Introduction to Session IV: Posthumanism Made Flesh (Taney Roniger)

Entering the seventh day of our dialogue, it’s become clear to me just how much more there is to be explored on our subject. While there are still four days to go, I’m already entertaining the idea of expanding our conversation in book form. In the meantime, however, I want to thank those readers who’ve offered their comments and to encourage more of the same on any of the material we’ve covered. As always, panelists too are welcome to continue threads from past sessions in addition to considering any new ones that might emerge over the next two days. The introduction to Session IV and its questions are below.

Session IV: Posthumanism Made Flesh: Forging a New Century with a Reoriented Aesthetics

Thursday, December 10 - Friday, December 11

Having laid the groundwork for a new posthumanist aesthetics, in this session we will consider what kinds of embodied forms such an aesthetics might give rise to and how they might be experienced by human (and perhaps nonhuman) bodies. 

4.1    Are there certain kinds of aesthetic form that seem especially consonant with posthumanist values, and if so how might our human artifacts better embody them?

4.2    Are there certain materials that seem especially consonant with these values, and if so how can our human-made forms make better use of them?

4.3    The environmentalist Robin Wall Kimmerer has called for a "grammar of animacy" -- a new approach to language that will more accurately reflect the vitality of the natural world. Can something analogous be developed in the visual sphere?

4.4    Given that so much of our contemporary technology is the product of a distinctly humanist agenda, is there a role for technology in an aesthetics oriented toward the decentering of the human?

4.5    If visual perception is no longer reducible to vision alone, and if conceptual thought is no longer separable from the sensorium that gives rise to it, might this mean the erosion of the conventional distinctions between the various artistic disciplines? What might it mean for the tacit hierarchy that places the crafts and decoration beneath the fine arts and design?

4.6    By way of expanding current ideas about spectatorship, can we imagine alternative ways for our species to experience -- or indeed participate in -- aesthetic expression?

4.7    Is there a role for other species in posthumanist art?


karen Treanor said...

Taney, I'm enjoying this forum so much. Thank you for making this happen. I've been reading so many fascinating discussions. I may have missed the answer to this question, but why is post-humanism necessary or desirable? As a species, we are the ones who will be making the art and pondering these concepts, you know? While we're considering the value of the middle vice, my turtle is silent. (i guess I should call her "The turtle who lives with me," lest I be deemed "hierarchical." Anyway, did I miss a discussion about WHY we should adopt a post-humanist mindset? Thanks again. I'm in awe of all the wonderful commentary.

Taney Roniger said...

Karen, I'm so glad you're tuning in, and many thanks for the comment. You might want to first check what I wrote about posthumanism on the symposium's homepage (you'll find the link at the top of the list to the right under "ABOUT"). After that, I might point you to Carrie Rohman's early posts, some of which address emerging ideas about art-making as a universal (i.e., non-species-specific) proclivity. You can find the early posts by going down to the blog archive or by clicking on "older posts" at the bottom right of the homepage. The whole first session might be of interest to you. If you still have questions, I can dive back in with some augmentation!