Ethnographies of coldness and immersion:
Museum climates and underwater worlds
A talk by visiting researcher Susanne Schmitt
Hexagram Resource Centre
EV Building, 11.705
1515 St. Catherine St. W.
no rsvp required
What does it sound like to be immersed in an underwater world at aquariums where the forms of life you watch are actually completely inaudible to you? What does it feel like to work in a medical history museum that puts the body at center stage?
In her work, Susanne Schmitt is interested in the atmospheres and experiential politics of science and medical history museums and public aquariums, spaces that disseminate worldviews on human and non-human bodies and ways of life. Her examination of these spaces draws on sensory and experimental ethnography and an anthropology of the senses. She wonders what physical, sensorial and affective settings that narrate the living want you to feel like - and thus what or who they want you to feel for.
In this talk, coldness, warmth, intimacy, immersion, regionalism and ethnicity are presented as design strategies and as actual experiences in and of such sites. The stories told unfold at a famous German science and medical history museum and at large public aquariums in Germany and China. Tinkering with ethnographic methods such as soundscaping, video-ethnography, collage and apprenticeship - learning to do stuff - the talk addresses how ethnographers co-create and re-politicize atmospheres.
Presented by Hexagram-Concordia in association with the Centre for Sensory Studies and the Sense Lab.
Susanne Schmitt is a social and cultural anthropologist. She received her PhD in 2011 at the University of Munich. Since then, she worked as a research associate at the University of Munich’s Sociology Department where she organized a series of events intersecting gender studies, queer theory, artistic intervention and pop culture on campus and in the city. In her newest project, whose contours she is currently exploring at the Sense Lab at Concordia University’s Hexagram Centre for Research-Creation, she is working ethnographically and artistically with people who build underwater worlds at public aquariums and consumer spaces
Urban Bodies: Communal Health in Late Medieval English Towns and Cities
Carole Rawcliffe continues with her mission to clean up the Middle Ages. In earlier work she has already given us scholarly yet sympathetic portrayals of English medicine, hospitals, and welfare for lepers. Now she widens her scope to public health. Her argument is clear, simple and convincing. Through the efforts of crown and civic authorities, mercantile élites and "popular" interests, English towns and cities aspired to a far healthier, less polluted environment than previously supposed. All major sources of possible infection were regulated, from sounds and smells to corrupt matter - and to immorality. Once again Professor Rawcliffe has overturned a well-established orthodoxy in the history of pre-modern health and healing. Her book is a magnificent achievement." Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway University of London. This first full-length study of public health in pre-Reformation England challenges a number of entrenched assumptions about the insanitary nature of urban life during "the golden age of bacteria". Adopting an interdisciplinary approach that draws on material remains as well as archives, it examines the medical, cultural and religious contexts in which ideas about the welfare of the communal body developed. Far from demonstrating indifference, ignorance or mute acceptance in the face of repeated onslaughts of epidemic disease, the rulers and residents of English towns devised sophisticated and coherent strategies for the creation of a more salubrious environment; among the plethora of initiatives whose origins often predated the Black Death can also be found measures for the improvement of the water supply, for better food standards and for the care of the sick, both rich and poor. Carole Rawcliffe is Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia.
Le jeu vidéo, et plus largement l’image interactive la plus banale que nous touchons des doigts sur nos téléphones tactiles, augurent-ils d’un nouveau rapport à la technique ? Et s’ils déconstruisaient nos peurs et faux rapports à la machine, laquelle ne serait finalement pas si inhumaine ? Et si cet avatar, qui nous a fait traverser l’écran et nous a fait exister dans son au-delà électronique, avait quelque chose d’heuristique, que pourrait-il nous apprendre ?
C’est en suivant le fil rouge de ces questions que cet ouvrage d’investigation revisite la généalogie des grandes techniques de la modernisation info-communicationnelle, de la vidéo à l’informatique. Il montre la place centrale qu’y occupe le jeu vidéo, son antériorité par rapport au micro-ordinateur et à l’Internet, porté par des valeurs de libération et d’émancipation. Ce travail rétrospectif et analytique éclaire de façon originale nos cultures numériques, et détecte des signes avant-coureurs d’un possible monde commun avec nos artefacts interactifs.
Étienne Perény est enseignant et chercheur en sciences de l’information et de la communication au laboratoire Paragraphe de l’université Paris 8. Il étudie de façon théorique et expérimentale les propriétés des images virtuelles, électroniques et interactives.