Master’s Program in Aesthetics and Politics

West Hollywood Lecture Series

WHAP! stands for the West Hollywood Aesthetics and Politics lecture series. Launched in the Fall of 2011, the series is co-hosted by the City of West Hollywood and the MA program. 


The series' year-long line-up ranges from political debates to film screenings and performances, as well as conversations about art, architecture, and philosophy.

All events are free and open to the public. Please consult the page below for more information about the time, location, and topic of the events we have lined up.

Most events will take place either in the Council Chambers (street level) or in the Community Room (upstairs) at the West Hollywood library, located on 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069. 

Pay parking is available in the library parking structure, which you can enter on San Vicente or Robertson, just north of Melrose.

Spring 2017

Curated by Arne De Boever

February 10, West Hollywood Public Library, Community Room, 7:30pm: 


“The Truth is a Joke? Performatives and Jokes in Derrida and Austin”


Jeffrey T. Nealon is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and Philosophy at Penn State University.  His most recent books are Foucault Beyond Foucault (2007), Post-Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Just-In-Time Capitalism (2012), and Plant Theory:  Biopower and Vegetable Life (2016), all from Stanford University Press. 


Peggy Kamuf lives in Los Angeles and teaches French and comparative literature at the University of Southern California where she is also director of the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Doctoral Program. She has published, most recently, To Follow: The Wake of Jacques Derrida (2010). She is a co-editor of the series The Seminars of Jacques Derrida

February 16, California Institute of the Arts, BB4, 4pm: 


“Art Student, Art Worker: The Decommodified Labor of Studentdom”


Leigh Claire La Berge’s first book, Scandals and Abstraction: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s (2015) tracks the contest between postmodern and realist fictions about finance in a nascent era of financialization, and her articles have appeared in Radical Philosophy, Studies in American FictionCriticism, Journal of Cultural Economy, and the Radical History Review. She is the co-editor, along with Alison Shonkwiler, of Reading Capitalist Realism (2014). She is assistant professor of English at the City University of New York (BMCC) and a Faculty Fellow at the CUNY Grad Center. 


Michelle Chihara is Assistant Professor of English at Whittier College, where she teaches contemporary American literature and popular culture, creative writing and creative nonfiction. She is the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics, due out in 2018. She also edits the Economics & Finance section of The Los Angeles Review of Books.

March 10, West Hollywood Public Library, Community Room, 7:30pm: 


“The Culture of Secular Stagnation”


Annie McClanahan is an Assistant Professor of English at University of California, Irvine. Her book Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and 21st Century Culture was published by Stanford University Press in 2016. She has also published essays in theory & event, Representations, Post-45, The Journal of Cultural Economics, The Journal of American StudiesSouth Atlantic Quarterly, and others. She is currently at work on a second book project on the cultural and social history of microeconomics.

March 24, West Hollywood Public Library, City Council Chambers, 7pm:


All That Is Solid Melts Into Data (2015)


Ryan S. Jeffery is an American filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles, California.  His work focuses on how political, cultural and economic structures are imprinted in the physical landscape. His work has recently exhibited at the European Society for Literature, Science & The Arts Conference: Control, The European Media Arts Festival in Osnäbruck, Human Resources: Climate & Infrastructure in Los Angeles California, La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, Transmodern Architecture Forum in Berlin, FIDMarseille, The Kyiv Biennial and The Independiente Festival International de Cine in Peru. 

Boaz Levin is an artist, writer and occasional curator. He currently holds a position as a research associate at the UDK, Berlin, where, together with Hito Steyerl, Maximillian Schmoetzer and Vera Tollman, he runs the Research Center for Proxy Politics (RCPP). Levin has presented his work internationally, most recently at the CCA (Tel-Aviv), Former West (HKW, Berlin) and Rencontres Internationales ( Paris, Berlin) and FIDmarseille (Marseille). He also participated in The School of Kyiv (Kyiv biennial) and Dinca Vision Quest (Chicago).

April 21, West Hollywood Public Library, Community Room, 7:30pm: 


“Toward a Marxist Theory of Cultural Policy”


Sarah Brouillette is Professor of English at Carleton University, where she teaches contemporary literature, the history of the book, and social and cultural theory. She is the author of Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (2007), Literature and the Creative Economy (2014), and a forthcoming study of the history of cultural policy.

Fall 2016

Curated by James Wiltgen

09/16: in[DECISIVE] form Live: A Rogue’s Gallery of Interdisciplinary Exploration and Thesis-Bound Thought

Community Room, 7:30

Presentations by the 2015-2016 MA Aesthetics and Politics Candidates


Jana Branch explores question of uncertainty and value at the intersections of business, consumer culture and social creativity. To keep a roof over her head, she runs Articulo, a brand and communications consultancy. To keep her soul intact, she dreams deeply. To find out what she thinks of it all, she writes.

Dylan Howell is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles. His past research has traced the partnership between international human rights law and televised warfare. Since enrolling at CalArts, he has explored theories of the avant-garde, the history of experimental film, and the philosophies of posthumanism. His thesis research will consider practices of visual documentation in the Anthropocene.

Lindsay Mercer is studying and working with materialisms. She has a focus in chemistry and traditional craft and has worked as both a natural dyer and on state chemical regulations. She is interested in the molecular formation of, the traditional use of, the political and social implication of the mass production of, the history of, the making of, the consuming of and the using of materials.

Oh, and then there was the time when I went to the port of La Guaira, on the Venezuelan northern coast, on the Caribbean Sea; people spoke to me in English. I was about 10 years old at the time. This was already a common occurrence in my life, but only then did I comprehend there would be more to these interactions. The mystification of my origin persists. I prefer it that way. Dany Naierman was born in Caracas in 1982 and is currently based out of Los Angeles, where he plans to remain for the time being. No guarantees.

George Pritzker received his BFA in Music Composition from CalArts, where he is currently an MA candidate in Aesthetics & Politics. George has performed in a variety of contemporary and world music contexts, and has exhibited mixed-media installations at Space4Art, Mesa Art Gallery, the University of Huddersfield, and CalArts. His current research interests include experimental music theory, the relationship between sculpture and sonic practices, and the intersection of sports, politics, and auditory culture.

Kristin Trammell is a Los Angeles-based photographer, curator, radical educator and cultural theorist. She creates photographs, zines and artist books, essays, performance pieces and educational curriculum. Her projects explore processes of disenchantment, re-enchantment and existential seeking in a time of heightened ontological uncertainty. Investigations of liminal spaces between the spirit, the mundane, the ethereal nature of human connectivity and the ways in which personal mythologies influence our ethics guide her work. She is the Founder and Director of the Applied Mythology Project.

09/23: Reza Negarestani, “A Roadmap for Posthuman Intelligence (The Agency, Transcendental Structures and Time)”

Community Room, 7:30pm

The aim of this presentation is to examine core conceptual problems related to the construction and ramifications of artificial general intelligence or human-level AI from the perspective of theoretical and practical abilities of the human agency and conditions necessary for their possibility and realization.

Reza Negarestani is a philosopher. He has contributed extensively to journals and anthologies and lectured at international universities and institutes. His philosophical project is focused on rationalist universalism beginning with the evolution of the modern system of knowledge and advancing toward contemporary philosophies of rationalism, their procedures, as well as their demands for special forms of human conduct. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled Intelligence and Spirit. 

11/04: Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “The Limits of Homophily, or Why Network Analysis Needs Critical Ethnic Studies”

Community Room, 7:30pm

The fact that the Internet creates "echo chambers" has become a truism.  Rather than a boundless cyberspace, we seem trapped in ever smaller pigeon holes.  To understand how this has happened--and to imagine a different future--this talk examines the concept of homophily (the assumption that birds of a feather flock together), which grounds much network analysis.  It argues that we need to use critical concepts from the humanities to create more public and just online networks.

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She has studies both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is the author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT 2006), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (MIT 2011), and Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (MIT, 2016). 

11/10: Robin Mackay, “Epistemology Noir”

Community Room, 7:30pm

The plot-driven genres of the detective novel and political thriller boast the peculiar feature of being epistemological dramas. For TV and movie adaptations, this also poses the interesting problem of how to make thinking and the cognitive reconfiguration of information visible on-screen. Here, developing the concept of ‘plot’ through a consideration of these fictions and the way in which they reflect its intertwined narrative, geometrical, spatial, and conspiratorial senses, will provide us with a way to reassess the claims of art with respect to site, the relations that ‘site-specificity’ proposes between knowledge of local sites and that of global systems, and the figure of the contemporary artist as a dogged truth-seeker, revealing ulterior connections and hidden conspiracies.

Robin Mackay is director of UK publisher and arts organization Urbanomic and editor of its journal, Collapse. He has translated a number of works of French philosophy, including Alain Badiou's Number and Numbers, Francois Laruelle's The Concept of Non-Photography, Quentin Meillasoux's The Number and the Siren, and Éric Alliez’s The Brain-Eye. He is currently Associate Research Fellow at Goldsmiths University of London. 

Fall 2015

Curated by Norman Klein

9/25: “It’s gonna get better... trust me”: 2016

Community Room, 8PM

Presentations by the 2014-2015 MA Aesthetics and Politics candidates. 


Ani Tatintsyan
is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. She received her BA in Political Science and English Literature from the University of Southern California. Her current research revolves around concepts of melancholy and cognitive capitalism. She teaches Creative Writing at Glendale Community College and is the author of a book of poems titled, Letters to Strangers. 

Alex F. Brown is a graduate of the Liberal Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and maintains an interest in a range of modern arts and cinemas from opera through science-fiction. He recently published several essays in Directory of World Cinema: Scotland, including the world’s only positive review of Bonnie Prince Charlie.  His current research is all about cars.  He does some of his best writing with a Montblanc Carrera, but he would rather drive the Porsche.

Chandra Natalie Pok earned a BA in Studio Arts at California State University Los Angeles. She makes her livelihood working at an In-N-Out Burger in Huntington Beach on the weekends and as a receptionist at a landscape architecture firm in Santa Ana during the day. When she has time, she writes her thesis that deals with issues of environmental economics, identity and inequality. She enjoys EDM and cruising Main Street. She is also the front man/woman of the industrial hardcore band CBS aka crippled by society. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Emily Donnini holds an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art.  Her work has been exhibited at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, The Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, and Sils, Rotterdam.  Her current work is a reflection of growth, limitations to discourse, and a tempering of expectation.

10/16: Re-assembling Tijuana

Community Room, 8pm

In the beginning, Tijuana was a city physically and historically shaped by paradoxes from both the north and the south. Toward the end of the 20th century, it was recognized as the mixing chamber for hybrid cultures within a dialectic border landscape. Over the past decade, after years of violence and cartel hegemony, there has been a resurgence in the Tijuana region: a re-assembling of its identity through critical and self-referential cultural praxis in film, theory and architecture. The panel “Re-assembling Tijuana” will be led by Rene Peralta, architect and urbanist, and associate professor at Woodbury University in San Diego, and will feature three other guests: Adriana Trujillo and José Inerzia, of the media collective POLEN; and cultural theorist Josh Kun. 

Rene Peralta (Tijuana, Mexico): Educated at the New School of Architecture in San Diego and at the Architectural Association in London, England, Rene is Director of the Landscape + Urbanism Master of Design program at Woodbury University School of Architecture in San Diego, and Lecturer in the Department Urban Studies and Planning at UCSD. He publishes widely on the social and cultural forms developing along the border between the United States and Mexico, specifically between Tijuana and San Diego.  His architecture and research projects concentrate on urban design in contested global territories. 

Polen is the collaborative team of Adriiana Trujillo and Jose Inerzia. It produces media projects about the intersection between ethnographic film and experimental video. Its work has been shown in the US, Mexico, Argentina, China, Australia and India. 

Adriiana Trujillo
(Tijuana, Mexico) holds a master's degree in Creative Documentary from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Her work has being included in several film and art festivals, galleries and TV channels around the world. Currently she is Artistic Director of BorDocs Documentary Forum.

José Inerzia
(Zaragoza, Spain) is the producer of Skin Destination (2012) and Felix: Self-fictions of a smuggler (2011), besides live-visual projects Juan Soldado Suite, Antropotrip and the video installation The Arcades Media Project. Since 2008, José is the executive director of BorDocs Documentary Forum, besides the programmer of the Border Film Week 2014 for the University of San Diego and co-director of Non.Format, a platform for contemporary film and videoart.  

Josh Kun is a professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at USC. He is the author of Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America (UC Press), which won a 2006 American Book Award, and two books based on the special collections of the Los Angeles Public Library: Songs in the Key of Los Angeles (2013, Angel City Press) and To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City (2015, Angel City Press). He is currently completing two books about music and the US-Mexico border.

11/13:  Media in the Americas

Community Room, 8pm

A screening and discussion panel on Mexican America in Film and Design, moderated by Norman Klein, and featuring anthropologist Tarek Elhaik, architect Rene Peralta, writer Alfredo Gonzalez Reynoso, and special guest filmmaker Carlos Reygadas.  

Carlos Reygadas (Mexico City) worked for the United Nations before beginning his career as a film director and producer. His feature films include Japón (Japan, 2002), Batalla en el Cielo (Battle in Heaven, 2005), Stellet Licht (Silent Light, 2007), Este es mi Reino (This is my Kingdom, 2010), and Post Tenebras Lux (2012) for which he won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. In addition to his directorial career, Reygadas has produced a number of films by emerging Mexican directors.

Tarek Elhaik is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Davis. His work is based on intensive participant-observation in contemporary art and curatorial worlds, including fieldwork in Mexico City where he was particularly attentive to the formal inquiries, image-making processes, and writings of media artists. His writings have appeared in books and journals, including Framework, Revista de Antropologia Social, and Critical Arts. He has also curated and collaborated on several film programs and symposia, including a collaborative team of researchers, hosted by the Los Angeles Film Forum and funded by the Getty Foundation.

Alfredo González Reynoso is a Professor of Social Science and Humanities at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, and an award winning writer on film and art in Tijuana. His book Choques, Rupturas, Espectros. Avatares de la Frontera en el Arte Tjuanense (ICBC, 2014) won the state prize in literature in 2012. He is also creator of the film Matthai (2014), a documentary about the work of philosopher Horst Matthai

Rene Peralta (Tijuana, Mexico): Educated at the New School of Architecture in San Diego and at the Architectural Association in London, England, Rene is Director of the Landscape + Urbanism Master of Design program at Woodbury University School of Architecture in San Diego, and Lecturer in the Department Urban Studies and Planning at UCSD. He publishes widely on the social and cultural forms developing along the border between the United States and Mexico, specifically between Tijuana and San Diego.  His architecture and research projects concentrate on urban design in contested global territories.

11/20: Armen Avanessian, Genealogies of Speculation

Community Room, 8pm 

Armen Avanessian studied philosophy and political science in Vienna and Paris. After completing his dissertation in literature, he worked at the Free University Berlin from 2007-2014. He has previously been a Visiting Fellow in the German Department at Columbia University and in the German Department at Yale University and visiting professor at various art academies in Vienna, Nuremberg and Basel. He is editor in chief at Merve Verlag Berlin. In 2012 he founded a bilingual research platform on Speculative Poetics, including a series of events, translations, and publications: In Fall 2015, he is Visiting Faculty in the MA Aesthetics and Politics program at the California Institute of the Arts. 

Spring 2016

Curated by James Wiltgen

02/19: Steven Shaviro, “Fictions and Fabulations of Sentience”

Community Room, 8pm

Steven Shaviro is the DeRoy Professor of English at Wayne State University. He is the author of, most recently, Post-Cinematic Affect; The Universe of Things; and No Speed Limit: Three Essays on Accelerationism. He blogs at The Pinocchio Theory <>.

03/16: Claire Colebrook, "The Photographic Eye, the Cinematic Eye and Moral Aesthetics"

Council Chambers, 8pm

Claire Colebrook is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Penn State University.  She has written books and articles on queer theory, feminist theory, contemporary European philosophy, poetics, literary history and literary theory.  Her most recent books are Sex After Life and Death of the Posthuman (both with Open Humanities Press, 2014).  She is currently completing Fragility: Species, Archive, Planet (forthcoming from Duke). 

04/01: Ray Brassier, The Metaphysics of Sensation

Community Room, 8pm

How can sensation be navigated within the landscape of reason? In what ways might metaphysics be addressed as a conceptual genealogy? How can the manifest image and the scientific image be thought together? Ray Brassier will examine modes by which reason can challenge the 'given' elements of reality in favor of what can be made and crafted, as one means of fundamentally "grasping the stratification of immanence, together with the involution of structures."

Ray Brassier obtained his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Warwick in 2001. From 2002 to 2008 he was a Research Fellow at Middlesex University’s Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy. Since 2008, he has been Associate Professor of Philosophy at the American University of Beirut. He is the author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (Palgrave 2007) and the English translator of works by Alain Badiou and Quentin Meillassoux. He is currently working on two books. One is about the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars and is entitled Reasons, Patterns, and Processes: Sellars’ Transcendental Naturalism. The other is about the reality of appearances and is entitled That Which is Not. It investigates the ontological import of the appearance/reality distinction via readings of Plato, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Alain Badiou, François Wahl, and Wilfrid Sellars. 

04/8: The Stakes of Parametricism: Architecture and Politics

Community Room, 8pm

On the occasion of their book anthology publication, The Politics of Parametricism (Bloomsbury, 2015), Matthew Poole and MA Aesthetics and Politics alumnus Manuel Shvartzberg discuss the stakes opened up by parametricism for both thinking politics and practicing architecture. 

Chief among these stakes is a necessary disengaging of parametricism from neoliberal and neo-libertarian ideologies, toward possible recodings of politics itself as an aesthetic-material medium and practice. The drive for theorizing, and above all, operationalizing, such a shift—taking architecture as a case study—opens up a host of fundamental questions around the nature of political economy in an increasingly digitized world. The mutual imbrication of data representations and material reality poses challenges to the frameworks of liberal democracy, from its philosophical assumptions to the techno-political arrangements through which different kinds of labor and capital are accounted for. Parametricism, the book shows, is set to disrupt the existing models and materials of professionalism, contract, creativity, currency and exchange—to name but a few of the changing areas of architectural innovation currently at play.

The conversations inaugurated by The Politics of Parametricism address these questions from within the political economy of architecture, engineering and construction, and gesture towards the possibility of altogether new kinds of democracy.


Matthew Poole is a curator and a writer living in Los Angeles. As of September 2015 he will be the Chair of The Department of Art at Cal State University San Bernardino, CA. Previously, Poole was the Programme Director for The Centre for Curatorial Studies within the Department of Philosophy and Art History at The University of Essex, in Colchester, UK


Manuel Shvartzberg is an architect and writer living in New York City. He has worked for, among others, OMA/Rem Koolhaas, and was project architect for David Chipperfield Architects in London, where he led a number of international projects between 2006 and 2012. Shvartzberg is currently a candidate in the PhD in Architecture program and graduate fellow of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, both at Columbia University.


During the 2014-2015 academic year, WHAP! will be integrated into the MA program's curriculum as a year-long course titled "Critical Discourse in the Arts and the Media". The course will be taught by Martín Plot in the Fall and by Norman Klein in the Spring. 

Now that Digital Systems are Thoroughly the New Normal: An Introduction to Media Art Today  

February 27, 7-9pm, Community Room.

Through presentations by four artists, we examine the embedding (or bootstrapping) of the “post digital” into everyday life. Despite its virtues, this embedding clearly has a parasitical effect, which we will discuss.  As a tool of business and power, the “new normal” has altered the rhythm of our streets, the objects of daily use, our politics, our financial structure, even our intuitions—certainly our cultural industries.

Jordan Crandall is a media artist, theorist and performer. He is Professor in the Visual Arts Department at University of California, San Diego. He is the 2011 winner of the Vilém Flusser Theory Award for outstanding theory and research-based arts practice, given by the Transmediale in Berlin. His current project, UNMANNED, is a blend of performance art, political theater, philosophical speculation, and intimate reverie. It explores new ontologies of distributed systems, and the status of the human in a militarized landscape increasingly dependent on automated technology. The work was developed in an honorary residency at the Eyebeam Art+Technology Center; and most recently performed in 2012 at V2_Institute in Rotterdam. Crandall is a founding director of the Active Structures and Materials research studio at UCSD, sponsored by the Department of Visual Arts, and the Center for the Humanities. He is also founding editor of the online journal VERSION.

Erin Besler is faculty at UCLA in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design. She holds a BA from Yale University, and a March with Distinction from SCI-Arc. Her work has been presented in Beijing, Los Angeles, Paris and San Francisco; and will be part of the upcoming show “Chatter: Architecture Talks Back,” at the Art Institute of Chicago. Recently, she was selected as a finalist for the 2015 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. Her work is forthcoming or publication in journals such as San Rocco, FutureAnterior and Project.

Danielle Bustillo is an organizer in neverhitsend, an artist collective that performs and discussed issues around communications ideology; and a host and member of the Best Friends Learning Gang, a pedagogical initiative that explores collective, decentralized learning. Danielle’s practice is at once collaborative, collective, and individual. Daniell received an MFA from the Art and Technology program at California Institute of the Arts, and currently operates out of Los Angeles.

Tom Leeser is a digital media artist, educator, curator and writer.
He is the Program Director of the Art and Technology Program in the
School of Art and the Director of the Center for Integrated Media at
the California Institute of the Arts. His film, video work and interactive installations have been shown at Telic Arts Exchange, MassMoca, The Santa Monica Museum of Art, The Kitchen, The Millennium, The Knitting Factory, Siggraph and film and video festivals worldwide. His projects have received support  from Art Matters, Creative Time and the Daniel Langlois Foundation. Among his recent curatorial projects: 'Radical Cosmologies, ISEA2012',  'Indirect Intention- A Home and Garden Intervention at the Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Center for Land Use Interpretation',  'Future Imaginary' for the Ben Maltz Gallery at the Otis College of Art and Design, 'The Lament Project- An Evening at the Manual Archives',  'Underground Cinemamachine' for Machine Project and 'Object Lessons' for Gigantic Artspace in New York. Tom is also an editor and producer with the web based journal and curatorial project- (

Moderator: Norman Klein

Get Physical: Digital Installations and  Kinetic Sculpture from Art+Com, 1987-2015 (Berlin)

March 13, 7-9pm, Community Room.

A lecture by Joachim Sauter:  “As our world becomes increasingly digital and our communication virtual, our desire for the tangible gets stronger again. To illustrate that counter movement from the virtual back to the tangible in the field of digital art and design, projects from ART+COM’s 27 years history will be presented, starting with the earlier exploration of new media in the virtual realm, leading up to the latest development in the tangible world.”

Joachim Sauter is a pioneer in the use of the digital arts within urban spaces, as well as in theater production, and museum exhibitions. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin, Joachim Sauter studied at the 'German Academy for Film and Television,' in Berlin. Since the early 1980s, he has been working as a media artist and designer. From the beginning, Professor Sauter has focused on digital technologies; experimenting on how they can be used to express content, form, and narration. He founded ART+COM in 1988 together with other artists, designers, scientists, and technologists. Their goal was to research this new up-and-coming medium in the realm of art and design. Sauter continues to run Art+Com. Over the course of his work, he has been invited to participate in many exhibitions, for example: Centre Pompidou (Paris); Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam); Museum for Contemporary Art; Deichtorhallen (Hamburg); the Kuntshalle in Vienna; ICC (Tokyo); Getty Center (Los Angeles). Among his many international awards: the 'Golden Lion at Cannes; the D&AD Black Pencil; Ars Electronica Interactive Award; British Academy for Film and Television Interactive Award; ADC (New York) and ADC Germany Gold; the Grand Clio; the Red Dot Grand Prix; the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since 1991 he has been full professor for New Media Art and Design" at the University of the Arts, Berlin; and since 2001, adjunct professor at UCLA, Los Angeles.


Vanessa Eckstein, founder and co-director of BlokDesign (Toronto and Mexico City), is an experimental designer of the digitally informed object, including new directions in publishing, graphic design and urban installations. Originally from Argentina, Vanessa returned to Toronto in 2011, after running her practice in Mexico City for 8 years. In 1998, she founded Blok Design, establishing the studio as a multi-faceted space for collaboration in the fields of architecture, film, industrial design and contemporary art, for a diverse range of global brands, including the Museo Tamayo, the Miami Art Museum, Club Monaco, Roots, Pepsi, Nike, ING, Environmental Defense Fund, Unicef and Museo Marco.  In addition to receiving numerous industry honors and awards, her work has appeared in Wallpaper, Azure and Page Magazine, among others. She has been exhibited in many countries, from Japan to Germany, recently at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. Vanessa has served as Vice-President of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers in Canada (RGD) and currently sits on the board of the Art Directors Club of Canada (ADCC) and OCAD U’s Bachelor of Arts Advisory Committee. She holds an MFA from the Art Center of Pasadena.

Moderators: Norman Klein and Tom Leeser

The Internet after Snowden, from Social Media Critique to Masked Design

April 6, 2-3, Community Room.

Lecture by Geert Lovink. Afterward, a private workshop from 3-6 with students.

Geert Lovink is a media theorist, internet critic and author of Zero Comments (2007) and Networks Without a Cause (2012). Since 2004, he is researcher in the School for Communication and Media Design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) where he is the founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures. His center recently organized conferences, publications and research networks such as Video Vortex (the politics and aesthetics of online video), Unlike Us (alternatives in social media), Critical Point of View (Wikipedia), Society of the Query (the culture of search), MoneyLab (bitcoins, crowdfunding & internet revenue models) and digital publishing strategies. He is also a media theory professor at the European Graduate School (Saas-Fee).

Moderator: Norman Klein




How to Cite a Leaked Document

October 3, 7-9pm, Community Room.

A panel discussion about art, politics, and civil disobedience in a digital age, featuring MA program students Will Eley, Rachel Kennedy, Elliot Vredenburg, Johanna Kozma, Christine Cangelosi, and Nathaniel Deines. With Norman Klein and Martín Plot as discussants.

The event will serve as the book launch of In/Form: PARA, a collective volume including contributions by MA A&P 2013-14 students, edited by Martín Plot, Nathaniel Deines, and Elliot Vredenburg.

Will Eley received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an emphasis in Middle East Politics from Auburn University in 2007. He is presently completing his graduate thesis, Leaking Fog: three essays on civil disobedience and the aesthetics of preventive war, as a student of Aesthetics and Politics at the California Institute of the Arts. 

Johanna Kozma is a Los Angeles-based artist and writer. Her work has been performed at the Hammer Museum, Southern Exposure, PERFORM! Now, Machine Project, PØST, New Wight Gallery, Anatomy Riot, PAM, and in The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time. Her writing has appeared in PANK, Circle, InDigest, Rymden Magazine, and in the WHL Studio Reader series, of which she is a co-founder. She has been a visiting artist speaker at Art Center College of Design, Pomona College of Art, UCLA, and California Institute of the Arts. She holds an MFA in Art and a Master's in Aesthetics and Politics from California Institute of the Arts.

Nathaniel Deines is a writer and researcher engaged in the field of digital studies and the arts. He received his Bachelor’s from the University of Washington in the Comparative History of Ideas and his Master’s from Calarts in Aesthetics & Politics and is currently the Digital Humanities/Research Projects Graduate Intern at the Getty Research Institute.

Elliot Vredenburg, originally from Toronto, now lives in Los Angeles and drives a 1995 Honda Civic LX (blue). His written work emerges largely as an extension of his training at the Ontario College of Art & Design University [sic], where he studied graphic design. Currently, his research investigates the human implications of technological high modernism, the political consequences and capabilities of the digital image, nature made by people, and the weird intersections of branding and marketing practices with social control and surveillance.

Rachel Kennedy is a writer and editor currently helping to build anti-harassment and discrimination courseware for colleges and universities with LawRoom. Her research considers questions of scale, agency, and territory in relation to online environments and other digital technologies. Lately most of her free time is spent agonizing over whether to apply to law schools or phd programs, and occasionally hiking the coastal redwood forests of California. Rachel is a candidate for the MA Aesthetics and Politics and holds a BA in Philosophy from Mills College.

Christine Cangelosi is a writer and filmmaker. She is currently writing and directing a short film while continuing to write criticism of film and media. Her work addresses intimacy, solitude, and confinement in contemporary culture. Christine is a candidate for the MA Aesthetics and Politics program and holds a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Political Art Across the Disciplines

November 7, 7-9pm, Community Room.

An interdisciplinary conversation featuring CalArts faculty Bérénice Reynaud (Film/Video), Sam Durant (Art), and Stephan Koplowitz (Dance). With Martín Plot as discussant.

Sam Durant is a multimedia artist whose works engage a variety of social, political, and cultural issues. Often referencing American history, his work explores the varying relationships between culture and politics, engaging subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, southern rock music, and modernism. His work has been widely exhibited internationally and in the United States. He has had solo museum exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf, S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand. His work has been included in the Panamá, Sydney, Venice and Whitney Biennales and Documenta 13.  In 2006 he compiled and edited a comprehensive monograph of Black Panther artist Emory Douglas’ work. His recent curatorial credits include Eat the Market at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Black Panther: the Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the New Museum in New York. He has co-organized numerous group shows and artists benefits and is a co-founder of Transforma, a cultural rebuilding collective project in New Orleans from 2005-10. He was artist in residence at the Getty Center in 2013 where his interactive project “What is a Museum” was presented. Durant teaches art at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California.

Berenice Reynaud has a double background as a film critic/historian/theoretician and a film/video curator. As a critic, her main areas of expertise have been American independent/experimental film/video; films and video by women; Chinese cinema and video; African cinema; gender and feminist film theory. She has written extensively on Chinese cinema/video and films by women. She has been a regular collaborator of Cahiers du cinéma since the mid-1980s, and has published articles in Sight & Sound, Screen (UK), Film Comment, Afterimage, The Independent (USA), Senses of Cinema (Australia – ), Libération, CinemAction (France), Meteor, Springerin (Austria), Nosferatu (Spain) and Cinemaya, the Asian Film Quarterly (India), among others – as well as a number of scholarly publications, encyclopedias and catalogue articles in the US, the UK, France, Austria and Italy. She is the author of Nouvelles Chines, nouveaux cinémas (Paris, 1999) and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “A City of Sadness” (London, 2002). A correspondent for the San Sebastian International Film Festival (Spain) and The Viennale (Austria), she has also curated series of Chinese cinema and video in Paris, New York and Los Angeles. 

Stephan Koplowitz is an award winning director/choreographer/media artist known for his work on stage, film and site. His site work aims to alter people’s perspectives of place, site, and scale, all infused with a sense of the human condition and is concerned with the intersection of natural, social and cultural ecologies within urban and natural environments. Since 1984 he has created 64 works, 44 are commissions. He is the recipient of a 2004 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (Dance), a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography and a 2000 New York Dance and Performance Award, “Bessie” for “Sustained Achievement” in Choreography. His work has been seen across US and in Europe, most recently in Los Angeles on the Red Line of the LA Metro (2013), the Milwaukee Art Museum (2013) and in Houston (the Water Wall, 2012), Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA, 2007) and Mass MoCA (2007). Abroad his work was performed at the Spoleto Open Festival, Spoleto, Italy, 2012, Plymouth, England (2009),  L’Espace, Centre Culturelle in Hanoi, Vietnam (2005) the Kokerei Zollverein Factory (1999, (Germany), at the British Library (1998) and London’s Natural History Museum (1996) both commissioned by the Dance Umbrella Festival. After living in New York City for 23 years, Koplowitz, in 2006, was appointed dean of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts. He is a contributor to the first book on site choreography, Site Dance, published by Florida University Press and his course, Creating Site-Specific Dance and Performance Works is the first dance related course on Coursera and the MOOC platform. To see samples of his work visit:

New Media and Democracy in Latin America and the Middle East

December 5, 7-9pm, Community Room.

A panel on the contemporary intertwining of media and politics in the context of new or emerging democracies, featuring Marcelo Leiras and Muzammil M. Hussain. With Chandra Khan and Martín Plot as discussants.

Muzammil M. Hussain is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan's Department of Communication Studies, and faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research's Center for Political Studies. He teaches courses on information networks, digital politics, and research methods, and has conducted extensive field research in North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. His books include Democracy's Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring (Oxford University Press, 2013), and State Power 2.0: Authoritarian Entrenchment and Political Engagement Worldwide (Ashgate Publishing, 2013). These comparative projects investigate global patterns of information infrastructure diffusion and social mobilization, particularly the impact of digital media use on political participation in developing and democratizing countries.

Marcelo Leiras (Ph.D in Political Science, University of Notre Dame) is Assistant Professor and Chair in the Department of Social Sciences, Director of the Masters Program in Public Administration and Policy at the Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina). He is also Adjunct Researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet-Argentina). He was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Program on Democracy, MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University. He has worked as a consultant for several international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, International Labor Organization and the Ford Foundation. His research interests include democratic institutions, theories of democracy and democratization, constitutional politics, political parties and electoral behavior, federalism and multilevel governance, and Latin American politics.

Jacques Rancière: Time, Narration, Politics

January 20, 7-9pm, Council Chambers.

Jacques Rancière was born in Algiers (1940) and is Emeritus Professor of Aesthetics and Politics at the University of Paris VIII, where he taught from 1969 to 2000 in the Philosophy Department, and professor at the European Graduate School. His work crosses over the fields of Social History, Politics, Aesthetics, Film Studies and Literature. Among his works recently translated into English are Aisthesis. Fourteen Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art (Verso, 2013) and The Intervals of Cinema (Verso, 2014.) Previous books include Disagreement: Politics and PhilosophyThe Politics of AestheticsOn the Shores of Politics, Hatred of Democracy, and The Emancipated Spectator.


Literature and the Political

Friday, October 4th

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 3-6pm and 8pm

This event continues the MA Aesthetics and Politics program’s ongoing investigation of literature’s relation to the political with a workshop and an evening reading. 

3-6pm: MA Aesthetics and Politics faculty Arne De Boever and Martín Plot present their ongoing research into literature’s relation to the political. 

8pm: MA Aesthetics and Politics faculty Douglas Kearney and MFA Creative Writing faculty Janet Sarbanes read from their work in poetry and fiction.

Arne De Boever is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the MA Aesthetics and Politics program. He has written two books: States of Exception in the Contemporary Novel (Continuum, 2012) and Narrative Care: Biopolitics and the Novel (Bloomsbury, 2013). He is co-editor of Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology (Edinburgh UP, 2012) and The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism (Archive Press, 2013). He also edits Parrhesia: A Journal for Critical Philosophy and the Critical Theory/Philosophy section of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Martín Plot is Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies, California Institute of the Arts. He is the author of Indivisible (2011), La Carne de lo Social (2008), and El Kitsch Político (2003). He has also edited and co-edited several books, most recently Claude Lefort. Thinker of the Political (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Critical Theory and Democracy (Routledge, 2012, with Enrique Peruzzotti) and has published in Continental Philosophy Review, Constellations, Theory and Event, Umbrales, International Journal of Communication, Le monde diplomatique, Punto de vista, among other journals and reviews.


Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, hit the shelves in 2006 (Red Hen Press). His second manuscript, The Black Automaton, was chosen by Catherine Wagner for the National Poetry Series and published by Fence Books in 2009. The Black Automaton was also a finalist for the Pen Center USA Award in 2010. The CD, There Are Sharks in this Poem (Fence Records 2011), features a live reading from his second collection. His chapbook-as-LP-as-broadsides, Quantum Spit, was published by Corollary Press (2010). His new chapbook, SkinMag, is now available (A5/Deadly Chaps, 2012). His poetry has appeared in journals including Callaloo, nocturnes, jubilat, Ninth Letter, Washington Square,, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, Fence and others; as well as in several anthologies, including The Ringing Ear, Black Nature, the World Fantasy Award-Winning Dark Matter: Reading the Bones and Saints of Hysteria which features a collaboration between Kearney and Harryette Mullen.

Janet Sarbanes is the author of the short story collection Army of One, and has published fiction and scholarly writing in journals such as Black Clock, Luvina, Zyzzyva, Afterall, East of Borneo, Journal of American Woman Writers, Utopian Studies and Popular Music and Society, as well as various anthologies and artist monographs. Her current project is a study of art and music in utopian, subcultural and countercultural settings, entitled Another Time, Another Space: The Role of Aesthetic Practice in Alternative Social Formations. A related journal article, “The Shaker ‘Gift’: Charisma, Aesthetic Practice and Utopian Communalism,” was awarded the Battisti Prize by the Society of Utopian Studies. Her chapter on radical pedagogy in the early history of CalArts will appear in East of Borneo in two installments. Janet presently serves as Chair of the CalArts MFA Creative Writing Program and on the board of Les Figues Press.

Bernard Stiegler: On Abbas Kiarostami's Close Up 

Monday, October 28th

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 3-6pm

This event marks Bernard Stiegler’s second visit to the MA program. One of France’s foremost contemporary philosophers, and the author of many books, Bernard will run a workshop about themes that are central to his writings.

In collaboration with UCLA, and with the support of the French Consulate of Los Angeles.


Secular Criticism & Science and Its Fictions

Friday, November 22nd

West Hollywood Public Library, Community Room

3-6pm: Poet and literary theorist Stathis Gourgouris will discuss his new book Lessons in Secular Criticism.

8pm: Armen Avanessian, Amanda Beech, and Reza Negarestani discuss how and why aesthetic adventures in literature and art capture the scientific and aspire to the status of scientific inquiry—and how, in turn, philosophical theory and cultural practices often run the risk of aestheticizing science.

Amanda Beech is an artist and writer. Her work takes up the dynamic of image-force by entangling narratives of power from philosophical theory, literature, and real political events. Beech has exhibited her artwork internationally. Recent publications include: Final Machine (Urbanomic, 2013) and Sanity Assassin, (Urbanomic, 2010). She is Dean of Critical Studies at CalArts. 

Armen Avanessian studied philosophy, literature, and political science and is currently affiliated with the Peter Szondi Institute for Comparative Literature at the Free University Berlin. He has been a Visiting Fellow in the German Department at Columbia University and Yale University. Avanessian has edited (with Luke Skrebowski) Aesthetics and Contemporary Art (Sternberg, 2011) and Realismus Jetzt! Spekulative Philosophie und Metaphysik für das 21. Jahrhundert (Merve, 2013). His publications include: Phänomenologie des ironischen Geistes: Ethik, Poetik und Politik der Moderne (Fink, 2010) and (together with Anke Hennig) Präsens: Poetik eines Tempus (Diaphanes, 2012). In 2012 he founded a research platform on Speculative Poetics: He is also the editor of the book series SPEKULATIONEN (Merve). 

Reza Negarestani is a philosopher. He has contributed extensively to journals and anthologies and lectured at numerous international universities and institutes. His current philosophical project is focused on rationalist universalism beginning with the evolution of the modern system of knowledge and advancing toward contemporary philosophies of rationalism, their procedures as well as their demands for special forms of human conduct.  

What Is Political Art?

Friday, January 31st 

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 8pm

This event inaugurates a two-year research collaboration between Birkbeck (University of London), CONICET/Belgrano University (Buenos Aires, Argentina), and the MA Aesthetics and Politics Program. This project provides a platform for the encounter between academics and artists working on issues of memory, violence, the post-colonial condition, current democratic struggles, and other forms of contemporary aesthetico-politico interventions in a variety of contexts, specifically in Latin America and the US. With Margarita Palacios, Livia Marin, Charles Gaines, and Felipe Müller; hosted by Martín Plot.


Margarita Palacios, "Aesthetics as Infinite Criticality"

In this paper I explore ways in which the notion of the 'void' -as theorized by a number of authors in both continental philosophy and psychoanalytic theory- can inform practices and experiences of disobedience and criticality.   Different from thinking of critique as a method, in my research I put forward the notion of criticality as an  aesthetic experience of distanciation and desidentification,  which not only destabilises established hegemonies,  but also the 'body' and the 'thing' are granted with a type of resistance which immediately counteracts the effects of language and power".

Livia Marin, "Partial Encounters"

This presentation looks into art practices that employ everyday objects by means of estranging the relation we normally hold with them and suggests that such mode of address opens a space of resistance against determinations of use and meaning that are generally taken by granted.

Margarita Palacios and Livia Marin, "Ghosts from Chacabuco"

In this short presentation we show some of the collaborative work we are doing in ex concentration camps in Chile, where we are aiming at registering the materiality of violence and its 'unsayability".

Speaker bios:

Charles Gaines received his BA from Jersey City State University and his MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has had over 65 one-person shows and several hundred group exhibitions in the US and Europe. Charles's most recent solo exhibition, Notes on Social Justice, opened in September 2013 at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, NY. The exhibition includes earlier works, “Night/Crimes” (1994/1995) and “Skybox I” (2011), as well as a new body of work, “Notes on Social Justice,” and “Manifestos 2.” It has since been reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Artforum, and Art in America. Gaines’s work has also been included in State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970 at theSmart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL (October 3 – January 12, 2014); Body Language, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (July 18 – October 27, 2013); and Selections from the Permanent Collections, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (March 3, 2013 – Ongoing);Blues for Smoke, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (October 21 – January 2013), travelling to Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (September 21 – December 29, 2013).  In July 2013, he performed as the Charles Gaines Ensemble featuring Wadada Leo Smith at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Upcoming exhibitions include Prospect .3 New Orleans, Frieze New York, and a solo exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem in 2014. Charles is currently a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow.

Livia Marin is a visual artist.

Felipe Muller is a researcher at the University of Belgrano and CONICET (Argentine National Council for Scientific and Technical Research) and a psychoanalyst. His current interests include the exploration of the theoretical and technical consequences of a dialogical conception of the subject in psychoanalysis and the socio-psychological approach to the formation and development of collective memories. He is the co-editor (with Martín Plot) of Entre-Nos. Ensayos sobre reconocimiento e intersubjetividad (Teseo, 2009) and published in Intersubjetivo, Acta psiquiátrica y psicológica de América Latina, Revista argentina de psicoanálisis, Interdisciplinaria, Revista argentina de clínica psicológica, Applied Cognitive Psychology, and The Journal for Psychotherapy Integration, among other journals.

 Margarita Palacios is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. Her research interests include the study of the intersections of politics, gender, culture and psychoanalysis, continental philosophy and social theory, post-colonialism and Latin American studies. She is the author of Fantasy and Political Violence: The Meaning of Anti-Communism in Chile (2009) and Radical Sociality: On Disobedience, Violence and Belonging (2013).

 Martín Plot is Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies, California Institute of the Arts. 

Emergency Aesthetics

Friday, February 28th 

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 3-6pm and 8pm

3-6pm, Common Room: Workshop with philosopher Santiago Zabala on critical theory and Eurocentrism. 

8pm, Common Room: Lecture by Santiago Zabala about “Emergency Aesthetics”, with Ashley Hunt as respondent. 

For the workshop, please read the
following short texts in advance:

These short texts are related to Santiago’s
evening talk:

Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor (with tenure) in the Department of History of Philosophy, Aesthetics and Cultural Philosophy at the University of Barcelona. He is the author of The Remains of Being (2009), The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy (2008), and co-author with G. Vattimo of Hermeneutic Communism (2011). He edited G. Vattimo’s Art’s Claim to Truth (2008) and Nihilism and Emancipation (2004), Richard Rorty and G. Vattimo's The Future of Religion (2005), and Weakening Philosophy (2007). With Jeff Malpas he has co-edited Consequences of Hermeneutics: Fifty Years after Truth and Method (2010). His forthcoming books are Being Shaken: Ontology and the Event (Palgrave, 2013), co-edited with Michael Marder (2012), and Only Art Can Save Us: The Emergency of Aesthetics (2014).

Ashley Hunt is an artist and activist who uses video, photography, mapping and writing to engage social movements, modes of learning and public discourse. His work has been screened and exhibited at the P.S.1/MoMA, the New Museum, Project Row Houses, Documenta 12, the Gallery at REDCAT, Nottingham Contemporary, the 3rd Bucharest Biennial, the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, as well as numerous grassroots and community based venues throughout the US. 

Creativity and Other Fundamentalisms

Friday, April 25th 

West Hollywood Public Library

3-6pm, Common Room: Workshop with sociologist Pascal Gielen about “the ethics of art”. 

8pm, Common Room: Lecture by Pascal Gielen about “Creativity and Other Fundamentalisms”, with Matias Viegener as respondent.


Pascal Gielen is professor of sociology of the arts at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and directs the research group Arts in Society. In 2009, he co-edited Being an Artist in Post-Fordist Times and published his influential The Murmuring of the Artistic Multitude: Global Art, Memory and Post-Fordism. In 2010, he co-edited Community Art and Beyond: The Political Potency of Trespassing. His WHAP! workshop and lecture are linked to his most recent books: the edited collection The Ethics of Art and Creativity and Other Fundamentalisms

Matias Viegener is the author of 2500 Random Things About Me Too, a book of experimental non-fiction that was hailed as the first book composed on and through Facebook. With Christine Wertheim, he has edited two anthologies: The Noulipian Analects and Séance in Experimental Writing. He is the editor and co-translator of Georges Bataille’s The Trial of Gilles de Rais. His fiction, art criticism, and academic criticism, have been widely published. He is the literary executor for the writer Kathy Acker and a co-founder of Fallen Fruit, a participatory art practice focusing on fruit, urban space and public life whose work has been exhibited worldwide.

Last edited by sblake on Feb 13, 2017
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