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UNIA Workshop (2004)

Direction: Constant vzw
Venue: The Rector's lecture room of the International University of Andalucía. Monastery of Santa María de las Cuevas. Isla de la Cartuja, Seville.
Date: 17th-20th May 2004
Participants: Juan Miguel Aguilera, Ken MacLeod, José Pérez de Lama (aka osfa), Catherine Ramírez, David Sánchez Rubio y S. Sayyid




What do we mean by science-fiction?

We could obviously have started with linked of those two apparently contradictory therms: science and fiction. However, this tension, this "crossover genre", this duality, this mix which the term itself contains, does not only occur between science and fiction. Another way of seeing science-fiction is as a reconstructed body, as a trans-gender, trans-disciplinary science. And, also, as a space which makes it possible for each individual to define his/her/the relationship with identity and society, and his/her entry point into identity, into society. We propose that agency, amalgamation and dualization are the alternative, structure, environment, tool and platform for the creation of a situated present.

In other words, for the creation of science fiction as a thought-engendered production, rather than as a simple product, a single thought-line. As such, science fiction depicts social systems, social relationships, economic relations, group relationships. But should science fiction - should we? - also take the risk of depicting the future? The struggle is hard, indeed, to know who is going to narrate or to represent the future world.

Science fiction could be thought of as the language of the master, one of the many projects of Western discourse which depicts the world of the future along Western lines, in which Greek and Roman mythology names space missions, and new civilizations and technologies. And we, in turn, could give new names to systems of exploitation, based on other founding myths, on other creative criteria. And we could, also, use a different language. It is a genre born of many visions, of many cultures, of many epochs. It is a meeting place for dialogue, interaction and opposition. It depends on the way we define other peoples, other places, and the future itself, shifting and fluctuating with the definition of borders, of politics. It depends on changing economic and geographical realities, on new concepts of nearness and distance.

We suggest that:
- science fiction is both a creative style and a scientific process.
- intrusion, fragmentation and bewilderment can be used as systems for resistance.
- science fiction is, in principle, an association of heterogeneous concepts which make it possible to discuss and conceptualize reality.

Stitch and Split takes us on a journey. A journey which begins with a body, a person, in a city, in inter-galactic space, in a natural landscape, a network or a community... This body may have multiple relationships with other spaces and other bodies, through multiple extensions. The journey through these bodies and spaces challenges our vision of the individual. Identities that take the risk of otherness/heterogeneity somewhere between science and fiction. But we won't spare situating this (social) body in a given territory, within given borders, in an enclosed, defined area, in a transitional dumping ground.

Stitch and Split is, also, the story of territories and people crisscrossed by migrations, communities, colonies, by new concepts of the terms "public" and "private". Science fiction, and therefore, the Stitch and Split project, thought as a strategy for transformation and reflection, rather than the beginning or the end of inflexible truths.



Monday 17th May 2004

· 19:00 h
  + Presentation by Constant vzw
  + Lecture by Juan Miguel Aguilera
The evolution of the concept of colonies and the vision of "The Other" in my work and in science fiction
  + Lecture by Ken MacLeod
We Are One People': the politics of Fall Revolution books

· 21:30 h
  + Screening of the film: Born in flames [Lizzie Borden, 1983, 80']
Meant to take place in the near future, this film looks at the rights of women under a socialist society in the U.S. -and finds nothing has changed. When Adelaide Norris, the black radical founder of the Woman's Army, is mysteriously killed, a seemingly impossible coalition of women - across all lines of race, class, and sexual preference - emerges to blow the System apart. "A comic fantasy of female rebellion... funny, gutsy, inspiring!". (Featuring among many others: Kathryn Bigelow).

Tuesday 18th May 2004

· 19:00 h
  + Lecture by Catherine Ramírez
Infrahuman/Posthuman: Humanism in New World Science Fiction
  + Lecture by S. Sayyid
Dune and Decolonizing the Future

· 21:30 h
  + Screening of the film: Tribulation 99 [Craig Baldwin, 1991, 48']
Unrelentingly lurid and equally hilarious, Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America might be an X-ray of a rabid slacker's seething brain. This 48 minute document of underground agitprop is both a skewed history of United States intervention in Latin America and a satire of conspiracy thinking -as well as an impressive demonstration of the sort of connect-the-dots logic that makes such political or world views possible. With a sci-fi plot suggesting that current unrest can be blamed on space aliens who live under U.S. atomic test sites, the film illustrates its lurid comic drama with images culled from everything from newsreels to Mexican horror flicks. This nutty little item suggests that conspiracy thinking is a Frankenstein monster which inevitably destroys its creator (First you have the conspiracy theory, and then the conspiracy theory has you). The film may induce in some an aggravated form of 'medialepsy', brought on by TV journalism's flashing images -or is it the cadences in Mary Hart's voice.

Wednesday 19th May 2004

· 19:00 h
  + Lecture by José Pérez de Lama
Crowd flows: between town planning and science fiction

· 21:30 h
  + Screening of the film: Bedwin Hacker [Nadia El Fani, 2003, 103']
From an oasis in southern Tunisia's mountain region, a computer genius called Kalthoum, hacks into the airwaves. From her apartment jammed full of computer equipment, she hijacks the frequencies of foreign television channels to broadcast messages in Arabic. The message ends with an animated camel called "Bedwin Hacker". Meanwhile French intelligence are hard at work trying to track her down. This is the first Tunisian film to have such a modern hi-tech theme.

Thursday 20th May 2004

· 19:00 h
  + Lecture by David Sánchez Rubio
Science fiction and human rights: complexity, social fabrics and counter-establishment conditionals

· 21:30 h
  + Screening of the film: Metrópolis [Katsuhiro Otomo y Rintaro, 2001, 107']
Android searching for their identity in old transistors people the subterranean world beneath a multi-layered futuristic city. The frontiers between the different layers are tightly guarded. But… are relationships between robots and human possible? Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) and Rintaro (Galaxy Express 999) have converted the 1950's Manga strip by the Master Tezuka (Astro Boy), who freely interpreted Fritz Lang's film, into an animated film.

* All lectures and screenings will be open to the public interested



Constant vzw
It is a non-profit Belgian association based in Brussels and has been active since 1997 in fields such as gender, alternatives to copyright, networks etc., developing projects in visual arts, radio, music and video, mainly through digital media.

Juan Miguel Aguilera
He is an industrial designer and science fiction writer. He is the author of such works as: Mundos en el abismo (1988), Hijos de la eternidad (1990) and El refugio (1994). His 1998 novel, La Locura de Dios (1998) won the Ignotus prize for the best science fiction novel in Spanish as well as the 2002 Imaginales prize (the best fantasy novel published in France) and the Bob Morane award, also in the same year. He wrote the script for the film Stranded that won the Silver Meliés at the Rome Fantasy Cinema Film Festival and has also created numerous illustrations for the front page of Nova and for the Gilgamesh collection of books. His latest novel, Rihla, tells of the adventures of a Muslim wise man in the court of Granada and his voyages across the Ocean a few years before Granada fell to the Christians. Rihla has already been published in French by the Au diable Vauvert publishing house and is about to be published in Spain by Minotauro.

Ken MacLeod
He is a graduate in Zoology and has a Masters in Biomechanics. He has also been a computer programmer, but since 1997 he has devoted himself full-time to writing, creating works such as The Star Fraction (1995), The Stone Canal (1996), The Cassini Division (1998), THE WEB: Cydonia (1998), The Sky Road (1999), Cosmonaut Keep (2000), Dark Light (2001) and Engine City (2002).

José Pérez de Lama (aka osfa)
He is an Associate Professor in Seville's Superior Technical School of Architecture. He participates in and in indymedia estrecho. He is a theoretical and applied researcher in the new emerging fields of ICT, new social networks and physical, architectural and urban space. He has presented his work in Los Angeles, Tijuana, México DF, the Zapatista territory of Chiapas, Berlin, Munich, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, etc. His present projects are: a Doctoral Thesis: Entre Blade Runner y Mickey Mouse. New urban imaginaria in Los Angeles, California and fadaiat / Trans.Acciones, a cross-border media lab between Tarifa and Tangiers [June 2004].

Catherine Ramírez
She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on Latino literature, culture, and history and black speculative fiction. Her book, The Lady Zoot-Suiter: The Pachuca and the Rearticulation of Race, Class, Gender, and Nation, is forthcoming from Duke University Press. Her publications have appeared in Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture, and the Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. They are also forthcoming in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies and Midwestern Miscellany. Catherine is a graduate of the Ph.D. program in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a former Ford Foundation post-doctoral fellow.

David Sánchez Rubio
He is a Lecturer in Legal Philosophy at Seville University and Co-Director of the Doctorate Programme on Human Rights and Development organised by Seville's Pablo de Olavide University. He is a specialist in human rights, democracy, and thought in Latin-American liberation. He has written and co-published several books such as Filosofía, derecho and liberación en América Latina (1999); Globalizaçao e direitos humanos (2004) and Esferas de democracia (2004).

S. Sayyid
He has taught at the Universities of Manchester, East London and Salford. He is the author of A Fundamental Fear, and is currently at the University of Leeds, as an University Research Fellow.

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