Running with Concepts: The Geologic Edition

Saturday November 28 & Sunday November 29, 2015


MiST Theatre, CCT Building
University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM)

Image: Aislinn Thomas, Rock Disguises (for rocks and humans), 2015.



PATRICIA CORCORAN (geologist, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences and the Director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Western Ontario) & KELLY JAZVAC (artist, Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts, University of Western Ontario), MIRIAM DIAMOND (environmental scientist, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto), SARAH ANNE JOHNSON (artist, Winnipeg), STEPHEN MORRIS (J. Tuzo Wilson Professor of Geophysics, Department of Physics, University of Toronto), and ANNA-SOPHIE SPRINGER (writer, editor, curator, and co-director of K. Verlag, Berlin).



Singular Metabolism
Performances by Francisco-Fernando Granados, Onyeka Igwe, Julie Joosten, and angela rawlings Organized by cheyanne turions

A Reading of Art in the Anthropocene
Initiated by Etienne Turpin, facilitated by Alexandra Berceanu, and read by John Paul Ricco


*Watching Rocks by Meghan Price will stream live from Banff for the duration of Running with Concepts: The Geologic Edition.



Nicole Clouston & Quintin Teszeri, The Ecology of Mud
Karina Irvine, Your Nature is Uncanny: Temporality and Humour in Rosemarie Trockel’s "A Cosmos"
Marc Laflamme, The Ediacaran Extinction: The First Mass Extinction of Complex Life
Gwen MacGregor, Productive Failure
Jaclyn Quaresma, “Or do you not think so far ahead? Cause I’ve been thinkin' 'bout forever…” 
Aislinn Thomas, Rock Disguises (for rocks and humans)
Man-Yin Tsang, Sinking from the seafloor
Amanda White, What’s it like to be a plant?
Sean Smith, F---CKING: Aporetic Speculations in Geophilosophy and Aesthetics


Hosted and moderated by Christine Shaw (Director/Curator of the Blackwood Gallery).


This hybrid event is part-workshop, part-conference, part-crit session, part-master class, part-experiment, part-chance composition. The event is founded on the following questions: How do ideas take form? How does one embark on the process of extracting, editing and distilling an idea into a presentable format? These types of questions are found in all disciplines.

In the third edition of this serial event, we seek to engage transdisciplinary debates and studies of the geologic as source of explanation, motivation, and inspiration for understanding and responding to conditions of the present moment. Recent natural and human-made events triggered by or triggering the geologic have made volatile earth forces perceptible and relevant with new levels of intensity. How can the arts, sciences, and humanities contribute to a critical awareness and understanding of these transformations?

This intensive two day event will be led by the six invited mentors and feature presentations by graduate students, recent alumni, artists, and scholars selected from the submissions we received.


This event is connected to the exhibition The pen moves across the earth... held concurrently at the Blackwood Gallery from September 16 to November 29, 2015.

For maps and directions, click here.


FEE: $40 for both days
Includes lunch and transport from downtown Toronto
*Free for presenters and current U of T students (with valid TCard)

Click here to register.


Questions? Email:



10:00 - 10:30: Christine Shaw, Introduction
10:30 - 11:30: Patricia Corcoran & Kelly Jazvac, Plastiglomerate: geologic symbols of anthropogenic influence
11:30 - 12:00: BREAK
12:00 - 12:30: Aislinn Thomas, Rock Disguises (for rocks and humans)
12:30 - 1:00: Amanda White, What’s it like to be a plant?
1:00 - 1:30: Man-Yin Tsang, Sinking from the seafloor
1:30 - 2:30: LUNCH
2:30 - 3:30: Stephen Morris, Emergent Patterns in Nature and the Laboratory
3:30 - 4:00: Karina Irvine, Your Nature is Uncanny: Temporality and Humour in Rosemarie Trockel’s "A Cosmos"
4:00 - 4:30: BREAK
4:30 - 5:00: Gwen MacGregor, Productive Failure
5:00 - 6:00: SPECIAL PROGRAM: Singular Metabolism
Performances by Francisco-Fernando Granados, Onyeka Igwe, Julie Joosten, and angela rawlings. Organized by cheyanne turions



10:00 - 11:00: Anna-Sophie Springer, Curating the Anthropocene: A Palimpsest of Species & Spaces
11:00 - 11:30: Marc Laflamme, The Ediacaran Extinction: The First Mass Extinction of Complex Life
11:30 - 12:00: BREAK
12:00 - 12:30: Nicole Clouston & Quintin Teszeri, The Ecology of Mud
12:30 - 1:30: Sarah Anne Johnson, The Shape of Hope in the Shadows
1:30 - 2:30: LUNCH
2:30 - 3:30: Miriam Diamond, Life in the Anthropocene: Are we reducing our ability to solve problems when we need it most?
3:30 - 4:00: Jaclyn Quaresma, “Or do you not think so far ahead? Cause I’ve been thinkin' 'bout forever…”  
4:00 - 4:30: BREAK
4:30 - 5:00: Sean Smith, F---CKING: Aporetic Speculations in Geophilosophy and Aesthetics
5:00 - 6:00: SPECIAL PROGRAM: A Reading of Art in the Anthropocene
Initiated by Etienne Turpin, facilitated by Alexandra Berceanu, and read by John Paul Ricco


*Watching Rocks by Meghan Price will stream live from Banff for the duration of Running with Concepts: The Geologic Edition.


Patricia Corcoran & Kelly Jazvac
Plastiglomerate: geologic symbols of anthropogenic influence
In this two-part lecture, geologist Patricia Corcoran and artist Kelly Jazvac will discuss their fieldwork, research, and artistic outputs of plastiglomerate, a new stone identified by their research team. Plastiglomerate contains mixtures of sedimentary grains, and other natural debris that is held together by hardened molten plastic. It has been considered a potential marker of the Anthropocene. Corcoran will begin with an overview of her co-authored paper, “An anthropogenic marker horizon in the future rock record,” published in GSA Today. Jazvac will follow with a discussion of how the findings from that paper serve as artworks. Both talks will address the ways in which this interdisciplinary, collaborative project first developed, as well as the ways it continues to take shape in relation to the crisis of plastic pollution in oceans, lakes, and waterways.

Patricia Corcoran is an Associate Professor of Earth Sciences and the Director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Western Ontario. Her research focuses on natural and anthropogenic sedimentary deposits. One significant element of her research concerns the distribution, accumulation, and degradation of plastic debris in marine and fresh water shoreline and lake bottom sediments. Her work is supported by government and university grants, and her research has been featured in numerous media outlets, including National Geographic, Science Magazine, Science et Vie, The New York Times and CBC's The National.

Kelly Jazvac is a Canadian artist who is interested in plastic pollution. Her most recent exhibitions in 2015 include Organic Situation at Koenig and Clinton, New York; Site Words, Spoilers and Shoplifters at Diaz Contemporary, Toronto; An other land... and also our own at Prosjekstrom Normanns, Norway; Human Nature at Carleton University Gallery, Ottawa; and Rocks, Stones, and Dust at the University of Toronto Art Centre. She is represented by Louis B. James Gallery, New York, and Diaz Contemporary, Toronto. Jazvac is based in London, Ontario where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Western Ontario.


Miriam Diamond
Life in the Anthropocene: Are we reducing our ability to solve problems when we need it most?
A key distinguishing feature of the Anthropocene is the magnitude and force of global action of the Technosphere. The Technosphere amasses vast resources, some of which become embedded in infrastructure and others of which are emitted as pollutants. Additionally, the Technosphere extracts, synthesizes, uses, and emits “xenobiotics” which are defined as chemicals not normally produced by or expected to be within an organism. The use and emission of xenobiotics is increasing exponentially over time. Xenobiotic chemicals allow for the provision of human support in the Anthropocene. For example, xenobiotic chemicals are critical constituents of human infrastructure, information technology, transportation networks, systems of commerce, etc. The problem with xenobiotics arises when their production, use and/or waste management leads to poisoning, which in turn challenges the ability of humans to manage the functions of the Technosphere. Poisoning is an inevitable outcome of activities in the Technosphere and can cause negative and positive feedbacks to the Technosphere. This talk will explore the complexity of this system through explanations and examples.

Miriam Diamond is a Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto. She is cross-appointed to the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, School of the Environment, and the Physical and Environmental Sciences Program at Scarborough College. The goal of Prof. Diamond’s multidisciplinary research program is to improve our understanding of chemical contaminants from emission, through to transport indoors and outdoors, and ultimately human and ecological exposure. This research has been published in over 100 articles and chapters in addition to receiving media attention. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Geographical Society and was named Canadian Environmental Scientist of the Year in 2007 by that society. She was Co-chair of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s Toxic Reduction Scientific Expert Panel that advised the Minister of the Environment on the Toxic Reduction Act that was proclaimed in 2009.


Sarah Anne Johnson
The Shape of Hope in the Shadows
Sarah Anne Johnson’s photographic series Arctic Wonderland, The Galapagos Project, and Tree Planting capture themes of utopia, the hopefulness and despair of a perfect world, and the human's relationship with the environment. In her artist talk, Johnson will discuss these projects and conclude with a focus on Painted Leaves, a billboard commissioned by the Blackwood Gallery for the exhibition The pen moves across the earth... Oil paint has been hand applied to a chromogenic print of an understory of leaves in a temperate coniferous forest. The leaves are marked with decorative motifs, yet the image is an overture to humanity’s thoughtless imprint on the landscape. In the age of the Anthropocene, many of us are sensing, as Ivan Illich called it, “the shadows our future throws.” These shadows are profoundly shifting our perceptions and yet many of our behaviours seem little changed. Johnson’s disturbance of the surface of the photographic image attempts to find the shape of hope in the shadows.

Winnipeg-based artist Sarah Anne Johnson was trained as a photographer but uses a variety of media including painting, sculpture, and performance. She received a BFA from the University of Manitoba and completed an MFA at the Yale School of Art. Johnson has been collected by several significant institutions and participated in group exhibitions at The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, The Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada, The Guggenheim Museum, The National Gallery of Victoria, and La Fondation Cartier in Paris. In 2008 Johnson was the recipient of the inaugural Aimia Prize for Contemporary Photography and was a finalist for the 2015 Sobey Art Award. She is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto and Julie Saul Gallery in New York. Johnson is featured in The pen moves across the earth… at the Blackwood Gallery, fall 2015.


Stephen Morris
Emergent Patterns in Nature and the Laboratory
Emergence is a ubiquitous feature of geological structures. Patterns self-organize out of apparently formless driving forces. Ripples on sand, cracks in mud, hexagonal columns in lava flows, river meanders, ribs on icicles, and stalactites are all examples of emergent "geopatterns". These shapes evolve and grow spontaneously from unstable dynamic processes of growing, folding, cracking, wrinkling, branching, flowing, and other kinds of morphological development. We appreciate their life-like complexity intuitively. Stephen Morris will present a selection of studies of such geopatterns, both from Nature and in controlled experiments done in his laboratory in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto. Some of his images have been repurposed as visual art and many images and movies are available as open source data in the Icicle Atlas.

Stephen Morris is the J. Tuzo Wilson Professor of Geophysics, Department of Physics, at the University of Toronto, where he leads the Experimental Nonlinear Physics Research Group. His research involves experiments on emergent patterns in fluids, granular media, ice formations, and fracture. He is also interested in natural patterns, and in the history of physics. The shapes Morris studies in his laboratory and captures in his photographs emerge spontaneously from a dynamic process of growing, folding, cracking, wrinkling, branching, flowing and other kinds of morphological development. His photographs have been featured in the Riverdale Art Walk, Project Gallery, and in an upcoming exhibition at Redhead Gallery. He is an organizer of the ArtSci Salon Series at The Fields Institute and an Advisory Board member of Subtle Technologies.


Anna-Sophie Springer
Curating the Anthropocene: A Palimpsest of Species & Spaces
Offering a curatorial perspective on the Anthropocene, Anna-Sophie Springer's presentation takes its point of departure from the juxtaposition of two drawings. First, the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt's panoramic map of the Andes, from 1851, showing a set of steep mountains covered with strata of different types of green forest, rock, and ice; second, American artist Mark Dion's colour pencil work Anthropocene Monument, from 2014, with its compacted pylon of mineral and fossil resources and anthropogenic soil. While the former image is one of the earliest modern cartographic representations of geology and botany as understood in relation to geography and climatic zones, rendering visible for Western science nature as a complex system, the latter schematically depicts the long-term impact of a single species—our own—within the geological subsoil of the planet. Arguing that current matters in natural history are more messy than either of these layered images seems to suggest, Springer will discuss her current research and previous exhibitions and publications which have engaged a complex spectrum of species and spaces to create possible affective and conceptual affinities beyond representation, provoking instead new concepts for increasingly turbulent times.

Anna-Sophie Springer is a writer, editor, curator, and co-director (with Charles Stankievech) of K. Verlag, an independent press exploring the book as a site for exhibition making. Her practice stimulates fluid relations among images, artifacts, and texts in order to produce new geographical, physical, and cognitive proximities, often in relation to historical archives. As a member of the SYNAPSE International Curators’ Network of the Berlin Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Springer co-edits the six-part intercalations: paginated exhibition series co-published by K. and the HKW. Together, moreover, with Etienne Turpin she is the co-curator of the exhibition project 125,660 Specimens of Natural History (Jakarta, 2015/Berlin, 2016). She is currently researching her PhD at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College, London.


Christine Shaw is Director/Curator of the Blackwood Gallery and Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. With an MFA in Visual Art from the University of Western Ontario and a PhD in Social and Political Thought from York University, her practice is committed to curatorial experimentation, collective cognition, and applied philosophical inquiry. She has been active in collectively run autonomous education and curatorial projects, including the Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (2005-2010), and, currently, Letters & Handshakes. Her recent curatorial projects include FALSEWORK, Furnishing Positions, The Figure in the Carpet, and The pen moves across the earth… at the Blackwood Gallery; Migrant Choir at the 2015 Venice Biennale; Carlos Amorales: Black Cloud at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery; and The Work of Wind for Nuit Blanche 2015.

Selected Presenters

The following presentations were selected from proposals submitted in October 2015

Nicole Clouston and Quintin Teszeri
The Ecology of Mud
Mud, a medium often considered lowly and undesirable, is the subject of our experiment/talk/workshop. In this session artists and participants will collectively create a series of sculptures inspired by Winogradsky columns and discuss how the columns work, what they reveal, and their relationship to the microbial sublime. The Winogradsky column is a simple experiment used to cultivate and study a large diversity of microorganisms. We will sculpturally appropriate this scientific experiment in order to render the nearly imperceptible presence of microbial life more tangible through art and its making. The sculptures will be composed of 12" x 3" acrylic tubes in which we will mix pond mud (harvested from a pond on the University of Toronto Mississauga campus) with carbon (newspaper), calcium carbonate (egg shells), and sulfur (egg yolk). Over time and through exposure to sunlight, the sculptures will reveal the microbial life that is an integral part of our ecosystem.

Nicole Clouston explores the sublime nature of chemical and biological processes, as well as the value that can be found in these experiments when their ability to communicate specific information is stripped away through a sculptural practice. Nicole received her MFA from the University of Victoria and is currently completing her PhD in Visual Arts at York University. Her work has appeared in exhibitions in Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal. She is the recipient of a SSHRC Canada Graduate Research Scholarship, the Anne Lazare-Mirvish Award, as well as the Robert S. & Muriel A. Raguin Graduate Scholarship.

Quintin Teszeri is an artist and a writer. He has an MA in Art History from the University of Western Ontario where he is currently completing an MFA in Visual Arts. He has an interest in the inescapability of language, the tenuousness of truth, anarchy, bullshit, poetical embodiment, linguistic corruption, absurdity, skin, finding, taking, deprofessionalization, and recorporealization.



Karina Irvine
Your Nature is Uncanny: Temporality and Humour in Rosemarie Trockel’s " A Cosmos"
Karina Irvine’s research is based on the German conceptual artist Rosemarie Trockel’s exhibition, A Cosmos (2012) and how Trockel utilizes temporality to question the boundary between nature and culture. The exhibition presents an array of artists’ work in addition to Trockel’s own extensive career, spanning from objects borrowed from natural history museums, to surrealist works and women artists whose practice has largely been unrecognized. The effect is a comprehensive view of Trockel’s own wunderkammern (wonder chambers) which reflects a world that hovers between the natural and the surreal. As she creates a re-articulation of how we envision a world of coexistence through her humour, A Cosmos also allows for an interaction that has the ability at first to seduce us, while later digging deeper to explore underlying and difficult themes of social, cultural, and natural realities.

Karina Irvine is a freelance writer from Vancouver, BC. Her research engages in theories of temporality and how duration is made visible in contemporary art practices. She is currently completing a Masters in Art History and Curatorial Studies at York University in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in Decoy, BlackFlash and C Magazine, where she was the recipient of the New Critics Competition in 2013.



Marc Laflamme
The Ediacaran Extinction: The First Mass Extinction of Complex Life
The 540 Ma (million years ago) Cambrian Explosion represents the greatest expansion in animal diversity on Earth. However, this event was preceded by a diverse suite of large complex multicellular organisms: the Ediacara biota. These enigmatic organisms comprised both animals and extinct lineages. Three hypotheses have been proposed to explain their disappearance: 1) An environmentally-driven Mass Extinction due to a rapid and global catastrophic environmental stress, 2) The Cheshire Cat model that proposes a change in the geological conditions responsible for the fossilization of the Ediacara biota and a disappearance that represents a failure of the fossil record rather than an extinction, and 3) a biologically mediated replacement that proposes a replacement of the Ediacara biota by animals due to the evolution of predation and complex food webs. The disappearance of the Ediacara biota marks the demise of the first diverse array of large, complex multicellular organisms. Fieldwork combining geological and paleontological investigation from around the world (Newfoundland, Namibia, Australia, and Iran) has allowed Marc Laflamme to evaluate the tempo and mode of the Ediacaran extinction, and give added context to the dramatic Cambrian radiation of complex animals.

Marc Laflamme is a paleontologist focusing on the Ediacara biota, the oldest large and complex organisms in the fossil record that dominated the oceans until their demise 540 million years ago. Where they fit in the tree of life is controversial, as some represent the oldest examples of primitive animals, while others were likely failed experiments in complex life that went extinct in competition with advanced animals. His research also focuses on the exceptional fossilization of soft-tissues. His search of the oldest fossil evidence of animals has taken him all around the world, including in Newfoundland, Australia, and Namibia. Laflamme is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical & Physical Sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga.



Gwen MacGregor
Productive Failure
In 2013 Gwen MacGregor was invited by The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to create a new installation that reflected on the life of Painters Eleven Jock MacDonald. Part of the core research for her exhibition came from content in a diary MacDonald kept while living on Nootka Island, BC in 1935. In the summer of 2014 MacGregor travelled there, where she shot video that was used along with other objects to create an installation in the Mansion Rooms of AGGV. The exhibition, entitled Circumference, is a portrait of the island with Jock MacDonald as the centre. After the exhibition opened, however, MacGregor was left feeling that she had perpetuated an ongoing erasure of the peoples that live on the island. Nootka has been and remains the home of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht but they were mostly absent from her exhibition. In an unusual turn of events, MacGregor attained permission from curator Michelle Jacques to change her installation in the middle of the exhibition period. She returned to Nootka this summer and shot a new set of videos to replace the originals. She has also invited two Port Alberti artists to stage interventions in the gallery space during the remainder of the exhibition. MacGregor will discuss the challenges of representations of land in Canada across indigenous/non-indigenous perspectives using her experiences both as an artist and as a PhD geography student.

Gwen MacGregor is a Toronto based installation artist who has exhibited extensively in Canada and internationally. She has artworks in collections such as The Art Gallery of Ontario, Oakville Galleries, and Artbank. She is represented in Toronto by MKG127. She received an Honours BA in Art History from York University, a Masters in Human Geography from the University of Toronto, and is currently in her second year of the PhD program.



Meghan Price
Watching Rocks: Banff
How can the everyday be affectively situated within the geologic timescale?
Can living on a 4.6 billion-year-long timeline temper anthropocentrism?
And, what if stone could talk?

In Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman, Jeffrey Cohen writes: “To palm a rock is to press flesh against the first moments of time”. Here he captures stone’s readiness to impress the geologic timescale. He later describes its ability to inspire unknowing, stating: “Despite its promise of unmediated truth, stone does not offer easy or secure knowledge and exceeds any attempt to still it into familiarity”. Cohen expands on stone’s vital force: “Stone is not an obstacle to overcome, but a thing that makes demands, scripts stories, and does not fully yield to human enframing.” Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman models new ways of relating to stone and to the greater material world as does political philosopher Jane Bennett’s theory of “vital materiality” and Don McKay’s “geopoetry”. These are approaches to understanding guided by empathy not anthropocentrism, uncertainty not mastery. Such questions and philosophical and poetic texts form the foundation for Watching Rocks: Banff, the first episode in a series of live-streamed videos of boulders. Screened for the duration of Running with Concepts: The Geologic Edition, the video will at once capture the immediacy that drives human lives now and the near stillness of time within the geologic scale. Further, in delivering a “real live” rock to the room, the video will make possible a shift in the status of geology from subject to participant.

Meghan Price is an interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto. She holds a degree in Textile Construction from The Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles (2003) and an MFA from Concordia University (2009). Her work has been exhibited internationally in venues including the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney, Australia), the Alba School of Fine Art (Holguin, Cuba) and the Centro Metropolitano de Diseno, (Buenos Aires, Argentina). Price has held residencies at Artspace (Sydney), Open Studio (Toronto), the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, and will be in residence at the Banff Centre during Running with Concepts: The Geologic Edition. Meghan Price teaches in the textile studios of OCAD University and Sheridan College and is represented by Katzman Contemporary, Toronto.

*Watching Rocks will stream live from Banff for the duration of the conference.



Jaclyn Quaresma
“Or do you not think so far ahead? Cause I’ve been thinkin' 'bout forever…”
- Frank Ocean, Thinkin Bout You

Lithification is the geological process in which sediment turns to stone. Air and water are removed and solid, sedimentary rock is formed. This process can take tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Forever. The postulation of the Anthropocene has undergone an accelerated cultural lithification. The populace is not willing to wait for languid geologic time to take its course. The Anthropocene is now, and art is showing us the future. What will it look like? How will we not only communicate this period of time, but contextualize it for those who come after us? How do artworks inform the future? In an open conversation we will discuss these questions whilst looking at the ways in which contemporary artists are documenting the potential future effects of the Anthropocene.

Jaclyn Quaresma is an artist and Master of Visual Studies student in Curatorial Studies at Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design at the University of Toronto. Her work in both fields explores the tension between the survival of the environment as we know it and our own survival in the mediated environments we create for ourselves. Her work has been exhibited at the Peter MacKendrick Gallery, 47, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Blackwood Gallery, and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery. Jaclyn was once the co-director of the exhibition space 47 in Parkdale, Toronto.



Sean Smith
F---CKING: Aporetic Speculations in Geophilosophy and Aesthetics
Key to Michel Foucault's theorization of the disciplinary societies was the cartography of power relations presupposed by the diagram of Jeremy Bentham's ideal prison, the Panopticon. But the important element of his analysis concerned the lightness of this panoptic diagram, which could be lifted abstractly to also map certain relations in, for example, the military barracks, school, hospital, or factory. In "Postscript on the Societies of Control," Gilles Deleuze noted that these disciplinary institutions have come under crisis, in some way becoming-fluid or leaking. The contemporary logic of control can thus be understood as one turned liquid. And yet in many cases the strata of discipline have proven surprisingly resilient. This performative paper speculates a geo-logics for our contemporary and proposes an alternative abstract diagram, one of loosing energies and desires: f---cking as energetic abstract diagram for a considered aesthetics and politics.

Sean Smith is an artist, writer, and independent scholar in Toronto. He holds a PhD in Media Philosophy from the European Graduate School in Switzerland and has exhibited and performed internationally as part of the Department of Biological Flow, an experimental collaboration in research-creation with Barbara Fornssler. He was the inaugural Artist/Scholar-in-Residence at Western University and is currently adjunct faculty in site-based studio practice at OCAD University. His latest project, Aqua Rara, weaves a practice of art-philosophistry with athletics and kairotic time to work as a performance-text between multiple water ecologies, swimming gestures, and watching the Aquarium Channel repeatedly on loop.



Aislinn Thomas
Rock disguises (for rocks and humans)
Rock disguises (for rocks) and Rock disguises (for rocks and humans) are a series of papier-mâché sculptures—essentially “faux rocks”—made to accommodate both animate and inanimate bodies. The inquiries of New Materialist philosophers support the intuition that objects, like subjects, are dynamic and influential co-creators of the environment and human experience. Each disguise has at least one set of eye holes for the potential user(s). Made out of simple materials—flour, water, salvaged newsprint and newspaper, and tempera paint—the disguises are biodegradable and susceptible to the elements. Rock disguises can be both humourous and honest; they can offer protection and are vulnerable; they respond to and suggest a world that is more than what it seems. Rock disguises haven’t had a life outside of the studio and the artist is curious to hear participant feedback about how they operate, and in which environments they make the most sense.

Aislinn Thomas is an MFA candidate at the University of Waterloo. Her art practice includes video, performance, installation, and text-based work. Her work brings life to historical models of conceptual art and formalism through humour, narrative, and a sense of playfulness. She is the recipient of several awards including the 2010 Royal Canadian Academy of Arts C.D. Howe Scholarship for Art and Design, a University of Waterloo President’s Scholarship, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Masters Scholarship, and funding from the Ontario Arts Council.



Man-Yin Tsang
Sinking from the seafloor
Under the seafloor, below the surface sand or silt that divers can see, are communities of microorganisms struggling to survive in tiny pore spaces between sediment grains. A few centimeters below the surface of the seafloor, oxygen is used up. Instead of oxygen, microorganisms rely on substrates strange to us to survive. Among these microorganisms, dissimilatory sulphate reducers (microorganisms that take in dissolved sulphate) occupy a large zone in the subsurface sediments. In organic-rich water such as the Chilean shelf, they are responsible for reducing more than half of the organic carbon, out-competing aerobic respiration. Organic matter (microorganisms' food) is increasingly scarce with depth in the sediment. But communities of microorganisms can survive for millions of years. How do they do it? What is it like to live as a sulphate-reducing bacterium in sediments? And how do scientists learn about their activities in sediments hundreds of meters below the seafloor? Let’s take a journey with the microorganisms to check out the very bottom of the sea!

Man-Yin Tsang is a PhD student in Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto. She uses data from the International Ocean Discovery Project to model physical changes, chemical variations, and bacterial activities in marine sediments. Before coming to Toronto, she was a marine geophysicist who surveyed the seas in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines.



Amanda White
What’s it like to be a plant?

“Why not be a vegetable, indeed! [...] He closed his eyes and quietly held out his arms in the direction of the unrisen sun.”- Kōbō Abe, Dendrocacalia 

This presentation will elaborate on some of Amanda White’s current projects and related research questions, which examine how we attempt to relate to and imagine plant life and how such interactions and imaginings may be approached through various forms of cultural production. Some of these questions include: why is looking at plants appropriate in this particular cultural moment?  How is being-plant imagined; for example in fiction, science fiction, and folklore?  How is being-plant considered in our daily interactions, in the contemporary landscape of agriculture and food, field identification and taxonomy through to genetic manipulation? Can interdisciplinary methodologies in artistic practice allow for new ways of imagining human relationships to plant life? White is also interested in how the theoretical framework of these questions can be relevant towards looking at other non-human and non-animal members of our ecological communities.

Amanda White is a Toronto-based artist and a PhD student in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. Her current practice consists of collaborative, participatory, and interdisciplinary work and her research looks at cultural imaginations of nature with a particular interest in human-plant relationships, interspecies exchange, and permaculture. Recent exhibitions and projects have been presented at the Harbourfront Centre (Toronto), The Neighborhood Spaces Residency (Windsor), Plug-In ICA (Winnipeg), ArtSci Salon (Toronto), the Ontario Science Centre, and the thematic residency Food, Water, Life at the Banff Centre. Amanda holds an MFA from the University of Windsor and a BFA from OCAD University.

Special Programs


Performances by Francisco-Fernando Granados, Onyeka Igwe, Julie Joosten, and angela rawlings
Organized by cheyanne turions

Drawing its title from James W. Moore’s idea of “singular metabolism,” which insists on the deeply enfolded nature of social and environmental phenomena, this reading event explores how the exploitation of natural resources is connected to colonization, white supremacy, and a globalization powered by capitalism. These artists and poets, sharing a concern for how discourses around the Anthropocene can obscure social and political structures of power, offer complex interpretations of the historical link between ecological plunder and social injustice. The deep interconnectedness of social life and geological transformation—whether understood as the age of the Anthropocene or not—will require diverse and agile re-imaginings of the human’s relationship to nature and each other. Taking the idea of singular metabolism seriously, artistic reactions to a changing world are as necessary as economic or ecological tactics, and amongst these performances, adequate responses take root.

Francisco-Fernando Granados is a Toronto-based artist. He has performed and exhibited internationally. Recent projects in Toronto include an extended public art work for Nuit Blanche, an installation at Sur Gallery, and a performance at the AGO's First Thursday. His writing has been published in magazines and art journals, most recently in Common Grounds, an exhibition catalogue published by Hatje Cantz, and in voz-a-voz, an online publication platform produced by e-fagia organization. He completed a Masters of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto in 2012.

Onyeka Igwe is an artist filmmaker from London, UK, currently living and working in Toronto. She studied at Goldsmiths College for a Master’s in Non-fiction Filmmaking. She came to video from a radical political-activist experience, hoping to develop filmmaking practice as a way of doing politics. Igwe’s work has been screened in festivals and galleries across the UK, Europe, and North America such as the V&A, London Film Festival, and Internationale Kurtzfilmtage Wintherthur.

Julie Joosten is originally from Georgia but now lives in Toronto. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers Program and a PhD from Cornell University. Her poems and reviews can be read in Likestarlings, Lemon Hound, Lit, Jacket 2, Tarpaulin Sky, The Malahat Review, and The Fiddlehead. She recently guest edited an issue of BafterC, a journal of contemporary poetry. Her first book, Light Light, was shortlisted for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Award, the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Poetry, and the 2014 Goldie Award.

a rawlings is the author of Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006) and Gibber (online, 2012). She holds a Masters in Environmental Ethics and Natural Resource Management (University of Iceland), and is currently a Kelvin/Smith PhD scholar researching performance, geochronology, and Scotland’s western seaboard (University of Glasgow). Shortlisted for the 2013 Leslie Scalapino Award, rawlings’s play Áfall / Trauma will be published in 2016 by Broken Dimanche Press.

cheyanne turions is a Toronto-based writer and curator, currently pursuing a Masters degree in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto. In 2015 she received the inaugural Reesa Greenberg Curatorial Studies Award and the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Emerging Curator of Contemporary Canadian Art Award. She sits on the Board of Directors for Kunstverein Toronto, the Editorial Advisory Committee for C Magazine, and the Advisory Board for the newly federated institution comprising the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and University of Toronto Art Centre. She is the director of No Reading After the Internet (Toronto).



A Reading of Art in the Anthropocene

Initiated by Etienne Turpin, facilitated by Alexandra Berceanu, and read by John Paul Ricco

A performance of poetic, distributed knowledge production will conclude Running with Concepts: The Geologic Edition. Participants will disassemble, read, and reassemble the recently published Art in the Anthropocene for a poetic encounter with chance composition.

1. obtain a printed matter copy of Art in the Anthropocene and a razor blade.
2. cut the book into pieces with the blade & disseminate the book to a group of readers.
3. search the pages you receive to find meaningful turns of phrase, conceptual affinities, or words that are important to you.
4. in random order, read the found passages or words out loud, with the group repeating each phrase together.
5. paste the pages in the order of their reading on the floor.
6. once completed, the text will be read aloud again by an elected member as the statement of the group.

*First performed by Etienne Turpin with Anna-Sophie Springer, Tomás Saraceno, Sasha Engelmann, Jol Thoms & the students of the Institut für Architkturbezogene Kunst (Braunchwig, Germany)


Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies
Edited by Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin
Open Humanities Press, 2015

Taking as its premise that the proposed geologic epoch of the Anthropocene is necessarily an aesthetic event, this book explores the relationship between contemporary art and knowledge production in an era of ecological crisis, with contributions from artists, curators, scientists, theorists, and activists. Contributors include Amy Balkin, Ursula Biemann, Amanda Boetzkes, Lindsay Bremner, Joshua Clover & Juliana Spahr, Heather Davis, Sara Dean, Elizabeth Ellsworth & Jamie Kruse (smudge studio), Irmgard Emmelhainz, Anselm Franke, Peter Galison, Fabien Giraud & Ida Soulard, Laurent Gutierrez & Valérie Portefaix (MAP Office), Terike Haapoja & Laura Gustafsson, Laura Hall, Ilana Halperin, Donna Haraway & Martha Kenney, Ho Tzu Nyen, Bruno Latour, Jeffrey Malecki, Mary Mattingly, Mixrice (Cho Jieun & Yang Chulmo), Natasha Myers, Jean-Luc Nancy & John Paul Ricco, Vincent Normand, Richard Pell & Emily Kutil, Tomás Saraceno, Sasha Engelmann & Bronislaw Szerszynski, Ada Smailbegovic, Karolina Sobecka, Zoe Todd, Richard Streitmatter-Tran & Vi Le, Anna-Sophie Springer, Sylvère Lotringer, Peter Sloterdijk, Etienne Turpin, Pinar Yoldas, and Una Chaudhuri, Fritz Ertl, Oliver Kellhammer & Marina Zurkow.

Etienne Turpin is a philosopher studying, designing, curating, and writing about complex urban systems, political economies of data and infrastructure, visual culture and aesthetics, and Southeast Asian colonial-scientific history, and principal director of anexact office, a design research practice based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Etienne is Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the SMART Infrastructure Facility, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, University of Wollongong, Australia. He is the editor of Architecture of the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Time, Science and Philosophy (Open Humanities Press, 2013), Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies (Open Humanities Press, 2015), and co-editor, with Anna-Sophie Springer, of the six-part intercalations: paginated exhibition series co-published by K. and the HKW.

Alexandra Berceanu is second-year MA student at Ryerson University, currently completing the Communications & Culture program. She attended the University of Toronto for her Bachelors degree in Arts & Architectural Studies with a major in International Relations, Architectural Design, and a double minor in Philosophy and History. Her research involves environmental politics, aesthetic philosophy, and investigating the relationship between curatorial strategies, mass surveillance, and algorithmic states of exception. She is also a graphic designer and (mostly) analog photographer, with work featured at the Gladstone Hotel and Ryerson University.

John Paul Ricco’s work on social-sexual ethics & aesthetics lies at the intersection of art history, continental philosophy, queer theory, and architecture. He is the author of The Logic of the Lure (University of Chicago Press, 2003)—the first published monograph in queer theoretical art history—and The Decision Between Us: art & ethics in the time of scenes (Chicago, 2014). He is currently completing a third book in this trilogy on “the intimacy of the outside,” titled: The Outside Not Beyond: pornographic faith and the economy of the eve. Ricco has contributed texts to Architecture in the Anthropocene (Open Humanities Press, 2013), Art in the Anthropocene (Open Humanities Press, 2015), and Expenditures in the Decapitated Economy (intercalations, forthcoming 2016). He is Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga.


Generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Graduate Expansion Fund, and the Department of Visual Studies (UTM) through the Graduate Expansion Fund.




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