Speculative Biologies: New Directions in Art in the Age of the Anthropocene

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Yoldas, Pinar


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This dissertation is an attempt to explain art in the 21st century by an artist/researcher. It is a theoretical writing on art informed by current discourses that influence art such as science and technology. There are two goals of this project. The first one is to understand art’s cultural role in the age of the anthropocene. What is the anthropocene? How does art’s role in society change in this particular geological epoch (following Crutzen’s definition), compared to for instance Holocene? This brings us to the second goal of my project. To better understand art’s role in society, can we benefit from a theory of art, that could present an insight on the dynamics within an artistic experience? What are the current tools and tendencies that can help form such a theory of art? Which fields can contribute to such an understanding?

As an instance of artistic research practice which involves both academic research and art practice, I will be using art projects as case studies to reach these goals. Case studies will consist of my own projects as well as projects by other artists who had been working on similar topics such as Edward Burtynsky, Chris Jordan, Louis Bec, Trevor Paglen, Patricia Piccinini and Lynn Hershmann to name a few. From Timothy Morton to Mackenzie Wark to Donna Haraway cultural theorists of our time, highlight the fact that there is a need for a cultural theory that can attend to what we might call the anthropocene. What is the contribution of art for such a theory? Or can art be instrumental in building a cultural theory at all? My dissertation offers a multi-disciplinary argument for the need to address such questions . Starting from art’s roots in biology and extending to what we might call our biological imagination, the dissertation focuses on art’s connection to biology to initiate a formula for art in the age of the anthropocene.





Yoldas, Pinar (2016). Speculative Biologies: New Directions in Art in the Age of the Anthropocene. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13435.


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