Several of you have expressed interest in object-oriented ontology, actor-network theory, post-human theory, and related theoretical models that ascribe agency to non-human actors. Right now there’s a conference, “The Non-Human Turn,” taking place at the Center for 21st Century Studies @ University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, that will likely be of interest to you. It includes a few folks we’ve read or referenced this semester. Most, if not all, of the keynotes are available on UStream. Below is Jane Bennett (remember “vibrant matter?”); see also Brian Massumi, Erin Manning, Richard Grusin, Tim Morton, (and on 5/5) Mark Hansen, Ian Bogost, Wendy Chun…
…ncluding a Saturday afternoon panel that’s likely of particular interest to us:
2:00 – 3:45
New Media and Literary Theory
Lydia Liu (Columbia University)
McKenzie Wark (New School)
Timothy C. Campbell (Cornell University)
chair: Emily Apter (New York University)
Has literary theory lost touch with the evolving technology of writing in new media that is rapidly transforming our social life? This panel will reevaluate the goals and tasks of literary theory and raise some fundamental issues about their relevance to today’s world. The panelists will consider, for example, in what ways the unfolding of digital media might make the conditions of its own critique legible or illegible, and to what extent the limits of our understanding are imposed by our writing machines and the minds that have invented such machines.
For more info: Modern Language Initiative
May 4-6, 2012
219 Aaron Burr Hall
In the first issue of the journal Veshch-Objet-Gegenstand, which appeared 90 years ago in Berlin, the avant-gardist El Lissitsky placed the object at the center of the artistic and social concerns of the day: “We have called our review Object because for us art means the creation of new ‘objects.’ … Every organized work—be it a house, a poem or a picture—is an object with a purpose; it is not meant to lead people away from life but to help them to organize it. … Abandon declarations and refutations as soon as possible, make objects!”
Ultimately, only three issues of Veshch-Objet-Gegenstand would be published, but the journal’s project to cultivate object as a primary tool of social organization clearly touched upon broader concerns of its time. At the end of the 1920s, Sergei Tret’iakov, a leading theorist of Russian production art, similarly insisted on abandoning the traditional fascination with individual trials and tribulations and to concentrate instead on the biography of the object that proceeds “through the system of people.” Only such a biography, Tret’iakov maintained, can teach us about “the social significance of an emotion by considering its effect on the object being made.”
Taking the Russian avant-garde’s concern with the material life of emotions as our starting point, the conference brings together an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars working at the intersection between studies of affect and studies of material culture. In the last decade, these two crucial strands of social inquiry have shifted the focus of analytic attention away from the individual or collective subject towards emotional states and material substances. These interests in the affective and the tangible as such have helped to foreground processes, conditions, and phenomena that are relatively autonomous from the individuals or social groups that originally produced them. Thus interrogating traditional notions of subjective agency, various scholars have drawn our attention to “a conative nature” of things (Jane Bennet), to “affective intensities” (Brian Massumi), or to textural perception (Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick) – to name just a few of these interventions – in order to pose questions that fall outside of dominant frameworks for understanding the epistemology of power.
Despite their growing importance, however, these diverse methods and concepts for mapping the emotive biographies of things have not yet been in a direct dialogue with one another. By focusing on the material dimensions of affect and, conversely, the emotional components of object formation, this conference aims to bridge this gap.
May 3-4, 2012
This symposium explores the future potential of the book by engaging practitioners and performers of this versatile technology to ask some key questions: is the book an artifact on its deathbed or a mutable medium transitioning into future forms? What shape will books of the future take? Grounded in this technology’s history, we will reflect critically on possible futures, promises, and challenges of the book, showcasing practices by writers and artists, putting them in conversation with scholars and thinkers from across the disciplines who are framing discourse and questions about book-related technotexts. This symposium hopes to foster a lively discussion where audience members participate and invoke their multiple perspectives of the book.
66 5th Avenue
April 17, 2012
6:30pm to 8:00pm
Focusing on curatorial practices that do not fit neatly within discreet categories of fashion, art and design, the roundtable discusses the process of curation across a variety of platforms and disciplines, from the three-dimensional spaces of the museum and gallery to the pages of magazines from the public sphere to online platforms, and from art to design practices. The panel investigates how the meaning of curation has drastically changed: how the term “curator” went from identifying the keeper of a collection to describing a wider range of activities across a variety of sites. Borrowing W.T. Mitchell’s concept of “indiscipline”—“a moment of breakage or rupture”—it seeks to show how these shifts have occurred across disciplinary boundaries and have questioned such boundaries in the process.
The roundtable participants include Harold Koda, Curator-in-Charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sarah Lawrence, an academic curator and dean of the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons the New School for Design, and Sabrina Gschwandtner a New York based artist, writer and curator. It is chaired by Francesca Granata, Assistant Professor of Fashion Studies, in the School of Art and Design History and Theory.
The event is free and open to the public.
If anyone who is interested in web art, hacked video games, glitch, and custom software, check out this Screening/Conversation event at the Electronic Arts Intermix with JODI at 6:30 PM on April 2nd.
Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
535 West 22nd Street, 5th floor
New York, NY 10011
Admission $ 7.00 / Students $ 5.00
Free for EAI Members
EAI is pleased to present a screening and conversation with JODI that explores their early works. Joined by Michael Connor, guest curator of Street Digital, a forthcoming exhibition devoted to JODI’s work at Museum of the Moving Image, JODI will lead the audience through several early experiments on the Web and on mailing lists, as well as other key works from the mid-1990s to the present. Following the presentation, Cory Arcangel, who describes himself a “MASSIVE fan” of JODI, will speak with the duo about the influence their art has had on a generation of artists engaging with the Internet.
Based in The Netherlands, JODI were among the first artists to investigate and subvert conventions of the Internet, computer programs, and video games. Radically disrupting the very language of these systems, including interfaces, commands, errors and code, JODI stage extreme digital interventions that destabilize the relationship between computer technology and its users. JODI rose to prominence in the mid-1990s as pioneers of “net.art,” a movement that explored the nascent World Wide Web as an alternative exhibition space and a creative medium in its own right.
The discussion will explore the participatory dimension of JODI’s practice. In contrast with the positive emphasis that many artists place on the idea of “activating” the viewer, interaction in JODI’s work is a gleefully disruptive experience that calls our relationship with technology into question.
For more information about JODI’s work, please click here.
Ever since I saw a wine opener turn into a King at a puppet show when I was younger, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of an object’s designed use being momentarily abandoned to turn the object into a character. There is still space left for Thursday’s Object Theater at The Trade School. It relates to ideas around thingness and the relationships that objects have with each other…even though in this case their relationships might be manipulated by a puppeteer! See description below from the Trade School website.
The proposed class is an exploration of the language of performative Object Theater. We will go through a series of exercises and games that will play with storytelling, meaning formation, and see how far we can push objects into metaphoric space until they force us to come back. We will use language, text, fairy tales, and physicalization to explore what kind of connections we can form to the objects we use daily. Please bring objects (as many as you’d like) that you either love, find engaging in any way, or that for some reason stuck to your hand.