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Carl Olsson: Extending the diagonal line / The lure of space after Caillois

Updated: May 21

Sunday, May 26th, at 10 am Pacific Time


UFO Lab Series:

Research Lab: Mimicry and Camouflage

Researchers: Carl Olsson, Agata Szymanek, and Kosmas Giannoutakis

Interactive workshop: Extending the diagonal line / The lure of space after Caillois


Carl Olsson:

Extending the diagonal line / The lure of space after Caillois

What is achieved in scientific and theoretical images that present the human being as integrated in and fully immanent to the rest of Nature? To what histories do post-humanist images that would present their proponents as blended into the world belong, and what tricks are required for their successful deployment?

In this workshop, we will revisit Roger Caillois’ article ‘Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia’ through the lens of his concept of diagonal science. We will extend Caillois’ speculations about a deep-seated temptation to recede into background, evidenced by mimetic and camouflaged insects, into the realm of contemporary materialist theory; drawing a line that connects an experimental choreographer, a praying mantis, and an influential theorist of affect.

By assigning contemporary theories and practices that seek to reintegrate the human being into Nature a place in the long history of automatic expropriation, we will reinterpret some of the core objectives of the past thirty years of continental theory and highlight the transcendental lies that we use to set ourselves apart from the environment. In the process of working through this case study, we will learn about the art of drawing oblique lines between seemingly unrelated phenomena to constitute experimental but rigorous taxonomic systems that can serve as the ground for artistic and philosophical projects.


Caillois, Roger. "Mimicry and legendary psychasthenia." October 31 (1984): 17-32.

Hijikata, Tatsumi. "Wind Daruma." TDR: The Drama Review 44.1 (2000): 71-79.

Stewart, Kathleen. "In the world that affect proposed." Cultural Anthropology 32.2 (2017): 192-198.

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