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Real Time Evolution at College Art Association February 2021!


Hans Haacke, Chickens Hatching, 1969


Join Kirsten Strom, Meredith Tromble, Ellen Levy and me for our panel discussion Saturday February 13 at 5 pm CST. The panel explores the role of culture as a formative force within evolution. It is foremost interested in dissecting culture and its effects on the temporality of evolution, in particular as it manifests in art about accelerated anthropogenic climate change.

The sense of time within Darwinian evolution is usually imagined as slow and deep in quality. The transformation of all species unfolding according to “descent with modification” occurred in the unfathomable past. We understand that the connections between primates are very real but also a matter of profound hindsight. Absent from this common and correct understanding of evolutionary theory is the fact that all living species are evolving in the present. According to geneticists Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb, species evolve through at least four dimensions across time: the genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbolic. Art, they argue, is part of the evolutionary driver of symbolic inheritance. Culture interacts with biological evolution in the lived now, just as cultural systems such as the art world may be described as evolving. With manmade climate change speeding the tempo of environmental change, cultural rhythms fluctuate in response. In this contemporary moment of systemic breakdown and change, this panel addresses art and evolution now. It consists of creative explorations of evolution and climate transformation considered as what the late art critic Jack Burnham called a “real time system.” Speakers investigate art as biology, evolution, design, information, or in the spirit of Burnham, art that “embraces every experiential mode, including living in everyday environments.”

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