Tag: Art

Pockets: Reflections on the Anthropocene Campus Melbourne

Preface: this is the first in a series of posts by scholars who attended the Anthropocene Campus Melbourne, an event hosted in September by Deakin University as part of the larger Anthropocene Curriculum project. Over the four days of the Campus, 110 participants from 49 universities (plus several art institutions and museums) attended keynotes, art exhibits, fieldtrips, and workshops based around the theme of ‘the elemental’. In hindsight, the Anthropocene Campus Melbourne can be understood as a four-day attempt at bringing the Anthropocene, that curious container of hyperobjects, to our senses through the elemental. Lying far beyond our abilities of representation and resolution, hyperobjects are omnipresent objects or processes that permeate our lives, gripping us with and into their “always-already” (Morton 2013). Though abstract and planetary in scale, hyperobjects sometimes ooze into our fields of perception and lend parts of themselves to the senses. In what follows, I want to (read more...)

Art, neuroscience and ethnography

Neuroscience The brain is a wild and wonderful thing. Even in a damaged, broken, or diseased state, it performs wonders. Oliver Sacks, neurologist and prolific writer, knew this and he wrote a series of books that documented the inner machinations of injured minds. These are detailed clinical studies of patients, documenting the unusual and often unimaginable. Many of these conditions are extraordinarily rare, drawn from only one or two documented cases. Oliver Sacks collected these clinical case studies, presenting them to his readers like some sort of text-based museum of the absurd. Almost ethnographic stories. Many of his patient accounts are studies in imagination, delusion, sensory, and memory – a ‘frenzied confabulatory delirium’ (Sacks 1998: 109), ‘kaleidoscopic mutations’ (108), ‘sensory ghosts’ (66), and an 88-year-old woman living with neuro-syphilis who preferred the state of ‘mania’ (103). His stories speak of the visceral of the injured mind – sensitivities, time slippage, pain, (read more...)

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: A Conversation with Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Walter Benjamin’s well-known piece the “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” has long been a canonical essay on the role art plays in the age of automation. Benjamin saw art both as fueled and altered by mechanization. In a conversation with artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg, a partial transcript of which follows below, the role of art in the age of digital reproduction, to paraphrase Benjamin, emerged as a critical theme. Heather’s work, which spans over a decade, is a complex meditation on the contemporary experience of widening digitization. Her work Stranger Visions is perhaps the best known: a project where she reconstructs faces from DNA left on refuse she’s found on the street – a chewed up piece of gum, a stray piece of hair, a lip stain on a glass – into voluptuous, three dimensional portraits. During our conversation, we talked about the creative and the intellectual (read more...)