Object Intermediaries: How New Media Artists Translate the Language of Things




 

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Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

  • This paper uses Walter Benjamin’s concept of translation between people and things as a focal point for analysis of the work of contemporary new-media artists Paula Gaetano Adi and Lindsey French, who utilize robotics and interactive technology to explore interspecies communication. Framed by materialist, poststructuralist, and posthumanist theory, along with recent discourse in object-oriented ontology, this paper poses the work of Gaetano Adi and French as potential models for visualizing object-oriented and vital materialist interactions. In the age of the Anthropocene, thinking beyond the human has become increasingly vital in both ethical and ecological terms, making the ability to envision less anthropocentric, more object-oriented worldviews both novel and timely.


References:

  • 1. Benjamin, Walter, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1978) 330.

    2. Steyerl, Hito, “The Language of Things,” European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies, 2–5 (2006), <http://eipcp.net>.

    3. Bennett, Jane, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (London/Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

    4. Steyerl, Hito, “The Language of Things,” European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies, 3 (2006), <http://eipcp.net>.

    5. Kac, Eduardo, Natural History of the Enigma, <www.ekac.org>; Falundi, Robert, Kate Hartman, and Kati London, Botanicalls, <www.botanicalls.com>; Noisefold, <http://noisefold.com>.

    6. Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby, <www.dunneandraby.co.uk>; Auger, James and Jimmy Loizeau, <www.auger-loizeau.com>; Dobson, Kelly, <web.media.mit.edu>.

    7. Harman, Graham, Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures (United Kingdom: Zero Books, 2010).

    8. Latour, Bruno, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

    9. Bennett, Jane, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (London/Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

    10. Gaetano Adi, Paula, Urban Arts Space, <http://uas.osu.edu>.

    11. Khon, Eduardo, How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2013), 8.

    12. Gaetano Adi, Paula, <http://paulagaetanoadi.com>.

    13. Ibid.

    14. Here I would like to draw a connection between the robotic agent and agency in the philosophical meaning of the word.

    15. Braitenberg, Valentino, Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984).

    16. Bryant, Levi R., The Democracy of Objects (Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press, 2011), 19.

    17. Gaetano Adi, Paula, and Amelia Jaycen, “Paula Gaetano Adi, UNT New Media Artist, Receives Prestigious VIDA Grant Award,” University of North Texas Research Magazine, last updated December 2, 2013.

    18. Ibid.

    19. Yeregui, Mariela, for Bola de Nieve, <www.boladenieve.org>. Yeregui’s Proxemia is interesting in comparison to TZ’IJK because the projects are technically very similar, but conceptually and aesthetically quite different.

    20. Gaetano Adi, Paula, and Amelia Jaycen, “Paula Gaetano Adi, UNT New Media Artist, Receives Prestigious VIDA Grant Award,” University of North Texas Research Magazine, last updated December 2, 2013.

    21. French, Lindsey, <http://lindseyfrench.com>.

    22. Ibid.

    23. Ibid.

    24. There are several projects outside of the art world, such as the “plant concerts” of the Damanhur spiritual group, that translate input from plants into “music” that is sonically pleasing to humans. The goal of these projects is to use plants as a medium to create music for human audiences. French’s Concert, on the other hand, does not present anything we would classify as “music,” and is equally if not more concerned with producing an experience for plants.

    25. Bennett, Jane, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (London/Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 120.

    26. Franke, Anselm, Animism Volume 1 (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010); Antonelli, Paola, Talk to Me: Design and Communication Between People and Objects (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2011).

    27. Bogost, Ian, Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (London/Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 124.

    28. Bennett, Jane, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (London/Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), ix.

    29. Bogost, Ian, Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (London/Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012).

    30. French, Lindsey, <http://lindseyfrench.com>.

    31. Steyerl, Hito, “The Language of Things,” European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies, 3 (2006), <http://eipcp.net>.