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MRI in Digital Cultures/CSIS Event: "MoMA and the Collapse of Things"

A Talk by Fernando Domínguez Rubio (UC San Diego)
When Oct 24, 2013
from 04:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Where SS&H 1246 (Map: http://tinyurl.com/1246ssh)
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Please join the Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures and the Center for Science and Innovation Studies for a talk by Fernando Domínguez Rubio (UC San Diego).

Please take a moment to let us know if you plan to attend: RSVP here.


I explore the conditions that artworks demand in order to survive as meaningful and valuable ‘objects’ within contemporary art museums as they age and degrade over time. I will use the concept of ‘material ecologies’ to describe the particular set of material, spatial and environmental conditions that contemporary art museums are required to develop to prevent the physical degradation of artworks and to sustain them as timeless ‘museum objects'.  Through an ethnographic engagement with the backstage of MoMA, I will reveal the complex ensemble of actors, practices, infrastructures and technologies that generate and operate these material ecologies. Specifically, I will show how these material ecologies have defined the ways of producing, stabilizing and representing artworks as unique and self-contained ‘objects’, and how, in so doing, they have been instrumental to define and to sustain the specific forms of value, meaning and property that characterize contemporary Western art systems. Finally, I will illustrate how the emergence of novel media technologies and art forms, like installations, performance or media art, is radically challenging how museums have traditionally distributed and allocated value, meaning and rights.


Although formally trained as a cultural sociologist, Dr. Rubio's work is remarkedly interdisciplinary, drawing from disciplines as diverse as science and technology studies, anthropology, art and architecture. His research focuses on the study of the environments, practices, technologies and infrastructures through which different forms of subjectivity and objectivity are contingently produced within specific locations. He is particularly interested in the new regimes of objecthood and personhood—i.e. new ways of producing, communicating and reproducing ‘objects’ and ‘persons’— emerging from contemporary technologies and infrastructures. His main project is concerned with developing an ecological approach to the study of cultural forms and categories. This project is primarily based on an ethnographic exploration of the backstage of MoMA, where he explored the particular ‘material ecologies’ required to maintain the legibility of artworks as valuable, ownable and meaningful ‘objects’. For more about Dr. Rubio and his research and publications, please visit here and here.
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