Where Is Space? Professors Lanfranco Aceti and Vincent Brown

Looking Straight, 2018. Self-portrait with watercolor, powder, makeup, lipstick, and glitter. Lanfranco Aceti. Makeup @paologigante_ @Mac. MACBA

Where Is Space? is a conversation between ACT Research Affiliate Lanfranco Aceti and Professor Vincent Brown (Harvard) on issues of space and its relationship to the construction of contemporary visual, literary, and historical contexts and narratives. Professor Brown will talk about space, time, and slavery in the context of contemporary digital media. The lecture will take place in the Plimpton Room, Barker Center, Room 133, Harvard University on Thursday, March 22, 2018, from 6:30pm to 8:00 pm.

Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium and Umberto Eco’s Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, part of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at the Mahindra Humanities Center, the conversation will be published by MIT Press as part of larger project that analyzes issues of time, space, movement, matter, light, and the unknown. The volume will be using a new publication platform, Contemporary Arts and Cultures (CAC), realized by Travis Rich at the MediaLab that LEA has been testing as part of its experimental remits within MIT Press.

“‘So that the rough sand should not harm the snake-haired head (anquiferumque caput dura ne laedat harena), he makes the ground soft with a bed of leaves, and on top of that he strews little branches of plants born under water, and on this he places Medusa’s head, face down.’  [….] But the most unexpected thing is the miracle that follows: when they touch Medusa, the little marine plants turn into corral and the nymphs , in order to have coral for adornments, rush to bring sprigs and seaweeds to the terrible head.” [1]

Professor Brown will analyze motifs and structures that are emerging from the site of trauma and the complexity of visualizing, narrating, and historicizing concurrent multiple events and timelines which coexist, intertwine, and spun global and local interactions. It is the locus—with its complex layered and sedimented texture result of embracing and connecting with multiple visions, narratives, and histories—that offers us the possibility of retracing, analyzing, and understanding the space we occupy as well as ourselves as repositories of compounded histories.

What are, then, the metaphors and allegories that we can use in order to understand space? What is the space that we occupy today and that is drenched by trauma, social and political upheaval, and systemic pauperization of entire communities? Is there an inclusive space of utopia beyond the capitalistic / nationalistic dystopia of a return to a golden age forever dreamed but that never existed? More importantly, how do we travel to such a space?