TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science
27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta
Through the lens of a current artistic project, this presentation will explore how artistically driven, research-based practice can contribute to knowledge production, specifically around marine science. The presentation focuses on recent texts by key feminist thinkers that have influenced my current collaborative project with sound artist and composer Suzanne Thorpe titled “Serenades for Settling”. This large-scale project is an immersive audio-visual installation and series of participatory workshops that aims to disrupt the detrimental impact of anthropogenic sound on marine life, specifically oysters, by developing symbiotic models of human/other-than-human tending of our ocean ecosystems. The models draw from post-anthropocentric research across the arts, humanities and social sciences that explore the physical, biological and affective dimensions of being beyond dichotomies of nature/culture. Through new sensorial experiences that destabilize our terrestrial-based ways of knowing, “Serenades for Settling” dives deeply into the last vestiges of the unchartered depths of the blue sea to explore how our familiar assumptions of sound, vision and touch can be transgressed and reattuned to better handle our ecological crisis.
Although many theorists, writers, artists and cultural producers have inspired this project, three North American feminist theorists stand out: Nina Sun Eidsheim (UCLA), Melody Jue (UC Santa Barbara), and Natasha Myers (York University, Toronto). Each have their own relationship to theories around materiality and from distinctive perspectives addressing race, gender and sexuality. It is in the intersection of how each theorist positions the biopolitical within liveness and embodiment from their respective disciplines – musicology, media theory and anthropology, where I find unique and innovative models emerge.
The recurring theoretical thread is how each from within and across disciplines call into question assumptions of what proper objects of knowledge are and how embodied and intermaterial practices are advancing a theoretical shift. In the creation of “Serenades for Settling” as object (installation) and dialogic (workshop), a fluid interplay between intuitive making, scientific research and theoretical analysis takes place. In the presentation I provide examples of how the project pushes knowledge forward and develops methodologies that transgress and transcend the limits of mechanized, heteronormative and deterministic models of scientific research.
Rothenberg’s interdisciplinary art draws from digital culture, science and economics to explore symbiotic relationships between human designed systems and biological ecosystems. Moving between real and virtual spaces her work investigates the power dynamics of techno utopias, global economics and outsourced labor. She has exhibited internationally in venues and festivals including ISEA, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center (US), Sundance Film Festival (US), House of Electronic Arts / HeK (CH), LABoral (ES), Transmediale (DE), and ZKM Center for Art & Media (DE). She has participated in residencies, most recently at ZK/U Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik in Berlin, TOKAS / Tokyo Art and Space (JP), and the Santa Fe Art Institute (US). Her work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and has been widely reviewed including Artforum, Artnet, The Brooklyn Rail and Hyperallergic. She is Professor in the Department of Art at SUNY Buffalo (US) where she co-directs an interdisciplinary design studio collaborating with local social justice organizations.