[-empyre-] Thank you: Interfacing Covid 19: the technologies of Contagion, Risk, and contamination

Renate Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Tue May 5 07:36:09 AEST 2020

In a way, it is with sadness I close down our April discussion on -empyre- soft-skinned space. This "old-fashioned" platform, the list-serv, has been a moving way to connect to so many of our friends and subscribers in this soft space of -empyre-.  In re-reading the posts from the past week and a half a few held together in my mind. Ricardo Dominguez describes them as micro-gestures that act as sutures to uncertainty.  Patty Zimmerman proposed that we currently occupy a world that exists in the key of "C minor" where the gaps we are experiencing are being held together by close-up and distance shots, but no medium shots to give context.  Kathy High so eloquently reminded us through the writings of Ellen Samuels, this uncertainty may be likened to times of disability or illness where time becomes a series of forward and backward thrusts of jerky, non-linear intervals. It was Patty who also observed that the disjointed intervals we experience might provide fertile space to "rest, recalibrate, reengineer, reimagine EVERYTHING." Annie McClannahan challenged us to think beyond lock-down mentality of "household" imaginary, sequestered into our small units of existence. Rahul Mukhergee suggested that we "imagine the mundane as extraordinary." 

This month we thank you sincerely for sharing your personal and extended “wonderings and wanderings” as Rahul also mused.  Many of you as writers and artists have abandoned your normal production to contemplate the challenges that COVID-19 has presented: not only risk, contagion, and contamination, but resilience and thoughtfulness. 

Earlier this month we welcomed Melinda Rackham, -empyre- soft-skin’s originator.  Tim Murray and I to become moderators in 2007. One of the first topics we organized was a discussion on Critical Spatial Practice whose resonances I have been thinking about all during this month.  Can the critical practice of art-making and writing provide a path for   
"the claiming of social responsibility at the intersections of art, geography, architecture, and activism.  How might critical approaches to space and place empower creativity, enhance artistic activism, and encourage artistic practice and collaboration?  The alignment of criticality with cyber configurations of space permits especially creative skins of networks, resources, and discussions...”  Today I add this question: Does a space of uncertainty, insecurity, and improbability make way for critical perspectives, spatial flows, other practical imaginings and more? 

May our critical investigations of this past month inspire social activism, thoughtful reflections, and much creativity for all of you.  I will say thank you on behalf of Tim Murray and Junting Huang and myself.  It has been an incredible honor to host this month's discussion. I will end with a snip it of Stewart Ayash's earlier post this past month as a reminder to all,  "We know what we do not know." 

Stay healthy. 
Renate Ferro

Renate Ferro
Visiting Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Art
Tjaden Hall 306
rferro at cornell.edu

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