What would a conversation with a piece of asbestos, or a piece of plastic stranded on the shore of the Schuylkill River be like? And how could a conversation transpire, between things and researchers and other things, if they landed in the same place and found for themselves a common language? Imprinted by Philadelphia’s singular industrial and technological history, the soils, water systems, and infrastructures of the Delaware Valley tell a story of the Anthropocene, the contentious and debated terminology for this “new” and anthropocentric geological era in which human activities have forever altered Earth’s ecosystems.
For the Anthropocene Campus Philadelphia (ACP), continent. attempts to listen to the material utterances of sites that voice intertwined economic, technological, and political histories of “The Athens of America”, a city, a factory, a riverbed, a valley, an escarpment. Collaborating with researchers, activists, scientists and student groups, continent. conducts a set of field walks and discussions that gather objects, samples, sounds, stories, soundscapes and conversations. We might visit former asbestos production areas at Ambler, may call on the developments around Philly’s harbour and waterfront developments, checking out conditions along the Schuylkill River and will perchance examine archives at the Academy of Natural Sciences, amongst other areas of interest.
Brought to the APC to constitute an anthropocenic evidence locker, a sample table for the technosphere, these artifacts will provide material interfaces and witnesses in the institutional ecosystem of the campus. Inviting so-called human and linguistic beings to think with and through these collected materials, continent. will issue a series of recorded audio interviews, subject and objects in discussion: Fieldtalks is a continent. podcast at the Anthropocene Campus Philadelphia.