Commisioned by the Biennale Warszawa, based on Oceans in Transformation, a Territorial Agency project commissioned by TBA21–Academy, with the additional support of the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.
Geopolitical upheavals in the Anthropocene are primarily deep transformations of the relations between world systems and the Earth System. The Sensible Zone is the most sensitive component of our living planet, connecting marine ecologies and land systems in a fragile array of trophic chains and cycles. Today, it is torn apart, cut across and reshaped by the rise of the technosphere. A new set of border technologies that establish new forms of access, reconfigure inside–outside relations, reshuffles inclusions and exclusions, and reforms agency.
A new figure in the making: the technosphere baffles us. From within it appears as being made up of all technologies and artefacts, a vast layer of infrastructure, material, information and energy fluxes intensified by combusting fossil fuels. A vast system created by humans, and apparently within our control. From the outside, the technosphere is a new emergent paradigm of the Earth: quasi-autonomous and self-organising. It is a new figure that we hardly understand and can barely see the outlines of. It is a vast machine where humans are endeavouring for its maintenance and support. It is a new figure in the making that inverts agencies, historicities and boundaries.
Made up of all humans, farms, plantations, domesticated animals, the complex networks of infrastructures, extraction, energy and information fluxes that have marked the great acceleration of the Anthropocene, the rise of the technosphere is in primis a border concept, one where the distinctions between humans and non-humans, culture and nature, science and arts are no longer tenable.
The project investigates the fragile spaces of the Sensible Zone, the most sensitive and most sensed zone of our planet at a time of deep oscillations and upheavals of the relations between world-systems and Earth System. For Biennale Warszawa, Territorial Agency has developed a new version of the Sensible Zone project, with a focus on the complex border technologies marking the deep transformations of the sea, the forests, rivers and extractive areas around the Baltic Sea.
Territorial Agency is an independent organisation established by architects and urbanists John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog. Territorial Agency combines contemporary architecture, art, spatial analysis, advocacy and action to promote comprehensive territorial transformations in the Anthropocene epoch. Their work focuses on the integration of science, architecture and art in the challenges posed by climate change.
The work of Territorial Agency is grounded in extensive spatial and territorial analysis through remote sensing technologies. Its focus is on complex representations of the transformations of the physical structures of contemporary inhabited territories. Through its work Territorial Agency engages different polities to re-evaluate the relations to the complex material, energy and information fluxes that mark contemporary territories.
Recent projects include: Oceans in Transformation commissioned by TBA21–Academy, in collaboration with ZKM Critical Zones and Taipei Biennial 20; 2040 – Sensible Zone at Barbican Centre (upcoming); Sensible Zone at the Biennale di Venezia and Seoul Biennale of Architecture; Urbanism: Museum of Oil with Greenpeace, ZKM Reset Modernity and Chicago Architecture Biennial; Anthropocene Observatory with Armin Linke and Anselm Franke at HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, BAK Utrecht and in the collection of Centraal Museum Utrecht; Plan the Planet with AA Architectural Association supported by Graham Foundation; North anon at ArkDes; the Museum of Infrastructural Unconscious; and the integrated plan for the Zuiderzee region Unfinishable Markermeer. John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog are Unit Masters at the AA Architectural Association School of Architecture, London.
Territorial Agency is awarded the STARTS PRIZE 2021 – Grand prize of the European Commission honouring innovation in technology, industry and society stimulated by the arts, Artistic Exploration.