Saturday 26 May 2018

Under Cover: A Secret History of Crossdressers

Here is a selection of images from the show Under Cover: A Secret History of Crossdressers at the Photographer's Gallery.

Sunday 20 May 2018

A selection of notes from the Atmosphere symposium

- celestial sky and earthly atmosphere
- history of how to paint clouds; often solid, thick, substantial
- motive to paint sky: as background? - what happens when clouds or atmosphere becomes the foreground and the privileged subject of a given representation (subject over surroundings/settings)
- sky as forecasting events in literature (metaphorical moods for catastrophic events); weather as prophecy
- technology as invading the sky; sky and weather as intercepting technological messages
- unhealthy vs. healthy atmospheres (airborne disease)
- static air/water as threatening/malarial/hostile and moving air/water as healthy
- picturesque vs. grotesque
- atmospheres fit for environments for human habitation
- air as risking contagion, contamination, pollution
- hospitality and air
- poetic atmospheres
- atmospheric effects of paintings in architectural spaces
- formless topography
- atmosphere as 'presence'
- atmosphere as social conditions
- imagistic distance
- atmosphere created through distance and exclusion (threat of what was being left out)
- atmosphere as myth - created vs. experienced atmospheres
- ecology, encapsulation, catastrophe
- terrestrial limits
- resource depletion and ecological collapse leading to acts of care for the planet
- atmospheres of hope - how to diagnose atmospheres that constitute the present?
- 'sphere' as self-contained entity
- are atmospheres found AROUND us, or WITHIN us?
- subjectivity and political atmospheres
- multiple co-existing and/or conflicting atmospheres
- Brexit/Trump and affective stories of anger/rage/abandonment/resentment - evoking emotion through atmospheres to install change
- atmospheres paired with adjective (e.g. boring/friendly atmosphere)
- mirage as perverse mimesis that threatens the atmospheric
- atmosphere as never finished nor complete
- atmosphere as a word used to describe something upon not finding other words to describe it; yet, atmosphere as impossible to visually describe
- one way to approach the visualities of atmosphere is to investigate the effects and affects of it on real objects in the world (e.g. wind makes the leaves on a tree blow)

Space colonies projects, 1970s

Saturday 12 May 2018

Atmospheres welcome in anticipation of 18 May symposium

I just want to say thank you all for coming today to the Atmospheres symposium and welcome to York. This symposium derived from a line of questioning that seeks to probe how we identify, describe and document atmosphere. What are atmospheres, and how do we grasp them? Atmospheres, in this regard, are not necessarily visually perceived, but often rely on the other senses in order to be experienced.

Gernot B√∂hme has written on atmospheres that: ‘We are not sure whether we should attribute them to the objects or environments from which they proceed or to the subjects who experience them. We are also unsure where they are. They seem to fill the space with a certain tone of feeling like a haze’.

In this line of thinking, Marie, Teresa and I have wished to inquire further into the material and phenomenological potential of this haze in a variety of disciplines including art history, architecture, geography and English literature. There could be, through this line of thinking, many words to describe atmosphere or words that might signify the same mode of experience. Some of these include: mood, affect, aura, ambience and environment. In this way, atmosphere touches on rich ways to encounter the spaces, places and surroundings, whether this is on a planetary scale, or at the level of a room, a painting, or something as simple as a single word.

My own interest in exploring atmospheres comes from my doctoral research on photography and abstraction. My queries in this regard have led me to question how one might go about documenting atmosphere and how, as a result, atmosphere gets visually communicated, particularly through the camera lens. This has led me to explore a variety of photographic instances including Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents, whereby he photographs clouds, as well as formal qualities of photographs that might include a glow or a blur. With this in mind it is with great excitement that I welcome our speakers to what I feel will be a tremendous day, as we collectively seek to unpack this challenging and slippery term.

We hope very much and believe that by facilitating this interdisciplinary space for discussion on the variety of types of atmospheres felt and created that we will begin to more thoroughly explore this potent concept that finds its way into research belonging to rather different fields of scholarship. I invite you all to ask questions following the presentations and to participate in the dialogues that will take place.

Some housekeeping: We will have two panels today with three speakers in each and there will be a tea and coffee break in between. The day will culminate with a wine reception here in the Berrick Saul Treehouse. Please do feel free to ask Marie, Teresa or myself any questions you may have and we look forward to a great afternoon!

Friday 11 May 2018

On 'trans'

The following are some thoughts that explore various semantic uses of the term ‘trans’ in an effort to view it in an expanded manner, one that extends beyond what has come to be the colloquial application of it in the context of transgender peoples. 

Perhaps most intuitively, at this point in history, the term ‘trans’ comes to reflect the term transition. Yet, related to this meaning, is the concept of transit, or in other words, the notion of journeying from one place to another. With regard to this spatial-temporal definition, comes another possibility of the application of ‘trans’, such as with, for example, a trans-national highway. With this latter use, ‘trans’ describes something that travels across, and relating to this travel, it suggests a line that occupies and transverses, way of consistent path, a given territory.

Another use of the word ‘trans’ in the English language is in the context of a prefix for words such as transfer or translate. It is with these words in mind that I link such instances of ‘trans’ with the notion of medium. That is, to transfer or translate something necessarily invokes instances and attempts at communication as an effort to deliver a message or render one conceivable. The medium thus, is potentially the trans-person, who adopts the role as mediator or moderator between two poles in order to facilitate exchange.

Friday 4 May 2018

Observations from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

- In a Jewish state, in Jerusalem in particular, I feel more often than not, like a minority as a non-orthodox Jew, despite the prevalence of many different peoples. Streets differ one from the next

- There is a big discrepancy between different kinds of Jews, and I cannot find connections between my Judaism and that of the Orthodox community in Jerusalem

- Tel Aviv feels like a city concerned with the future, while Jerusalem is occupied with the past in a manner that does not always feel progressive

- Political tensions are felt more in Jerusalem. This city as a contested site, holy for many peoples, is palpable

- Extremes, both Jewish and Muslim are felt more in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv

- Different denominational groups seem to be more harmonious in Tel Aviv, which feels like a European urban centre

- I feared, initially, that going to Israel, I would return to the UK feeling more Jewish in a manner that I worried would conflict with my political views. Despite this initial anxiety, I have come to feel, for a variety of reasons, less connected to the Jewish community, particularly in Israel, and even more so in Jerusalem. I think part of this has to do with my thinking on identity and the ways in which, elements of identity often function in tiers. Within this vein of thought, my feelings are the following: I am first a woman, first Canadian, an art historian, and then maybe a Jew. This may be because my Judaism takes the form of secular ancestry more than it does with faith. I wonder in this regard, where my spirituality lies and where I might look to find it?

- I connect very much with the Arabic language similarly to how I feel about Hebrew because of the familiarity of the sounds from my childhood, hearing my grandparents speak to one another as well as sing songs

- Hummus <3