Imaginations invent worlds by constructing realities based on ways of seeing and sensing that draw upon particular socioeconomic and cultural contexts, material and ecological terrains, ideological and physical infrastructures, and technical and artistic languages. The spatial conundrums of the contemporary moment - societies in need of development and policing, cities in need of regulation and futureproofing, artistic inquiry in need of increasingly standardized conventions and algorithmic intelligence etc. - are shaped from ways of imagining worlds that sketch extreme ends of a future, either dystopian or utopian. The forest, for a long time, has literally and analogically stood as a space par excellence of such spatial conundrums. It has been widely considered, so to speak, as a frontier of wilderness to be tamed and regulated, and even as a wasteland to be made productive and civilized.
Imagined otherwise, the forest compels vision to suspend the itinerary of a straight line, demands attention of the senses to temporality and impermanence, embraces complexity and uncertainty, seeks to invent kin between species, recognizes mutual learning, and calls for another ethics of care and justice. In other words, the forest offers an invitation to embark on ontological, cybernetic and epistemological excursions that present a potential to move beyond the widespread orthography-cognition, nature-culture, center-periphery and global-local dualisms in spatial imaginations. How could analogies of forests thus come to offer imaginative methodologies to invent worlds in the face of, and against the grain of, contemporary spatial conundrums?
We delve in the Forests of Imaginations through five conversations in this symposium that animate provocations about ways of engaging with urban contradictions, the many cognitive measures of form and space, infrastructures and learning environments, errors and glitches into algorithmic intelligence, and sociopolitical ecosystems.