The Aesthetics Group presented a new paper titled: “A Post-Digital Aesthetics of the Inhuman Gaze: Reflections on I See Birds Flying Over the White House” at The Inhuman Gaze Conference at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris. The conference was three-day multi-disciplinary international conference spanning the disciplines of philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, sociology and aesthetics. The conference theme, took as it’s point of departure, a quote from Merleau-Ponty where he posits the othering of the gaze and warns against the negation of empathy and affective responsiveness to the other through the gaze.
The conference, through its multi-disciplinary format, provided an opportunity for the Aesthetics Group to reflect upon on our recent performance at the Research Pavilion in the context of 57th Venice Biennale (2017). At the event The Aesthetics Group performed a research poem in response to New York based artist Michael Bell Smith’s Birds Over the White House (2006) . This artwork was especially repurposed for the occasion. The artwork is a digital algorithm of nodes representing birds flying over a schematic plan of the White House. The artwork and its mediation through the performed research poem reflected the conference theme, asserting the potential breakdown of empathy through the technological gaze.
The presentation of the paper included a short video documentation of the performance in Venice which prefaced the presentation. The text, which was collaboratively written, was presented by three voices and was backgrounded by Bell Smith’s artwork. This opened a new mediated space for the audience at the conference, to experience the performance, the artwork and the text which reflexively operated across these different registers.
Conference Presentation. Panel: (Chair) Clémence Saintemarie, Abeba Birhane, Venus Torabi, Dr. Luigi Corrias, Cathy O’Carroll, Jeanette Doyle, Mick O’Hara.