DE\GLOBALIZE (2018-20)

Agential cuts through Critical Zones in Science and other Sediments – Kabini, Nile and Rhine

Living beings and things viewed by the lens of wild topologies. An artistic research about how to de-globalize the global focusing on the near surface environment in India, Egypt and Germany.

»The global evokes the notion of a totality as a whole, in an indistinct integrality. While mondialisation would rather evoke an expanding process throughout the expanse of the world of human beings, cultures and nations. Mondialisation gives a different indication than of an enclosure in the undifferentiated sphere of a unitotatality.«
Jean Luc Nancy, Note on the Untranslatable Mondialisation (2004)

DE\GLOBALIZE is a search movement for the TERRESTRIAL – using the transdisziplinary concept of the Critical Zone (CZ) – the skin layer around the earth in which complex interactions involving soil, water, air, plants and living organisms regulate the natural habitat. In this zone highly complex transformational processes the conditions for all terrestrial life.

Through the CZ the earth displays its agency relevant to humans. The media ecological approach DE\GLOBALIZE is an ethnographic stroll about climate change, conceptualized by Daniel Fetzner and Martin Dornberg in the context of a two year seminar with Bruno Latour at the Center for Arts and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe.

The artistic research is re-negotiating the grammar of space, borders, scale and raises questions of visibility and display in order to DE/GLOBALIZE the notion of "the global". It is thereby focussing on three key questions:

  1. How to think, medialize, fold and answer* the earth in a de-globalized topology?
  2. How to think meshworks, alterities, entanglements and relational references in the parasitocene?
  3. How to narrate critical zonings in transmedial, improvisational, ptolemaic, cuts?

DE\GLOBALIZE started in India in 2018 and will be continued with further agential cuts through critical zones in Egypt 2019 and the Upper Rhine valley in 2020. It can be considered as a search movement for the terrestrial (Latour 2018). The research is thereby focusing on anthropogenic transformations, social insects, animal-human relationships, affective intervals, 360° stereographic projections, complexity, non-linear improvisations, matters of concern/matters of care, soil and parasitology. In our research we assume no big system but thousand plateaus of little neighbourhoods.

The results are ongoing documented at as a transmedial meshwork. The research is a collaboration among Offenburg University, Freiburg University, the Indian Institute of Science, Srishti Institute for Art Design and Technology Bangalore, the German University in Cairo and INSA Strasbourg.


»Termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss art goes always forward eating its own boundaries, and, like as not, leaves nothing in its path other than the signs of eager, industrious, unkempt activity.«
Manny Farber, White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art (1962)

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore is a cutting-edge research spot in science, engineering and the Indian space industry, initiated in 1909 by the steel magnate Jamsetji Tata.

The first agential cut of DE\GLOBALIZE is opening a CRITICAL SCIENCING ZONE, hosted by the biologist Raghavendra Gadagkar at at the Center for Contemporary Studies (CCS). The CCS is dedicated to interdisciplinary research in the field of social insects which was already subject of the artistic research BUZZ (2014) about the human-animal relationship. The CRITICAL SCIENCING ZONE understands itself as continuation of the Earth Works by Robert Smithson as "Termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss art," as Manny Farber categorized in 1962.

The CRITICAL SCIENCING ZONE is realized in cooperation with the Center for Ecological Sciences and consists of two main agential cuts:

1. PHASE I: Parasitic Workshop and Interviews March 2018 at CCS/IIScIn March 2018 interviews with biologists and experts in the field of the critical zone together with a participatory workshop set the first cut.

2. CRITICAL EARTH LAB: This is followed in July 2018 by an artistic intervention, setting up a critical earth lab during the monsoon. The second cut is located in between the CCS and the neighbouring Open-Circuit Wind Tunnel, designed 1959 by the German architect Otto Königsburger. The transitional zone between humanities and aerospace engineering is meanwhile overgrown by a small rain forest, generating a critical sciencing zone in itself.


Fetzner/Dornberg Artistic Research
Ephraim Wegner Sound and Programing
Adrian Schwartz and Josua Krüger, Film Students Offenburg University
Dr. Vasanthi Mariadass Film Theorist, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology
Prof. Raghavendra Gadagkar Biologist, Centre for Ecological Sciences
Dr. Souvik Mandal Biologist. CES at IISc
Dr. Anindita Brahma Biologist. CES at IISc
Ponanna Biologist. CES at IISc
Prof. Sekhar Muddu Environmental Engineer. Head of the Kabini Critical Zone Observatory
Dr. Pascal Jouquet Soil Ecologist. IFCWS, Indo-French Cell at IISc
Dr. Laurent Ruiz Hydrologist. IFCWS, Indo-French Cell at IISc

2. NILE DELTA (2019)

Field Study planned for early 2019 in cooperation with the architectural department of the German University in Cairo (GUC).

3. UPPER RHINE (2019/20)

Field Study planned in cooperation with industrial partners in the Upper Rhine Valley


Daniel Fetzner (*1966), Media Artist and Media Scientist. Professor for Design and Artistic Research at Hochschule Offenburg, Lecturer at Freiburg University and Head of the Media Ecology Lab. Research interest in translocal relations, site specific interventions, media ethnographic explorations and new materialism.

Martin Dornberg, MD, PhD (*1959) is a philosopher and researcher/medical practitioner in the field of psychosomatics and psychotherapy, since 1989 Lecturer at the Philosophy Department and the Centre of Anthropology and Gender Studies (ZAG) at Freiburg University. Martin´s contribution to the project is a philosophical and anthropological, ethnographic and transmedial, also transdisciplinary reflection and “diffraction” of the project and its multilayered actants (themes, subjects, objects, methods, concepts, processes, matters). We understand diffraction patterns, “as patterns of difference that make a difference to be the fundamental constituents that make up the world” (Barad, 2007, p.72). Reflection/diffraction tries to realize more difference-attentive modes of behaviour, thought, life(s), matter(s) and alterity. They approach differences as making a difference in terms of both genealogy and figurative conceptualization, of matter coming to matter and of life coming to life. This comprises permanent crossmedial and crosssectoral trans-lations/trans-missions between multiple ecologies, between theory and practice and between matters of fact, matters of concern and matters of care.

Fetzner/Dornberg/Wegner are practicing artistic research projects which entangle anthropological, philosophical and medial perspectives. These theoretical and practical enfoldings result in experimental systems and their performative reflection, in order to produce new aesthetic constellations and transitional zones of thinking. With BUZZ (2014/15) Fetzner/Dornberg and Wegner dealt with the dichotonomy of human/animal, with the project WASTELAND (2016/18 ) they question the binarity of human/matter in relationship with waste.


Ephraim Wegner (*1980) obtained his master degree in audiovisual media at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM) in 2013. Since 2014 he is working as research assistant with Daniel Fetzner at the Media Ecology Lab at Hochschule Offenburg. Wegner has a keen interest in the sonification of complex systems and is using various computer languages (like Csound, Pure Data and Processing) to combine different forms of digital audio synthesis and generative art focusing on multidisciplinary approaches and concepts. He is scholarship holder from Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg. Ephraim will focus on reconstructing particular sounds by an closer view on the underlaying physical model. Synthesis methods, mainly based on simple arithmetics, allow us to sonify the basic material. By this approach we can explore if the artificial models serve for different lifeforms (animals, humans and aliens) to react on and in which way. Furthermore it can be seen as an artistic work that ranges from analyzation, reconstruction, replacement of the "natural" sound source in any environment to an improvised musical work presented in the experimental framework of the project.


The interactive documentation of DE\GLOBALIZE is part of the BMBF-research project Gendering MINT
Stefan Salm and Zaid Ghasib, Offenburg University
Marion Mangelsdorf and Simon Schwab, Freiburg University

INSIDE – A lecture-performance by Bruno Latour about the Critical Zone and "La Region centrale" (Michael Snow, 1971)

A cooperation between the artistic research group mbody, Offenburg University, Freiburg University and the Indian Institute of Science IISc, Bangalore.

Kindly supported by

© Fetzner/Dornberg 2018