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The Whole Earth: In Conversation with Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke


“The Whole Earth,” whose first iteration can be seen at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, is a project by Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke that takes as its point of departure the Whole Earth Catalog by Stewart Brand. In 1966, Brand initiated a campaign for the release of satellite images of earth that he believed NASA possessed, and which he felt would be a powerful icon for the notion of a shared human experience and destiny. One such image graced the cover of the catalog and came to be know as the Blue Marble; it showed the earth as a glowing blue and white globe against a pitch-black background. Brand was also instrumental in bridging the gap between traditionally opposing social groups, like the military—responsible for the space program—and the budding ecological movement. He also forged an alliance between the California counterculture and the emerging fields of cybernetics, computer science, and information technology.

Following in the footsteps of “The Family of Man,” the Whole Earth Catalog testified to the kinship of Mankind, transcending all borders and class distinctions. But the image of the blue planet had a dark side. The Whole Earth Catalog was also used as a tool for anti-Soviet propaganda and gave rise to the lifestyle industry. The California dream was a weak utopia that simply denied political difference and substituted feedback for dialectics. Cybernetics—which had been briefly outlawed under Stalin for conflicting with Marxism-Leninism—extended the presuppositions of thermodynamics to evolutionary biology, neuroscience, anthropology, and psychology. Thermodynamic systems are not subject to dialectical tensions. Nor do they experience historical change. They only accumulate a remainder—a kind of refuse—or increase in entropy. In the 1960s, this refuse surfaced as the Manson Family. At present, the rejects of globalization remain the subject of the global war on terror.

—Ana Texeira Pinto

Read the full article here.