(University of Leicester)
Paper short abstract:
Chemical futures is the becoming chemistry of life and the becoming ecological of chemical practice: how matter and the living emerge through chemical experimentation. And the equation chemistry + ecology = x can be solved in many different ways.
Paper long abstract:
This paper investigates the becoming chemistry of life and the becoming ecological of chemical practice. The equation chemistry + ecology = x can be solved in many different ways. / Toxins, semiochemicals, interaction and the environment inscribed on the biomolecular level. Here x = chemical ecologies. In epigenetic research in humans, for example, different aspects of the environment (such as stress, social adversity, care) are considered cues instigating the biochemical changes that regulate the genome and suppress or promote gene transcription. Chemicals as signals, as organising devices, environmental conditions as biochemical events. / Reversing chemical ecology allows to solve for x in a different way. x = ecological chemistry. The release of manufactured chemicals: eutrophication, acidity, environmental persistence and, of course, global warming. The proliferation of novel bonds, traces, planetary circuits of pollution. The afterlife of a chemical when it is worlded. / Chemical pressures on the environment have mobilised research on waste-free, non-toxic, low impact compounds. x = green chemistry, driven equally by finance and entrepreneurship as well as policy and the popular imaginary of catastrophe: speculating on the valuation of green chemical futures as a way to balance the frenetic intoxication of Gaia through extraction and synthesis. / In chemical futures chemical practice itself becomes dispersed: the distributed invention power of amateur scientists, indigenous knowledge practitioners, clandestine chemists, DIY biochemists, remediation ecologists, biodegradable designs, underground labs, interspecies collaborations, community technoscience… Entheogens and healing compounds, ethnobotanical knowledges and kitchen chemistries. Here x = chemical alter-ontologies.