Rolien Hoyng: Models of the climate crisis: the quantitative and the speculative

May 7 2024 | 13:00 GMT


A climate model in climate science is a proxy that does the work of standing in. It replaces the overwhelming complexity of the climate that can only be apprehended via a synoptic form, an abstraction. Yet the proxological role the model aspires to requires negotiating manifestations of agencies that for Stengers invoke the name of Gaia and to which Clark and Szerszynski respond with the idea of planetary multiplicity: a restless planet that is “self-incompatible,” “out of step” with itself, and “self-differentiating.” I am especially interested in how models of the Anthropocene that travel beyond science coalesce the quantitative and the speculative. Remarkably, while inscribed with indeterminacy, models, in their contemporary digital-algorithmic form, are the cornerstones of data-driven, quantified rationalities and numerical precision. Indeed, uncertainty and indeterminacy do not undermine the use of models but open up various possibilities and politics. Considering differential and situated experiences of these dynamics raises political and ethical questions over climate justice.

Rolien Hoyng is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University, UK. Her research addresses the cultural and political implications of digital infrastructures and data-centric technologies in particular contexts of practice, including smart cities, waste, and ecology. Currently, she is working on the role of digital models as uncertain mediations of the climate crisis. Her fieldwork sites reside in Turkey, China, and Europe.

The talk is part of CIIP Speaker Series organised in collaboration with MA Fine Art and MA GMM in the Department of Art and Media Technology, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.