Air in Unexpected Places - Metabolism, Design, and the Making of an ‘African’ Aircrete - Michael Degani

'In an article that draws on ecological readings of Marx, and in particular his exploration of ‘metabolic rift’ (Foster 1999), dominic_boyer observes that our now planetary ‘gridworld’ – buildings, roads, ports and pipelines – can be considered a kind of objectified energy: an automated and metastasized extension of capitalism’s ‘appropriation of quite literally fleshy power’ (2018: 228), a gelatinized precipitate of various extractive and exploitative processes.'

see carbon form in Log 47 magazine

'The ‘development’ that does trickle back down to this periphery, whether as foreign investment or high-end commodities such as solar panels or mobile phones, is always somehow less than the collective endowments – the potential energy, we might say – of the continent.

like entropic heat loss?

'…while solar power is itself sustainable and renewable, its embodied energy is far from carbon neutral since its panels require rare earth minerals mined in often socially and ecologically destructive ways (Riofrancos 2019).'

'we must think metabolically, across the entire circuit of a given energetic process: its production, use and decomposition. From this vantage, it may be that solar power offers neither autonomy nor sustainability, but rather its appearance.'

'The tendency to fetishize free-standing technologies/energy sources as inherently empowering has a marked family resemblance to what peter_redfield (2015) calls ‘humanitarian design’, the production and dissemination of little devices.'

'…situating ‘entanglement and care’ in place of earlier high modernist revolution that reached for totalizing ‘emancipation and mastery’'

revolutionary infrastructure

'Boyer cites German politician Hermann Scheer’s call for a decentralized solar economy that would, in obviating the long supply chains of fossil fuel sources, be more ‘susceptible to democratic political control’ (ibid.: 236)… Rather than vanguard control in the high modernist vein, ‘revolution’ entails a web of experiments that actualize elective affinities between renewable energy and local autonomy, a splintering and reweaving of the ‘gridworld’ congenial to what he and Timothy Morton (2016) call hyposubjects.'

…recognize that they cannot easily scale, and hence cannot be easily drawn into the spiral of self-devouring growth.'

'The form of the brick allowed for this piecemeal savings, allowing one’s projects to be disaggregated into a series of modular increments. In a world of shifting fortunes, concrete is a main medium of value-storage, a way of securing the future.'

'What comes next is a clever inversion whereby multicultural sensitivity turns out to be a species of Western parochialism, oblivious to the fact that ‘modernity’ is above all a question of material inequality and, by extension, the way certain materials in particular index membership.'

'These impulses resonate with a tradition that architectural historian simon_sadler (2008) calls ‘tool globalism’, which emphasizes holistic, ecologically minded and pragmatic design exemplified in 1970s-era countercultural experiments such as the Whole Earth Catalog.'

'…the product was not really an object with a self-evident purpose but rather, precisely, a material, a set of possibilities for further transformation.'

'Resonating with what Gilles Deleuze called ‘minor’ or ‘nomadic’ sciences such as chemistry or metallurgy (or for that matter gastronomy; it is significant that the aircrete is ‘cured’), the development of aircrete does not obey any transcendent law but rather proceeds outwards towards increasing differentiation (see delanda 2016: 86–87).'

  • research/materials/aircrete.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/08/22 17:57
  • by rob