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The Underground Is No Longer (or Never Was) the Exclusive Realm of Technocrats or Geophysics Experts

Helen Pritchard
3D in Art and Science(WiSe 20/21)

The contemporary infrastructural complex of mining and measuring undergrounds depends on software tools for geological data handling, interpretation, and 3D-vizualisation. Such tools power techno-colonial subsurface exploration with computational techniques and paradigms. In this talk I will present the collaborative work of the *Underground Division* on the volumetric renderings that figure the so-called earth. Through speculative storying, queer infrastructural analysis and art-based inquiries I will discuss how these volumetrics are made operative by geocomputation, where geocomputation refers to the computational processes that measure, quantify, historicize, visualize, predict, classify, model, and tell stories of spatial and temporal geologic processes. In particular I will discuss what affirmative forms of queering damage, responsibility-taking or not, might be possible within these processes and practices of volumetric geocomputation.

Dr. Helen Pritchard’s work brings together the fields of computational aesthetics, more-than-human geographies, and queer trans*feminist technoscience. Her practice considers the impacts of computation and computational art on the figuration of environments and environmental justice–– for the development of inventive methodologies that propose otherwises. She is the co-editor of “Data Browser 06: Executing Practices”, published by Open Humanities Press (2018) and a special issue of Science, Technology and Human Values on “Sensors and Sensing Practices” (2019). Helen is an Associate Professor in Queer Feminist Technoscience and Digital Design at i-DAT, Plymouth University and a research fellow in Computational Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. Together with Femke Snelting and Jara Rocha she activates the creative research group the *Underground Division*. The *Underground Division* is an action-research collective that investigates technologies of subsurface rendering and its imaginations/fantasies/promises. As a follow-up on Possible Bodies' research on co-construction of so-called bodies and 3D paradigms, the-body-of-the-earth is now attended as the framework for a study on similar sensibilities but different spacetimes. The Underground Division bugs contemporary regimes of volumetrics that are applied to extractivist, computationalist and geologic damages. Their research will eventually culminate in the Trans*Feminist Scanning Program, a hands-on situation for device making, tool problematizing and "holing in gaug".



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