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continent. inter-view: Arno Rosemarin on disconcerting technical systems

cc.cc: What technical systems are operating on us right now? Arno Rosemarin: Well, there are radio waves all over the place, Wi-Fi, different frequencies. There are geomagnetic waves, ones generated by the earth itself, affected by the moon and the sun; I guess those are bigger ones. There is probably something about this building; it looks like it was built in the 1960s, so it may have something in it, we call it "blue concrete," it has uranium, radon gas. Probably some low level radioactivity. Otherwise, the furniture seems to be pretty old stuff, so all the formaldehyde is gone. These floors were probably laid using solvents, they are not water-based, but by now they are probably dry as well. Relatively good, actually. cc.cc: It is interesting that you characterise the earth’s magnetic field as a technical system. Arno Rosemarin: That's my view on it. "Technical,” means that you can measure it. cc.cc: What pieces of the technosphere do you have on you? Arno Rosemarin: I have computers on either hip, printed money, probably a whole lot of toxins from my exposure to everything—having worked in labs and eaten bad tainted food, all sorts of things like that. Of course, corrective lenses, antiperspirants, things to stop bacteria, lots of interesting stuff in your mouth—mercury, lead. I am a walking bionic, not too much steel—there is a lot of metal in one’s mouth... cc.cc : What part of the technosphere do you rely upon the most? Arno Rosemarin: I haven't really thought about it. When you say technosphere, you are talking about data and trauma around technology and phosphorus. It is probably even-steven for all three of us in this room. Sitting on a bike, traumatized by evil taxi drivers in downtown Stockholm where I ride my bike everyday…. Upgrading, living with Microsoft, adapting to it, that is a continuous treadmill, that is part of the trauma. We never really understand that relationship, until you finally get a blue screen and a complete disk crash and then you have to renew yourself. Two hours of work, file gone. That is the most empty experience because you have invested in this apparatus, with your mind and talents and everything, and then it is gone, completely gone, you never get it back, you have to start all over. That is really hard to do, to go back into time, that is a big challenge. That trauma is really disconcerting; the guys who wrote the Bible did not have to endure that sort of thing because they used a piece of paper. If you really believe in software and stuff like that, this puts you in a vulnerable situation. This is why young people, I think, are only interested in bite-sized stuff. If it's on Twitter, it's 140 characters, I can probably rewrite that—that's about it.
This excerpt is taken from one of the fifteen inter-views by continent., held during The Technosphere, Now event at HKW, Berlin, October 2, 2015 where the continent. team extended invitations to speakers, engaging them in a semi-improvised discussion about their interests and research trajectories. As personal reflections, these hint at links between the individual and their passions for research, drawing out how epistemic trajectories are at once driven by a desire for proximity, and by the striving for distance and objectivity. The notion of the technosphere emerges in these discussions as the individual and collective efforts of human beings, seeking to know the world in a highly particular way. Read the entire annotated inter-view in continent.’s special issue 5.2/2016: The Technosphere, Now.