In recent history, the arts have circled around energies: kinetic art, light art, sound art, let alone the movements, metabolisms, intensities, electrics, turbulences and transmissions that animate so much more. Examination shows that they have never been fully formalist, but what formalisms may have existed are being forever reconfigured now that dispositions toward energy impinge upon our own species-survival, let alone the fate of other species. In the synthetic capacity of the arts exists a capability to unite the political imperatives of energy politics, as constructed around fossil fuels, and all other dominions of energy in perception, life, materiality and cosmology. The dead matter geological frame of the Anthropocene can itself be reconceptualized in terms of the energetic cycling of the Sun. Possibilities are rife and relevant.
Douglas Kahn, Professor of Media and Innovation, National Institute for Experimental Arts, UNSW Art & Design, is a writer, historian and theorist. His books include Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (University of California Press, 2013) and Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999), with Ecological Energies: Of Artists and Ecopaths and the collection Energies in the Arts both forthcoming from MIT Press.
Douglas’s Art Forum is a co-presentation with Liquid Architecture and The Unconformity.
TCotA Forum is a weekly series of free public lectures held at the Tasmanian College of the Arts (Hunter St) during the semester. TCotA Forum welcomes all students and members of the public, providing a unique opportunity to hear local, national and international visiting scholars and presenters from diverse sectors of the arts discuss their area of professional practice.