Talk: Heather Davis - Plastic: An Ethology of Oil

Talk: Heather Davis - Plastic: An Ethology of Oil

West Hall room 211

November 6, 2014 4:00 PM - 6:00 AM

From airplanes to medical technologies to the containers that surround food shipped from across the world to our phones and computers, so many of the intimate and extraneous objects of our contemporary lives are made of plastic. This material is so ubiquitous that it belies its recent creation. As many critics have argued, we are now living in the age of plastic. Indeed, it has become the material substrate of advanced capitalism, the medium through which our dependency on oil permeates into the fabric of our everyday lives, surrounding and enveloping us with its smooth touch.

This talk will address the historical emergence of plastic and the ways in which it shapes advanced capitalism. Thinking of plastic as a medium through which we can understand globalization and our relationship with oil, I will trace plastic’s ethology, its movements and behaviors in the world to begin to untangle these interconnections.

Heather Davis is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University. She is working on a project that traces the materiality of plastic as it relates to the philosophical divide of the subject and object. She is the editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Politics, Aesthetics, Environment and Epistemology (Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press, forthcoming 2014) and has written widely for art and academic journals. Her writing is collected at:  

Sponsored by Rensselaer's School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, iEAR Presents, NYSCA

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