Are the things around us mostly dead, or are our surroundings alive? Earth Sciences Professor Jerome Gaillardet considers the role of materials in the Critical Zone, Earth’s permeable near-surface layer: ‘It is necessary to realize that in the Critical Zone materials are not fixed; they move continuously, carried by air, by rivers, or by humans, and that the water with which they interact follows complicated filtration paths that are often not known or less rapid’ (Gaillardet 2020). In Vibrant Matter, political theorist Jane Bennett proposes that matter, or material, has its own agency, its own aliveness, its own vibrancy (Bennett 2010). Understanding the physical and material world as separate from the human, as inorganic, as lifeless, or dead, perpetuates myths of human domination, and reduces matter to economic value. With the latter being the dominating narrative in western society, how might artistic research help shift the perspective? This talk proposes the materiality of place as a departure point and artistic framework, as one possible answer to this question.
View all the Living Artefacts Presentations here