Animate Objects: Encounters between People and Things
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
13th October 2017
This one-day symposium will present varied theoretical approaches to object relations, exploring the object as a thing of social value, a locus of emotional experience, a powerful and empowering tool, and an agent capable of disrupting dominant discourses.
The day will bring together speakers from disciplines including; anthropology, history, material culture, psychology, fashion, visual art, and design. Each panel will present a critical approach to consumer culture and object relations examining how objects become meaningful, and provide us with meaning.
Animate Objects will explore our diverse relationships to things, and the values and meanings that we attribute to them. Positioning artefacts as active and powerful agents in human relations it asks how consumer and consumed relate to one another in contemporary commodity culture. Over the course of the one-day symposium, three panels will present three theoretical approaches to object relations, exploring the object as a thing of social value, a locus of emotional experience and an agent capable of disrupting dominant discourses.
Social Objects seeks to look at the artefact as a commodity in a network of meanings. Drawing on diverse theories from anthropology, contemporary material culture theory, and psychology, this panel asks how and why objects accrue value through use, production and exchange. It explores ideas of luxury, collecting, gifting, and advertising to reveal contemporary consumer practices.
Emotional Objects draws on psychoanalytic, speculative design, and material culture approaches to view artefacts as repositories of experience, meaning, and emotion. Drawing on ideas of transitional phenomena, fetishes, and trophies it asks how people and artefacts become entwined; how our emotional attachments to artefacts are formed and maintained? It will also consider the value of attachment between object and consumer in relation to issues of sustainability.
Disruptive objects explores the ways that artefacts can disrupt or alter dominant discourses, systems, and structures. Drawing on Marxist and psychoanalytic theories it examines a variety of artefacts that subvert and reinterpret traditional use values of objects. This panel will refer to diverse practices from contemporary art and fashion to DIY protest tools to explore the social value of objects as inherently unstable and ripe for appropriation.
The day aims to present a critical approach to consumer culture and object relations bringing together diverse disciplines to examine how objects become meaningful, and provide us with meaning.
Refreshments will be provided, including a drinks reception in the gallery from 6pm.
The symposium accompanies a solo exhibition in the Ruskin Gallery by Dawn Woolley.
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Event – Animate Objects: Encounters between People and Things, 13th October 2017, Cambridge, UK
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