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Symposium at the University of Amsterdam | 30-31 May 2024 | Organizers: Patricia Pisters, Leonie Schmidt, Laszlo Muntéan, Jeroen Boom, Carolyn Birdsall
Event details of Sea Mediations: Hydro-criticism and Tidal Thinking
Start date
30 May 2024
End date
31 May 2024
Image: Alex Shuper (2023)

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Over the past decade, as part of a larger tendency in humanities, media studies has become ‘elemental’, i.e. the field has become attuned to its constituent parts, especially to the substances and substrates that compose media (Starosielski 2019). Media technologies, their materiality, hardware, and energy are connected with geophysical nature: nature affords and bears the weight of media culture. In the field of elemental media studies, different scholars have critically engaged with such issues to urge us to rethink what media and mediations exactly are. Much of the research in elemental media studies is oriented by the periodic or the Greek elements, while others contest this Eurocentric focus and have for instance added wood and metal, elements of Chinese philosophy and point to the legacies of colonialism and the dangers of neo-colonialism. While addressing these more general problems and questions related to the elemental turn in the humanities, this symposium focuses in particular on the element of water. So as part of so-called ocean humanities, blue humanities or hydro feminism, the symposium brings together some of the most prominent scholars who engage with and hydro-criticism and different dimensions of sea mediations, and oceanic or tidal thinking. Our keynote speakers each are pioneers and experts in this rapidly growing (overflowing) field of media studies in the humanities.


DAY 1: Thursday 30 May

Location: UvA Bushuis (Kloveniersburgwal 48) room F1.14
10.00 – 10.15 Arrival
10.15 – 10.30 Opening (room F1.14): Leonie Schmidt & Patricia Pisters
10.30 – 12.00 Keynote (room F1.14): Melody Jue
Title: ‘Holding Sway: Sustainability and the Photomedia of Seaweeds’
Chair: Patricia Pisters
            10.30 – 11.30 Keynote
            11.30 – 12.00 Q&A and discussion
12.00 – 13.15 Lunch break (lunch will not be provided)
13.15 – 14.30 Panel 1 (room F1.14): Hydrofeminism and Aquatic Bodies
Xinyi Zheng, Martina Furlan, Michał Bilski, Bogna Bochinska
14.30 – 14.45 Break
14.45 – 16.00 Panel 2 (room F1.14): Colonial Perspectives, Piracy, and Sea-borders
Omur Kirli, Cormac Henehan, Simeon Haselton
16.00 – 16.15 Break
16.15 –17.45 Keynote (room F1.14): Nicole Starosielski, Michael Brand, and Isabelle Cherry
Title: ‘Regulation vs. Recycling: Competing Forms of Marine and Planetary Sustainability’
Chair: László Munteán
            16.15– 17.15 Keynote
            17.15 – 17.45 Q&A and discussion
17.45-18.45 – Closing and drinks (location tba)

DAY 2: Friday 31 May

Location: UvA Oudemanhuispoort (Oudemanhuispoort 4-6) rooms A1.18D and D1.08
10.30 – 10.45 Arrival
10.45 – 11.00 Opening (room A1.18D): Patricia Pisters & Leonie Schmidt
11.00 – 12:30 Keynote (room A1.18D): Mekhala Dave
Title: ‘Ocean Relations and Rights’
Chair: Jeroen Boom
            11.00 – 12.00 Keynote
            12.00 – 12.30 Q&A and discussion
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch break (lunch will not be provided)
13.30 – 14:45 Panel 3 (room A1.18D): Technology and Aesthetics: Capturing Water:
Jamil Fiorino-Habib & Mae Lubetkin, Susanne Janssen, Sanny Schulte
14.45 – 15.00 Break
15.00 – 16.15 Panel 4: (room A1.18D) Hydro-infrastructures and Eco-Politics:
Anı Ekin Özdemir, Xudong Yang, Marije Nieuwland & Lucas Rinzema, Miriam Matthiessen
16.15 – 16.30 Break
16.30 – 18.00 Keynote (room D1.08): Yuriko Furuhata
Title: ‘Self-Portraits of Coral: Visual Archives and Radiation Ecologies in the Anthropocene’
Chair: Carolyn Birdsall
            16.30 – 17.30 Keynote
            17.30 – 18.00 Q&A and discussion


Melody Jue
Thursday 30 May, 10:30-12:00 (room Bushuis, F1.14)

Title: Holding Sway: Sustainability and the Photomedia of Seaweeds

This talk will explore how the photomedia of seaweeds offer valuable perspectives on sustainability and its conceptualization. Many dreams of seaweed futurity are entangled with aspirations to enact more sustainable futures—the future of food, the future of biofuels, the future of bioplastics. Beyond their biopolitical management as resources, seaweeds lead me to consider the epistemic preconditions of sustainability and management. Photographic media about seaweeds sometimes depend on the photomedia of seaweeds. At the same time, what I call the “metabolic photography” of seaweeds parallels the desire of sustainability practices to change global metabolisms. Yet in a Hawaiian context, seaweeds (limu) show how sustainability must include Indigenous knowledge and ecological conservation. Concluding with a discussion of Hawaiian cyanotypes and limu photography, I show how “holding sway” not only names the interest of sustainability projects in seaweeds, but a seaweed-centered aesthetic of care by which limu are framed by the hands. 

Bio: Melody Jue (pronunciation rhymes with “blue”) is an Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research and writings center the ocean humanities, science fiction, media studies, science & technology studies, and the environmental humanities. Professor Jue is the author of Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020) which won the Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science Book Prize, and the co-editor of Saturation: An Elemental Politics (Duke University Press, 2021) with Rafico Ruiz. Forthcoming books include Coralations (Minnesota Press, 2024) and the edited collection Informatics of Domination (Duke Press, 2025) with Zach Blas and Jennifer Rhee. Her new work, Holding Sway, examines the photographic and kinesthetic media of seaweeds across transpacific contexts. She regularly collaborates with ocean scientists and artists, from fieldwork to collaborative writings and other projects. Many of her writings are informed by scuba diving fieldwork and coastal observations.

 Nicole Starosielski, Michael Brand, and Isabelle Cherry
Thursday 30 May, 16:15-17:45 (room Bushuis, F1.14)
Title: Regulation vs. Recycling: Competing Forms of Marine and Planetary Sustainability

The ocean is increasingly the site of new laws and governance designed to ensure the sustainability of both the ocean and the planet as a whole. Marine protected areas and marine national monuments are being instituted in oceans around the world. The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) treaty is a recently created legally binding instrument focused on the conservation of marine life. The EU Emissions Trading System, which caps allowances for greenhouse gas emissions, was extended to maritime transport just this year. These forms of governance may help to curb forms of exploitation and emissions. This talk, however, focuses on some cases in which they curtail other environmentally-oriented uses of the ocean’s depths. We focus specifically on the case of subsea cable recycling, in which companies draw up old telecommunications cable systems from the seafloor and re-integrate them into the circular economy. We trace what happens when these different understandings of marine and planetary sustainability come into conflict.

Bio: Nicole Starosielski, Professor, University of California, Berkeley, conducts research on global internet and media distribution, communications infrastructures ranging from data centers to undersea cables, and media’s environmental and elemental dimensions. Starosielski is author or co-editor of over thirty articles and five books on media, infrastructure, and environments, including: The Undersea Network (2015), Media Hot and Cold (2021), Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructure (2015), Sustainable Media: Critical Approaches to Media and Environment (2016), Assembly Codes: The Logistics of Media (2021), as well as co-editor of the “Elements” book series at Duke University Press. Starosielski’s most recent project, Sustainable Subsea Networks, is focused on increasing the sustainability of digital infrastructures. The project team has developed a catalog of best practices for sustainability in the subsea cable industry—the backbone of the global internet—as well as a carbon footprint of a subsea cable. Starosielski is also a co-convenor of the SubOptic Association’s Global Citizen Working Group. 

Isabelle Cherry is a research assistant on the SubOptic Foundation’s Sustainable Subsea Networks research team. She is also an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. degree in Environmental Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research explores sustainability metrics relating to the global manufacturing, deployment, and disposal of subsea telecommunications cables with a particular focus on how regulations impact cable recycling efforts.

Michael Brand is an undergraduate research assistant at UC Berkeley studying environmental economics and policy. His research interests surround applying concepts from behavioral economics to the communication of sustainability efforts for undersea cables.

Mekhala Dave
Friday 31 May, 11:00-12:30, (room OMHP A1.18D)
Title: Ocean Relations and Rights

Water as guidance and inspiration, how do we listen to the ocean and form a kinship with the ocean? Can one think with arts and culture to expand on relations with the ocean? Through my experiences as a Law and Policy Analyst/Researcher, I will build on two case studies, firstly, the legal principle of common heritage of humankind that span global waters, and increased human activities of governing global waters for the future of deep sea mining, an internationally motivated yet speculative mining operation for minerals in the deep sea for a green energy transition. Secondly, I will also expand on Rights of Nature that emphasize rights as a legal and cultural concept for water bodies that is changing the way in burgeoning human and non-human entanglements, civil society movements towards an ocean stewardship that is envisaged in the face of climate change and its impacts on the ocean.

Bio: Mekhala Dave is a lawyer and art academic based in Vienna. She is the ocean law and policy analyst/legal researcher at TBA21–Academy and a doctoral researcher in contemporary art history and theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. In her past and current work in legal practice, as well as in her PhD research, she advocates for a social turn in artistic practices and explores encounters located across knowledge spheres and communities in the Global South at the intersection of activism and newly shaping ocean policy. She is the co-creator of Culturing the Deep Sea program at the Academy and represents the Academy at the UN's International Seabed Authority on deep sea mining policies and advocacy. From her lived experiences across borders, she draws inspiration and spiritual guidance from water to the questions of historicity and the search for emerging “new” relations of identity and belonging.

Yuriko Furuhata
Friday 31 May, 16:30-18:00 (room OMHP D1.08)
Title: Self-Portraits of Coral: Visual Archives and Radiation Ecologies in the Anthropocene

Media histories of coral reef science and resource extraction in the Pacific are intimately connected to the territorial expansionism of the Japanese and U.S. empires. In the 1930s, Japanese marine biologists began studying the living habitats of coral reefs at the Palao Tropical Biological Station in the island of Koror in today’s Republic of Palau, while the island was occupied and governed by the Japanese empire. Their research on the symbiotic relationship between coral polyps and algae laid one of the foundations for the American science of nuclear ecology that developed out of the study of the irradiated atolls of the Marshall Islands, which the United States infamously used as a site of nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s. Focusing on the technology of radioautography that American scientists used to visualize radiation, I connect this transpacific history of nuclear waste to the colonial histories of coral reef science and guano mining. In doing so, I examine how this extractive process of image-making mediated by irradiated coral specimens contributed to the production of radiation and coral reef ecologies.

Thinking about the nonhuman agents of knowledge production in relation to the colonial history of mineral extraction allows us to critically reflect on what I call the underside of the Anthropocene.

Bio: Yuriko Furuhata is Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar of Cinema and Media History in the Department of East Asian Studies at McGill University. Her first book, Cinema of Actuality: Japanese Avant-Garde Filmmaking in the Season of Image Politics (Duke University Press, 2013), won the Best First Book Award from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies. Her second book, Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control (Duke University Press, 2022) explores the geopolitical conditions underpinning environmental art, weather control, digital computing, and cybernetic architecture in Japan and the United States. She is currently completing a new book project, titled Visual Grammars of Deep Time: Archipelagic Archives of the Anthropocene, which examines sets of scientific atlases, photographs, and films of fossils, clouds, snow crystals, and corals in relation to the settler colonial histories of geosciences in Japan, the Pacific, and North America.


Thursday 30 May, 13.15 – 14.30
Panel 1: Hydrofeminism and Aquatic Bodies
Xinyi Zheng, Martina Furlan, Michał Bilski, Bogna Bochinska
Room: Bushuis, F1.14


Xinyi Zheng
Damp dreams: Layers of temporality and entanglement of ecologies
In psychoanalysis, water is the most common symbol of the unconscious. In Central Asian belief, water not only carries the memory of the Earth but also infuses the breath of myths, oral history, spirits, and ancestors. To search for the soul of the sick and heal the wounds, the sorcerer has to embark on an infernal journey to the underworld, plunging into the deep reservoir of the psyche where memories, dreams, and hallucinations intertwine. In Central Asian artist Saodat Ismailova’s films Zukra (2013), Oxus of Stains (2016), and The Haunted (2017), the artist as sorcerer molds a Deleuzian crystal of time to induce a temporal-distorted cine-trance, revealing a multi-layered temporality through multi-layered sensory experiences: the coexistence of the past, the present, and the future. Drawing from the triple ecology proposed by Felix Guattari (the entanglement between mental, social and environmental ecology), this presentation attempts to explore the healing effects of river rituals: although the once mighty river has become a desert, the dampness of the river and the sound of the waves still survive in the dreams of riverside dwellers.

Martina Furlan
Becoming Amphibious: Posthuman Fashion in Alexander McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis
It has been almost fifteen years since Alexander McQueen presented his iconic final collection “Plato’s Atlantis” (Spring/Summer 2010) before his sudden passing. The innovative garments presented by McQueen illustrate a transformative nature of post-human fashion that blurs the boundaries between human and non-human, organic and synthetic, terrestrial and aquatic. Drawing from Donna Haraway’s seminal essay “A Cyborg Manifesto”, this paper investigates how McQueen’s designs reconfigure notions of posthumanism within the realm of hydro-imaginary spaces. Further by examining the symbiotic relationship between the human and the animal body and technological enhancements, the posthumanist aesthetics and their implications for contemporary fashion discourse will be analyzed under the lens of ‘becoming-amphibious’: a subversion of traditional dichotomies and the emergence of new modes of embodiment and identity provided by the designs.

Michał Bilski
Drowning the Gender Binary: A hydrofeminist reading of Paolo Sorrentino’s work.
In Queer Nature (Be Like Water) Caffyn Kelly delves into the biblical tale of Noah's ark, suggesting that Noah's preservation efforts are viewed through a heterosexual lens, wherein the flood symbolizes queerness or non-heteronormativity, that leads to the world's demise (1994, 44). Water in this sense is the end to all means – a symbolic synthesis of everything into one body – a body of pure water. In a way, Kelly's sentiment echoes here the hydrofeminist perspective established by Astrida Neimanis who also connects apocalypse with hydro-thinking. "[A]shes to ashes, water to water," Neimanis writes, indicating an inherent link between water and the notion of "total dissolution” – i.e. the end of the world (2012, 104). This project aims to investigate how employing such an apocalyptic way of hydrothinking can challenge the conceptualization of binary gender identities within the feminist theory. I approach here the films and series directed by Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty [2013], Youth [2015], The Young Pope[2016], The New Pope [2020], The Hand of God [2021]) to tackle the issues of gender representation in his work. This choice was motivated by widespread criticism of Sorrentino’s use of the male gaze in his films, as well as his interest in exploring(post-)secularism. Starting with this angle, I delve into the motif of water in his work, seeking to illuminate how water mediates and complicates these issues.

Bogna Bochinska
Odra is a she: Looking into the river Odra's environmental feminine personhood
The river Odra is one of the major European rivers and in August 2022 it was proclaimed a partially dead ecosystem due to the golden algae contamination, caused by unnaturally high water salinity and record-breaking temperatures. Odra’s “near-death” experience prompted an initiative of granting the river legal personhood. In the video supporting the project, a segment dedicated to people living and working with and on the river, shows them explaining their relationships with Odra. Despite differences in nature,  many refer to the river as a sister, a girlfriend, a princess - to them, Odra is a she. In this presentation, I will read Poland’s second largest river as a female figure and try to understand the potentiality of conceptualizing a feminine environment. Regardless of the fact that the polish word for river is a feminine noun rzeka, the river is often depicted in a feminine body, such as the metal statue of Dutches Odra in Brzeg Dolny, Stanisław Wysocki’s “princesses” - two sculptures depicting Odra’s nymphs of wind and water, or the image of Odra as a “peasant woman” with her daughter Warta river found in Paul Keller’s 1912 “Das Märchen von den deutschen Flüssen” (eng. The Fable of German rivers). Drawing from the hydrofeminsit perspective of Astrida Neimanis and Maciej Robert’s river-bound identity axis, I will discuss the Odra as a form of an environmental feminine personhood.

Thursday 30 May, 14.45 – 16.00
Panel 2: Colonial Perspectives, Piracy, and Sea-borders
Omur Kirli, Cormac Henehan, Simeon Haselton
Room: Bushuis, F1.14


Omur Kirli
Only if we could float on the water: Imagining Sea as border-thinking against neo-colonial Cyprus In this presentation, I share my elemental interaction with the sea as a source of decolonial knowledge that emerges from the discomfort felt in colonial and neo-colonial impositions in carrying an identity from Cyprus - an island with a dense presence in colonial history and a complex presence in current neo-colonial formations. The land of Cyprus is defined by sea. Water informs the geopolitics that shapes us. Colonialism came with the sea while we stayed within the limits of the sea. Interacting with Anzaldua’s ‘border-thinking’, this presentation showcases a practice of shifting my thinking from the artificial borders of nation-states to the sea-land borders of Cyprus where many arrive and depart. Thinking with the context of colonial and neo-colonial parallels in Cyprus’ mediatic presence (e.g. tourism as a function of British colonialism/neo-colonial settlements in both parts, Ottoman water fountain projects/water pipeline project in occupied Cyprus), I read the travel of the statue of Bes with the sea and establish another relationality beyond neo-colonial desires. I reflect on my experience of colonial discomfort and orient my decolonial imagining along with the sea that holds a muted subjectivity in the narratives and desires of colonialism. Lastly, I imagine submerged perspectives and loving perceptions that can lead to deep, decolonial coalitions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cormac Henehan
Free at Sea: Colonial Power and Piracy in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.
In my paper I will explore the representation of water within the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, in particular its depiction of the colonial vision of the sea as a smooth space over which power can be exerted as contrasted with the sea as a space for the exercise of freedom, in the form of piracy. Through an analysis of desert island stranding and imprisonment, I will highlight the aesthetic of the earth as a fundamentally limiting and confining space in the hydroimaginary of the series’ filmworld.

Simeon Haselton
'Ocean's Erode Violence: erasure of ideology behind the actions of Somali and Yemeni piracy in popular Imperialist imagination'
Starosielski uses “strategies of insulation” to describe “social, architectural, geographic, and discursive” (2015) methods of protecting undersea cables from natural or purposeful disruption. I will apply this across oceanic space beyond the insulation of inert infrastructures to examine the insulation of capital’s conceptual free flow across the sea surface. To do this I will focus on two related points of pressure: Somali piracy in the 2010s and Yemeni piracy during the ongoing genocide in Gaza. I argue that these cases are important examples of an interruption to “infrastructural obliviousness” (Jue 2020) with resultant lessons, both for consciousness-raising and for understanding capitalist methods of preventing consciousness. I will explore media responses to these events - films in the case of Somali piracy; news and new media in the case of Yemeni piracy – as indicative of what Starosielski terms “disruption narratives” (2015), setting any challenge to the free flow of capital as ‘broken’, a departure from the default state. The ideological underpinnings of Somali and Yemeni action are erased from such narratives (or in the latter case attempted to be), a discursive ‘strategy of insulation’ made easier by the smoothness of the ocean surface, a space which rapidly erodes the historical scars so visible on land.

Friday 31 May, 13.30 – 14:45
Panel 3: Technology and Aesthetics: Capturing Water
Jamil Fiorino-Habib & Mae Lubetkin, Susanne Janssen, Sanny Schulte
Room: OMHP, A1.18D

Jamil Fiorino-Habib and Mae Lubetkin
Imaging and Imagining the Deep Ocean: Outlining the Architecture of Subsea Vision
Perceiving the deep ocean is an imaginative act that begins with an image. Though we cannot crawl on benthic floors or swim through the abyssopelagic like its inhabitants do, we can still imagine this subsea world, under pressure and without light. As oceanographers descend into these depths, multiple forms of technical prostheses are required for sampling, sensing, and visualizing the surrounding environments (Jue, 2020). With advancements in photogrammetry, deep-sea imagery may be rendered into three-dimensional digital models, so detailed that researchers turn to computer vision for image interpretation. When diving within a submersible, one can perceive the deep ocean face-to-face (Levinas, 1985) through a small thick acrylic conical viewport, yet another kind of screen (Richardson, 2010) with a particular kind of ocular distortion. Images, from robotic and human-occupied subsea operations, are screened around the world forming cultural deep ocean imaginaries. Grappling with the epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of these multiple intersecting forms of vision, this presentation examines and evaluates how oceanographers image and imagine the deep ocean, comparing the window of the viewport (what we term “porthole vision”), to computer vision, technological vision enabled by 3D modeling, and the more spectral or spiritual imaginings from Indigenous coastal communities.

Susanne Janssen
Fluid simulation: coding imaginative conceptions of natural phenomena
This academic- and artistic-research project addresses the importance of imaginative and speculative usage of fluid simulation software. Since the 1960s, computer graphics researchers have been concerned with the specific challenge of modelling natural phenomena.(1) The resulting technology of fluid simulation is used for the visualization of splashing waters, whirling fires, smoke, and wind. Structured by its specific goal of achieving hyperrealism, this technology is argued to contain terrestrial-biased ways of knowing that influence our thinking about- and understanding of the natural world. Following Melody Jue’s notion of thinking through seawater, this project argues how simulating phenomena like ocean waves and drifting clouds through a language of computational science enforces an understanding of nature as controlled- and objectively observed by humans positioned outside, instead of embedded within.(2) The academic research addresses how the mathematical concepts used for the control of unpredictable systems, like the weather and financial markets, were adapted into animation software for fluids. Additionally, it questions a conception of physical simulations as realistic representations whilst, following media historian Jordan Gowanlock, this technology, structured by the research agenda of the US military-industrial complex, requires a thinking through the epistemic frame of knowing the world through building models, instead of through methods of recording.(3) The accompanying artistic-research questions the possibilities of imaginative and speculative conceptions of natural phenomena through a technology designed for the prediction and control of the unpredictable. The artistic project is supported by Het Stimuleeringsfonds Creatieve Industrie (Regeling Experiment, December 2023- June 2024).

Sanny Schulte
Animated encounters with oceanic others
Scholars within the realm of Blue Humanities are quite aligned in their approaches to transcend pre-existing oceanic and aquatic narratives to reconceptualize oceanic thinking. Various scholars, such as Lisa Parks, Nicole Starosielski, Melody Jue, Jeremie Brugidou and Clouette Fabien, have introduced diverse approaches for engaging with aquatic spaces, ranging from material and infrastructural analyses to thinking through marine life and anthropic translations into the ocean. This work takes a closer look at oceanic others – existing with, at, or in the ocean – through the lens of animated aquatic eco-cinema (AAEC). Animation, often criticized for its simplicity, holds an inherent ability for abstraction and subversion through its anarchic visual freedoms. Drawing inspiration from Haraway's Staying with the Trouble, this work will examine how thinking through AAEC allows for fostering kinship beyond human boundaries in reimagined environments. It will be shown how AAEC can access multifaceted reconfigurations of oceanic otherness, challenging established power dynamics and rethinking a species- and familial—bound value hierarchy of existence.

Friday 31 May, 15.00 – 16.15
Panel 4: Hydro-infrastructures and Eco-Politics
Anı Ekin Özdemir, Xudong Yang, Marije Nieuwland & Lucas Rinzema, Miriam Matthiessen

Anı Ekin Özdemir
Watery embodiment(s): feeling words and joining the more-than-human lifeways
This presentation will focus on the Marmara Sea as well as my artistic research and practice with it. Its form will be in-between sharing research (facts, questions) and an artistic work (photographs and a long poem). That form already existing in my recent artist-poetry book, Watering, attempts to investigate ways of becoming a body of water and dissolving the separation between beings through water. Watering is a search for that sensitive, reflective, and fragile language through moving around the Marmara Sea and asks, "How does paying attention to our surroundings, to the language, and to the ways we relate might shift our perception? How do we nurture patient and alternative modes of storytelling for joining more-than-human lifeways?" This application idea came with my research proposal for PhD in Arts, which is a proposed program of fieldwork-based research and creative poetic practice informed by eco-and hydro-feminism(s), site-based writing methods, and intersectional climate studies with a particular focus on water bodies, moves from my local and childhood water body in Turkey, the Marmara Sea. Today, the Marmara Sea is decimated by ‘mucilage’, a thick, snotty, algae which causes eutrophication, or the inability for oxygen to persist, killing off other life forms. This eutrophication occurs due to industrial and agricultural forms of violence to this living entity.  In times of climate and biodiversity collapse, the United Nations has named the 3rd decade of the 21st century, the ‘UN Ocean Decade’ in an attempt to bring recognition to the calamitous collapses of vast swathes of planetary water bodies capacities to support life. Deep Sea Mining, overfishing, dumping of nuclear, urban, and agricultural waste, and the unabating increase of greenhouse gases all contribute to our deadening Ocean(s). My practice foregrounds sensitivity and care towards all water bodies through local engagements and aims to attend to Ocean Literacy through embodied investigations, poetic encounters, and creative writing.

Xudong Yang
From Figures of Water to Hydro-Figurations: Mapping the Normaal Amsterdam Peil
This presentation explores the elemental forces in and of waters and their implications by especially revisiting Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP) in the late 19th century as well as its modern material heritage in Amsterdam city. Considering the NAP as a hydro-figuration, the presentation also regards Dutch waters and flows as elemental actants in the infrastructure, thus complicating Dutch waterscapes and pluralizing the water ontologies. NAP provides imagined water levels for infrastructure throughout the kingdom and a reference to the whole of Europe. Situated in elemental encounters of today, I will visit the conjuncture where a stable water level was produced by infrastructure, and where NAP reproduces itself as an infrastructural figuration for contemporary matters of survival. With memories of flood encoded since the Middle Ages, the reconfiguration of Amsterdams Peil into NAP also tells the story of when Amsterdam was cut off from tide yet better integrated into the mercantile network. Nowadays, we plunge in and resurface from imagined and factual rising and falling water levels defined by NAP. In the operations of hydro-figurations, we see more than floods or flooded subjects but also strategies and adaptions, in the webbed relations and agencies of present and future.

Marije Nieuwland and Lucas Rinzema
Water Multiple: Bio-Industrial Currents on the Floating Farm
In Rotterdam, between the cranes and wharfs of Europe's largest seaport, about forty cows live in a small barn on the water. They stand among milk- and manure-collecting robots that buzz continuously. Iron fences separate them from each other and from the narrow, slippery treadway that would otherwise allow them access to a small pasture. A cold ocean wind makes some of the cows shiver visibly. This bleak place takes hold in a plethora of ecological and political currents, from conservatism to climate change. Starting from our own fieldwork and filmmaking at the Floating Farm, this talk explores these often-contradictory currents as they are entangled by watery ecologies and imaginaries. We trace how the material-semiotic presence of water couples rural conservatism to climate solutionism through water-centred Dutch nationalism, and how water-related ecological crises push bio-industry into a novel yet similarly oppressive form. Water emerges in the multiple: as frontier, as abstract space, as ecological threat, as vehicle for nationalism, and as obstruction for cows. In the end, we argue, these currents coalesce to mix ecological thought with older political tendencies, and reify and superiorize a Dutch, human subject at the cost of sharply devaluing the lives of farmed cows.

Miriam Matthiessen
Oceans at Noon: A Navigational Media Archaeology of Shipping Automation
Corporate shipping discourse abounds with imaginaries of an autonomous navigational future free of labour. While much scholarship in critical logistics and logistical media theory focuses on the container as the intermodal medium of global commodity circulation, understanding the politics of shipping automation may require centering ‘quieter’ transmission infrastructures between land and sea. This paper focuses on one such infrastructure – the noon report: a data sheet prepared by a ship’s chief engineer and sent to ship management offices every day at noon. I argue that reading the noon report and sensor data – its automated successor – as media objects embodying labour-management relations reveals the material roots of algorithmic management in contemporary shipping. Solar noon holds a particular place in imperial navigational history as it used to be the only time a ship’s position could be known and recorded. Although ships can now be geolocated 24/7, noon-to-noon intervals remain the standard frequency for recording vessel data, forming the basis for training algorithms used in (semi-)autonomous navigation. Through an approach I term navigational media archaeology, I examine this seemingly anachronistic yet central practice of navigational data collection to situate the automation of shipping in a longer arc of oceanic knowledge production.