Still from Empire of the Senseless, Kathy Acker and Atalia ten Brink, 1988
In her 1993 essay ‘Against Ordinary Language: The Language of the Body’, Kathy Acker muses on her experiences in body-building and why it is so difficult for her to write in ‘ordinary language’ about those experiences.
In this talk, Hayles explores convergences between Acker’s experiences with the ‘language of the body’ and recent neuroscientific research on nonconscious cognition as developed by Hayles in her book Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious (2017). Acker’s exploration of the limits of language hints at the limits of consciousness itself as a representation of the world’s reality and opens a window on why we need art to say the unsayable and to represent the unrepresentable.
This talk will be preceded by the screening of an excerpt from artist Daniel Shanken’s ongoing work Internet Autosarcophagy, a platform that executes ongoing renderings of ‘real-time’ or ‘live’ material with no beginning or end.
This programme is supported by the Stanley Picker Trust and forms part of an annual public lecture series presented by the Fine Art department at Kingston School of Art with the ICA. In 2019, this series explores the entanglement of sound, collage and the digital as a key preoccupation for contemporary art practice. Central to such enquiries is a sense of rupture that questions established assumptions about the production and reception of artworks.
N. Katherine Hayles is the James B. Duke Professor of Literature Emerita at Duke University and Distinguished Research Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She teaches and writes on the relations of literature, science and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her research has been recognised by a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, a Rockefeller Residential Fellowship at Bellagio, a National Humanities Center Fellowship, and a University of California Presidential Award, among other awards. She has published ten books including How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and Writing Machines (MIT Press, 2002). Her most recent book is Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious (University of Chicago Press, 2017).
Daniel Shanken is an artist from Los Angeles, living and working in London. Currently, he is undertaking a PhD in the Contemporary Art Research Centre at Kingston University and tutors in Information Experience Design at the RCA. Recently his work has been shown at Art Basel Hong Kong, Yvonne Lambert Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, CCA Glasgow, Nottingham Contemporary, CFCCA Manchester, Kiasma Helsinki, CAC Vilnius, and CGP London. L