Seven Objections Against Landing on Earth

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"Seven Objections Against Landing on Earth” Introduction to the book Critical Zones — The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth (a volume prepared at the occasion of the exhibition Critical Zones — Observatories for Earthly Politics, ZKM, May-October 2020, MIT Press 2020


— “Landing on Earth? Why would anyone attempt to land there? Are we not already on Earth?”
Well, not quite! And that’s the circumstance this book tries to present to the inquiring reader: it seems that there has been in the past some misinterpretation over what it means to be earthly. If you believe it means “practical”, “mundane”, “secular”, “material” or even “materialist”, you’re in for a surprise.
If members of modern industrial societies prided themselves on being “down to earth”, “rational”, “objective” and above all “realist”, they seem to suddenly discover that they need an Earth to continue to live — and live well. Should they not have carefully surveyed the span, size and location of the very land inside which they were supposed to reside and spread? Is not surveying and mapping what they had been doing when they engaged for centuries in what they still celebrate as the “age of great discoveries”? How odd that, after having assembled so many maps of so many foreign lands, collating so many views from so many landscapes, drawing so many versions of what they called “the Globe”, they now appear taken aback by the novelty of this newly emerging Earth? Of all people, should they not have been the best prepared for such a discovery?