Obsolescence on my Mind

halifax duncan cove jillian mcdonald
halifax duncan cove jillian mcdonald

This week I was a participant in a conference titled Obsolescence and the Culture of Human Invention, organized by Halifax researchers Robert Bean and Ilan Sandler, at The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

Other participants and artists in an accompanying exhibition titled “txt” at Anna Leowens Gallery included David Clark of Halifax, Michelle Gay and Michael Maranda from Toronto, and Luke Murphy and Marcin Ramocki from NYC. California-based keynote speaker Katherine Hayles joined us at the end of the week to discuss code, language, hyperattention and deep attention, and her recent critical writing on transhumanism in science fiction. The transhumanists advocate taking any means necessary, including plastic surgery and sexual selection, to stave off death, disease, gender, undesireable characteristics, and other unpleasant human afflictions. This futurist belief system is championed in novels such as the very strange Mr. Boy.

My interest in obsolescence is in the rise of Free Culture proponents in the face of ever tightening copyright laws, and the obsolescence of past film and television viewing in favour of a more expanded digital cinema and participation-based viewing. I’ll post more on that when I get back to New York.

Although most of the conference daytime was spent indoors in near darkness watching presentations and discussing obsolescence, we took a magical field trip to chilly Duncan’s Cove where Robert cautioned us to stay clear of the ocean’s edge lest a rogue wave sneak up and claim us. Really. We found sponges, urchins, crabs, and mussels washed up along the rocks, some of which we had eaten earlier in the week.

~photos of the expedition by Michael Maranda

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