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Jen Caruso and French Lunning

Faculty Biennial Forum Series
Wednesday, September 19
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12:00-1:00 p.m.

Jen Caruso (Liberal Arts)

Presentation: "On Lists of Last Things and the Representation of Climate Change"

This paper explores the representational form of the listing of objects that will be lost in cultural representations of climate change. A list occurs when "a formal principle has been applied to a sequential presentation of items" usually, "the repetition of the same syntactical function. It can be verbal or visual. Following the analysis of the representational form of listing in Ernst van Alphen, Staging the Archive: Art & Photography in the Age of New Media, I consider listing as a representational form that expresses both a symptomatic response to climate change (oriented towards the past through its mnemonic function, nostalgia, melancholy) - as in Cormac McCarthy's The Road "Make a list. Recite a litany. Remember." I also consider listing as a representational form that is oriented towards the future, in that it does not activate the mnemonic function), but is in fact engaged with the "problem of expressing something that does not yet exist" (135). It is the representational possibilities of listing, because of the apparent contradiction between these two expressions within representational practices that interests me here.

French Lunning (Liberal Arts)

Presentation: "Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project: Between the Endtime and Timelessness"

In 2003, Olafur Eliasson created a now famous site-specific work for the giant space of the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern Gallery called The Weather Project. He had suggested that he had come up with the idea in the midst of a cold winter in London, "when people were talking about global warming." It was comprised of a backlit semi-circle of approximately 200 mono-frequency lights, reflected in a massive mirrored ceiling which completed the image a giant sun and a reflection of the visitors from below as a distant apocalyptic hallucination of an "upside down" present in another time and space. Giving a sense of a distinctly dying sun, humans lie as on a beach, frolicking and taking in the view, with a lack of intensity toward their own eminent demise as well as their own responsibility for it. Though facing a dimming endtime, they seem to taking their distant reflection as a suggestion of a timelessness that denies their finality and assures them of another time that has folded their endtime into a timeless utopic futurity, thus eliding an end of human time on earth. This paper will examine how this work allows for various meditations on time slips and alternative futures suggesting possible scenarios for the future time of humans, and other animals.