Magic, Technic and Matters of Care

Magic, Technic and Matters of Care - an event introduced to the Bidston Observatory Artistic Research Centre by our alumna Kym Ward is ready for a take off. 

Annual General Exchange 2019

31st October - 5th November


Our Annual General Exchange (A.G.E.) is the space of joy we leave clear in the diary every year, a spooky parenthesis between Halloween and Bonfire Night, where the blue glow of protection spells mark out space for practice and exchange. Rather than fixing every minute of the program beforehand, the A.G.E is more of an invitation - an invocation perhaps - calling towards collective resourcing or collective bracing for winter. 


most mornings are preserved for moments of waking, stretching and sharing

some afternoons are filled with seminars, lectures and workshops

a couple of evenings are dedicated moments of fire and wine and dance

there’ll be one annual general meeting about the organisation of the research centre



This year, the proposition is to start by thinking through the cosmogonies of Technic and Magic, and to end by celebrating the soil, thinking through matters of care in compost.


Technic & Magic

Federico Campagna’s latest book, Technic & Magic, invites us to think metaphysics as a literary genre, and to consider the origin narratives which set up different reality systems. Federico will present, over two days, Technic as current hegemonic ordering, which produces a ‘crisis of reality’. The version of reality that is proposed by Technic gives primacy to absolute language and the existence of things becomes solely dependent on linguistic categories. Technic then decrees that if you fall outside of linguistic categories (not female, not trans, not male, not European, no passport, no papers), you become extinct before you die. 

Magic, on the other hand, is that which cannot be included in language, the ineffable. It is the shadow side of Technic, and takes a different form in each society. What is the existential and ontological impact of magic, that allows for vanishing, for occultism for initiation and secrecy: for creating space within & without one’s own historical time? Magic as a practice allows for individuals to reset reality for themselves, at the same time as engaging in wider emancipatory projects. We’ll be looking at magic as a form of therapy and a way of addressing structural inequality.


Matters of Care

Following Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and Susan Leigh Star’s feminist technoscience practices, we’ll be thinking compost and decomposition through the body, working with the located, wormy layer of fibrous matter under our feet. Reading through Matters of Care, by Puig de la Bellacasa, and moving towards her current research, we’ll be considering soil as infrastructure, final resting place and living breathing entity. 

How can we think in terms of appropriate scales: how to make or craft the appropriate scale, rather than borrowing and performing never-ending techno-extensions, whilst working with the fertility and infertility of the land around? In Maria’s own words: ‘Standing by the vital necessity of care means standing for sustainable and flourishing relations, not merely survivalist or instrumental ones.’ 


oh seductive metaphor 

network flung over reality 

filaments spun from the body 

connections of magic 




who will see the spaces between? 

From The Net, S. Leigh Star, 1995 


About A.G.E 

The annual general exchange is the recurring event in the year, programmed by the observatory team. Most other workshops, groupings and gatherings are put together by stayers, whose meetings have different degrees of visibility depending on the research / needs of the group. 

People coming to the AGE are welcome and invited to suggest and set moments for their own practice, to add to, hold-with or give steerage to the proposed thematic. There will be time for this during the loose schedule of the A.G.E. If you’d like to ask questions about this in advance, or would like assistance plotting, please send us a mail. Or, if you’d like to wait and see whether it feels right, that’s also good! Input can take many welcomed forms: workshops, extended conversations, trying out new ideas or working through content. In general – we’re looking to create an atmosphere of attention and experiment, with thoughtful and feelingful critique, which might be slower and more informal than giving a lecture, and as joyous, intense or dreamy as you’d like. 



The maximum number of stayers is 26, and people booking for the whole duration get priority. 

If you would like to participate for the duration, the suggested arrival is on the 31st in the morning, and the last event is on the 5th in the evening, however it is possible to stay longer. 

The nightly fee is as usual, £15 per person, per night.

This event is communal cooking rather than self-catering. Food contribution is £10 per person per day. Please let us know preferences and any allergies when booking.


To reserve a place or for any questions:


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