a similar shield against the trauma of scientific reason and a radically decentred human. Placed as the dialectical other of reason, art thus became a space for reflexivity where the inherent limitations of human knowledge had to be revealed and experienced as such. If, in the history of thought, there have been a series of traumatic scientific revolutions as indexed by Copernicus and Darwin, then art has been responsible, in part, for the registering but subsequent rehabilitation of this trauma through its positing of the human as central and dominant in the relation between the artwork and the viewer. It is our aim with this event, The Matter of Contradiction: War against the sun, to think through art’s immunological status, and to reformulate its relation to the project of reason.

This renewed engagement in the project of reason would be neither an arrogant claiming of the rights to plunder material resources in the name of a subject-centred logic, nor a reactionary call for a reversal to authenticity, but an absolute conception of the real within which anthropic concern is radically de-centred and subsequently reoriented. While previous conceptions of rationality were formulated in opposition to aesthetics, politics or ethics, the present situation demands an epistemologically flattened mode of reasoning where art’s problematic relation to the real has to be rethought.

Download the pdf here 

List of speakers

Focus on

Ray Brassier
Robin Mackay 

Statements by

Sam Basu
Josephine Berry Slater
Kirsten Cooke & Dale Holmes
Fabien Giraud
Sally O’Reilly
Simon O’Sullivan 
Andrew Osborne
Benedict Singleton
Ida Soulard
Olivier Surel
Tom Trevatt
Inigo Wilkins
Alex Williams 

(See more on the speakers page, click here)

Workshop participants

Sam Basu
Josephine Berry Slater
Etienne Chambaud
Daniel Felstead
Gaia Fugazza
Hanna Husberg
Fabien Giraud
Jean-Michel Lacrosse
Jeremy James Lecomte
Jon Lindblom
Matthew Lovett
Laura McLean
Stephen Nachtigall
Andrew Osborne
Timothy Pape
Joana Rafael
Val Ravaglia
Assunta Ruocco
Ida Soulard
Liam Sprod
Olivier Surel
Sabrina Tarasoff
Tom Trevatt
Andy Weir
Inigo Wilkins
Peter Wolfendale


The workshop was free and open to all but places were limited. Curated by the Matter of Contradiction’s team, this Sunday work session welcomed proposals from diverse fields of study that offer interesting pathways, problematic and objects. The aim of this work session was the production of a collective “object” that theoretically as much as performatively  addresses the questions raised during the two days conference. We provided a short suggested bibliography that introduced many of the ideas under discussion and engaged each participant in a dialogue a week prior to the workshop.

All videos of the event will be uploaded in the next few weeks on The Matter of Contradiction’s vimeo channel. They can also be accessed through the links below. 

The Sunday workshop was followed by an After Party: ABJECT BLOC LIVE 2013
organized by Tim Goldie & open to all
At Mute magazine office at Limehouse Town Hall
7pm - 11pm / Sunday March 3rd 


[Triple compact disc and book]

BILLY BAO - “BUILDINGS FROM BILBAO” [Long player] http://www.burkaforeverybody.com/releases.htm

Drums solo. Photo: Olivier Surel