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Abstracts

PhD training course Paris 12th 15th of January 2016


Centre Universitaire de Norvge Paris, CUNP
Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Bureau 483
190, Avenue de France, 75013 Paris

Bull, Synne Tollerud, Department of Media and Communication, Univ. of Oslo, Processing
Aerial Volumes: The Contemporary Screen Space of The Spiral Jetty.

Digital cinema and new aerial imaging technologies have prompted scholarly debate on the
emergence of a new visual paradigm (Elseasser 2013, Dorian 2013, Steyerl 2012, to name a
few.) As Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), commonly referred to as drones are rapidly
becoming ubiquitous, we are getting acquainted with new ways of seeing. The elastic
perspective of the civilian drone camera based on the aircrafts extreme maneuverability and
wide-angle lenses produces a screen space that differs significantly from the flat vertical
perspective of military drone cameras located several thousand feet above ground. Prefigured
historically, from the 1900 Cinorama by Raoul Grimoin-Sanson to the volumetric aesthetics
of the Aeropittura of Italian Futurism, the unprecedented combination of aerial view and
motion exhibited by these drone videos is most significantly explored in the legendary film
The Spiral Jetty (1970) by Robert Smithson. Working between traditional definitions of
sculpture, landscape design, and photography, Smithsons film-based sculpture underscores
the temporal and process-based ontology of perception. As Robert Smithson noticed, scale,
not size brings perceptual knowledge. In my paper I identify what I call the volume image,
as a specific exploratory activity operating between physical and virtual space and movement.
Combining the works and spatial reflections by Smithson with recent focus on deep time in
media archeology (Parikka, Zelinsky,) and new conceptions of embodiment (Hales, Barad,
Hansen,) I frame the volume image within a bigger perspective of human-machine sensory
processes of spatial knowledge. The novel screen spatiality configured by drone-borne action-
cameras in this sense opens up to larger discussion beyond the conventional power from
above. As an intensification of older cinematic forms, the most exploratory aerial drone
videos, such as MMMM/Santa Monica Airlines (2015) by Robert McIntosh, also engage deep
perceptual and ontological issues in relation to technical vision and spatial practice anticipated
and re-actualized in the aerial volume images of The Spiral Jetty.

Corneil, Marit Kathryn, Department of Media, Art History and Theatre Studies, NTNU,
tba

Dolmen, Bjrn David, Department of Music, University of Agder, Post-modern music,


avant rock and the notion of the contemporary: The compositional practices of Pekka Pohjola
and Robert Fripp

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This presentation will discuss the music and compositional practices of Pekka Pohjola and
Robert Fripp, with special attention given to technology, texture, sounds and methods, and the
idea of avant-garde music as opposed to music as recycled history (musical post-modernism).
A number of groups and composers that originated as rock musicians in the late sixties and
early seventies have in later years evolved from the expression they were once known for, and
are today representatives of a musical aesthetic that is often ignored or overlooked in
musicology. This seems to be the case with the Finnish composer Pekka Pohjola and King
Crimsons guitarist Robert Fripp. Since the nineteen eighties Pohjola and Fripp has released a
number of works in different styles styles that often get the shape of musical fusions. By
exploring their fusion of styles and by focusing on their technological approach, my ambition
is to argue for musical avant rock as a relevant terminology for describing an aesthetic that
cannot be reduced to the musical post-modernism understood as the end of originality and the
end of authenticity.
The presentation will consider the notion of the contemporary through a focus on new
technology, new combinations of styles, new textures, new timbres and new methods as
something that in the music of Pohjola and Fripp results in a an aesthetic that connects to the
notion of a still relevant musical avant-garde. Among others the musicologist and philosopher
Bill Martin has chosen to call this avant rock. In my presentation I will also deal with the
musical archive as a practical technology. Through the mobilization of the musical archive as
a source of inspiration and methodology, Pohjola and Fripp has since the 1980s represented a
form of ground breaking eclecticism which would have been impossible without the
affordances provided by technology. My argument will be that these composers represents
contemporary music as a special form of avant rock.

Enroth, Petteri, Department of Aesthetics, University of Helsinki, Reading Adornos


Aesthetic Theory through the Concepts Modern and Contemporary

Theodor Adornos posthumously published Aesthetic Theory (1970) is entangled in questions


of modernity and the contemporary in many ways. First of all, the book is a committed
defense of modern art and an attempt to define what is truly modern and what is not. Because
of the books programmatic nature and strict dissemination of artistic value (and its
philosophical gravity), it has attracted much debate, which I will sketch out as a way of
introduction. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, those influenced by Brecht and the idea
of socially engaged art did not answer well to Adornos defense of the autonomy of the
artwork and his emphasis on formal matters. Similarly, in the post-modern 1990s many
commentators considered the persistence of aesthetic experience in his theory an out-dated
moment of nostalgia. Again, the quite recent aesthetic turn in cultural theory represented,
for example, by Elaine Scarry and Peter de Bolla has largely neglected Adornos theory for
the opposite reasons. As this turn is mainly concerned about beauty and subjective aesthetic
experience, from its standpoint Adornos insistence on the truth-content and social character
of the artwork seem rather alien. Adorno appears to be not contemporary because he is too
modern (or modernist instead of modern), whether he is addressing the autonomy or the
sociality of art. Instead, however, of trying to explicitly defend Adorno against these
charges, I will elaborate on his concept of the modern artwork as entwined with both the
future and the past. For Adorno, the modern artwork includes the familiar utopian promesse
de bonheur of classicist art, but it offers no positive image of this promise. Rather, the artwork
offers hope only by disintegrating; the light of hope can only shine through the cracks in the
artworkss meaningful totality and is thereby only the negative of present darkness. Again, in
the modern artwork ugliness comes to the fore as a sort of return of the repressed, the

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repressed being the cultic, barbaric origins of art that were neglected in the classicist ideal of
beauty. The direction of history, the past and the future, is speculatively condensed in the
modern artwork.
Jepsen, Camma Juel, Department of Aesthetics and Culture, Aarhus University; Time
Waves. The Temporalities of the 14th Istanbul Biennial

Today, art biennials have become epicentres or laboratories for the constant production of
contemporaneity in art and exhibition making. As an exhibition form, the biennial formulates
the world as an amalgamation of different times, places and cultures, thereby functioning as a
combined representation of time and space compression. Arguing that the contemporary art
biennial conditions new ways of experiencing time, this paper investigates how the 14th
Istanbul Biennial, SALTWATER. A Theory of Thought Forms (5 September 1 November
2015), intends to reconcile past and present collective traumas through the transformative
agency of art. Revolving around the connectedness of past and present, this edition of the
international Turkish show drafted by the artistic director of documenta 13 (2012), Carolyn
Christov-Bakargiev comprises a joint thought experiment with numerous fields of research
such as art, mathematics, science, neuroscience, architecture and oceanography. The biennial
takes place on various temporary spaces on land and on sea, paying particular attention to the
time and space it inhabits as stated by its director Bige rer: Through art, it [the exhibition]
listens to the place in which it dwells its present and all its times.
With reference to the various concepts of contemporaneity of Peter Osborne, Terry
Smith and Boris Groys, the paper will explore how different, but equally present
temporalities and localities are connected and juxtaposed within the curatorial and aesthetic
framework of the biennial. The analysis will pay particular attention to the metaphorical
framework of salt water, bringing together contrasting image-forms of movements,
waves and knots of past and contemporary history of the Bosphorus.

Mcklin, Harri, Doctoral School of Philosophy, Arts, and Society, University of Helsinki
Are We Heideggers Contemporaries?
Heideggers later philosophy is based on the conviction that the contemporary era is defined
by its historical situation between the end of metaphysics and the possible beginning of the
other onset (die andere Anfang) of Western history. This peculiar mediation point presents
itself in the form a demand, where we are challenged to prepare a transition from one
historical era to the other. The outlines of this thought were first sketched out in Heideggers
Beitrge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis) almost 80 years ago. However, Heidegger himself
forbid the publication of the work, since he considered the work to be, quite literally, an
untimely meditation, something that the world was not capable to understand then. No doubt
Heidegger saw himself, like the poet Hlderlin, as one the people he called die Zuknftige, the
ones-to-come: as someone who speaks to the people of the future.
But who are the ones Heidegger is addressing in the Beitrge? Where do we fall in
Heideggers grand vision of the future? Could we, perhaps, call ourselves Heideggers
contemporaries? What is the notion of contemporaneity that can be found from Heideggers
untimely meditation, and could it really be relevant today?
My paper proposes to use Heideggers Beitrge as a background for asking whether
we can approach the question of contemporaneity in terms of a demand, which the current
world situation imposes upon us. I examine contemporaneity through its particular situation in
relation to history and attempt to present Heideggers view of the possibilities and
responsibilities inherent in the contemporary era.

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Meedom, Peter J. , Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages,
University of Oslo, Forms of Life in the Anthropocene

Modernity is full of slogans purporting to demarcate the new and forge a radical break with
the oldfor instance, modernity itself. The claim of the hypothetical geological age
Anthropocene, so widely discussed these years, fits firmly within this tradition of
transformations. Currently, the landscape of critical thought is being re-shaped by the advent
of neo-vitalisms and new materialisms pointing to a renewed interest in thinking together
politics, nature and aesthetics, yet to do so is fraught with fault lines. What does it mean to
live in a time in which humans are the main terraforming agents, yet history encompasses
more than human actions? If the Anthropocene is chosen as a new geological epoch, it will
extend retroactively into the past, either coinciding with colonization, industrialization or the
Great Acceleration (or maybe another stratigraphic marker altogether). The Anthropocene is
thus a matter of the future as much as the present and the past ushering in a new sensitivity to
the long now. In this sense, what is contemporary is a kind of heterogeneous planetary time
re-animating well-known imaginings and tropes like the apocalypse and the Prometheus
complex. In this paper I contend that literature has long been invested in creating forms of life
occupying borderlands between human and animal; nature and society. I regard the
Anthropocene as an invitation to look back in time and explore aesthetics and thought which
attempted the integration of nature and history, particularly the Interwar period which saw
novels foregrounding the political valences of living bodies in a time when such concepts like
bare life (Benjamin), natural history (Adorno), the post-human (Gnther Anders), biopolitics,
geopolitics, and the biosphere (Vladimir Vernadsky) were all conceived in response to the
cataclysm of the Great War.

Myrvold, Charlotte Blanche, Oslo School of Architecture and Design/Oslo and Akershus
University of Applied Sciences: Contemporary Futures

The word future is recurrent on the contemporary art scene. All the Worlds Futures, the
Venezia Biennale of 2015, Festival of Futures Nows, curated by Olafdur Eliasson at Neue
Nationalgaleri in Berlin in 2014 and Future Reloaded the 70th Venice International Film
festival. Oslo is no exception, Future Library and Futurefarmers feature in the permanent
public art program of the redeveloped waterfront Bjrvika. Social inclusion is one of the
issues at stake in the urban transformation and the two art projects host participation-based
events, and can be said to activate the area as wanted by the developers. The two art projects
are enacting one the new rules for public art devised by curator Claire Doherty: dont make it
for a community, create a community. However, in the titles both Future Library and
Futurefarmers point to the future rather than the actual, here and now, attempting seemingly to
inscribe their project into the future rather than the contemporary. Participation-based art
values, as pointed out by Claire Bishop, social dynamic that can only be experienced first-
hand, here and now. The move away from the contemporary contradicts the participation-
based structure that ensures the continuity of the two projects. By drawing on the distinction
between audience and publics outlined by Michael Warner, I will in this paper, investigate
whether it can be productive to differentiate the attendees and the public of participation-
based art in relation to the contemporary and the future. Warner argues that the public address
forms the public, and that therefore the way the public is imagined in the address has effect on
it. In the case of Future Library and Futurefarmers it might be interesting to discuss what the
rhetorical gesture of invoking the future has on the contemporary situations.

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Nygrd, Karin, Oslo and Akershus University College, Dept. of Archivistics, Library and
Information Science, Kenneth Goldsmith: Updating Literature

The American poet Kenneth Goldsmith has on several occasions made claims for his own
mode of literary practice so called conceptual writing as a veritable update of literature
as such. Often citing artist Brion Gysins 1959 statement that writing is fifty years behind
painting, Goldsmith suggests that this lagging behind of literature not only in relation to
art, but in relation to historical developments more broadly is now overcome. Not, however,
by some new innovation of literary genius, but on the contrary, by literatures compliance
with the terms set by the new media and information technologies of today. Referring to the
implications the innovation of photography had for painting in the 19th century, Goldsmith
has declared that with the Internet, literature has met its photography: Digital media has set
the stage for a literary revolution by which its conventional forms may be reconstructed
into something new, something contemporary, something finally relevant.
My paper will discuss conceptual writings claims to contemporaneity (c.f. Peter
Osbornes formulation) and its ambition to bring literature up to speed, so to speak, with the
newness of new media, taking Goldsmith most recent work, his Capital: New York, Capital of
the 20th Century (2015), as a point of departure. While presented both as a mirror and an
update of Walter Benjamins The Arcades Project (Das Passagen-Werk, written between
1927 and 1940), often seen as the very pinnacle of modern(ist) reflection, my contention is
that Goldsmiths version should not be seen as a simple transposition from the Paris of the
19th to the New York of the 20th century. Instead, the work may be said to register the
updating of the conditions of temporal experience from those of historical time (the paper
archive, human memory) to media time (digital memory and the enduring ephemeral) (c.f.
the concepts of Wolfang Ernst [2012] and Wendy Chun [2008] respectively), and from the
temporalization of history that, according to Osborne (1995), constitutes modernity to a
certain fictionalization of the contemporary (Osborne, 2013).

Olsen, Lea Muldtofte, University of Aarhus, Programmed Presence: Computational


Contemporaneity.

Speaking, communicating, debating, expressing, being has become inseparable from social-
and networked forms of media - and therefore inevitably also inseparable from databases and
the software running, analysing and capturing behind our screens. The conception of
presence, being present, consequently relies on and is constituted by the invisible algorithms
with which we are connected online. Notably, compared to the speed of these algorithms, my
conception of my presence is perpetually belated, which makes my presence (connected with
algorithms) present before I am even able to grasp it.
With reference to Benveniste, this paper aims to discuss the time at which one is and
whether that can be said to concur with the time at which one is speaking now that we as
subjects are constituted within a connected, networked assemblage of data and running code.
The premise here is that the potential as capacity-to-speak (or, capacity-to-click) is as much
my being as my actualized speaking. Following this, it is in the discrepancy between the
uttering act and the potential to act that we are able to experience ourselves as such, which has
been discussed by Agamben and Lund. (The indefinite part of my I, which falls beneath the
radar of the time at which I am speaking, but is however still me.)

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From this point of view and drawing on Virno and his reflection on the phenomena
dj vu, I will argue that instead of a dj vu (the potential as a fictitious reoccurrence of the
already-spoken), in relation to speaking online we can use the figure of a forsight; potential as
the prediction - clothed as realization or actualizations-to-be. Through a reading of the
installation Some Things We Are (2015) a software piece generating digital video
montage with visual content sourced through live image search I will show that what is
present for me is past for the algorithm. And this consequently means that my capacity-to-
speak is programmed, expanded, already has been, still is and already will be altogether
while I am (speaking).

Reymond, Emmanuel, Universit Paris 8: Poetry practices and the contemporary


discourses.

In her book Le Paradigme de l'art contemporain, French sociologist Nathalie Heinich tries to
define precisely the criteria of what she describes as a new genre in art. Is it relevant to use
such a temporal notion to describe an ensemble of practices occurring at the same time and
aesthetically connected? In a world saturated by plural and contradictory discourses, relayed
by the media in a true economy of attention (Yves Citton), it seems more careful to listen to
all those voices that each speak their own language of the contemporary, in order to get an
insight of what present they aim at. Studying what he calls le brouhaha (hubbub) around
the use of the word contemporary, Lionel Ruffel digs into these ways of speaking about the
present and shows that the core of such a notion is precisely the refusal of essences and
historical separations. Instead of giving new ontological definitions, looking for what is
contemporary turns our attention to the entangled present, at a crossroads of so many
indistinct temporalities that it is impossible to part all its components to find an hypothetical
essence of our time. Preferring the method of the inquiry, favoured by the pragmatist
philosophers, this way of thinking not what the notion of "contemporary" means, but what it
is used for, in these various contexts has a resonance in what is happening in arts (and, in
the context of this paper, in literature) today. While it seems difficult to define what a
contemporary aesthetics would be, it is more in terms of positioning and gesture inside this
general economy of attention that we can read some writers in Europe and the US today
(around theoretical figures like Kenneth Goldsmith, Jean-Marie Gleize and Jonas (J)
Magnusson) who try to deal with their own present. Putting forward a mistrust against
totalizing narratives or unquestioned enunciations, these poetry practices do not wish to be
read separately from other discourses, but profess a documentary dimension by redistributing
them, thus replacing Stendhal's mirror by a kind of window opening up our attention on the
multiple layers of our time.

Sarion, Roxana Mihaela, UiT, University of Troms, After aesthetics, or how to conceive
colonial historical literature outside modernity

After aesthetics, or how to conceive colonial historical literature outside modernity. The
notion of literature has undergone several transformations from colonial historical narrative to
modern literariness thinking. The concept of historicity has also registered several
displacements and many forms of narrative discourse have been revisited outside
historiography and reclassified under the labels of novelesque, utopian, protonovel, etc.
Nevertheless, the classification of colonial narrative in form of chronicle, relacin, royal
commentary, theological treatise and other hybrid genres continues to be problematic.

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One of the sources of the ideological discrepancies between the colonial and modern
concepts of historicity and literariness resides in the question of chronological distance
(together with other inquiries over gender, race, class etc.) (Zamora, 1987). The attempt to
read the past as the consecutive stages in the making of modernity has resulted in deforming
interpretations of the colonial texts. Going backwards to define the supposed colonial
precursors of modern literary genres is not sustainable from the point of view of the original
culture function and discursive type of these texts.
The main purpose of the missionary text, Conversin de Pritu (1690) written by
Matas Ruz Blanco was both to engage and to guide prospective missionaries in their
Christianization activities in the Province of Piritu (present-day Venezuela). The final result
was a hybrid text composed of five different sections, among which we can identify a
historical introduction, the principles followed in the translation of Christian texts into
indigenous languages, the precepts of the Decalogue and of the holy Church, a grammar of
the Cumanagot language and a Spanish-Cumanagot vocabulary.
In order to overcome the inquiry on if such type of text should be classified as
colonial literature or not, based on formal characteristics or literary canonization criteria, it
is essential to reorient our focus on the text itself and on its critical performance. Benjamin
traces in his Arcades Project (1927-1940) the blueprint of experience (images, words,
representations) and the accumulation of instants inscribed in a historical event. From this
perspective, recording colonial historical literature can be interpreted as a work in progress
cultural process, which holds the problem of otherness and its inscriptions in the space of
discursive practices.
The possibility to re-read these colonial texts in their own historical reality, affirms
the role of the colonial literature outside the aesthetic concept that modernity assigned to it
(after aesthetics, Ziarek, 1997). The strategy we propose to approach these literary texts
addresses not only the question of what a particular colonial text signified to its
contemporaries, but also the reason why it has a new significance for us today.

Tenningen, Sigurd, department of literature, Agder University, Undermining


contemporalism; Archaeology and pleated temporality in Tor Ulvens work.

I will examine Tor Ulvens use of archaeology and excavation in relation to his
conceptualization of time and contemporaneity. Following the writings of Michel Serres, I
will look at Ulvens archaeological approach to time as a pleated temporality (Serres),
holding together a large variety of heterogeneous pasts in the material strata of the present.
Throughout his writings, Ulven returns over and over again to what he calls the vertigo of
historicity: a sense of bewilderment caused by the heterogeneous assemblage of different
time layers accessible to excavation. Ulvens use of metaphors and tropes derived from
archaeology can also be seen as a way of undermining what the Swedish art theorist Dan
Karlholm has called the ideology of contemporalism. According to Karlholm, the ideology
of contemporalism seeks to expand the state of the present into an ever increasing field of
disciplines and practices, creating a false sense of temporal continuity across historical gaps.
Although contemporalism is a common feature within current discourses on art, it can be also
be considered a more general trend to hypostasize the present at the cost of past and future
within the political sphere. Opposed to this sense of continuity, Ulvens writings offer a
porous concept of the contemporary, allowing gaps and voids of incompatible pasts to emerge
within the frame of the present. Other writers who have elaborated on the idea of
contemporalism (or presentism) include Franois Hartog and Terry Smith.

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Wolf, Erika, Italian Literature, University of Bergen, The composite modernity of Leonardo
Sinisgalli: between untimely, topical, continuity and rupture with the past

The eclectic poet-engineer Leonardo Sinisgalli (1908-81) was one of the 20th-century Italian
writers who mostly welcomed modernization. His whole career is heavily steeped in
contemporaneity: in the fifties he was boosting the debate on the implications of
industrialization, urbanism and the new advancements of science and technology in the house
organs he founded, Pirelli and Civilt delle macchine; throughout his life he was engaged in
combining artistic quality with advertising for the new field of marketing communication, and
he always maintained an interest in avant-gardes and modern architecture, sometimes
collaborating actively with innovative artists. However, as critics have pointed out, in
Sinisgallis imagery the topical represented by the machine age and the aesthetic quest of the
avant-garde coexists with the slow time, the untimely world of the poor, unchanging, native
place Lucania. The tension among different temporalities characterizes indeed Sinisgallis
conceptualization of the current: behind the apparent novelty the poet always finds continuity
with some key moments of the past, particularly with the humanism of Leonardo Da Vinci
and with the Baroque. Sinisgallis modern thus contains and is mediated by diverse historical
periods and ideas on man and the world.
My paper aims to highlight how these different times and epochs interpenetrate and
are reshaped in Sinisgallis thought through the staging of the performative aspect of creation
and of the life of organic and inorganic matter, at the crossing point of vanguard aesthetics
(mainly Informalism), biology, technics and poetry.

Yazdani, Sara R., Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo,


Contemporary forms of material processes, media art, and bodies in Wolfgang Tillmans early
photocopy art

This paper is about the German artist Wolfgang Tillmans early body of photocopy art Approach: a
series of images produced between 1986 and 1989 by a digital laser photocopy machine, printed on
industrial mass produced A3 paper. More specifically, through an analysis of the work the ambition of
the paper will be to analyse the aesthetic and technological discourses of what I will refer to as
xerography art or copy art; to attend to the specific material and technical processes by which these
pictures were made. While the photocopy machine enable reproduction, copying and appropriation, it
operates on our bodies and our mind, as own entities in a larger societal system. Tracing the
technological agency of the work the paper will argue that it is precisely such concerns of the
interrelation between human bodies and media technologies, Approach conceptualizes. This forces a
shifting attention from the artworks and the artist to their technological and material processes, and
sheds light on non-human forces activated in and about contemporary art. As one eventually will see,
the pictures make us think of bodies (ontologies) in different ways: the photocopy machine and its re-
productive possibilities arguably demolishes the ontological privilege of human being and thus
questions the anthropocenic idea of the human subject as natural force. These ideas of art, media and
technologies are however not new. Already in the early 1920s avant-garde artists, such as Lszl
Moholy-Nagy, were exploring the relations between materiality and aesthetics, and the way in which
modern technologies form our organs and cells, a thesis repeated and further discussed by the
Conceptual art movement and their political explorations of information and communication
technologies. Returning to some of these works, such as Robert Morris contribution to the Xerox
Book (1968), this paper will argue that Approach engenders a reading of pictures as complex
assemblages of humans, materials and technologies where concepts of bodies as well as nature are
discussed.