M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents
The colloquium is an exciting opportunity for Ph.D. candidates to share their research and receive feedback from faculty and colleagues across a wide range of departments.
Andy Alfonso (Spanish / Portuguese)
Punctum Dolens, or a Matter of Reparation: Infrastructures of Death in 1960s Cuba
This presentation focuses on the system of labor camps established in Cuba from 1965 to 1968. Often referred to as UMAP, for its acronym in Spanish, these Military Units to Aid the Production served as “re-education” centers for some personae non gratae, who were forced into unfree labor in service of economic progress. Through an exploration of testimonies penned by survivors and witnesses, I contend that the UMAP constitute ground zero for the performance of processes of dispossession, conversion, and extraction, identification, litigation, and memorialization, all rooted in a matrix of violence imbued with affect. To that extent, this talk will examine the ways in which infrastructure and the distribution of space, in conjunction with the aesthetic reinventions of the spatial order, have informed practices of oppression and insurgency in contemporary Cuba.
[Dissertation — Un/exceptional Shadowlands: Space, Memory, and Archives in the Wake of the Cuban Revolution]
Ruo Jia (Architecture)
From “Objective Architecture” to “Earth and Wood”: Reimagining a Chinese Experimental Space
This paper reexamines Chinese Experimental Architecture from the 1990s and early 2000s, by closely reading at the proposal of an “Objective Architecture” by Yungho Chang in his article “Literature and Architecture” (1997). It traces and unpacks the intellectual debt and mutations of Chang’s “Objective Architecture” from Roland Barthes’ literary critique of Robbe-Grillet in the late 1950s, for example, “Objective literature (1954).” Moreover, it points to such interdisciplinary translation’s further critical repercussion in the group of architects’ envisioning of a new identity of “architecture” in the midst of the country’s identity reformation. The “Objective Architecture” would see its extensions and reformulations in terms such as “Ying Zao [bricolage]” (2000) “Jian Zao [construction]” (2000) and “Tu Mu [Earth and Wood]” (2002), all intended as replacement of “Jian Zhu [architecture]”— the normalized term in mandarin for “architecture.”
[Dissertation — Different Shades of the Concrete: French Poststructuralist Theory or Chinese Experimental Architecture]
Benjamin Murphy (Art & Archaeology)
Video on Paper: Picturing Politics in Latin America, 1974-77
Beginning in the early 1970s, video emerged in Latin America as a novel tool of artistic experimentation uniquely suited to exploring modes of regional connectivity. With its capacity for instant, mass transmission, the medium promised to configure an alternative network of artistic production and reception centered in the Global South, a network toward which many of Latin America’s first generation of video artists oriented their work. It is thus quite ironic, given this historical enthusiasm for video’s technological specificity, that much of the work produced by these artists today appears only on paper through various documentary traces. Engaging contemporaneous debates in Latin American sociology and political science regarding the representation of political processes through various media apparatuses, this presentation considers the paradox of video’s representation on paper as a heuristic through which to approach discussions of dictatorship and dependency that animated Latin American social analysis during the 1970s.
[Dissertation — Fieldwork: Problems of Observation and Archive in Latin American Video]
Bart-Jan Polman (Architecture)
Fragmenting Frameworks and Integral Integration: the Liga Nieuw Beelden and its Quest(s) for Embeddedness
In 1954, the Liga Nieuw Beelden [League of New Plastic Creation] was formed in the Netherlands. As much a lobbying group as a platform for theoretical interaction, the Liga sought to organize interdisciplinary conversations between architecture, the arts, industry and other fields. Its central tenet was a quest for ‘integration;’ a trope of the time and a term the meaning of which it failed to define properly. Mirroring contamporaneous debates ranging from techno-scientific, systems-oriented architecture to racial and politico-economic integration (the latter most notably through the creation of the European common market), discourse by actors in and around the Liga would evolve from discussions on the synthesis of the arts towards that of an integrated global marketplace triggered by the dis-integration of Empire. This presentation will focus on how such architectural discourse participated in the long-durée of what would eventually be called the neoliberal turn, including the belief, as Liga-affiliate Jaap Bakema stated, that “[t]he Euro-market for example, will also influence the form of a house in Randstad Holland.”
[Dissertation — Fragmenting Frameworks and Integral Integration: the Total Turn and Quest(s) for Embeddedness of Dutch Architecture in the Context of European and Global Markets, 1955-1979]