Rare Earth
Nadim Samman & Boris Ondreicka (eds.)
Publisher: Sternberg Press / Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
ISBN: 978-3-95679-144-4
197 pages

Texts by Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Iain Ball, Erick Beltrán, Jane Bennett, Benjamin H. Bratton, Erik Davis, Mircea Eliade, John Durham Peters & Paul Feigelfeld, The Otolith Group, Boris Groys, Marguerite Humeau, Boris Ondreička, Jussi Parikka, Matteo Pasquinelli, Nadim Samman, Timothy Morton & Emilija Skarnulyte, Charles Stankievech

Rare Earth is an attempt to define the spirit of an age. Exploring how today’s myths, identities, and cosmologies relate to current advances in technology—through reference to the material basis to our most developed weapons and tools; a class of seventeen rare earth elements from the periodic table—Rare Earth challenges the rhetoric of immateriality associated with our hypermodern condition.

Rare earth elements are the game-changing foundation of our most powerful innovations, are fundamental to contemporary accoutrements such as mobile phones, iPods and iPads, liquid crystal displays, LEDs, light bulbs, CDs and DVDs. Often described as conflict materials due to the limited number of easily accessible mines, they are also integral to weapon systems used for cyber-warfare, medical technologies (including MRI scanning equipment), hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, and other green energy applications. Consequently, rare earth elements play an increasing role in global affairs and power inventions that facilitate our changing self-image—giving birth to today’s emergent myths and identities.

Rare Earth grounds our strange, seemingly weightless cultural moment. While we may design our technologies, these tools and weapons shape us in turn. It may seem that we dream the contemporary into existence, but perhaps rare earth elements are dreaming through us. After the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, this is the age of Rare Earth.

Co-published with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna on the occasion of the exhibition “Rare Earth,” February 19–May 31, 2015, with works by Iain Ball, Erick Beltrán, Julian Charriere, Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Camille Henrot, Roger Hiorns, Marguerite Humeau, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Oliver Laric, Ursula Mayer, The Otolith Group, Katie Paterson, Charles Stankievech, Suzanne Treister, Ai Weiwei, Guan Xiao, Arseniy Zhilyaev.


Rare Earth
Nadim Samman

Litany on Aether
Boris Ondreicka

Alchemy & Temporality
Mircea Eliade

Secret Earths
Erik Davis

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen

The Object Spoke to Me But What it Said I Cannot Say
The Otolith Group

Magnetic Anomalies in the Arctic Colonial Resourse Extraction, Meteoric Cults and the Age of Rare Earth
Charles Stankievech

Not Apollo but Vulcan is the God of Cyberspace
John Durham Peters & Paul Feigelfeld

Yttrium Hypnosis
Timothy Morton & Emilija Skarnulyte

Of Sympathies Alchemical & Poetic
Jane Bennett

Earth Volumes, Operationalized
Jussi Parikka

On the Earth Layer: Governance of/with Computational Models of/for Comparative Planetary Computation
Benjamin Bratton

Energy Pangea
Iain Ball

Marguerite Humeau

On the Exogenesis of Life: Matter, Information and the Riddle of the Negative Entropy
Matteo Pasquinelli

Direct Realism
Boris Groys