[ISEA2020] Poster: Roopesh Sitharan — Towards a Postcolonial Ontology of Sentience


Keywords: postcolonial critique, non-western ontology, tradition

The poster takes the criticism of colonial metaphysic as its point of departure – in which Euro-centric worldview depicts Other as not fully sentience in relation to the western subject. While the violence of such reductionist and essentialist perspective has been greatly criticized, however such criticism is built upon a Western philosophical tradition that inherently requires a compliance to specific definition of a sentience. As such, the critique only manages to liberate the Other from the confinement of colonial paradigm but on the ontological level, anything outside the western subject is denied a proper existence. This paper sets out to critically examine the meaning of sentient from a post-colonial perspective. Specifically, by looking at the pioneering works on ‘tradition’ by Malaysian new media theorist Ismail Zain, this research argues for an accountability that recognizes the inherent biases in discourse on sentience that restrict the method of enquiry. In doing so, the paper aims to shift the question from asking ‘why sentience’ to ‘which sentience’, that, in turn, opens the way for an acceptance of a sentience outside the Euro-centric worldview.

  • Roopesh Sitharan, Specialist, Faculty of Creative Multimedia, Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Roopesh Sitharan is an artist, researcher and an enthusiast of digital culture. He has been a faculty member since 2018. His primary research interest is to examine the intersection between Malaysian art, new media technologies and contemporary cultures. Such interest has led him to be actively involved in several national and international projects, showcases, seminar and conferences on art, culture and technology such as Gwangju Biennale, ISEA and Siggraph. Meanwhile His writings have been published in several local and international journals and magazines such as Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA), “CTRL+P” Contemporary Art Journal from Philippines and Dokumenta 12. roopesh.com