META exists at the crossroads of art and science and of culture and nature. Tracing the uncommon threads between common topics, META presents its readers with views into the abyss of visual information and with experiments in associative reading. META invites you to browse according to taste.
You may ask, “what?” An archive, a Wunderkammer, a magazine guided by methods of research, collection, preservation, reprint and the linking of topics at their META level.
You may then ask, “why?” To play with information in all its astatic glory. META refrains from attempts at categorization, taking a gamble on dynamic navigation! META eschews the linear in favor of surprise. Each visit starts with a random welcome and ends with an even more random exit.
TIMOTHY J. ATTANUCCI (1979) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studies German literature at Princeton and the Humboldt University, Berlin. For META, he contributes his musings on the irony mark in No Irony.
DAVID BETH (1974) is a writer and esoteric explorer, and the sovereign Grand Master of the Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua. Learn more about his Gnostic involvement in XI. ARS DE REX—Sexual Magic, the Art of the King, where he is interviewed by Ailen Roc.
SUMMER BRENNER is an accomplished writer of poetry and fiction, based in Berkeley, California. Her writing has extended beyond the borders of print into performative and musical realms, and she is also involved with literacy and community projects targeted at youths. For META, she reads from her critically acclaimed novel and discusses her motivation for the project in Driving I-5.
OLAF BREUNING (1970) is a Swiss artist, living in New York and working in photography, video, sculpture, installation and drawing. For META’s mini interview series, he shares some of his favorite things in accompaniment to a selection of photographic works. See Mini Breuning.
Illustrations by William Buchina
WILLIAM BUCHINA (1978) is an illustrator with a penchant for portraits of political tyrants. In addition, he is a graphic designer and creator of illustrated guides to English grammar. Some of his work is viewable here. He currently lives and works in New York. See his work in The Body of the Event.
DAVE BUNNELL (1952) lives in the small gold-rush era town of Angels Camp, California. This professional spelunker and photographer worked on an Imax film about caves, somewhere beneath Mexico. META interviewed him for Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites.
PETRA CORONATO is probably the only author in the world who didn’t only read Alexanderplatz, but also swept it. She is the owner of tongue tongue Hong Kong, a company founded in 1993 with dependences in Berlin, Vienna and Zurich, which recycles fiction profitably and unpunished to this day. In 2006, she commenced the ongoing photography project The Poetry of Document.
Writer Jeffrey Croteau is the Manager of the Library and Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Massachusetts. Read another of his articles on American Masonic groups, ''Brotherly Deception'' published in Cabinet Magazine here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
MICHELE DANTINI’s (1966) work is characterized by its handling of trans-cultural practices and their socio-environmental implications. A widely translated essayist and performative lecturer, he holds a position as Professor of Contemporary Art History at the Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italy. See Chronicles of Deaths Foretold.
PAULINE DOUTRELUINGNE (1982) lived in Beijing for four years, where she co-organized the 2006 Borderline Moving Images Festival. She lives in Berlin and curates projects that bridge European and Asian art. For META, she interviewed Chen Wei in Archeology of the Future.
GEN DOY is Lecturer at De Montfort University. She is the author of Picturing The Self, Drapery and Black Visual Culture. For META, Doy discusses the sensual politics of photography in the works of Claude Cahun.
Ferrante Denise Palma
DENISE PALMA FERRANTE (1975) is a multi-disciplined artist living and working in Berlin. She is also a self-declared anti-religionist. See Timkat 2009.
ADAM FOXWELL is an American audio engineer who has worked internationally, consulting on acoustical room design, sound isolation and mechanical noise control. For META, he presents a study on noise exposure in On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JACQUE FRESCO (1916) is an industrial designer and social engineer, author, lecturer, inventor and Futurist. Based in Venus, Florida, he is developing the practice of Socio-Cyber-Neering. Read the META interview Back to the Future—The Venus Project.
Dr. BRUNO GLASER is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Soil Science and Soil Geography at the University of Bayreuth. For over several years he has been conducting Amazonian dark earth research from a soil science perspective including soil fertility, sustainability, and archaeology aspects. See Terra Preta .
MARA GOLDWYN (1976) calls herself an artist but does not show anywhere and would never actually introduce herself as such. She has an existential allergy to genres, categories and identity constructs. See Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine.
LINDA MAI GREEN (1987) is a photographer and curator based in Berlin. She also co-runs curatorial collective Una Tittel. For META article A Bridge and Not a Goal, she interviewed artist Serena Porrati.
Artist CAI GUO-QIANG (1957) was born in China’s Fujian Province. While living in Japan between 1986 and 1995 he began to experiment with gunpowder as a medium, gaining international attention. He has gone on to exhibit world wide and to produce large scale pyrotechnic art works. See On Explosions.
Sculptor PATRICK HILL (1972) has exhibited widely in the US and internationally as an important representative of the contemporary Los Angeles art scene. David Kordansky Gallery provided META with images of Hill’s work for Patrick Hill—Sculpture, Associated.
ASDF Makes founder DAVID HORVITZ (1983) is a man of many ideas. One could say this American artist’s medium is the Internet, though it may be more accurate to say that he works in interactive projects. See ASDF—Read On.
RUA MINX is Donna Huanca (1980), an artist who deals with clothing as shelter, transportable homes for nomads and cultural and genetic traces. Her various projects have received a range of support, from the Dallas Museum of Art to Städelschule, Frankfurt; from the Incehon Women’s Biennale Korea to British Vogue. She launched META’s downloadable artist piece series with Mask Maker.
Artist PIETER HUGO (1976) has spent his whole life in Cape Town, South Africa, though travelled extensively pursuing his characteristic brand of documentary photography. A 2002-3 residency at the Beneton Group Communication Research Center, Fabrica, also led to work with Colors magazine. In 2006 he was awarded first prize in the World Press Photo competition’s Portraits section. Welcome to Nollywood explores a recent project carried out with the Nigerian film industry.
Idnert B. Zlatan
ZLATAN B. IDNERT is an audio engineer who has worked in the fields of modelling for outdoor noise propagation, building acoustics and ground borne vibrations. He has widely consulted on acoustical engineering projects. See On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JAN KEMPENAERS (1968) is an artist and documentary photographer based in Antwerp. He creates mute images of semi urban-places. Regardless of geographical context, his photographs speak powerfully to the post industrial condition and of the technologized human subject. See Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia.
TAO LIN (1983) is an American poet, novelist and short story writer. He is the author of Shoplifting from American Apparel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and Bed, as well as two poetry collections, you are a little bit happier than I am, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Lin’s second novel, Richard Yates, was published in September 2010.
See Tao Lin’s Crossword Puzzle.
TAMMY LU is a Canadian artist who makes drawings and artists’ books. She is the cover artist for the New Metaphysics philosophy series published by Open Humanities Press. See more of her work here. For META she did the drawings for METAphorism.
DAVID MAISEL’s (1961) photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention. His work is included in many permanent collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maisel lives and works in the area of San Francisco. See Blooming Souls.
Alison Malone is a photographer and educator who uses both audio and visual documentation to explore subcultures that are overlooked and often misunderstood in American society. View additional work here. For META her photographic series of the same name inspired the article Daughters of Job.
SERGEY MAXIMISHIN (1964) photographed for the Soviet Military Force Group on Cuba from 1985 to 1987. A learned physicist, he worked in the scientific and technical expertise laboratory in the Hermitage Museum and has gone on to become an award winning press photographer.
See The Dostoevsky of Photography.
CONNIE MENDOZA (1971) is a media artist, working between Berlin and Barcelona. Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena discusses her film, in which Mendoza travels back to her birthplace to trace the complex relationships of her childhood to Chilean history and space travel, thereby producing images that mediate the perception of time as a highly subjective matter.
Apostolos Mitsios (1979) is a Greek psychologist, working as a systemic psychotherapist by day and as a freelance writer, preferably, by night. A former contributing editor at online design magazine yatzer.com, he is currently collaborating with the Projective Fairy Tale Test Society in Greece as well as various magazines all over the world. For META article, Death of a Performance, he interviewed artist Esther Ferrer about her intervention at the Cemetery of Art of Morille, Spain.
RACHAEL MORRISON (1981) is an artist, curator, and a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is the creator of an art work and a documentary film about the blind telephone hacker Joybubbles, as she describes in 718-362-9578.
TIMOTHY MORTON (1968) is a philosopher and ecologist, and a teaching professor at Rice University. He also is one of the leading figures in the philosophical movement of Speculative Realism. For META he penned some pithy aphorism on the paradigm shift in metaphysics. See METAphorism.
Architect WILLEM JAN NEUTELINGS (1959) has taught at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and Harvard University. His firm, Neutelings Riedijk Architects, is located in Rotterdam. He wrote Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia on Jan Kempenaer’s photo-documentation.
Nikolaj Nielsen is a Brussels-based journalist. For META, Nielsen considers the provocative film "Enjoy Poverty Please" by Dutch artist Renzo Martens in regards to the The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid. For more of Nielsen's writing, visit his website.
Andreas Önnerfors (1971) is Associate Professor in the History of Sciences and Ideas based in Lund, Sweden. He has written extensively on organized fraternal sociability in Europe in the context of civil society, cryptology and conspiracy theories. In 2007 he re-enacted a female masonic ritual, contributed to the deciphering project of the copiale-manuscript and commented on the Oslo terrorist Breivik's imaginary world of knighthood in counter-jihadism. Watch a 2012 lecture on "Perceptions of Freemasonry from the 18th century to the Internet" here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
Yoshua Okón was born in Mexico City in 1970 where he currently lives. In his often absurd and provocative art, Okón stages partially scripted scenes using non-actors whose own identities and histories make up the true, underlying story. See Octopus. Okón founded the artist-run space La Panadería in 1994 and the artist-run space and school SOMA in 2009, both in Mexico City.
LISE PATT is the founder of the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, a peripatetic visual think tank currently headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Over the years she has treated ‘collaboration’ as an artist medium, in the development of a non-profit organization that embraces ‘collective camouflage’ in their ongoing projects. See Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry.
KONRAD PETROVSZKY (1977) is a historian specializing in the intellectual history of Southeastern Europe. He wrote a PhD thesis on early modern historiography in Ottoman Europe at the Free University, Berlin. He talks Romania and reenactment in The Body of the Event.
Italian artist SERENA PORRATI (1981) is now currently enrolled in the inaugural year of the MA in Art and Science Program at Central St. Martins in London. She lets META in on her Nietzsche in Turin archive for Linda Green’s article, A Bridge and Not a Goal.
SUSANNE QUEHENBERGER is a Cultural Studies student at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her focus is climate change, specifically its potential to bring about societal restructuring and the role of art in this scenario. Since 2007, she has worked as an urban gardening activist. For META, she shares her thoughts on geoengineering in Artificial Skies.
Haitian-born, DC-raised MAX RAMEAU is a pan-African theorist, organizer and founder of the group, Take Back the Land. He has worked on issues ranging from economic development to ex-felons. He discusses the US housing crisis in Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.
MILO RAU (1977) is a journalist, essayist, historian, playwright, translator, teacher, film-maker, blogger, reenactor and director of IIPM (International Institute of Political Murder, or Institute for Theoretic and Artistic Reenactments). See The Body of the Event.
AILEN ROC studied various esoteric fields such as ceremonial Magick, Sexual Magick, Tantra, Astrology, Tarot, the Quaballah and different astral-levels along with Psychology. She is currently working on her own tarot deck and a book combining certain occult fields with elements of psychology. See XI. ARS DE REX—Sexual Magic, the Art of the King.
ALAN SHAPIRO (1956) is a key contributor to the fields of idea philosophy, software engineering and social choreography. At 15, he began studying at MIT and has more recently published a book on Star Trek and given talks at the Transmediale and Ars Electronica festivals. In an interview with META, he explains why “Being against work as it is constituted today is fundamental.” See A New Computer Science is Underway.
SITU STUDIO was founded in 2005 while its partners were studying architecture at The Cooper Union. Operating at the intersection of architecture and a variety of other disciplines, Situ Studio’s work has been enriched by close collaborations with geologists, writers, engineers, biologists, activists and artists. See Out of Control.
GARY SMALL, M.D., is the Director of the UCLA Memory and Aging Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is the author of iBrain Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind. See This is Your Brain on Technology.
COSETTE THOMPSON is a French-American human rights consultant and freelance writer based in Arizona, USA, where she directed Amnesty International for many years. Her current interests focus on the contribution of artistic expression to the field of human rights and on the protection of threatened languages. See Sentenced to Read.
van Haarlem Dr. Michiel P.
DR. MICHIEL VAN HAARLEM (1964) is the Managing Director of the LOFAR Foundation in the Netherlands, a part of the ASTRON Institute. The astronomer discusses the next generation of telescopes in META’s Harmony of the Spheres.
Vanden Eynde Maarten
Belgian-born MAARTEN VANDEN EYNDE (1977) lives and works between Rotterdam, Brussels and Saint Mihiel. His projects span all art media, focussing on topics of ecology, archeology, biology and zoology. In 2006 he founded Enough Room for Space for “the creation of physical, virtual and mental space for cultural initiatives by initiating and coordinating events and residence/research projects worldwide.” He enlightens META on plastic in Plastic Reef.
Swedish photographer ULRIKA WALMARK (1970) traveled across North America, Israel, Palestine, Iran, India and South Africa from 2003 to 2007, collecting portraits for her project The person behind the person. She now lives in Berlin.
Artist CHEN WEI (1980) works in Beijing and Hangzhou, incorporating influential objects and happenings from his past into the realities of modern China. He is represented by the Platform China Contemporary Art Institute in Beijing. See Archeology of the Future.
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|Daughters of Job|
|Death of a Performance|
|Out of Control: Experiments in Participation|
|Terra Preta—Amazonian Earth|
|A New Computer Science is Underway|
|Claude Cahun—A Sensual Politics of Photography|
|The Clothing of Nature|
|On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai|
|Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites|
|The Body of the Event|
|Sentenced to Read|
|Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia|
|XI. ARS DE REX—Sexual Magic, the Art of the King|
|Tao Lin’s Crossword Puzzle|
|The Art of Showing Art|
|Photography and the Invisible|
|Patrick Hill—Sculpture, Associated|
|Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine|
|Desperate Times, Desperate Measures|
|A Bridge and Not a Goal|
|The Poetry of Document|
|Stories of Life and Love in Today’s Actual Arctic|
|Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena|
|The Nine Lives of Kaufhaus Jonass|
|The Harmony of the Spheres|
|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|Back to the Future—The Venus Project|
|Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry|
|The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid|
|Welcome to Nollywood|
|Chronicle of Deaths Foretold|
|The Dostoevsky of Photography|
|Archeology of the Future|
Interview with Dr. Bruno Glaser
META: What makes terra preta so special?
Bruno Glaser: It occurs in a region where old and extremely infertile soils are the norm. It is even more surprising that terra preta has survived 2,000 years of heavy rainfall and tropical temperature, while remaining fertile and high in humic matter content until today.
Is terra preta truly man-made?
Nowadays, there is enough scientific evidence that terra preta is of anthropogenic origin. We have found plenty of indicators such as potsherds, charcoal, human and animal bones, and indicators of human excrements.
Can you explain a bit about its creation process?
The creation of terra preta probably occurred by chance (at least in the beginning), through the addition of biomass and household wastes, including charcoal, food residues, and bones from the surrounding area to the soil. The high amounts of charcoal (biochar) were probably introduced by a steady maintenance of low temperature smoldering fires for cooking or spiritual purposes. In summary, terra preta is the result of intelligent material and energy flow management.
When did this creation process occur?
Amerinidans created terra preta between 4,000 BC and 1492 AD.
What about the present-day Amazonian cultural connections to terra preta?
Nowadays, due to our scientific publications and public relations, Amazonian people are becoming more and more aware of their cultural heritage and are trying to create new terra preta sites (terra preta nova). But as I started working in Amazonia in 1996, only a few people (mostly Japanese immigrants) knew about the high fertility of terra preta sites. Today—not only in Amazonia, but all around the world—people are trying to replicate terra preta.
How much more fertile is terra preta, in comparison with other types of soil?
Many cash crops such as papaya and mango can be cultivated on terra preta, while on the infertile ferralsols in surrounding areas, only manioc can be cultivated. When comparing beans and cereals, yields on terra preta are about twice the amount of those on fertilized surrounding soils. From a scientific point of view, terra preta contains about three times more organic matter, nitrogen, and phosphorus than surrounding soils. The key factor for the extraordinary properties of terra preta is biochar; a hectare of terra preta contains an average of 50 tons of biochar, 70 times greater than that of other soil. Terra preta’s fertility is comparable to that of natural black earths—mollisols or chernozems—which also contain high amounts of biochar. These soils are the most fertile natural soils on Earth.
Does terra preta grow, or grow back?
I am sure that terra preta is not perpetuum mobile. That means, if you extract more than you put in, it certainly will not last forever. On the other hand, once you have established a sustainable, fertile soil in the humid tropics—where optimal climatic conditions for plant growth exist—and you extract less than you add, it certainly can grow back. However, I do not believe that terra preta will grow back on its own if it is mined (for the purpose of selling), leaving only a tiny layer.
Does terra preta have any positive functions other than for agricultural use; for example medicinal or otherwise?
It is well known that charcoal helps against intestinal infections by the ab- or adsorption of toxins and microorganisms.
Is terra preta sensitive to the recent climate change?
I am sure that it is resistant to this, because the climate in the humid tropics where terra preta occurs is among the most extreme on Earth, at least with regard to soil degradation. That ferralsols—the typical soil type of Amazonia—is one of the least fertile soils on Earth, is unambiguous proof of this.
Is the use of terra preta possible in other climates?
Of course. You can use it everywhere for different purposes. For instance, due to its special structure, it has the ability to maintain water so we are currently testing the potential of terra preta nova in arid regions in desert areas of Africa e.g. for the cultivation of Jatropha, (an energy-producing plant). Another application would be C sequestration in Europe, where we still have rather fertile soils. But, the long-term C sequestration, like biochar, would give us C credits on the market?
What is the monetary value of a Kilo of terra preta?
On the Internet, 250 g of terra preta is sold for 44 euros. Of course this is the most extreme highest value, but it is worth more than “normal” earth or compost. If C credits can be earned for the sequestration of biochar into soil, the additional monetary value would depend on the price of sequestered CO2.
Does a black market for terra preta exist?
In Amazonia, certainly. terra preta is mined and sold as soil or together with for the purpose of sports lawns, for about 600 dollars per ton. In Germany, we are currently establishing a factory for the production of terra preta nova.
Could a patent be placed on terra preta?
No, because scientific literature if full of detailed information on how to produce terra preta and there may be different recipes for different purposes. We are currently working on the best bets.
How many acres of terra preta exist today?
Nobody can answer this question. However, new terra preta has recently been discovered to occur at every 10 to 20 km along a 400 km long pipeline transect in Central Amazonia. So all of Amazonia should be full of it.
How do you envision the future of agriculture?
The future’s agriculture will have to cope with several problems such as climate extremes—extreme droughts, heavy rains, higher temperatures—and intensified land pressure due to population growth, land sealing, and desertification. Terra preta could help to mitigate such problems.
Is terra preta a useful resource for the future of agriculture?
Yes, indeed. Terra preta is a model for sustainable agriculture which could solve many 21st century problems, such as climate change mitigation through C sequestration and maintaining and increasing soil fertility or agricultural use of desertified soils.
How did you personally become interested in and involved with terra preta?
This was by chance, as my former supervisor and mentor, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Zech, offered me a project on terra preta for my PhD studies. Discovering the secret of this exceptional and extraordinary soil fascinated me, and it still does today.
Have you found any artifacts in the terra preta yourself?
Yes, I found exciting potsherds, a skull, fragments of turtle backs, bones, and plenty of charcoal in the terra preta.
Can you envision yourself working in the research of soils, life-long?
Yes I can, if I have the opportunity in the future. Unfortunately, I am not lucky enough to hold a permanent position. My dream would be the establishment of a terra preta / biochar research center, to which I could dedicate the rest of my life.
SITU STUDIO is a reserach, design and fabrication firm based in Brooklyn. Their space-altering, site-specific architectural installation reOrder augurated the Great Hall project in the Brooklyn Museum. For reOrder and other projects, see Situ’s website.
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