Chair Person: Leonie Cooper
Presenters: Patricia Adams, Andrew Burrell & Angela Ndalianis
The media environments we now inhabit are hybrids: both material/virtual, actual/imaginary, scientific and science-fictional, futuristic and yet also fundamentally grounded in media histories. This panel will consider the issues at stake as we shift from thinking of the screen as a portal to other worlds that mirror those we corporeally inhabit to figuring out alternative ways of thinking about technologically mediated forms of inhabitation. It aims to contribute to new ways of thinking about habitats by involving artists working with mixed reality technologies and thinking through the ramifications of their research for issues of self and embodiment. The issues of self and corporeality that emerge from sites that are ‘virtually’ inhabited are considered alongside other habitats where screen technologies are interwoven with material geographies. Theorist-historians who have researched contemporary urban environments and off-world habitats such as space stations offer insights into the historical conditions from which they have emerged as well as what they reveal of contemporary modes of technologically mediated inhabitation. Otherwise invisible synergies between practice and theory will emerge from an interdisciplinary debate on hybrid habitats guided by the following questions:
- How are new technologies impacting upon the imaginary and material formations of ‘habitats’ – as material sites, as screen-worlds and hybridisations of both.
- What ethical and aesthetic considerations do these habitats raise? Are they atopias (nonplaces), utopias or something else entirely?
- Who inhabits these worlds and how? Are they considered viewers, participants or do these habitats invite other modes of engagement?
- How might alternative – even interspecies – habitats reflect different understandings of corporeality, consciousness and identity?
- How does nostalgia and the past inform and intersect with the construction of new, utopian-inspired habitats?
- Do these alternative habitats have histories? How might such histories be reconstructed?
- Leonie Cooper is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University (AU) where she mentors graduate students undertaking research in media arts practice and theory. Her approach to research and teaching draws upon expertise in the history and theory of film, television, digital media and screen arts with an interest in their intermedial relations. Her doctoral thesis investigated the figure of the astronaut in the context of contemporary screen media including film, theme parks attractions and virtual worlds. She has published on the astronaut and critical theory and been invited to speak on these areas. Current research extends establishe work on science fiction aesthetics into contemporary digital networks as predictive media.