All posts filed under: Dialogues

sub-stack protocols: digital borders and coloniality

by Nolan Dennis Introduction. This paper serves as a sketch for an experimental political cartography of stack-world. A world inscribed by planetary-scale computational infrastructure in which telecommunication network infrastructure is overlaid directly on a neo-colonial meta-infrastructure of an equal scale. This paper explores the notion of borders and borderization through the implications of what Benjamin Bratton describes as the the dramatic re-inscription and reinforcement “of state sovereignty and supervision over information flows” within a globalized computational infrastructure.1 This idea of state supervision is parsed through an expanded notion of borders, in which zones of control are articulated as a form of representation and informationalization of bodies. This paper looks at the ways in which these data-bodies form a techno-political apparatus of governance which is contiguous and continuous with colonial and racist techniques of control across time and place. Reading this techno-social apparatus through Bratton’s description of the dynamic between the archaic and the emergent, this paper explores correspondence of these protocols to what Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe describes in post-colonial Africa as “[how] social-actors continued to …

Call For Papers: Issue 28, Contending with Crisis

For its twenty-eighth issue, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture invites scholarly articles and creative works that address the complex and multiple meanings of contending with crisis. Defined by the global uncertainty of a world afflicted by varied and ambiguously interrelated states of emergency, the present can be seen as a critical historical conjuncture characterized by crisis. In the context of its worldwide occurrence, crisis refers irreducibly to a multitude of circumstances, events, and thematizations: military conflict, debt crises, issues of political representation, the mass migration and displacement of refugees, increasing ecological disruptions. Such ruptures in the social demand constant attention from individuals and communities, constituting a need for committed artististic and scholarly engagements with questions of what it means to be in crisis and how to deal with it. Following Lauren Berlant’s understanding of crisis as “an emergency in the reproduction of life, a transition that has not found its genres for moving on,” we encourage authors to contemplate the fluidity/liminality of crisis, exploring both its emancipatory and repressive potentials. As an …

Before Pictures: An interview with Douglas Crimp

Douglas Crimp is an art critic and the Fanny Knapp Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol, On the Museum’s Ruins, and AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism. Crimp was the curator of the landmark Pictures exhibition at Artists Space in 1977. He is widely known for his work with the “Pictures Generation” and his influence is extensively recognized in a varied range of disciplines such as art history and criticism, LGBTQ studies, political activism, and dance studies. Part autobiography and part cultural history, Crimp’s latest book Before Pictures, offers a moving and intimate account of his experience as a young queer man and aspiring art critic in the late ’60s and ’70s in New York. Douglas Crimp remains a formative figure in the Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Program at the University of Rochester, at which InVisible Culture is based. The following interview with the Managing Editor of InVisible …

Call For Papers: Issue 27, Speculative Visions

For its twenty-seventh issue, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture invites scholarly articles and creative works that address the complex and multiple meanings of speculative visions. The last decade has seen a rise in popularity among science fiction, fantasy, and horror. These genres encourage the capacity to imagine post-human bodies, extraordinary worlds, techno-utopias, and claustrophobic spaces of violence. In their reliance upon the imagination, these speculative visions provide a space to consider contradictions and a carnivalesque interaction between popular culture and critical theory. For Issue 27, we would like contributors to consider a range of questions produced by both historical and contemporary science fiction, fantasy, and horror across all visual media. How are objects transcribed and/or adapted from one medium to another? How do the limitations and possibilities of a medium structure works? How have these genres endured over time beyond their originary forms? How have technological advances altered the literalization of these imagined worlds? We welcome papers and artworks that further the various understandings of speculative visions. Please send completed papers (with …

(In)Visibility: Film Series at the Dryden Theatre

This fall, InVisible Culture proudly publishes its 25th issue, Security and Visibility, which considers the relationship between surveillance and the visual arts. In honor of this milestone, members of InVisible Culture‘s Editorial Board are working in collaboration with Jurij Meden, Curator of Film Exhibitions at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY and Tara Najd Ahmadi, University of Rochester Fellow at the George Eastman Museum, to present a film series that expands Issue 25’s theme into a cinematic register. The act of looking inherently structures the relation between the spectator and the viewed subject in dynamic terms. Traditionally, the viewer is understood to occupy a position of control over the subject of his or her gaze. This series, titled (In)Visibility, highlights the complexities of this association: what happens when the observer becomes vulnerable, and how can the observed find power in being watched? Set in a variety of locations, from the fashion world of 1970s New York City to an angel-occupied 1980s West Berlin to a contemporary militarized zone in Afghanistan, these films reveal the precarious nature of viewing, and remind …

Lynching 2.0

The video found on the website of The Guardian, has a “tag” of Eric Garner’s name right above the full title: “‘I can’t breathe’: Eric Garner put in chokehold by NYPD officer – video.” The British newspaper’s logo sits in the top right corner of the video frame, while in the bottom is another designation: “Daily News.” These watermarks, proprietary claims on the video and its contents remain throughout the whole of the two minutes and forty-eight seconds video – not so subtle reminders of who owns this particular iteration of this specific event. There’s a title card disclaimer: “Warning: contains distressing images,” just before the video starts. The video itself is relatively low resolution – there is none of the crispness of high definition capture – and shot in portrait rather than wide-screen landscape, leaving the video itself to be columned by two large black empty spaces. The first sounds beyond the hiss of background noise consist of two voices – one diegetic (Eric Garner) and one non-diegetic – saying almost simultaneously “I aint do …

Representing Anti-Vaccination: From James Gillray to Jenny McCarthy

The natural body meets the body politic in the act of vaccination, where a single needle penetrates both. – Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Inoculation1 In the 1802 colored etching for the Anti-Vaccine Society, “The Cow-Pock—or—the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!,” James Gillray, a political cartoonist, sensationalizes the scene of inoculation. Depicted in the center of the frame is Jenner using his lancet to penetrate the arm of a seated working woman. Surrounding them is a crowd of vaccinated patients who are in various states of bovine transformation – some growing horns and even erupting miniature cows like smallpox buboes from their bodies. The contemporary anti-vaccination movement first gained momentum in part due to a widely-circulated 1998 paper,2 written by Andrew Wakefield and published in The Lancet, which claimed a connection between the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and autism. Despite the exposure of Wakefield’s unethical distortion of experimental data and the later retraction of the paper by the journal, many, including high-profile celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Donald Trump, have continued to be public proponents …

“The Sundance Kid is Beautiful with Christopher Knowles” at the University of Rochester

A longtime collaborator of the artist Christopher Knowles once said, “everything Christopher knows makes sense, but not in the way we are familiar with.”[1] Indeed, Knowles’s work functions according to its own logic. Articles and prepositions propagate in excess. Single words, groups of words, and larger blocks of phrasing repeat, proliferating to a point at which the implied meaning of the language begins to unravel. This disintegration allows us to focus on the text’s material qualities—the sound and rhythm of the phrasing, the shape and color of the words on the page—rather than on its implied meaning or content. Born in 1959 in New York City, Knowles exhibited a fascination with the aural elements of language at an early age. He began writing and performing concrete poetry in his early teenage years, and recorded these works, which are composed of spoken dialogue that often repeats and overlaps, using multiple cassette tape recorders simultaneously. Knowles began to perform publicly in 1973 after meeting the renowned theater director and artist Robert Wilson, who had been introduced to …

Call for Papers: Issue 26, Border Crossings

For its twenty-sixth issue, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture invites scholarly articles and creative works that address the complex and multiple meanings of border crossings. In September 2015, a photograph shocked the world by showing the body of a small boy lying facedown on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey. Later identified as Aylan Kurdi from Syria, he and other members of his family perished in a failed attempt to flee to Canada. The image became the focal point of the on-going refugee struggles, confronting us with the power of images, their affective potential, and the politics of representation. IVC Issue 26 seeks to examine how border crossings can challenge the stable, ontological distribution of power, capital, and resources along constructed lines of demarcation. In considering the crossing of a border, we must first understand what constitutes a border and how it performs in the visual field. Globalization tries to dissolve borders through the decentralization of power, yet at the same time, it immanently and symbolically re-inscribes national borders through the unequal distribution …

Call for Papers: Geographies of Interruption: Body, Location, and Experience

Geographies of Interruption: Body, Location, and Experience The 23rd Annual Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies International Graduate Conference April 8, 2016 at the University of Rochester Featuring Keynote Speaker: Jasbir Puar, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University Each year, a diverse group of participants gather in Rochester, NY for a graduate conference held by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies. This conference aims to foster an environment of interdisciplinary communication, knowledge exchange, and collaboration. We take geography to be the practice and process of mapping bodies, spaces, and experiences. In particular, we hope to inspire questions concerning the interruptions of such geographies, especially those relating to gender and sexuality. Such questions might include, but are not limited to: How does social, bodily, and geographical mobility complicate the mapping of spaces and bodies? How do media forms constitute counter­geographies? Does sharing a photo of a fallen Syrian refugee on one’s Facebook timeline intervene in a meaningful way? In what ways are sexed and/or sexualized bodies …

In-flight viewing

“My hypothesis (and as I state it, I’m trying to see if it holds up) is that a reversal has occurred. At the risk of reducing things to caricature, I’d tend to say that we’ve become very mobile in relation to images which have become more and more immobile.” -Serge Daney1 Another transpacific journey, and it seems the airline has discontinued serving complimentary alcoholic beverages. I swear the passenger across an empty seat at the aisle was on the same flight last fall. A pro, she had cocooned herself in the provided blanket, ordered a beer, and watched films on the small monitor installed in the back of the seat in front of her. I followed suit, as daytime drinking shifted to a permanent midnight of the sky. The only signal she was awake was the dull light from her LCD screen or hands atop the folding tray table holding a small book with removable cover. Could it be the same pale cloth cover now? The same woman on an annual journey corresponding to my own …

Call for Papers: Issue 25, Security and Visibility

For its twenty-fifth issue, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture invites scholarly articles and creative works that explore the concept of security and visual culture. For almost two decades, both scholarly and public interests in matters of national security and the corresponding surveillance of public space have increased immensely. Notions of visibility figure prominently in these discussions. The expanding academic fields of Security and Surveillance Studies have successfully engaged with the multiple layers connecting (national) security, surveillance, and the visual. Focusing on present-day phenomena, sociologists, political scientists, and culture and media scholars have already developed an integrative perspective when it comes to relating issues surrounding security to the field of visibility. Consequently, newer research on security has focused on decentralized practices of security, encompassing much more than just “official” government agencies and their mediaries. For this issue, we seek to engage a historical perspective on issues of security and visibility through a close reading of texts in contemporary social sciences and cultural studies. With a special insert edited by scholars Barbara Lüthi and …

“I am Kenji” and the Indignity of Wearing the Others’ Look

Figure 1. “I AM KENJI,” Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/IAmKenjiGoto (Accessed March 8, 2015). On January 20, 2015, ISIS released a ransom video featuring two Japanese hostages identified as Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. That same day, Goto’s friend Taku Nishimae started a Facebook page titled “I am Kenji,” and subsequently posted a photograph of himself holding a letter-sized card bearing the same three words (Figure 1). The accompanying text invited others to do the same to “show that we are united.”1 Nishimae’s photograph is difficult to look at, not only because his fatigued face betrays his shock and distress at the news of his friend’s captivity, but also because it foreshadows a photograph that ISIS would release five days later. “Foreshadowing” might be an inaccurate word choice given that the photograph in question was likely a conscious mimicking of Nishimae’s image, if not of its model, namely, the mass spectacle of the anti-terror marches staged in the wake of the assassinations of the cartoonists and staff of Charlie Hebdo whose slogan Je suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”) …

Indigenous Futurisms

A mix tape opens with a NASA countdown. It transitions to the words of John Mohawk, journalist, negotiator in regional and global conflicts, and Indigenous activist of the Seneca Turtle Reserve. The beats that follow are ambient, rhythmic, and transient; each fragment of a song, speech or manifesto morphs into the next without abating.

The Threads that Bind Us

In the home of an unknown Belgian collector, Ghada Amer’s work, La Belle Au Bois Dormant (1995) dances alone. The instillation consists of a white dress, a red dress, a chair, a mannequin and a music box. The red dress is entirely deflated, while the white dress appears starched and up right. The white dress hangs on a headless mannequin that has been rigged to spin in slow circles, constantly rotating the dress. The viewer gets the sense that the dress was made for the mannequin, not for an actual woman. While the red dress is entirely flat and has no sheen, the white dress appears to be glowing. The white dress is made from a heavy-weighted silk and the threads that embroider the dress interrupt the material’s radiance. Although the embroidery on the dress holds the complete text of the children’s fairy tail, The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault, the exposed threads make the letters almost entirely illegible.1 What makes this work so mesmerizing is how Amer transforms these five ordinary objects into a …

Launching InVisible Culture Issue 21: Pursuit

InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal of Visual Culture (IVC), published through the University of Rochester’s graduate program in Visual and Cultural Studies, is pleased to announce the launch of Issue 21: “Pursuit.” For this issue, we invited scholars and artists to explore ways pursuit manifests at both the individual and collective levels. What we received revealed the dual nature and contradictory inner-logic of pursuit: its focused trajectory coupled with its tendency to turn back on itself, operating in ways circuitous, surprising, vexing, and destructive. Authors Janet Wolff, Joel Gn Hong Zhan, Christopher Schubert and Timothy Welsh, Carolyn L. Kane, Diego Costa, artists Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz and Anton Hand, Erin Johnson, Paul Qaysi, Clint Enns, Walter Forsberg contributed articles and works of art that address at least two distinct but interrelated forms of pursuit which we are perpetually undertaking: technological pursuit and spatial pursuit. Issue 21: Pursuit (Fall 2014) IVC is a student run interdisciplinary journal published online twice a year in an open access format. Through peer-reviewed articles, creative works, and reviews of books, films, and exhibitions, our …

CFP InVisible Culture, Issue 24: Vulnerability

“Vulnerability” – Issue 24 (Download PDF) For its twenty-fourth issue, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture invites scholarly articles and creative works that explore the concept of vulnerability. Almost two weeks after Thomas Eric Duncan’s plane landed in Dallas from Liberia in late September, the Centers for Disease Control announced the first case of Ebola in the United States. News feeds immediately jumped at the report, the Dow Jones plunged 266 points and petitions to ban flights from Ebola-stricken countries have since been circulating across social media platforms. From ISIS to the crisis in Ukraine to employment security, the media’s pronouncement of threats posed by vulnerabilities (and certain invisibilities) are ubiquitous. It is worth considering, however, what the stakes are in maintaining such rhetoric, and whether it is possible to imagine alternatives. As urgency slips into a normative state of being, for Issue 24, we would like contributors to explore the various meanings of vulnerability. Are there critical practices which uniquely encourage or discourage vulnerability? Can we imagine vulnerability as a position of …

Couturier Lafargue’s Earthworks: Asbestos and Copper at The University of Rochester, February 2014

Couturier Lafargue, Camping in the asbestos mine, 2013. In 2013, Canadian artists Louis Couturier and Jacky George Lafargue, who make up the collaborative duo known as Couturier Lafargue, spent four days and three nights in an open pit mine in Asbestos, a town located in southeastern Quebec whose name derives from the eponymous mineral it was famed for producing. The Jeffrey mine, which had once been the world’s leading producer of asbestos, had ceased operations in 2011. During their visit to the mine, the artists hiked their way around the enormous space, researched its composite materials, and took video, photographic, and audio footage that would eventually form the basis for installations inspired by the landscape of the mine that include sculpture, video, and large-format photographs. These modular installations, which the duo titled Asbestos Country (Terre d’amiante), offer a sobering investigation into the impacts of industrialization on the Québécois landscape and its surrounding community, and open up questions relating to the ways we engage with otherwise forgotten or overlooked locations. Couturier Lafargue presented an iteration of …

Al-Mutanabbi Street: Start The Conversation

Right now al-Mutanabbi street starts somewhere on a small street in Gaza, and in Damascus, on a small street in Beijing, a small street in Tehran. It starts in Baghdad, Beirut, and Cairo, it starts in Dublin, Calgary, Halifax, London, Exeter, and Bristol, and here in San Francisco, Santa Fe, Boston, Los Angeles, Omaha, New York City, Washington D.C.,Cambridge, Mass. or Detroit, Michigan. It starts at the Rochester Central Library, and at Goddard College in Vermont. It starts wherever someone gathers their thoughts to write towards the truth, or where someone sits down and opens a book to read. Wherever the free exchange of ideas is suppressed or attacked, wherever writers and artists are silenced, or risk their lives to speak the truth through their work, there will be a place for them on al-Mutanabbi Street. – Beau Beausoleil, July 2014 In March 2007, a suicide bomber exploded his car in Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq, killing thirty people and injuring more than a hundred. The street, named after Abu at-Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi, a renowned classical …

CFP InVisible Culture, Issue 23: Blueprints

“Blueprints” – Issue 23 (Download PDF) For its twenty-third issue, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture invites scholarly articles and creative works that consider the multiple valences of the topic: blueprints. In his theoretical manifesto, Toward An Architecture, Le Corbusier wrote, “The plan is the generator. Without plan there can be neither grandeur of aim and expression, nor rhythm, nor mass, nor coherence. . . . The plan is what determines everything; it is the decisive moment.” The plan or blueprint is the primary tool of the architect’s and the drafter’s trades—a technical document that bridges creative impulse and constructive labor, intent and execution, virtuality and materiality. Taking shape as a conversation among concept, form, and representation, a blueprint insistently nudges its spectator’s gaze outside its frame. It is understood as a necessary stage on the way to something larger, something grander, something more, and is usually seen not as a self-contained object, but as prescription directed toward a particular outcome. Yet a blueprint may also be the terminus of the unrealized and …

Thinking About the Forest and the Trees

William Kentridge thinks a lot about thinking: its errant trails, its spasmodic lurches, its spectacular leaps. Drawing, he has often stressed, can function as a form of thinking but equally– and especially when chased by the artist’s eager eraser – it enacts a wilful un-thinking in which every notion can potentially be undone, and every idea arrives partnered with a nay-saying dialectical double. These revisionary “second thoughts” often assume human, usually Kentridgian form, striding onstage during the artist’s public lectures to chide, correct and contradict. Fingers are wagged, eyebrows raised, eyes rolled in exasperation. “The horn of the rhinoceros is in the wrong place,” one superego character chimes. “I don’t want to hear it,” the other retorts. “But if you would just take the time to look at these textbooks, you could see how it could be done better…” the first nags. “Just fuck off! Just fuck off!” the second repeats exasperatedly. At “Second-Hand Reading,” Kentridge’s recent keynote lecture at the University of Rochester, the themes of second thoughts and second selves (the latter, Stanley …

BP, Earth Day and the Art of Collapse

The month of April marks the forty-fourth anniversary of the first Earth Day.  Officially celebrated on April 22nd, Earth Day was an extended series of events that took place between March and April of 1970 that culminated in teach-ins, and other activities in parks, temples churches and corporate offices.  Garnering more support than civil rights’ or women’s liberation protests, Earth Day marked the beginning of what we know today as the green or environmental movement.1 The month of April also marks the fourth anniversary of the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon spill off the Gulf Coast of Mexico.  Between April 20th and September 19th 2010 nearly 4.9 million barrels of oil discharged from the BP operated Macondo Prospect.  The spill was the worst in U.S. history and continues to adversely affect the Louisiana coastline’s birds, fish and other aquatic organisms.2   Though artist Brandon Ballengee completed his large-scale installation Collapse, a collaborative project with Todd Gardner, Jack Rudloe, Brian Schiering and Peter Warny in 2012, it seems evermore timely to invoke it here at the intersection of two significant anniversaries.  The …

“Run to the Hills?” – Representations of Native Americans in Heavy Metal

In “celebration” of Thanksgiving, American heavy metal band Mastodon (pictured above) released a controversial limited-edition t-shirt [fig. 1]. The T-shirt’s violent imagery and seemingly celebratory attitude towards genocidal atrocities polarized Mastodon fans and fans of heavy metal more generally. In response, the band issued a statement of Facebook clarifying their position and intent. Regarding our thanks giving (sic) shirt, whether you choose to believe or not, the American Indians were massacred by the white settlers who became the Americans we are today. this (sic) shirt represents this atrocity and celebrating in the face of this atrocity is chilling. We may have a sick sense of humor, but we are far from being “Racist” as some of you who might not get it are calling us.1 Ignoring the fact that sarcasm and irony are not necessarily the most appropriate means of addressing issues of racism and systematic acculturation, both positive and negative responses to the shirt largely ignored the question of gender and sexualized violence.2 The feather in her hair, the short grass skirt, and the buckskin …

“The Craft of Modernity” Reviewed: Amelia Pelaez at PAMM

Marañones (Cashews), 1939-40. Courtesy of the Amelia Peláez Foundation The Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM) opened to the public in December with two inaugural shows. One is Ai Wei Wei’s expansive “According to What?” which features pieces slightly the worse for wear after a blockbuster 2012-13 North American tour (the 3,000 piled ceramic river crabs that make up He Xie are a short a few legs since I saw them in Toronto in August). The other is “The Craft of Modernity,” a solo show of paintings and ceramics by twentieth century Cuban artist Amelia Peláez. It features both important, beautiful art, and curation gone horribly wrong. But before I get to that, let me say that almost everything else about PAMM is so right. Its Herzog and de Meuron-designed building is both innovative and inviting, a set of textured wood and concrete planes perched on the edge of Biscayne Bay. The new museum is eager to introduce American visitors to the art of Latin America and the Caribbean. Its fledgling permanent collection includes a few stray (though lovely) works by …

Introduction to “Second Hand Reading,” a lecture by William Kentridge

William Kentridge is principally a maker of drawings, but his work of drawing extends itself into the making of sculptures, animated films, theater works and operas, books, installations, and a myriad of more hybrid works that are difficult to describe. You might think of the artist’s drawing in this sense as a drawing out, a drawing up, and a drawing forth. Or a drawing across. It is also like the drawing of a bow—and one knows from the end of the Odyssey that this is not an easy thing. Among many images from Kentridge’s work that stick in my memory is one from the installation piece “Black Box,” first shown in Berlin in 2005. You could describe this as a kind of mechanical toy theater, an elaborate construction with a series of odd, homely automaton figures, clockwork creatures moving back and forth across the small stage, further elaborated with a complex program of projections—including animated drawings by Kentridge, both abstract and figurative, photographs of old newspapers and ledgers, as well as archaic film footage. What …

Revolutionary Love

However, by counterposing love to the power of money and war, Hayes not only deconstructs boundaries between personal and political, but also deploys at once reason and passion in her revolution. Although Revolutionary Love feigns an escape from the circumstances of the 2008 election and tells a story of “once upon a time” between two lovers, within this fictional space we are able to articulate a critique of our contemporary moment.

Teaching Tradition: A Sampler from the Scoula d’Industrie Italiane, 1905-1927

Sampler, Scoula d’Industrie Italiane, ca. 1915, embroidered linen, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Larger version of the image is available here. A young Italian female immigrant in the Greenwich Village in the early twentieth century had few options if she wanted to earn a living outside the small tenement apartment she likely shared with her family. If she found work, it was almost certainly unskilled factory labor in unhealthy working conditions for little pay. In 1905, progressive upper class New Yorkers Florence Colgate Speranza and her husband Gino Speranza imagined an alternative: a clean, light-filled workshop where women might learn a skilled trade and earn decent wages. While on vacation in Italy, the Speranzas had observed small-scale revival textile industries cropping up in Italian cities and towns such as the Aemelia Ars in Bologna and the Scoula di Sorbello in Pischiello. The Speranzas set out to establish a similar studio in the all-Italian neighborhood of Greenwich Village. The Scuola d’Industrie Italiane operated until 1927 producing “embroideries copied from ancient designs and adapted to modern uses.”1 This …

A Brief Story of the Amplified Nation

In this post, I will sketch the roles of sound reproduction technology within Indonesian cultural history in its process of “becoming” a nation.1 However, this is not an attempt to give all-embracing historical details. It is meant to be a short story of audible Indonesian cultural life. Loudspeakers and microphones are the central figures in this story. In Western tradition, sound has long been an object of anxiety. In order to envision an ideal state, controlling sounds is probably the main object of Plato’s anxiety.2 In Greek mythology, luring sounds of the sirens, inspiring voices of the muses, and unwanted reflected calls of Echo are the subjects of cultural imagination. In a biblical story, the powerful and earth-wrecking voice of God speaks to Moses. Meanwhile, in Islamic eschatology, the blowing trumpets of the Archangel Israfeel are believed to end the world. In Indonesian tradition, cursing words coming from a mother’s mouth have some powerful effects on her children. According to an oral legend from Sumatera Island, a boy, named Malin Kundang, turns into a stone …

IVC Presents: William Kentridge at the University of Rochester

InVisible Culture has partnered with the English Department to present a digital extension of William Kentridge’s visit to the University of Rochester in September of 2013. Kentridge, the renowned South African artist, filmmaker, and theater and opera director, was this year’s Distinguished Visitor in the Humanities at the University of Rochester. His visit comprised of four main events: Wednesday, 9/18 at 8 pm at the Dryden Theater – a screening of the entire series of Kentridge’s works of experimental animation, “Drawings for Projection,” followed by a talk with the artist. Thursday, 9/19, at 9:30 AM, in the Welles-Browne Room, Rush Rhees Library – a conversation with William Kentridge, led by Nigel Maister, about his decades-long career as a director of theater and opera. Thursday, 9/19 at 1:30 pm, in the Gowen Room, Wilson Commons – a panel discussion, led by Leora Maltz-Leca, focusing on Kentridge’s work in visual arts and film, with some focus on its South African context.1 Thursday, 9/19 at 4:00 pm, at the Interfaith Chapel – a public lecture initially entitled, “Everyone …

On View: Nurturing Inquiry: Exploring Special Collections Research

I can’t speak for all academics, but personally I have a comforting little secret to air: despite the composed, jet-set, fellowship-laden, idea- and ambition-saturated veneer I might strive so desperately to affect for professional presentation, I often don’t know what I’m doing. This is especially true at the beginning of a major project, where I mostly don’t know what I’m doing. On darker days, it’s easy to get down on myself. On brighter days, I manage to remember that bringing genuinely interesting, well-developed new knowledge into the world is incredibly hard work—even for the pros. In the summer of 2012, following my second year of graduate school, I received a research grant from my alma mater, Oberlin College, to spend two months in Philadelphia laying groundwork for a dissertation prospectus. I had long been inspired by the exhibits and events hosted by the Visual Culture Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the staff there in prints and photographs kindly let me take up residence in their study room for most of July and …