[-empyre-] Introducing Elia Vargas and Atmosphere

Daniel Lichtman danielp73 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 22 06:37:07 AEDT 2020

And also, a big thank you, directly to Elia, for sharing your project,

On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 12:04 PM Elia Vargas <
elia.christian.vargas at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi empyre,
> Thank you to Dan for organizing this group of artists around what has
> become such a crucial and taxing theme in these times. As is so often the
> case, I find myself sharing the company of artists with whom I have been in
> dialogue in the past in varied capacities. And isn't that the tender,
> fragile, point of this temporary accumulation? As a media artist, curator,
> and scholar, who is deeply invested in place and community, but has been
> globally nomadic for the past couple of years, I've spent much of the
> pandemic months reflecting on how thinking concepts that perform change can
> happen together, apart. How can they? This project, Atmosphere, was
> completed earlier this year and already that feels reflected in a certain
> datedness of shared catastrophe. Since that time, my parents, friends,
> colleagues, and students were evacuated due to fires in California, while
> my spouse and I were simultaneously awaiting orders to evacuate entirely
> different fires from our pandemic-influenced abode. It is December, and
> apparently, it is fire season again. Certain ideas about collective
> imagining that I had back in 2018—when I emerged from a San Francisco BART
> station, wearing a gas mask to avoid a toxic smoke atmosphere, to get into
> a self-driving tesla to speak with the fine folks of Radioee about
> petroleum mysticism during a 24-hour mobile radio broadcast—have been
> actualized more rapidly, and more urgently than expected. So, I leave you
> with the introduction to Atmosphere: a speculative fiction exquisite corpse
> made under shelter in place:
> On March 16, 2020, at the beginning stages of global social distancing, I
> initiated an experiment in thinking together from afar with friends,
> artists, writers, and educators across five continents: a speculative
> fiction exquisite corpse. Beginning with my own entry—the middle—two
> participants extended the writing chronologically before and after.
> Continuing in this way, 42 people from across the planet participated, with
> one person simultaneously adding to before as another added to after. I
> spend my time thinking about the way the world is conceptualized, whether
> that be speculative fabulations, science-fiction, speculative feminism,
> afrofuturism, energy, science, film, art, music, or Star Trek... I’m
> interested in concepts that perform change. I’ve been living nomadically,
> throughout West and East Africa, in varied and at times isolated
> circumstances. Currently, I’m in remote northern California, and suddenly,
> there is a shared experience of social distancing. In 2018, the toxic smoke
> of California fires changed collective habits and now the coronavirus
> pandemic is transforming how we do our most basic things. Collective
> narratives of ecological crises and post-apocalyptic fictions are no longer
> far off on the horizon; they are not relegated to books or screen time.
> They are part of daily life and impose on some of us an awareness of the
> way that many cultures have already been in crisis. If shared investments
> and stewardship of this earth is made in part by our capacity to imagine a
> future, a community, a home, that provides mutual support and the
> possibility to prosper for all species-beings, then we must imagine new
> concepts, for the future, but really, for the present.
> https://accumulations.online/atmosphere.html
> — elia vargas
> On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 8:15 AM Daniel Lichtman <danielp73 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Dear Empyre Community,
>> I'm excited to introduce our last project, Atmosphere, organized by Elia
>> Vargas. Atmosphere is a speculative fiction exquisite corpse, written
>> collaboratively by many artist collaborators under shelter in place.
>> Elia Vargas is an Oakland, California-based artist and scholar. He works
>> across multiple mediums, ranging from video and sound to writing and
>> performance, focused on naturecultural media practices. He is a Ph.D.
>> candidate in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa
>> Cruz and is the co-founder and co-curator of the Living Room Light
>> Exchange, a monthly salon on critical, intersectional perspectives of art
>> and technology. He collaborates widely with artists, musicians, and
>> institutions, and has worked at internationally acclaimed interactive
>> design studios. As an educator and organizer, he is a steward for
>> self-determination through critical and creative practice. His current work
>> considers the cultural, philosophical, and techno-scientific conditions of
>> the early American oil industry and argues for refiguring crude oil as
>> media to decenter anthropocentric representations of nature.
>> Looking forward to hearing more about Atmosphere!
>> Dan
> --
> Elia Vargas
> www.eliavargas.com
> www.livingroomlightexchange.com
> *-Leonardo/MIT Press:* *Crude Illumination: A Crude Oil Art Inspection*
> <https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/leon_a_01978>
> *-LRLX Publication 5: Rare Earth: The Ground Is Not Digital available*
> <https://lrlx.square.site/product/preorder-publication-5-rare-earth-the-ground-is-not-digital/10?cs=true>
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