Leading theorist to headline York’s Summer Institute in Visual Arts

Internationally renowned theorist and educator Manuel De Landa is the keynote speaker for Engaged Practices, the third annual Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts, to be presented by York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts May 3 to 11.

De Landa will give a free public talk titled “Matter Matters” on May 5, at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). His address will be complemented by a number of other guest Manuel De Landapresentations, seminars and studio visits at York’s Keele campus.

Left: Manuel De Landa

Engaged Practices will examine how art fosters a network of social complexity. The guest presenters will consider the materiality and representation of social and political questions generated in the studio and on the street, and by the innumerable nodes between them.

In his free lecture “Matter Matters”, De Landa will look at how morphogenesis – the birth of form – has become a central theme in many scientific disciplines. It can be entirely spontaneous, as in the genesis of geological, meteorological or biological forms, or it can involve human beings as agents. De Landa’s talk will focus on natural morphogenesis, arguing that a deeper knowledge of its secrets can be of great help to artists and designers, opening up a new reservoir of expressive resources.

Using the theories of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) as a frame of reference, De Landa’s research spans a wide range of contemporary science, art and technology, from self-organizing matter, artificial life and artificial intelligence to nonlinear dynamics and cellular automata. He is the author of many influential publications, including War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (1991), A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History (1997), Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (2002), A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (2006) and Philosophy and Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason (2011).

Mexican-born and now based in New York, De Landa began his career as an experimental filmmaker. He went on to become a computer artist, programmer and software designer before emerging as a leading exponent of contemporary critical theory and philosophy of electronic culture. A former adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, NYC, he is currently the Gilles Deleuze Chair of Contemporary Philosophy and Science at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and adjunct professor of philosophy in the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.

Artist Michel Daigneault, director of York’s Graduate Program in Visual Arts and organizer of the Goldfarb Summer Institute, will moderate a Q&A session following De Landa’s lecture, which is presented in collaboration with MOCCA.

The day before his talk at MOCCA, De Landa will give an on-campus seminar about his groundbreaking application of assemblage theory as a theory of society, suggesting that all entities are constituted from heterogeneous subcomponents that do not meld into a seamless whole.

Lee Rodney The summer institute on Engaged Practices kicks off May 3 at York University with a talk by Lee Rodney (right). Her presentation, “Collaborative Practice: Relational or Social?” questions whether there is a valid distinction between the theories of relational esthetics and social practice. Given they cover similar territory in terms of the concern for activating the political and social dimensions of a site, history or community, is it a geographical divide that keeps them distinct? Rodney explores this idea by examining recent collaborative practices.

An associate professor of art history and visual culture at the University of Windsor, Rodney has published extensively on the changing cultural perceptions of time and identity in media culture. Her current research investigates the fragmented cultural geography of border regions in North America. Collaborative projects include the Visible City Project and the Border Bookmobile.

Irmgard EmmelhainzOn May 4, Irmgard Emmelhainz (left) will discuss Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme, which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Emmelhainz asserts that Godard’s use of images of Palestine and Palestinians shows the paradigm of esthetic-political representation. Referencing Ariella Azoula’s visual conceptualization of the Palestinian conflict in her seminal book, The Civil Contract of Photography, Emmelhainz considers how Godard offers new ways of imaging the conflict in the terrains of the image and of language.

Emmelhainz was a Fulbright scholar at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and earned her PhD at the University of Toronto with a thesis on “Jean-Luc Godard and the Palestine Question”. She has published widely on Godard and contemporary art, and currently works as an independent translator, researcher and scholar in Guatemala City, where she teaches cinematic analysis.

Jessica WymanArt historian, critic and curator Jessica Wyman (right) offers the final public talk in the series on May 11. Her presentation “‘Nobody Does Anything New’: Originality, Attribution and the Homage Effect” takes up some current adaptive impulses in art-making and considers some of the theoretical frameworks whereby engaging works and practices of the recent past continues to be productive for contemporary art-making and critique.

Wyman is an assistant professor in the Faculties of Liberal Studies and Art at OCADU. Her teaching and research interests centre on contemporary performance theory and historiography, adaptation studies and conceptual art practices. Working as an art critic for more than 15 years, she has published widely in international art magazines and journals, and has an occasional curatorial practice.

As part of their residency in the Goldfarb Summer Institute, De Landa, Rodney, Emmelhainz and Wyman will meet with PhD candidates in visual arts at York. Other featured guests participating in on-campus discussions with students, responding to doctoral presentations and conducting studio visits will be artist and writer Emelie Chhangur, assistant director and curator of the Art Gallery of York University; video artist, writer and theorist Richard Fung, professor of integrated media at OCADU; and installation and video artist Ivan Jurakic, director/curator of the University of Waterloo Art Gallery.

For full details including lecture times and locations, visit the 2011 Goldfarb Summer Institute website.