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4.15 - 5.15 pm, Auditorium 

Robin Mackay

Approaching the Contemporary Object

Not only do the most crucial objects of study in contemporary life stubbornly refuse to fall under one discipline or another; not only do they demand that the theoretical, speculative, and historical approaches of the humanities cross over with the empirical and systematic investigations of the sciences: their very status as ‘objects’ is in itself problematic. Any decision to define and address them from a single disciplinary perspective, or as an object of the ‘humanities’ as such, is heavy with both epistemological and political consequences. The question of interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary methodology is therefore all-important; but it is not simply a question of finding ways of ‘working together’, but also involves a search for a new model of the object in general, beyond the division of labour implied by disciplinarity.

Through a discussion of models that have emerged in the process of editing the transdisciplinary journal Collapse and through working with contemporary artists who also seek to address these problematic objects, I want to propose some ways of thinking about the contemporary, and the different contributions that philosophy, art, and science can make as we try—tentatively, experimentally—to approach it.