Environments and the Ecological Self

An environment, by definition, denotes the surroundings in which we and other organisms live and develop. This conference invites interrogations of what an environment is while anticipating alternative understandings of the concept and its physical referent. Our current failure to effectively respond to the planetary crisis is in part due to an antiquated notion of the environment. Moreover, it also results from the available ways in which we can represent and experience an environment. Rooted in Western imperialism and capitalist modes of production, the anthropocentric notion of nature and the environment needs to be interrupted in order to accommodate and sustain new futures.

How are perceptions of spatial contexts affected by existing sensory and affective capabilities? What theoretical frameworks inform our understandings of the environment? This conference invites emerging scholars and practitioners in the humanities, arts, and social sciences to present work that broadens our current understandings of the environment and how it mediates both human and non-human experiences. Hosted by the University of Rochester’s Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, this conference aims to foster an environment for interdisciplinary communication, knowledge exchange, and collaboration.

Co-Chairs: Mimi Cheng and Peter Murphy

Organizing Committee: Clara Auclair, Alicia Chester, Lauren DiGiulio, Byron Fong, Eitan Freedenberg, Jiangtao (Harry) Gu, Amanda Ju, Almudena Escobar Lopez, Tristan Menzies, Alisa Prince, Julia Tulke

April 6th


5:00 — 6:30
1o1, Goergen Hall
Keynote: “Louise Lawler’s Play Technique,” Rosalyn Deutsche, Barnard College.
6:30 — 7:30
Welcome Reception
The Hartnett Gallery, 2nd Floor, Wilson Commons

April 7th


*All public events on Friday will be held in Conference Room D, Humanities Center, 202 Rush Rhees Library
8:00 — 8:30
Breakfast and Coffee/Tea
8:30 — 8:45
Opening Remarks
8:45 — 11:00
Panel 1: Dissolving the Self
Discussant: Leila Nadir
  • Karel Doing, University of the Arts London, “Visualizing Growth and Decay, or How to Express Critical Post-humanism.”
    Please join us for an evening of films and performances by Doing on Saturday. See below for details.
  • Allain Daigle, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, “Writhing World-Flesh: Exhausted Humanity in Leviathan (2012).”
  • Nolan Oswald Dennis, MIT, “From the Anxious South.”
11:00 — 11:15
Snack Break
11:15 — Noon
Film Screening: Neil Sanzgiri, At The Top of Grasshopper’s Hill


Noon — 1:00
Lunch Break
1:00 — 2:45
Panel 2: Spatial Subjects
Discussant: A. Joan Saab
  • Neil Sanzgiri, MIT, “Ecologies of The Black Palace: Subjugation and Representation in the National General Archives of Mexico.”
  • Dimitri Brand, Yale School of Architecture, “A View from A to B: The New Temporal Infrastructure.”
  • S. Alana Wolf Johnson, University of Rochester, “Clean Ears, Soundmarks, and Schizophonia: Acoustic Ecology from the World Soundscape Project to One Square Inch”
2:45 — 3
Coffee Break
3:00 — 4:35
Panel 3: Outside of Ourselves
Discussant: William Schaefer
  • Anna Foran, SAIC, “Anne Ryan and the Here and Now.”
  • Joshi Radin, SAIC, “Earthrise, the Anthropocene and Visuality: From Oversight to Shortsight.”
4:35 — 4:45
Closing Remarks
Closing Reception (private)

April 8th


The Visual Studies Workshop Auditorium, 31 Prince Street, Rochester, NY
Admission: $5 suggested donation
Visualizing Critical Posthumanism: films and performances by Karel Doing
A series of works in search of a new narrative regarding nature and culture, using recycled and hand-processed film stock, organic chemistry, live performance and inventive digital camera extensions.
  • Pattern/Chaos
    Expanded cinema: 16mm, kinetic and optical objects, shadow-play, color and b/w,18 minutes, 2015
  • Wilderness Series
    DCP (35mm to digital cinemascope), 14 minutes, color, 2016
  • London Plane
    HD video, 10 minutes, color, 2017
  • Creek Road Bridge
    HD video, 3 minutes, color, 2017
  • Monumental Errors
    Expanded cinema: 16mm, voice, bell, b/w, 5 minutes, 2017
Co-Sponsored by the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, Visual Studies Workshop and The College at Brockport, State University of New York.