Archive | Art, Literature and Poetry

Our Lives with Electric Things: Call for Contributions

Jamie Cross, University of Edinburgh

Call for Contributions (max 300 words)
In: Cultural Anthropology / Theorizing the Contemporary

Our lives with electric things are positively charged with meaning. Our bodies are electric, our hearts and minds pulsing with electrical activity. Electric things have hope and anxiety, possibility and danger. Our electric attachments are sacred and profane, personal and political. Electrically powered things mediate human sociality across time and space just as they mediate our ecological and inter-species relationships. At the beginning of the 21st century, in an epoch (the electrocene, perhaps) defined simultaneously by the global abundance and unevenness of electricity supply, our electric things simultaneously shock us into action and insulate us from change. Just as electrically powered goods, devices and appliances have transformed our possibilities for reproducing, nurturing and sustaining life (coming to define ideas of the good life) so too have they created new possibilities for controlling, managing, exploiting and ending life.

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First RAI Photo Salon

Haidy Geismar,  UCL Anthropology and Chair of the R.A.I Photo Committee

On December 8, 2016, the Photography Committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute convened its first Photo Salon. A meeting of minds for those interested in the intersections of anthropology and photography, a group of photographers and researchers (and photographer-researchers, and researcher-photographers) convened, with wine, to show images, and talk. Taking a Pecha Kucha format, each participant was asked to bring one image and speak for just three minutes. Below is a smattering, a smorgasbord, of some of the images that were presented, short statements by the researcher/photographers can be accessed by entering slide show mode. 

We hope to hold the salon as a yearly event and also look forward to publishing some of these images in expanded essay forms in our online journal, Anthropology and Photography.…

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Data Waves – finding meaning through music

Miranda Marcus, UCL Digital Anthropology

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 12.02.09

How do we display data in a way that is meaningful? This is the question that has been posed by Dr Robin Carhart-Harris from the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London, the lead researcher on the recent clinical trials into the effects of psilocybin/psychedelics on the brain. Between 2012 and 2016, Dr Carhart-Harris’ team have conducted different studies using psilocybin (the hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms) and LSD aimed at understanding the impact of potent hallucinogenic drugs on the human brain. The results have provided first evidence of the underlying changes in brain function that are associated with the well-documented drug effects and have laid the foundation for future studies to evaluate potential medical treatments for conditions such as depression, end-of-life anxiety and addiction.…

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You Can’t Please all! Some observations on the controversy about the Bhupen Khakhar exhibition at Tate Modern, London

Dr. Cathrine Bublatzky, Anthropologist, Heidelberg University

Recently I visited the exhibition You can’t please them all – a retrospective of modern Indian painter Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) at Tate Modern, London. The show, curated by Chris Dercon, former Tate Modern director, and Nada Raza (research curator), opened on June 1 2016 in London and will travel to the Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle in Berlin in November 2016. I came to know about the show due to reviews that circulated via social media prior to the opening, and which caused a serious controversy and protest against neo-colonial attitudes towards a still imagined ‘non-European other’ by art experts in India and Great Britan. With this post, I wish to provide some anthropological observations on the controversy which demonstrates a crucial claim for equality in the international art world.…

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Occasional Paper 6: Destructivistas

Joel Cahen (2012, revised 2016)

With our present day awareness, the arts as we have known them up to now appear to us in general to be fakes fitted out with a tremendous affectation. Let us take leave of these piles of counterfeit objects on the altars, in the palaces, in the salons and the antique shops. They are an illusion with which, by human hand and by way of fraud, materials such as print, pieces of cloth, metals, clay or marble are loaded with false significance, so that, instead of just presenting their own material self, they take on the appearance of something else. Under the cloak of intellectual aim, the materials have been completely murdered and can no longer speak to us.

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Object Lessons: the story of material education in eight chapters

Press release:

Duration: September 16, 2016 – January 16, 2017
Opening: Thursday, September 15, 7 p.m.

Milanese Mosaic Pastes, Cabinet of Factory Products, c. 1800, Collection Technical Museum Vienna, Photo: A.-S. Lehmann / Jars From a Teaching Aid Kit On Paper Fabrication, Lehrmittel-Verlag F. Rausch c. 1920, Collection Werkbundarchiv, Photo: A. Herrmann
If you know how to fabricate a candle from fat or a pen from a fishbone, you can survive in prison. If you know how blood reacts to lemon juice, you can remove stains. If you know why polylactide is more sustainable than polyethylene, you can change the world.

Today, knowledge about materials, their origins, and processing is more valued and desired than ever before. At the same time, such knowledge is specialized, concealed, and the domain of experts.

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Things that Make Us

Via The Institute of Making

Zoe Laughlin of UCL’s Institute of Making has a new podcast, Things That Make Us. Following the model of Desert Island Discs, each week, Laughlin interviews someone asking them to chose five things that they feel have shaped and moulded their lives and practice. The first two weeks interview the artist, Cornelia Parker, and food critic and journalist, Jay Rayner.

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Care on Display

Via Gabriela Nicolescu, Goldsmiths College
Thursday 23 June 2016 06:30pm – 08:30pm,

Film screening and discussion

Care on Display

Care on Display brings together documentary and artistic films by anthropologists interested in the subject of care for the elderly and for people suffering from dementia. The screenings, which will be followed by a discussion, aim to investigate how films explore notions of access and visibility of ‘care’ as ethical concerns and the intersection between care in the context of material and visual culture and care for the elderly as a subject to be put on display.  How to make visible something which is so private and very often perceived as immaterial?

This film series is conceived to continue a seminar series that Dr Gabriela Nicolescu organised in Goldsmiths, Economies of Care and Social Reproduction, in the autumn of 2015, with support from both Goldsmiths and the Wellcome Trust.

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Broken Stories

Adam Drazin, UCL Anthropology

How, when and why do people start to see something as”broken”? Do objects around the home just have two states, broken and working, or are there many other kinds of states they can be in? Clearly, the significance of many domestic objects is in relation to the projects of home which surround them and preoccupy the groups of people living together in a household. In some ways, household things are materialisations of projects, and ideas of being broken and fixed express this.

The Broken Stories project involved a group of Masters students on the UCL course Materials/Anthropology/Design at UCL working with Fixperts on issues of what kinds of fixing happen in the home, and what kinds of situations the Fixperts might get involved in.…

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Austerity Bites: Food Stories from Lewisham

Via Gabriela Nicolescu, Goldsmiths

Exhibition organised by the Goldsmith’sDepartment of Anthropology

Venue: Weston Atrium, Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Private View: 24th May, 17.30 
Dates: 25th May – 6th of June 
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 9.00-21.00

The exhibition presents the result of our ethnographic project Austerity Bites conducted by the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The exhibition is based on an extensive phase of interviews, workshops, collections of objects and artefacts and interactions with different groups of local residents, to hear their stories, talk about their routines, and discuss the many meanings of everyday food consumption for these residents of Lewisham.   The London Borough of Lewisham is one of the most culturally diverse but also one of the most deprived areas of London and has been particularly affected by the politics of austerity that have compounded the effects of a deep economic recession. …

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