MCP505 Introduction, Outline, and Annotated Bibliography
It all began with death.
The I in a strange, long shadow, disconnected while walking through a familiar landscape, a single point of focus into a palm sized digital screen. What happens when I look up?
What happens if where once I stood in a hot, humid, crowded city I now stand alone, surrounded by snow, glaciers, and storms? What happens if when I look up an ominous sky greets me with the promise of the kind of energy only a storm can create. What happens when I stop and breathe this alien space in? What changes in me? How do I carry the mark of this shared experience with a cold desert landscape? What mark have I left behind from this shared experience? The landscape moves at a much slower pace than most humans, will I even live long enough to know the mark I left? Maybe this all starts and ends with death. A cycle and continuous feedback loop.
I have only just realised that my work is cloaked in death. The realisation coming from a question, “how did this all begin?” I realised it came from the sudden death of a very close friend. At that junction everything changed direction. The compass turned 180 degrees and I began walking into a completely new territory.
In hindsight, it makes sense to face death by becoming enchanted by solitude, the unfamiliar, the nonhuman, the silence. The question has now become, “how do I weave a story of death using breath, light and heartbeats as the protagonists”?
Words and I will aim to be civil purely for the sake of this process. A ceasefire of kinds and after this is written the war will continue. We have an agreement to be respectful enough to work together to tell this story.
A non-linear story that begins with death.
The words above are the introduction I instinctively wrote. Below is the introduction I need to write. My thesis now has 2 connected parts. One as a story written from a nonlinear experience and holographic memory of the process and the other as the theoretical and research based investigation into the same process. The destination will be the same; the journey will be worlds apart. I feel I need both to clarify the direction as I wander amongst both worlds.
Research Question: How do we carry the marks and nuances of a shared experience?
This paper aims to investigate the entangled connection humans have to everything beyond and the self. Questioning perceived borders, intricate networks and nonlinear experiences form the foundation of this research. Initially, intrigued by a physiological phenomenon that occurs when two people hold hands and their hearts begin beating to the same rhythm and pace. This aspect of human synergy led to wanting an understanding of how we are so intimately connected internally through interactions that exist purely in the external world. Is the perception of skin as a border containing the self just an illusion? Could a shift in perception remove the imagined boundaries we have created between each other and between the human and non-human world in which we are enmeshed? Could time spent alone in a frozen and desert landscape reveal the simplicity of our connection to the infinite through the air that we breathe?
The following research will investigate sensory perception, neuroscience, psychology and biology in an attempt to understand the human connection to complex webs and bio-spherical systems. A sense of disconnection to the planet that supports us is an idea that permeates the modern human experience. The complexity of constructed networks and intricately entangled disconnection created by our immersion in technology has opened both an opportunity and a need to re-evaluate the human and nonhuman relationship as a form of reconnection. This paper aims to show the potential that lies beyond social and cultural alliances, imagined borders that disconnect and to challenge the commonly perceived hierarchy of the human above all else. A (re)connection to our environment appears to be one of the most critical issues of our time.
We are so embedded (or entangled) within the complexity of multiple networks it is challenging to navigate our way into a different mode of thinking, even for those who grasp the urgency of the ecological problem we now face. Pace and connected acceleration in all facets of constructed networks call for the need to slow down and to realign with the rhythm of our surroundings.
Through this research, I am aiming to highlight the psychological friction our current relationship with our environment is creating and to recall the deeply seeded awareness we all have of our place within the living, breathing landscape…the landscape as an active participant in our existence.
In an attempt to demystify the complexity of networks, I will investigate one of the most intimate systems we share, breathing. We all breathe and we all understand the importance of breathing. It is a unifying connector across time and space. The principal question is, can the power of all networks be demystified by the simplicity of knowing the most intimate network? Can the breath potentially become a valuable pedagogical tool for reconnection?
The aim is not to establish definitive answers but more to journey into the fascinating and unexpected territory these questions lead. The perplexing shadows of mysticism, creation theories and cultural psychology are amongst those wanderings. Most unexpectedly, this curious inquiry led to an intimate encounter with solitude, enmeshed within an enchanted landscape and an arctic atmosphere that regularly took your breath away.
The Brain, 2015. [DVD] Dr David Eagleman, United Kingdom: BBC.
This is a 6-part documentary by Dr Eagleman that focuses on different aspects of understanding the human brain and the social impact our brain has on behaviour. And although all six episodes were fascinating, episode 5 “Why I Need You?” was the most relevant to this research. This segment investigates the social nature of our brain, how we establish our sense of community, what happens to the brain during times of intense isolation (such as prolonged solitary confinement) and how social revolutions and genocides lure people into acting in ways they would never have expected they could act. Understanding brainwashing, propaganda and the ways our brain choose to be influenced by these political tactics is crucial in the current divisive political climate if we are to have any chance of eliminating perceived borders and replace them with a connection to each other and our environment.
Abram, D., 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world. 1st ed. New York: Vintage Books.
The Spell of the Sensuous investigates ecological philosophy and presents research that examines the power of our senses and their role in gaining a greater understanding our place as a connected part of nature. The ideas discussed in this resource challenge the commonly held Western belief of the human above all else, controlling and dominating the planet and treating it as some kind of theatrical stage for humans to play in. This book is relevant to my research in that it draws knowledge from far-reaching cultural philosophies. The interconnection of the human identity within the context of being equal to the nonhuman aspects of the world is essential in attempting to answer the research question.
Chapter 7, “The Forgetting and remembering of the Air,” was of particular value for my research in that it provided insight into indigenous Australian philosophy of the creative potential inherent in the medium of air.
“…among the indigenous cultures of Australia, Aboriginal peoples tend to consider the visible entities around them…as crystallisation of conscious awareness, while the invisible medium between such entities …” the unconscious,”…the Alcheringa (dreaming) resides…in the invisible depths of the air itself, in the thickness of the very medium that flows within us and all around us." 227
Ackerman, D., 1990. A Natural History of the Senses. 1st ed. New York: Vintage Books.
Research into the senses is at the core of understanding perception and holds the potential for reconnection to our environment. I am still in the process of reading this book. However, pages 227-279 are of the most relevance to my research. Here the author focuses on vision, light, colour and how to watch the sky ( I wasn't aware that we needed instructions on the last one). Watching the sky became a large part of my time in Iceland and formed the majority of the documentation I collected while there. The atmosphere as the infinite container of air became the space that I most directed my attention.
Arbesmand, S., 2016. Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension. 1st ed. London: Current Publishers.
Samuel Arbesma is a complexity scientist who dedicates his research to understanding the complexity of technology. In this book, he argues quite convincingly, that even the creators of the technology we have become socially enmeshed in don’t quite comprehend the interconnected behaviour of it. Arbesmand examines the future of knowledge in an age of science and technology and the social impact this potentially has on our understanding of the world we have created. To comprehend the ideas in this book takes a significant amount of trust in the author as the ideas he is putting forward show that nobody is actually in control of the digital tsunami we have created. If this is the case then how can we possibly comprehend the psychological impact it is having on us as a human race. The entanglement in which we find ourselves is a significant contributor to the disconnect we now face.
Bachelard, G., 1994. The Poetics of Space. 1st ed. Boston: Beacon Press.
A classic book written in 1958 that examines the phenomenology of inhabited spaces and how it relates to our personal, emotional and psychological response to the space that surrounds us. The psychological analysis of Bachelard’s interpretation of space has given an interesting angle from which to analyse the research question I am posing and the immersive space I am aiming to create.
Barad, K., 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Mater and Meaning. 1st ed. NC: Duke University Press.
Karen Barad is a theoretical physicist who, through her Agential Realism Theory, uses scientific theories and quantum physics to show the world as an interconnected whole rather than being composed of separate natural and social realms.
“In an agential realist account, the world is made of entanglements of “social” and “natural” agencies, where the distinction between the two emerges out of specific intra-actions… Barad reveals questions about how nature and culture interact and change over time to be fundamentally misguided.”
The interconnection of all that lies beyond and within the self is at the core of my research. Using commonly accepted scientific theory to demonstrate this connection is a valid and influential tool in the science-obsessed society that we value so highly.
Braidotti, R., 2013. Posthuman. 1st ed. Cambridge: Polity Publishers.
The Posthuman, by Braidotti, was a valuable introduction to the common discourse surrounding the, often controversial, topic of what it means to live within a constructed posthuman society. Braidotti also questions the effects a globalised, commoditised post-human society has over the sustainability of our planet as a whole – this was all presented through a lens of optimism rather than pessimism which made for a nice change from the usual discussions on such topics.
This book was valuable for my research in trying to gain a fresh perspective of where the human and non-human interconnection currently sits within our social/natural bonds and constructs. Also, what the future postcolonial, racial, gender and environmental spectrum may inevitably look like in the post-human society that Braidotti proposes.
Bruno Latour. 2011. SPEAP (the Sciences Po program in arts & politics). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/124-GAIA-LONDON-SPEAP_0.pdf. [Accessed 8 February 2018].
This paper is a review of the many attempts taken to solve our ecological problems. Using scientific representation along side art and politics the author highlights the contradictory interests of many decision makers hindering any genuine attempt at resolving the issue. Along with the psychology of the general public being so overwhelmed by scale which, has led to an increase in the number of people moving towards denial as a coping mechanism. Latour poses the question, "...what do we do when are are tackling a question that is simply to big for us?" One solution offered by Latour is to become attentive to the techniques through which scale is obtained. The language used through out this paper I found to be quite sarcastic but then again it was originally a lecture given by Latour so maybe he is a sarcastic presenter. The definition of Gai as a scientific concept was valuable as was the relationship of this topic to art.
Cacioppo, J., 2009. Connection. 1st ed. United Kingdom: W. N. Norton & Company.
John Cacioppo is a Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago as well as the Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience.
In this book, Cacioppo presents his research on the psychological and physiological effects loneliness (as a form of disconnection) has on the human condition – going so far as saying that the chronic loneliness that is so prevalent in modern society can alter DNA replication. As research for my project, I created a time of self-imposed solitude, which is very different to loneliness. However, it is the first question a lot of people asked me, "weren't you lonely?" The difference, I think, comes down to the concept of connection. Some of the loneliest people live in massive cities surround by people every single day. And yet people assumed I would be lonely because I removed myself from this crowd. How many times does this question get asked of people in crowded spaces? And yet it is a valid question to ask. Overcrowded cities do not immune you from loneliness. There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the psychology of connection that I hope my research will help clarify.
Chiang, T., 2016. The Great Silence. 1st ed. New York: Electric Literature.
This was one of the best short stories I have read recently. I was drawn to this book initially for the title, The Great Silence. Silence and solitude have become part of the making process for the light drawings as well as part of my research, so I was intrigued as to how you could have a "great silence". This book explains it as another name for the Fermi Paradox: a meditation on two contradictory truths: 1) the idea that we represent the only intelligence in the universe is preposterous and 2) despite the increasing range of our extraterrestrial search, we have found only silence.
After reading the story many times, I found several possible concepts to explore for future projects. The tale succinctly develops an understanding of our connection to the non-human aspect of our existence and the modern human tendency to ignore this connection. It is an excellent example of storytelling as a means to articulate complex ideas.
Connolly, W., 2017. Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming. 2nd ed. United States: Duke University Press.
Chapter 3, Creativity and the Scars of Being, is particularly relevant to my research. In this section, the author documents a dialogue between the neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, Alfred North Whitehead, Herbert Marcuse, and Gilles Deleuze where they venture into topics on subliminal dimensions of human habit, sociality, and creativity. The discussion then leads into classical modes of belonging and the need to be transformed into “multiple sites of attachment in a world that confounds previous notions of individual autonomy…national belonging and market and sate modes of mastery over nature.” The idea of borders creating restrictive modes of thinking is a foundational idea in my work and something this book discusses in detail.
Copper Ramo, J., 2016. The Seventh Sense. 1st ed. United States: Little Brown & Company. Crawford, M., 2015. The World Beyond Your Head. 1st ed. United Kingdom: Penguin.
The fundamental question that this book seeks to address is:
“Endless terror. Refugee waves. An unfixable global economy. Surprising election results. New billion-dollar fortunes. Miracle medical advances. What if they were all connected?”
By examining the networks that connect every aspect of our modern world from DNA to trade to finance and the Internet are we then able to gain an understanding of the current political and social climate we now find ourselves? Connection is the foundation of my research, and this book opens up the potential to grasp the complexity of human and non-human connection. This book was able to articulate the enormity and complexity of the interconnection in which we are enmeshed.
Crawford, M., 2015. The World Beyond Your Head. 1st ed. United Kingdom: Penguin.
Crawford convincingly argues that our current crisis of attention is not only superficially the result of digital technology. There is a myriad of other factors associated with modern life that contributes to the psychological state of disconnection most of us find ourselves in on a daily basis. This book covers a lot of interesting phenomena in human behaviour that we have commonly come to accept as contemporary life, and if this very same behaviour were presented to a person even just a few decades ago, it would have seemed absurd. This book provided invaluable insight into the benefits of focused attention in a world of distracted and fractured mental attention. Crawford's perspective was interesting to read and even though there are vast amounts of literature dedicated to the benefits of meditation and focus this book was fascinating in the relationship Crawford drew between his observation of modern behaviour and the manifestation of the adverse effects of a troubled mental state.
Davis, H. & Turpin, E., 2015. Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, 1st ed. London: Open Humanities Press.
Demos, T., 2016. Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology. 1st ed. Berlin: Sternberg Press.
As the introduction states, “This book investigates the intersection of contemporary art, environmental activism, and political ecology.” In attempting to answer the research question, this book has been an invaluable resource. It has introduced concepts of political ecology that directly relate to attempting to answer the question of how the environment leaves its mark on us when we take the time to contemplate the shared experience. “…political ecology recognises that the ways we regard nature carry deep implications and often unacknowledged ramifications for how we organise society…(8)
Eagleman, D., 2012. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. 1st ed. New York: Vintage Books.
My all-time favourite neuroscientist, David Eagleman can clearly articulate the science behind the most complex organ in the human body. He is a professor at the head of the Laboratory for Perception and Action at Baylor College of Medicine and is the founding Director of the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. Neuroscience has always fascinated me, and I find the connection that exists through perception and often deception can only be comprehended by understanding the inner mechanics and ephemeral workings of the brain. The brain is also one of the most intriguing models of connection and networks known. In this book, Eagleman delves more into the ephemeral or subconscious workings of the brain, which is fascinating when tackled from a scientific perspective. “Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions…”
Elliott, S., 2006. The New Science of Breath. 3rd ed. Texas: Coherence Press.
Based on the classic original teachings, Science of Breath, written over 100 years ago, Elliot has reopened the discussion surrounding the ideas in the presented in the original text. Western science is only just catching up to the ideas proposed by yogis 3000 years ago. The breath is at the core of all our understanding.
Farhi, D., 1996. The Breathing Book. 2nd ed. New York: Henry Hold and Company.
Breath has become the most important aspect of my research and subsequently the practical work I have been creating. Understanding breath as a connection to our environment is a way of connecting us directly to our existence. A considered investigation into the breath from a cellular microscopic perspective right through to a macroscopic view of the atmosphere creates a grounded sense of being enmeshed in the environment rather than dominating over the environment. This book was written from the perspective of Yoga philosophy and Pranayama. An in-depth introduction investigates the power of potential that resides in each and every breath we take. Often we breathe without thought or awareness of the latent potential we hold.
Fer, B., 2009. Roni Horn aka Roni Horn. 1st ed. United States: Steidl & Partners.
I intentionally didn't read any of Roni Horn's writings before going to Iceland, as I didn't want to be influenced by her experiences. I have since only just started reading her work, and I am glad for that decision. There are numerous cross-over ideas and observations that I am grateful I understood our of my own experience and not as a response to Horn's writing. Her description of the desert of Iceland is fantastic and something I had been discussing since before I left. I still have a lot to read in this book.
Flach, S. & Sheman, G., 2016. Naturally Hypernatural III: Hypernatural Landscapes in the Anthropocene. 1st ed. Berlin: Peter Lang Publishing.
This book is a thesis more along the lines of humanity, and arts textbook and so only small sections are relevant to my research. The content of this text delves into contemporary concepts of landscape, which is an intriguing investigation as I talk about the landscape within the context of my research in such a traditional way. I hadn’t stopped to question what a contemporary concept of the landscape could potentially be. This book is volume 3 in the series and looks into land art, ecology and the subjectivity of perception and space. I have a lot more reading I need to do with this text in understanding its relationship to my research.
Geremek, A., 2013. Perception Beyond Gestalt: Progress in vision research (Explorations in Cognitive Psychology). 1st ed. United Kingdom: Psychology Press.
Still waiting for this book to arrive in the post.
Groys, B., 2016. In the Flow. 1st ed. New York: Version.
Written as a series of essays/chapters, Groys intelligently creates a complex web of connection between philosophy, art, politics and the digital age as they have progressed over the past century of turmoil, war and cultural/technical revolutions. Groys units the seemingly unrelated across different times, cultures and circumstances to reveal the depth of our interconnection. The content of this book relates directly to my research topic of the interconnected whole and the ramification and consequences of the mark we are leaving on our environment.
Hackett, P., 2014. Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience: Field of Vision and the Painted Grid. 1st ed. United Kingdom: Psychology Press.
Hett, W., 1957. Aristotle: On the Soul, Parva Naturalia, on Breath. 4th ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Still waiting for this book to arrive in the post.
Johnston, S., 2001. Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software. 1st ed. New York: Scribner Books.
This book is an insightful evaluation of the power of interconnection and the Emergence Theory that seeks to explain why the whole is far more powerful than the sum of its parts. Some of this theory can be explained through adaptive learning, feedback loops and self-organisation. Self-organisation coupled with the interconnection of our internet-obsessed culture has potential beyond what most of us can comprehend. Steven Johnston can explain this possibility despite the complicated and at times counterintuitive nature of a lot of the content of Emergence Theory. To gain an understanding of the potential with interconnection is at the foundation of the conceptual component of my project.
Jordan, J., Moliterno, M. & Nova, T., 2013. The Musician’s Breath: The Role of Breathing in Human Expression. 1st ed. United States: Gia Publications.
Although this book was intended for musicians, the content is invaluable for anyone who would like to imbue their breath with creative intention and more importantly expressive outcome. At times the ideas expressed here require a degree of blind faith in the process, and yet you lose nothing by having that faith – you have to breathe anyway so why not try breathing with intention? The last section of the book gave a fascinating investigation into Eastern philosophy and the breath. For some reason when it comes from the East it sounds more plausible.
Jung, C., 1955. Man in Search of a Soul. 3rd ed. United Kingdom: Harcourt Harvest.
Carl Jung instinctively understood the dominant influence mythology and symbolism had over the psychological structure of the human mind. Jung presented this essay as a lecture in Zurich in 1931. The ideas presented by Jung during this time were heavily contested and debated, and to this day, they are still considered contentious in modern psychology. Breaking away from his mentor, Freud in 1911, Jung went on to develop theories surrounding a collective un/subconscious where symbols are the language used to communicate. Jung argued that the psychological and spiritual unease often felt in modern life is the result of a void or disconnect from what was once a vibrant identification with myth and symbols. This connection to the mythical unknown created a form of wonder with our existence and with nature. With the current rationalised, intellectualised, calculated and intricately dissected response to our environment have we lost a sense of enchantment?
Khan, P. & Hasbach, P., 2012. Ecopsychology: Science, Totems & Technological Species. 1st ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.
While I respect Jung’s perspective and a lot of the ideas he presented in his psychological theories (see references above) I question the references to technology given the time in which it the lecture was presented. Even Jung with all his foresight did not (I don’t think) truly comprehend where we were heading regarding technology. Ecopsychology (2012) speaks a similar language to Jung regarding the importance of understanding our connection to all that lies beyond the self, especially the kinship we share with the nonhuman world (nature). However, this book differs in the understanding that this kinship needs to be integrated with both our scientific culture and technological relationships. Realistically, we need a balance if the more esoteric ideas put forward by Jung are to be accepted into the modern cultural identity.
Koch, C., 2004. The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach. 1st ed. Englewood: Roberts and Company Publishers.
The research presented in this book aims to lay down a scientific, tangible explanation for what the conscious mind is. How are the vast numbers of experiences we have on a daily basis interpreted by our consciousness? Using recently acquired knowledge in the field of neuroscience and in particular the anatomical workings of the brain, Koch seeks to subscribe consciousness to physical structures laid out within the brain’s anatomy. This field of research seems to be working in the far-reaching edges or parameters of biology and takes on the challenge of asking the question, “how do the operations of the conscious mind emerge out of the specific interactions of myriads of neurons?” The brain is one of the most complex and beautifully designed networks that we know of, and a considered investigation into the workings of this system helps to clarify the intricacies of other networks.
Kohn, E., 2013. How Forests Think, Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. 1st ed. California: University of California Press.
This book is an excellent resource for analysing the possibility of how the nonhuman engages and potentially communicate with their surroundings. I notably found Kohn’s analysis of language and semiotics (the creation and interpretation of signs) useful in understanding how forms of communication outside of the parameters of human language permeate our living world.
Kosky, J., 2018. Arts of Wonder: Enchanting Secularity – Walter De Maria, Diller + Scofidio, James Turrell, Andy Goldsworthy. 1st ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Has the modern tendency towards rationalising and intellectualising all aspect of our place within the world subsequently led to becoming disenchanted with the world in which we now live? This is the question posed by Kosky and is similar to ideas Jung presented in the 1930s. A life that was once mysterious is now distilled into calculations, theories and reliable predictabilities. So where does this leave the sense of mystery?
Based on the Max Weber essay, 'Science as a Vocation,’ Kosky, addresses this question by looking at the artwork of people such as Walter De Maria, Diller + Scofidio, Turrell and Goldsworthy. I was particularly interested in the chapter on Turrell for his exploration of light and Goldsworthy for his relationship to the landscape.
The next question Kosky poses is, “Do the works of art let us see an image of the divine in the world we inhabit…?” Although I am not looking into aspects of religion or the divine, I am curious about the ideas of disenchantment with nature that so prevalent throughout modern society. Is art capable of recreating the sense of enchantment through immersive spaces and reconnection to the landscape in the model of Goldsworthy and Turrell? I have found myself favouring works of art lately that does recreate this psychological connection to enchantment. Although I have never seen a Goldsworthy piece, I have experienced many Turrell pieces, and it does create a sense of wonder. This philosophy also relates to works by Yayoi Kusama, Joan Jonas, Pipilotti Rist and Annette Messager. All of these artists have created spaces that appeal to this idea of wonder. Enchantment with the landscape is something I experienced on a daily basis in Iceland, and elsewhere since this time and it is the psychology of enchantment/disenchantment presented in this book that I would like to explore further in the presentation of my work and research.
Kurzweil, R., 2013. , How to Create a Mind: the secrets of human thought revealed. 1st ed. United States: Penguin Books.
Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading futurist and inventors. Here Kurzweil presents theories about the phenomenon of human intelligence, the mind, decision and communication networks and how they all operate within the condition of acceleration. There is a phenomenon known as the Law of Accelerating Return. It applies to both biological and technological evolution, and it states that “any evolutionary process inherently accelerates (as a result of its increasing levels of abstraction) and that its products grow exponentially in complexity and capability.” Kurzweil's point of view is that other intelligent species are unlikely to exist. He states that if they did exist, we would have noticed them by now. It is not a point of view I hold which is why this is a valuable resource. It is valuable to read opposing ideas to your research.
Levine, C., 2015. , Forms: Whole, Rhythms, Hierarchy, Networks. 1st ed. United States: Princeton University Press.
Based on concepts found in design theory, Levine argues that all aspects of human endeavour from politics to art, cultural studies, literature and academia can be traced to an understanding of form. The connection to the four primary forms mentioned in the title is linked to every aspect of our experience as humans. This resource is valuable in that Levine presents the arguments on both sides of the formalist/antiformalist debate.
Lowenhaupt Tsing, A., Buban, N., Gan, E. & Swanson, H.A., 2017. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. 1st ed. United States: University of Minnesota Press.
Compiled as two books in one. Book one is dedicated to the ghosts on a damaged planet, and part two is dedicated to the monsters of the Anthropocene. The two books are in response to the conference, Anthropocene: Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Each chapter is a different writer and essay, most of which hold something that could contribute to my research. The Ghost side of the book contains more relevance to the ideas I have been researching. Quotes such as the following are both poetic in the description and relevant regarding research:
“Winds of the Anthropocene carry ghosts…This book offers stories of those winds as they blow over haunted landscapes.” G1
Martin, B., 2015. Mental Silence. 1st ed. Switzerland: Xlibris Publishers.
This resource presents ideas surrounding the mind through an understanding of meditation, Eastern philosophy and focus. Dr Martin Bernard is a trained psychiatrist who has spent the past 48 years studying Buddhist meditation techniques (based on breathing). Martin comes from a unique position of being a medically trained Western doctor with a deep understanding and respect for the Eastern practice. Western science is finally catching up to 3000 years of yoga philosophy, and this book presents both sides of the approach.
Morton, T., 2016. Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. 1st ed. United States: Harvard University Press.
Timothy Morton convincingly argues, with wit and humour, that our understanding of the ecological crisis we face is a Mobius strip – our comprehension loops back onto itself as a fundamental position of accepting that it is just how things are. There is such a familiarity expressed in this idea. Regardless of how concerned we may be towards the future sustainability of our planet, it is difficult to know how to remove yourself from the problem – the complexity of social structures that we are dependent upon seem entrenched into the human identity.
Morton explains the concepts of this loop in such a lyrical and intelligent way that it changes the way you think about the entire subject.
Ramacharaka, Y., 2015. Science of Breath. 1st ed. United Kingdom: Skyros Publishing.
It is futile to attempt to research the significance of breath without delving into the 3000-year-old science of yoga. And although yoga has many channels of investigation, they all, at some point, intersect with an understanding of the breath. Hindu Yogis have always paid significant attention to the science of breathing, and this book is a classic text that demystifies their knowledge. The fact that this book was written over 100 years ago (a blip in the history of passing on knowledge) is insignificant from an Eastern point of view. Unlike most in the West who are fixated on the latest source of information, in the East it is knowledge imbued with time that receives that most attention.
Rogers, A, 2008. Drawing Encounters: A practice-led investigation into collaborative drawing as a means of revealing tacit elements of one-to-one social encounter. PhD. United Kingdom: University of Arts London.
This was an academic paper that I found while researching my initial proposal that considered incorporating drawing as a social practice for engagement with strangers. My project has changed significantly since then, but some of the ideas presented in this paper are still relevant as drawing continues to be an essential component of the project. There are ideas presented in this thesis that look at the psychology of drawing, the playfulness it inspires in people and the connection it can create through a materialised record of encounters. Also, Rogers discusses and analyses space, the space in between encounters, the space in between people as they draw together, and the space the two participants chose to go into on the drawn surface – whether to invade each others space.
Ramachandran, V., 2012. The Tell-Tale Brain. A neuroscientist’s quest for what makes us human. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
The Tell-Tale Brain uses storytelling techniques to give an in-depth understanding of complex concepts associated with connecting the physical anatomy of the brain with areas of language, creativity, thought and consciousness. Most importantly, for my investigation, Ramachandran presents significant research into perception, senses and the brain’s role in understanding through reading and interpreting biofeedback systems. It is through these systems that the brain can connect to the outside world. It is such a strange concept when we stop to think about the fact that the brain spends its entire life enclosed in a dense case of darkness and yet is responsible for every aspect of perception and therefore determines how we experience a world it has never directly been a part of.
Sabini, M., 2002. C.G. Jung The Earth has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life. 1st ed. California: North Atlantic Books.
This book is a compilation of Carl Jung's notes, writing and lecture documentation that advocates for a renewed connection and understanding of the natural world. By identifying with small communities (even in cities), by working less, making less use of technology (written well before the tech revolution – I wonder what Jung would think of the current state of technological dependency) and reconnection with the natural environment as a means to heal psychological dysfunction. The aim for all of this is not to repair nature but rather to let nature repair us. Jung identified that he was living in (and we are still living in) "a hyper-masculine, linear, causal and goal-orientated obsession with the material outer world in conjunction with extensive instinctive atrophy." Jung identifies that the biggest problem is the belief that we can dominate nature combined with the idea that we no longer believe that we are nature.
Spinelli, C, 1995. Roni Horn. Journal of Contemporary Art, online, 1-7.
In this journal article, Spinelli interviews Roni Horn in regards to her process, the variety of media, conceptual considerations and general ideas that surround her work.
Todd, M., 1937. The Thinking Body. 1st ed. New Jersey: Princeton Book Company.
This is a classic book that presents research that is still relevant to this day. It focuses on the effect psychological states have over the movement of the body; how we carry what we think within the physiology of our body structure. The connection between mind, body and breath and its relationship to our connection to the outside world through movement within space is an interesting idea to investigate further for this research. It also directly responds to the question of how we carry the marks of a shared experience.
Turkle, S., 2005. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. 1st ed. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Turkle's book is about the psychological effect of encountering a machine that has the potential to incite in us a different mode of thinking about our abilities, our thoughts, memories and comprehension of the world. First published 20 years ago, computers have since become infinitely more complicated. However, according to Turkle, the fundamental relationship we have with interactive media from a psychological point of view has stayed the same. Computers have changed, but we as humans have not. What has changed is how we interact with computers, and the dependency and in some cases, classical signs of addiction are ever more apparent and accepted as a social norm. The psychology of this relationship and its effect on social engagement and engagement with our surroundings is the valuable aspect of Turkle's research.
Turkle, S., 2012. Alone Together: Why we more from technology and less from each other. 1st ed. Chicago: Basic Books.
Sherry Turkle has been at the forefront of research into the psychological effect of computers and the potential social consequences for the current tech. revolution. She is a professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle has a double PhD in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University. The focus of her research (and this book) is the subjective side of human relationships with technology. In this reference the writing focusing on the human sacrifice we are making for electronic companions, social media networks and the paradox of isolation/loneliness through this new form of connectivity.
Weschler, L., 2008. seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees. 2nd ed. California: University of California Press.
With over 30 years of documented conversations with the artist Robert Irwin, Weschler has presented a comprehensive overview of his life and art and their intertwining connection to each other. I valued the section that discussed Irwin’s gradual progression from painting to dealing with the diffusion of the edge of the painting through to the point of removing the painting altogether and dealing purely with the perception of diffusion, light and the absence of all edges. There was one section in the book that was of particular relevance where Irwin describes his time in self-imposed isolation, removed from language and human contact for months on the island of Ibiza in Spain. This description, although very different to my experience, was interesting to see how this then lead Irwin to change his approach to art making and perception.
YouTube. (2016). Everything Is Connected - Here's How. [Online Video]. 4 November 2016. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyr4qORDu2A. [Accessed: 14 February 2018].
Tom Chi is an inventor, engineer, astrophysicist and mathematician. He is a founding member of Google X where helped develop self-driving cars and Google Glass amongst other things. In this talk, he manages to speak about everything I have been looking at over the past two years, even down to using the breath, the heartbeat and the mind to discuss how intimately we are connected.
Please note that some of the books listed above were also present in my first year bibliography. My research and project development as been a continuous process throughout the 2 years and so key topics remain relevant for this years research paper. I have updated the annotation to meet the needs of the current research and only kept books that are still relevant to this thesis. Any of the books that have no annotation means I am waiting for them to arrive from overseas or have not yet read them.