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Sensory Entanglements: Decolonizing the Senses

This virtual exhibit stems from a research-creation project that has been exploring how senses, human and more than human, participate in cultural world-making through an intercultural laboratory since 2014. Learning about each other’s practices and ontologies through meetings and workshops, readings and research-led discussions, we have run all sorts of interferences in our respective modes of doing and thinking, being and making. 

In the last two years, collaborative teams led by Indigenous artists have drawn from emerging technologies to create three immersive sensory environments, in which research on the senses can be experienced by the senses. These uniquely embodied means for sensorial encounters and intercultural knowledge sharing bring culture and heritage into sharp relief within the realm of contemporary art, refuting outmoded paradigms that lock culture into ‘once was’ models of tradition where Indigenous life worlds and cosmologies are invariably rendered distant and past.

Intercultural Sensory Lab Members

Jennifer Biddle

A/Professor Jennifer L. Biddle is Senior Research Fellow in the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA), UNSW Art & Design. As founding Director of Visual Anthropology & Visual Culture [VisANTH], NIEA, she leads an international program specializing in Indigenous and Asia Pacific research, one of only a few programs in Australia to support ethnographic and practice-led research as a basis for creative and critical research innovation in the arts. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, former Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow, she is currently a Chief Investigator on two internationally collaborative ARC and SSHRC funded research projects and an ARC Linkage partnership with Lajamanu community and Tracks Dance Company.  She is acting member of the ARC’s College of Experts.  In 2021-2022, she is Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies at Harvard University. 

David Garneau

David Garneau (Métis) is Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Regina. His practice includes painting, curation, and critical writing. He recently curated Kahwatsiretátie: Teionkwariwaienna Tekariwaiennawahkòntie Honorer nos affinités / Honouring Kinship: The Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (BACA) / Contemporary Native Art Biennial with assistance from Faye Mullen and rudi aker; co-curated, with Kathleen Ash Milby, Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound, National Museum of the American Indian, New York; With Secrecy and Despatch, with Tess Allas, an international exhibition about massacres of Indigenous people, and memorialization, for the Campbelltown Art Centre, Sydney, Australia; and Moving Forward, Never Forgetting, with Michelle LaVallee, an exhibition concerning the legacies of Indian Residential Schools, other forms of aggressive assimilation, and (re)conciliation, at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina. Garneau has recently given keynote talks in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and throughout Canada on issues such as: misappropriation; public art; museum display; and contemporary Indigenous art. His paintings are in numerous public and private collections.
David Howes is Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. He has conducted field research on the cultural life of the senses in the Massim and Middle Sepik River regions of Papua New Guinea, Northwestern Argentina, and the Southwestern United States. David is the editor of, among other works, The Varieties of Sensory Experience (Toronto, 1991), Cross-Cultural Consumption (Routledge, 1996), Empire of the Senses (Berg, 2004), and A Cultural History of the Senses in the Modern Age, 1920-2000 (Bloomsbury, 2014). He is the co-author (with Constance Classen and Anthony Synnott) of Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (Routledge, 1994), and (also with Constance Classen) Ways of Sensing: Understanding the Senses in Society (Routledge, 2013). He is the sole author of Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social Theory (Michigan, 2003). David is the general editor of the Sensory Formations series from Berg and and Sensory Studies series from Routledge, as well as a founding editor of the journal The Senses and Society.

Kite aka Suzanne Kite is an Oglála Lakȟóta performance artist, visual artist, and composer raised in Southern California, with a BFA from CalArts in music composition, an MFA from Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School, and is a PhD candidate at Concordia University.

Florencia Marchetti

Florencia Marchetti is a multimedia ethnographer and documentarian who’s been working as coordinator for the Sensory Entanglements project for the past two years and as research and communications assistant since the laboratory began in 2014. She has a degree in Social Communications from the National University of Cordoba, Argentina and a MA of Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz. She is currently writing her doctoral dissertation, at the Humanities Interdisciplinary program in Concordia University, on the atmospherics of terror as lived through the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina, her home country, during the first few years of her life. Through a sensorially and affectively attuned documentary practice, her research investigates the traces of violent pasts in everyday lives. Her documentary photo work has been widely used by grassroots groups and activists, showcased internationally in academic conferences and art contexts and has also been filed as part of the Cordoba Provincial Memory Archive. She is the mother of a three year old human kid and has made Montreal/ Tiotià:ke her home base.

r e a

r e a - is an artist / curator / activist / academic / cultural educator / creative thinker; from the Gamilaraay / Wailwan / Biripi (NSW) people of IndigenousAustralia. r e a’s ongoing practise-led research takes its development from new and critical discourses exploring intersectionality and positionality, through the cultural convergence of Aboriginality; within the creative arts and technology, history and colonialism, the body and identity, gender and queer politics. r e a is an artist whose experimental digital arts practice spans three decades of reinterpreting western theories of Aboriginality, reframing identity politics and repositioning new stories that challenge the ideas through the contemporary lens of art and history. r e a has a doctorate in Visual Anthropology, University of New South Wales,Art & Design titled:“‘Vaguely Familiar’: haunted identities, contested histories, Indigenous futures''; which includes a creative body of work that explores the actions of learning to listen to country and draws on a legacy of lived experiences, the impact of intergenerational trauma, grief and loss. In reclamation there is an acknowledgement of de-colonisation/disruption/protest/Indigenisation.

Chris Salter is an artist, Full Professor of Computation Arts at Concordia University and Co-Director of the Hexagram network for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technology in Montreal. His work has been seen all over the world at such venues as the Venice Architecture Biennale, Barbican Centre, MUTEK, Chronus Art Center Shanghai, Wiener Festwochen, Berliner Festspiele, Muffathalle, ZKM, Vitra Design Museum, HAU-Berlin, BIAN 2014, LABoral, Lille 3000, CTM Berlin, National Art Museum of China, Ars Electronica, Villette Numerique, Todays Art, Transmediale, EXIT Festival (Maison des Arts, Creteil-Paris) among many others. He is the author of Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance (MIT Press, 2010) and Alien Agency: Experimental Encounters with Art in the Making (MIT Press, 2015). He is currently working on Sensing Machines a book on how sensing technology is changing our bodies and concept of self for the MIT Press.
Garnet Willis is a Canadian interdisciplinary artist, audio engineer, composer and instrument builder. He combines his disparate skills as, designer, wood and metal-worker, sound engineer and electronics geek to produce multivariate artworks that tend to revolve around sound. Garnet's interests bring him to Concordia, where his FRQSC funded PhD research investigates the crossroads between sensation, form over time, sentient matter, and material agency. He draws upon ideas borrowed from stochastic music composition in his quest to develop shapeshifting sculptures that utilize complex material calculations driven by internal stresses resulting in unpredictable, real-time changes in physical form. He has garnered prestigious international awards for his compositions and recordings, including the Bourges Prize, and has had his work exhibited and performed in the USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Colombia. He has written/built many commissioned works including his “'flux” series of self-playing electromagnetic sound sculptures.

This research-creation project is funded by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada) awarded to “Sensory Entanglements: New Cross Cultural and Cross-Creation and Evaluation of Multi-Sensorial Experience” (2014-2021).

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