Fellow 2018/2019

Lukáš Likavčan

Lukáš Likavčan is a researcher and theorist. Originally trained as a philosopher, he elaborates on topics of philosophy of technology, political ecology, and media theory. Oscillating between academic practice and a broad zone in between art and design, he focuses on infrastructural conditions of subjectivity, abstraction, and imagination. Likavčan studied philosophy and environmental humanities at Masaryk University, Brno, and sociology at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. As a researcher, he was based at Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, and Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. He has also engaged in several artistic and design collaborations, such as agent-based simulation alt’ai, http://altai.id, and he is a member of Collective for Ending Human Overspecialization.

Fellowship Research Trajectory

The project A Color of the Abstract is situated in a larger research field about technologies of abstraction, meaning an investigation into the infrastructures that facilitate regimes of abstraction in socio-economic history. The philosophical rationale of this project lies in fundamental propositions about essential sociality of subjectivity and reason. Drawing on philosopher Karl Marx, it is possible to identify historical, spatial, and material constraints of subjectivity. Material embeddedness of rational processes turns abstraction into a political problem since technologies of abstraction shape material reality and thus influence the scope of possible political interventions.

Since the fossil fuel industry is one of the most obvious drivers of ecological emergency in the Anthropocene, to trace the beginnings of this long process of abstraction is crucial to understanding how to manoeuver space for transitions to post-capitalist future(s). This research thinks about technologies of abstraction qua fossil fuels through the story of synthetic dyes. New colors have been invented, never occurred before in nature, and in the form of toxic waste associated with production of chemical substances, humans have also colored rivers in the gradients of red, green, and blue. They stand as arch-metaphors of capitalist abstraction enabled by fossil fuels.