To Search / Investigations of the Virtual and Material Lives of Objects

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Symposium program This two-day conversation highlights the double lives of objectstheir local, intimate, and concrete quality as they reside in museums and their global, ubiquitous, and permeable virtual representations in digital media. It investigates the structures of knowledge and emergent network systems whose architectures and formal characteristics facilitate our encounters with objects. Despite the growing interest in object-based ontology and the material turn in fields like art history, anthropology, and political science, objects continue to challengeand even defyour desire to tag, interpret, and systematize their form and content.

TRANSCRIPT

  • Notes

    TO SEARCH Investigations of the Virtual and Material Lives of Objects

  • [cover]

    Cornelis Cort The Practice of the Visual Arts (detail), 1578 (engraved 1573) Georgianna Sayles Aldrich Fund.

  • Inroduction

    To Search: Investigations of the Virtual and Material Lives of Objects

    RISD MuseumHaffenreffer Museum of AnthropologyFriday, September 25 and Saturday, September 26, 2015

    How do objects circulate across physical and digital landscapes and how does this movement affect their status? Do we search differently with objects in the humanities and social sciences? How do we discover, attend to, and channel the network of ideas they help generate?

    This two-day conversation highlights the double lives of objectstheir local, intimate, and concrete quality as they reside in museums and their global, ubiquitous, and permeable virtual representations in digital media. It investigates the structures of knowledge and emergent network systems whose architectures and formal charac-teristics facilitate our encounters with objects. Despite the growing interest in object-based ontology and the material turn in fields like art history, anthropology, and political science, objects continue to challengeand even defyour desire to tag, interpret, and system-atize their form and content.

    We will investigate these issues through facilitated conversations, creative examinations, and other exploratory engagements.

    This program is made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is part of a collaboration between the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University and the RISD Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design focusing on the new and evolving field of object-based teaching and research.

  • FRIDAY

    12:30 pm: Session 1

    Double Takewith Holly Hughes and Marc Redfield / Lower Farago Gallery Explore a single object from two disciplinary perspectives.

    Object Lessonwith Kate Irvin and Kevin Smith, moderated by Ijlal Muzaffar / Danforth Hall Examine the disciplinary treatment of objects.

    Drawing Perspectives with Nicholas Carter and Amy Leidtke / Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University* Practice observational and mark-making skills as used in the studio and the field.

    3-4:30 pm: Session 2

    Double Takewith Bethany Johns and Graham Oliver / Ancient Greek & Roman Galleries Explore a single object from two disciplinary perspectives.

    Object Lessonwith Kate Irvin and Thierry Gentis, moderated by Steve Lubar / Danforth Hall Examine the disciplinary treatment of objects.

    Drawing Perspectiveswith Leslie Hirst / Medieval Galleries Practice observational and mark-making skills as used in the studio and the field.

    5-6:45 pm

    Critical Encounterswith David Joselit and Rosemary Joyce, moderated by Jane South / Metcalf Auditorium

    6:45-8 pm

    Cocktail reception / Grand Gallery withWorks in Processby Clement Valla, David Kim, Mikhail Mansion, and Maralie Armstrong Artists and designers share the object-based roots of their work from performance to experience design.

  • Schedule

    SATURDAY

    10 am: Coffee / Chace Lobby

    10:30 am12 pm: Session 3

    Teachers Lounge with Julie Golia / Siskind Center A forum to explore the pedagogy of primary sources.

    The Work of Art in the Age of Codewith Clement Valla, David Kim, Mikhael Mansion, and Maralie Armstrong / Grand Gallery Examine how technology materializes and dematerializes the object.

    Sleuths and Fiction: How to Bring Museum Objects Back to Lifewith Brian Markovitz and Emily Avera / Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University* Emily and Bryan talk about their efforts to reanimate obscure objects by replicating them across a historicized spectrum of truth and fiction.

    121 pm

    Lunch break

    13 pm

    Critical Encounterswith Ivan Gaskell and R. H. Quaytman, moderated by Vazira Zamindar / Metcalf Auditorium

    *

    Visit risdmuseum.org/tosearch to follow the conversation, find nearby lunch spots, access materials written by contributors, and explore documentation after the symposium concludes.

    Waterman St.

    Brown University

    Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

    RISD Museum

    Prospect St.

    N. M

    ain St.

    Benefit St.

    College St.

  • Contributors:

    Maralie Armstrongs multi-mediated works emphasize the evolution of spiritual and emotional expression via technology and seduces poetics from human-machine interaction. Her research probes the multifaceted interrelationships of gender and spirituality as well as appropriate and appropriated use of technologies throughout time. Seer sees the unseen and sings Hosanna! Her work includes performance, sculpture, photography, video, and sound. As a performer/vocalist/dancer, Maralie has toured more than a dozen countries with the projects Valise (solo), Humanbeast, Assembly of Light, Tem Eyos Ki, Bloodhuff, and Soophie Nun Squad. Her collaborations in choreography and dance have been seen in a Nick Cave Soundsuit performance, Bonedusts Fruit of the Ash, and in Hana van der Kolks The Third Thing. Maralies work has also been featured in Vice Magazine, The Fader, and RISD Museums Manual online, among other publications. She is currently teaching in RISDs Experimental and Foundation Studies program.

    Emily Avera has a longstanding research interest in the social aspects of transfusion and transplant medicine, with particular attention to inequality and race, and a regional focus on South Africa. Emily is currently a third-year PhD student at Brown University, in the Department of Anthropology. She is also affiliated with Browns Program in Science and Technology Studies and is a fellow in the Graduate Program in Development at the Watson Institute for International Studies. She holds an AM in Anthropology from Brown University, a MA in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology from Leiden University, a MPhil in Diversity Studies from the University of Cape Town, and a BA in Politics from Pomona College.

    Gina Borromeo is the curator of ancient art at the RISD Museum, where she oversees the collection of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art. Trained as an art historian, she has also participated in several archaeological excavations in Greece, Israel, Italy, and Turkey. Her research interests include ancient sculpture, the processes of making objects in antiquity, and cultural property.

    Nicholas Carter is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in the complex societies of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, with particular interests in ancient geopolitical dynamics and the writing systems of the Maya lowlands and Oaxaca. He completed his masters degree in Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. at Brown University in 2014, where his dissertation explored trends in Maya elite self-representation amid the demographic collapse at the end of the Classic period. As a Fellow with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, he is working with an archival collection of photographs belonging to the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.

  • Contributors

    Sarah Ganz Blythe is deputy director for exhibitions, education, and programs at the RISD Museum. She collaborates with scholars, artists, and designers to realize exhibitions, programs, and publications. Her current work focuses on exhibition culture, landscape and exploration, pedagogy, and interpretation practices. She was previously Director of Interpretation and Research at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She teaches in the graduate programs of RISD and Brown University. Her PhD in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University focused on painting and utopianism at the close of the nineteenth century.

    Ivan Gaskell is professor of cultural history and museum studies at the Bard Graduate Center. Working on the philosophical plane of second order questioning, he mobilizes material culture to address intersections among history, art history, anthropology, and philosophy. His case studies range from seventeenth-century Dutch paintings, to Roman baroque sculpture, Native American baskets, and Congo textiles. Gaskell is responsible for twelve books, and has contributed to numerous journals and edited volumes in history, art history, and philosophy. His most recent book, with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Sara Schechner, and Sarah Anne Carter, is Tangible Things: Making History through Objects (2015).

    Julia Golia, director of public history at Brooklyn Historical Society, received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. Currently Golia leads the curatorial team for Waterfront, a long-term exhibition to be housed in BHSs new satellite museum opening in 2016. She has also led BHSs digital projects including An American Family Grows in Brooklyn: The Lefferts Family Papers, and Brooklyn Waterfront History. From 2011 to 2014, she co-directed Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA), which introduced document analysis to over 1,100 college students. She is the co-creator and editor of TeachArchives.org, a robust educational website that brings innovative teaching exercises and articles on pedagogy to a national audience.

    Thierry Gentis is the curator of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and an assistant in the museum studies courses at Brown University. He works with Brown University students in museum exhibit development. He also provides faculty with the opportunity to work with museum objects in their courses by leading classes at Manning Hall or at the museums research center in Bristol and creating course-related object dis