A Post-Digital Aesthetics of the Inhuman Gaze: Reflections on I See Birds Flying Over the White House

The Aesthetics Group present a new paper at the The InHuman Gaze and Perceiving Otherwise Conference at the Centre Culturel Irlandais on the 6th – 9th June.


The paper is a reflection on our recent performance at the Research Pavilion in the context of 57th Venice Biennale (2017).

“I See Birds Flying over the White House” at the Venice Biennale, October 2017

Forthcoming presentation @ “The InHuman Gaze” Conference in Paris

We will be presenting a new paper at The InHuman Gaze Conference in Paris on 6th-9th of June 2018. https://theinhumangaze.com/

Paris Conference
Writing the abstract

The paper will be a reflection 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.

This paper marks the third iteration of an ongoing reflection on the aesthetics of the Inhuman Gaze. Previous incarnations of this research considered the distortion and manipulation of language use that predominantly defines the inhuman in opposition to the human. This was achieved through the adoption and assumption of the ‘birds eye view’through a poetic, thus humanizing, appropriation.

This iteration reflects on the aesthetics of the inhuman gaze in terms of collective othering and the mediated state implicit in the shift from the digital to the post-digital where there is the assumption of the digital in quotidian reality. The advent of the post-digital requires a new reflection on the inhuman gaze. Historically Derrida argued that l’animot is distinct from the human and what is derogatively referred to as the ‘beast’. Whereas for Lyotard, we have to learn to be human as is it not our natural state and the inhuman encompasses the child, the animal and technology. For Stiegler, however, we must be ‘non-inhuman’ as he associates the inhuman with the maleficent aspect of technical development.

Through a critique of the insect-like gaze of the digitized birds flying over the White House this paper argues that the banality of the post-digital renders a new form of collective othering that calls for a reconstruction of the aesthetics implicit in the non-human gaze.

The Aesthetics Group would like to thank artist Michael Bell Smith and Foxy Production, New York.
“I See Birds Flying over the White House” at the Venice Biennale October 2017

“I See Birds Flying Over the White House” @ The Research Pavilion, Venice Biennale

The Aesthetics Group recently performed “I See Birds Flying Over the White House” at the Research Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The piece was developed in response to artist Michael Bell Smith’s wonderful artwork “Birds Over the White House” (courtesy of the artist and Foxy Production, NY) which the artist specially repurposed for the performance. The Aesthetics Group were also responding to the theme of the Pavilion “Utopia’s of Access”.

Photos courtesy of John Beattie and Fiona O’Hara.


With thanks to the support of:



‘CHOREOGRAPHIC’ at the Research Pavilion @ Venice. 28th & 29th June 2017

Cathy O’Carroll presented–Mask-Track-Merge at the Research Pavilion, 28th-29th June 2017.


This performance responded to both the Research pavilion’s central theme of ‘Utopia’s of access’ as well as that of the ‘Choreographic’. Mobilising the work of Gilbert Simondon along with verbatim testimony to reflect on the masking and unmasking of the skill of backstage labour.

This was a two-day research event consisting of talks, discussions, workshops and performances / Valand Academy in collaboration with GradCAM, Dublin and the Department of Art, Goldsmiths.

“CHOREOGRAPHIC aimed to test, interrogate and animate the valence of choreographic registers for artistic and cultural work within contemporary socialities.”




The Cf Project – Jeanette Doyle

Jeanette Doyle’s latest work for the Research Pavilion in Venice – the ‘Cf Project’  




‘Cf’ is an International project, initiated by artist Jeanette Doyle (Ireland) for GradCAM @ The Research Pavilion, Venice, September 29th – October 1st  2017. ‘Cf’ uses the Biennale as its template with particular attention to the staging of National Pavilions where artists and curators are invited to represent a nation of their own choosing in a manner of their own determination. Broadly speaking ‘Cf’ will manifest as a worldwide exhibition of contemporary art, which will unfold and reveal itself in streets, shops, homes, bedrooms, public spaces including galleries around the world. As well as the project’s physical presence(s), ‘Cf’ will be manifest in Venice as a series of projections, the temporal selection of which will be determined by an algorithm, representing videos and sounds files which capture international iterations of the project. Projects will be represented in the Pavilion prioritized by their conceptual remit and context. ‘Cf ’ will subtly subvert the well-worn Biennale model by allowing both selected and self-selecting artists/participants to nominate and represent their chosen country and to create work in response to that context on an incredibly intimate or epic scale. National pavilions may appear ‘out of context’ and in unexpected locations around the world. ‘Cf’ will create a flexible platform for representation embracing contingency and temporality. At its heart ‘Cf’ aims to explore complex questions surrounding issues of nationhood and national identity; the authority (or lack of authority) of the artist; and the capacity of the artist to assume ‘permission’. For instance ‘Cf’ will extend a network of invitations, however, it is also within the scope of the project for artists and curators to self nominate and stage projects where they claim the right to represent a nation of their choosing in a site they deem appropriate. Parallel to these broad conceptual concerns, ‘Cf’ also seeks to question emergent modes of production, presentation and dissemination of art as well questioning the forces, which allow the production of objects and ideas to find a home within the ‘artworld’.

In order to submit your proposal as an individual or as a curator of a group selection for inclusion in the ‘Cf’ project as part of GradCAM @ the Research Pavilion in the context of the 57th Venice Biennale please complete the form, by doing so you should nominate which Nation state you would like to represent and where this representation (in which National State) will take place.

Apply here http://www.cfjeanettedoyle.com/cf_form.html



PERFORMANCE STUDIES INTERNATIONAL conference. June 8-11, 2017, Hamburg, Germany

The Performance Studies International conference’s theme “OverFlow” takes a reverse view on the political tropes customary in “times of crisis” – “OverFlow” focuses on abundance, transgression, and leakage instead of the usually evoked themes of lack, restriction, and loss.

Cathy O’Carroll’s paper – ‘When the Amateur appears on the Scene: Leakage and Transgression between memorial, drama and personal testimony’ – Responded to the overall conference theme of ‘Overflow’ examining the ‘overflow’ between performance, memory and ritual in Ireland Shed a Tear? by Michael Collins and These Rooms by ANU and CoisCéam Dance Theatre.

“I pursue the interconnection of amateurism, motivation and intervention through philosopher Bernard Stiegler’s theoretical construction of ‘the amateur’ […] Amateur participation acts within a libidinal economy of desire producing an abundance that represents a redemptive milieu within our exhausted economy of creative capital.  This is a motivational force, that overflows the boundaries of passive spectatorship to initiate further doing in the world; to open both work and world to beneficent processes of psycho social transformation.” (Cathy O’Carroll, 2017)


Rethinking Core Texts in Liberal Arts & Sciences Education in Europe

Connell Vaughan has published a chapter in the following anthology



“Whereas liberal arts and sciences education arguably has European roots, European universities have evolved over the last century to become advanced research institutions, mainly offering academic training in specialized disciplines. The Bologna process, started by the European Union in the late nineties, encouraged European institutions of higher education to broaden their curricula and to commit to undergraduate education with increased vigor. One of the results is that Europe is currently witnessing a proliferation of liberal arts and sciences colleges and broad bachelor degrees. This edited volume fills a gap in the literature by providing reflections on the recent developments in Europe with regard to higher education in the liberal arts and sciences. The first section includes reflections from either side of the Atlantic about the nature and aims of liberal arts and sciences education and the way in which it takes shape, or should take shape in European institutions of higher learning. The edited volume takes as a distinct approach to liberal arts and sciences education by focusing on the unique way in which core texts – i.e. classic texts from philosophical, historical, literary or cultural traditions involving “the best that has been written” – meet the challenges of modern higher education in general and in Europe in particular. This approach is manifested explicitly in the second section that focuses on how specific core texts promote the goals of liberal arts and sciences education, including the teaching methods, curricular reflections, and personal experiences of teaching core texts. The edited volume is based on a selection of papers presented at a conference held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in September 2015. It is meant to impart the passion that teachers and administrators share about developing the liberal arts and sciences in Europe with the help of core texts in order to provide students with a well-rounded, formative, and genuinely liberal education.”

Connell Vaughan ‘Antiphonal Republic.’


Connell has recently published an article in OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform Issue 1 (2017).

“The anthem, when considered as a dynamic site, as opposed to a static symbol, might expand the zone of the Republic to different temporal and spatial contexts. In the spirit of an enquiry into ‘sites of research’, this paper therefore considers the space of Moriarty’s imaginary kingdom and its significance for rethinking the contemporary anthem. Anthems can be seen as symbolic signs of unity and/or division.6 Shana Redmond, for example, has seen the anthem as emblematic of solidarity and citizenship. The anthem she argues, in its varied composition and performance, is a ‘sound franchise’ contributing to the political domain.”