Week 11: Audience and Site & Making Day

Augmented Realty Workshop at Inter/Access

Audience and Site: Defining an Online Audience


Thinking about how to get back into making work for virtual spaces, and while I thought a lot about this last year, I am still not sure how to pin down who a virtual audience is. While the audience can be wide an deserve, how can an artist even track that audience engagement, or is this an instance where the artist may not be fully responsible for the audience’s experience, as it is mediated through a device. This also in my mind means that all interactions with online art are experiential, often outside of traditional art spaces, which allows for a real freedom from institutional restraints.

René St-Pierre of the Université de Montréal (2004); argues that a statistically-defensible demographic description for the audiences for digital art does not exist in a practical manner, which I agree with. I think this also means that a lot of online art is experiences in more of a solitary environment, rather than in social groups like attending a museum, which is really important to keep in mind.

When the social aspect of viewing art is taken away, does this mean we are changing the way audiences behave, or are we moulding art to the way society behaves more and more each day?

Making Day Plan

I thought it might be beneficial to use the making day as an opportunity to make some new, small, quick work in a workshop format. To do this, working as a group, we will create a set of “rules” and boundaries that we establish through conversation and collaboration, and then create a new small or quickly made work in any media in response to these “restrictions”. The rules we make can be quite literal, (ie. no figures, no blue, you must make at least two cuts, there must be a fold, etc.) or more metaphorical (ie. there must be an element of silence, make a mistake, etc.), and breaking these rules could also be a rule in itself.

I am planning to start us off with some examples of rules which other artists have integrated into their studio practices at the beginning of the session. We can all build outward from there, but most of the time will be dedicated to making.

I will talk a bit about:

  • Sister Corita Kent’s rules for her classes
  • John Cage’s appropriation of Kent’s rules for his 10 Rules for Students and Teachers
  • And Fischli & Weiss’s rules on how to work better
  • Anton Chekhov’s 6 rules for a great Story
  • Abramović’s conducts
  • Diebenkorn’s Notes to myself on beginning a Painting
  • Dogme 95’s Vow of Chastity
  • Rauschenberg — Break the rules

I would also like to propose that before the making day we create a collaborative playlist, which everyone can listen to independently, but “together” during the making portion of the making day. You can add songs through this playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6aJubB2xQarq40NhL7ZA6L?si=ah7dopsMStKqwaUgcIq_1Q

To add a song, look up the song on spotify, press the … icon next to it, navigate to Add to Playlist and then choose the playlist “Collaborate”. If you have any trouble feel free to let me know, and I can just add songs for you too.










Making Day Results

The Rules we generated:

  • do something experimental
  • you making must have a spoken component
  • To undo something that is already done
  • To use a new tool or implement
  • make a mistake – but try not to fix it
  • create a small explosion
  • leave room for the X quantities
  • The only rule is work… even if everything goes wrong

Our Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6aJubB2xQarq40NhL7ZA6L

In the studio I started by making this collage with the idea in mind to use it as the target for an AR video overlay. It was a quick an dirty collage, plenty of little mistakes were made but I tried to just roll with it, the video contained a small explosion, I tried a new tool, the AR and followed the rule to make work!

hand collage

Still plenty to work out, like making the video transparent, and I would like to use this to not cover the entire drawing, but animate some parts of it, but I think I understand the how and why now. Time to apply it to some critical work.

After this experiment I just wanted to see how quickly I could make without thinking. Grabbing all my scraps out of the garbage, this little layered collage came into being:

hand neg collage.jpg


Week 10: Visiting Tutor, Talks

Visiting Tutor

The visiting tutor session with Michele came at a really good time, where I feel I am struggling with what I actually want to be doing, and what the purpose of it all is. However speaking with Michelle really helped clarify a few things for me.

The last few months I have been questioning how those ideas of truth and proof can be applied to finding truth in things which cannot be touched or experience first hand. This has resulted in a continued exploration into the merging of physical and digital work while exploring themes related to understanding the cosmos through perception and imagined touch. However, I am feeling that I have been falling back on comfortable ways of making, that are not really challenging any media, but I want to be pushing back into online art and zines.

In the tutorial, we discussed how to integrate working in radical ways, outside of the traditionally set up norms (rectangles, galleries, etc) and how these ideas are important during the political and economic climate. To move past this (not to be dramatic but,) looming existential dread, Michele suggested breaking out of my patterns for making and thinking continue to be a struggle, but maybe going back to carving out space on the internet for work can break me out of this cycle. We also discussed putting myself and my voice into the work, and how it is worthwhile even if it finds a small audience, or even just an audience of one. Also, due to the somewhat limited amount of critical writing on born digitial artwork, as compared to more traditional media, I am feeling a little lost of where to situate my work which is trying to define the digitial materiallity. To create a wider context for the net.art and browser based work, Michele suggested considering it as a form of socially engaged practice, and look to writing on those subjects to shape that way of making. This makes a lot of sense to me as the digital work is so rooted in audience engagement.

Finally, I am aiming to continue to integrate my writing to my practice and try to reconsider it as not separate from anything else, but rather the physical work, the online work and the writing are all interconnected, and will continue to become webbed together over time. These do not need to be considered as different compartments of the practice, they are all linked and it is ok to adopt more ephemeral ways of working. My final note to self is to continue activity in studio and just force something (be it work, connections, ideas) to happen through the making.



Anti-Oppression Workshop 

This week at the University I work at, there was a workshop focused on anti-oppression and what it means to create Anti-oppressive spaces within our communities. This workshop was lead by Join Ivan Okello, the Black student Advisor/Diversity Educator and addressed how anti-oppression involves recognizing the existence of oppression within our society and actively seeking to mitigate and challenge forms of oppression.

I feel that I am always trying to better understand power dynamics, oppression and liberation in a Canadian and an art world context, as I am member within these trying to do some (if only a small amount) of good in the world.

In the workshop we explored internalized, interpersonal and institutional oppression and explore their role/identities in relation to others through this power flower exercise.

Generic Flower Power Example

What I noticed very quickly about this exercise was that is was based on binaries, and really I did not feel I fell solely into the dominant or non dominant groups, and that in each category there would be many levels, and each are intrinsically linked to the other — making oppression a complicated matter. This was really the overarching take away was to acknowledge that everyone is an individual, with lots going on in different ways, and that we must acknowledge where we sit, and treat all others with compassion.


Steve Topping Artist Talk

This week I was able to attend a talk and exhibition by Canadian artist Steve Topping, which was organized as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Intercolonial Railway, which arrived in Sackville on 30 November 1869. His work Reading Canada Backwards is currently on view in Sackville, and is shown daily from dusk until dawn, projected into the only window in our gallery, a somewhat unusual exhibition space.

Steve Topping‘s multidisciplinary practice takes into account alternative urban and rural living spaces. He uses found materials to create living areas. He is currently based in Montreal.

Steve Topping, Reading Canada Backwards, Still

During his talk I was particularly excited about how he addressed the very really and very horrifying aspects of the history of building the Intercolonial Railway. Most of the town has been purely celebrating the train arriving in Sackville years ago as an engineering feat, without much critique of the issues it bulldozed over.

Firstly in order to build the railway and encourage future settlement, the government considered it necessary to extinguish Aboriginal title to the land. “In exchange for their traditional territory, government negotiators made various promises to Indigenous peoples — both orally and in the written texts of the treaties — including special rights to treaty lands and the distribution of cash payments, hunting and fishing tools, farming supplies, and the like. These terms of agreement are controversial and contested. To this day, the Numbered Treaties have ongoing legal and socioeconomic impacts on Indigenous communities.” (https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canadian-pacific-railway) Now with land-rights being re-given the indigenous groups, there may be large changes coming to the railways which first displaces communities from their land.

Topping also addressed the horrendous working conditions that many workers faced, including the the Chinese immigrant workers, many of whom lost their lives to the railway. This seemed an integral part of the work, which could be seen as a purely romanticized depiction of the Canadian landscape. Reading Canada Backwards critiques the capitalism and colonialism that brought the railway into being and addresses questions of entitlement, landownership, and the right to freedom of movement.



Currently Reading: Bauhaus Weaving Theory, T’ai Smith at Michele’s recommendation

Week 9: A Handmade Assembly

This past weekend I once again participated in A Handmade Assembly. A four day long conference which focused on craft and the idea of the ‘handmade’. The Assembly is a community event in Sackville, NB that “brings together artists, curators, and others makers from the region and elsewhere in Canada to lead discussions, facilitate workshops, initiate projects, open exhibitions and share in a common thread, the handmade.”

It is organized collaboratively by the Owens Art Gallery and Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre with the support of the Fine Arts Department at Mount Allison University.

Carley Mullalley
Rope Making with Carley Mullalley

The Assembly was created as a response to the significant number of artists who have in recent years been using materials and processes that are laborious, often intimate, and usually associated with traditional craft methods. Sackville s home to many makers with ties to the university and those without. With a steady flow of residencies, visiting artists and curators, the small town of 2500 (5000) with the University students, is teaming with activity. The Assembly is one of the larger events hosted yearly in Sackville. It aims to interpret the ‘handmade’ in the widest terms, embracing interdisciplinary and wide-ranging critical inquiry. This was the ninth iteration.

Larry Weyand

The highlights of the symposium were the Talk: The Never-Ending Collage Party with Paul Butler which addresses his nomadic studio project and his involvement with diverse social groups through it, the Talk: Peeling the Sticker Off An Overripe Pear Larry Weyand which had to do with rug hooking, food and familal narratives, the rop making workshop with Carley Mullally, especially as I have been starting to research my familie’s relationship with rope making in Belfast and the Talk: All or None: Garment Union Banners and the Fabric of Protest with Tara Bursey which spoke to the idea of textiles as a metaphor for community and care. Generally the conversations about public engagement through practice.

All or None: Garment Workers’ Union Banners from the WAHC Collection, Tara Bursey

Through these events, many questions which came up repeatedly over the weekend were related to indigenous voices and craft, labour and time and also holding up underrepresented and queer voices through practice. Inherent to this is the need for a community to come together to support those voices and stories, and I think the assembly provides a temporary space where that community can come together and then make connections that extend beyond the town, province or country.

Paul Butler: The Collage Party
Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 2.51.04 PM.png
My Collage Party contribution

Time, labour and representation in relation to community always seem to be overarching themes which come up year to year. Each year the questions get more complex, and while we are making a space for the conversations, it is also important to consider how they are affecting the communities outside of Sackville, Newfoundland, Winnipeg and the other pockets where most of the participants tend to visit from, it is an ongoing conversation.


MA3 — Week 8: Ethics, PPP and FIFCA

Visiting Lecture with Dr Michele Whiting FHEA

The biggest take away from Dr. Whiting’s lecture was a desire to reclaim physical space, through action, but also to reclaim a memory through material and transmit the experience to the viewer.

I could really feel the landscape through the work she showed us, and I really enjoyed the performative aspect of the slide show, through the addition of the writing. Through the paintings and drawings I felt i could feel not only the process of making the marks, but also a unity between those marks and the process of walking, physically moving though the space. The soft edges, colour palette and textures all lent themselves to the landscapes that I could feel even through I have never been to the UK.


Role of Artist and Ethics

I was a bit surprised this is the first time ethics has come up during the MA formally, but it is something I often think about. When I received my first research grant as an undergrad, I had to take an ethics workshop and comply with the Research Ethics Boards’ and receive approval from the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) standards for my work. The workshop was general, and I worked alongside mathematicians, scientist, social scientists and musicians during the training, but I think as a whole the guiding principles should apply to all:

  • respect for human dignity
  • respect for free and informed consent voluntarily given
  • respect for vulnerable persons
  • respect for privacy and confidentiality
  • respect for justice and inclusiveness
  • balancing harms and benefits
  • minimizing harm
  • maximizing benefits

In career climbing we must also be careful to be ethical in our lives. I think the rules for researching and working ethically can apply to all aspects of our being in the world. We must treat others with respect, and provide opportunities for informed consent and respect any times we work with vulnerable populations, being cautious of our privileges and advantages.

I think generally working with others in a respectful, collaborative way always results in more dynamic, engaging and considered work, and it is through sharing that we can grow as a culture. The divisiveness and competitiveness that often occurs in the art world can only lead to hurting the larger community in the long run, and limiting your own knowledge about when you may be treading on others, appropriating other’s work or being unprofessional in the end.

Because of this, I don’t think that work and the self, can be separate, and that to make ethical work, we must also be moral as an individual. Even if a work is ethical, if the maker has unethical qualities or seems to be doing questionable things with their privilege, that is tied to the work and a part of the work too.

Generally I don’t think art can be separate form the social world it is a part of, and it is important to the cognizant and sensitive to the diverse social issues which we are all a part of as artists. It is our responsibility, as independent makers and thinkers to act in ethical ways, and produce work that has been considered, because it is an amazing privilege to be able to make art, and we should acknowledge the responsibility wherewithin.


In the hopes of getting an early crack at the final submissions for this year, I decided to get a jump start and do a preliminary edit this past weekend. The most major edits were to the year ahead section and the 5 years, as I would like to keep the momentum from the MA going next year, and am trying to shoot for slightly bigger goals in the long run, in the hopes that some manifestation might help.

Rachel Thornton PPP Year 3 

Install at Atelier Imago Inc.

This week I set up a small exhibition at the Atelier Imago Inc, an artist run-print shop in Moncton, NB as a part of the Volet Arts médiatiques projects for FICFA (Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie). The exhibition opens 14 November and is on view until 15 December.

I really appreciated the opportunity to put up some fresh work, and that they translated my statement and bio:

Le film uranography propose un nouvel agencement des étoiles du ciel nocturne. Inspirée de l’histoire de l’astronomie, de la cartographie céleste et des représentations mythologiques d’Uranie, la vidéo allie une version réinventée du cosmos aux étoiles existantes pour créer un nouvel arrangement des étoiles. L’intouchable cosmos est manipulé par une voix narrative silencieuse et anonyme à l’aide de dessins, d’images imprimées et de séquences de films trouvées.

Rachel M Thornton est une artiste émergente et une commissaire, descendante des premiers colons. Elle vit présentement sur les terres non-cédées des nations Micmac et Wolastoqiyik (Sigenigteoag / Sackville, N.-B.). Elle explore sa fascination pour le cosmos par l’entremise de divers médiums, dont le dessin, la vidéo et le numérique.

Elle détient un Baccalauréat en arts visuels avec distinction de l’université Mount Allison à Sackville et est étudiante au programme de maïtrise en arts visuels au Open College of the Arts à Barnsley, au Royaume-Uni.

Final Video after some slight changes that are probably even too minor to notice:

Installation view, better documentation to come


MA3 — Week 7: Contextual Study, Visiting Artists and in the Studio

Contextual Study 

This  year I hoped to get going early on the contextual study question, so was really glad when Kimberley promped us to get a move on. I was also pleasantly surprised with the word count increase, which I think will allow me to fully explore the topic.

Contextual Study Question:

Art and Cosmology: How personal epistomologies and embodied connections to celestial bodies relate to feminist was of knowing the cosmos.

Initial notes:


Diane Borsato Artist Talk

This week there were many artists visiting Sackville, but I was most excited for a talk with Diane Borsato, an artist I have looked to for inspiration the last few years.

Borsato’s work explores “pedagogical practices and experiential ways of knowing through performance, intervention, video, installation, and photography.” I am keenly interested in the way she works with others to execute large projects which involve many participants, (including beekeepers, mushroomers, astronomers, dancers and others) or are carried out over multiple years in collaboration with major institutions, art galleries, and local organizations.

In her talk, she mentioned that she just loves to learn, and her interest in so many different areas of research comes from her never ending curiosity about the world. “While there are ideas that I hope I’m proposing [in my work], it’s very much about the fact that I’m really curious about a subject and I’d like to learn about it. So I negotiate a scenario where we can all learn something in a surprising way.” I love how she tackles projects about the natural world, but from so many subjects and perspectives. This idea of teaching and learning together seems as important in her practice as the subject matter itself.


Diane Borsato, Cloud Party, Performance/Walking Tour


Diane Borsato, Terrestrial / Celestial, Performance/Action, 2010

Though her projects often come about as ephemeral experiences, I am curious about how she documents these events, and creates ephemera that lives on from the event. Posters, pamphlets and artists books include a few of the ways she has extended the life of these projects and perhaps most beautifully the planing of an orchard.


Brendan Fernandes Artist Talk

Chicago based, Canadian artist Brendan Fernandes also came to little Sackville to give an artist talk a few days after Diane. His projects often address issues of race, queer culture, migration, protest, and other forms of collective movement, while working with dancers in installations he designs. His choreography/work often combines Ballet, queer dance hall, political protest and is rooted in collaboration and fostering solidarity.

Inspired by Nijinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring, the work he showed in Sackville was a  performance-activated installation called The Rite. This work explored the tension between stillness, seat, and power.

During its activations, two dancers engaged with a sculptural cage and chairs that rocked in all directions, making them unstable seats. The dancers are challenged to achieve stillness and a sense of balance while rocking back and forth in unison. To do so, they must constantly engage their core and balance muscles. In this situation, stillness is achieved through active resistance.

Through this gesture and the surrounding choreography, the idea of stillness as metaphor for political resistance is explored. As an ongoing exploration of the tension between technique and self-care, Fernandes’ choreography further challenges the dancers to find a new sense of freedom and new movement from within these physical and metaphoric objects of restraint. When the dancers are absent, the installation is activated by the recorded sound of the performers.

Brendan Fernandes, The Master and Form
Brendan Fernandes, The Living Mask

During his talk it was refreshing to hear how he worked with the dancers not as props, but as collaborators within the work. Much of his practice involves working with these dancers not only to convey his choreography, but to also allow them space for improvisation, and treating them as collaborators during the performances.

Brendan was also very adamant during his talk that he fights for the right for these dancers and artists to always be paid. This seemed a really important aspect of his work, and has built in conditions so that anytime his work is shown, everyone is paid fairly for their work.

Sean Young – Reconsidering Museum Collections and Community Engagement

Next stop on this week long marathon on talks was with Sean Young, The Collections Manager & Archaeologist at the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay.

During Sean’s talk, he spoke to the ongoing issues of repatriation in Canada and internationally and also ways the museum has been Reconsidering Museum Collections and Community Engagement with a lens on indigenous practices.

From his talk it seemed clear that there is still a long way to go in terms of repatriating artworks and artifacts to indigenous communities in Canada, but that is sadly nothing new around here. However what did surprise me during Sean’s talk was the approach his museum takes towards borrowing works from other institutions and then working with the lenders to help them understand why the artifacts/artworks should come back to the community. By giving the objects proper context, the Haida Gwaii museum has been able to convince lenders to leave the works back where they belong, through increasing the awareness of the importance of the artifacts. Though it seems like a huge task, continuing to increase this knowledge has been working for them so far, and seems a really positive strategy.

I was excited to ask Sean what the reception to the online collection was like, as it seems such a useful tool for not only sharing their collection, but also providing an opportunity for their community to connect with the archives. It seemed like there has been great uptake in it as an online resource, and has also allowed for the opportunity for contemporary artists to explore and respond to the items in their collection, resulting in some wonderful sounding exhibitions which combine both works from the collections and new commissions.

Haida Gwaii Museum

Studio Progress

In preparation for a small exhibition in Moncton, New Brunswick, uranography, I made these collages to accompany the video/animation work.

I can imagine making a few more and producing a small publication to document the exhibition.IMG_0519IMG_0517

Own Work





MA3 — Week 6: Provocations Summary

Provocations Task

Thesis: Empirical evidence is required to find truth in memory, and preserve ‘facts’ related to definitions of identity. Collective memory, history and scientific theories, define the present self.

Presentation Transcript

Diane Chasseur, is an independent researcher of para-fictions and philosopher of science. Today she will be speaking about how we find truth, and how those truths define our identity and place within culture.


Why should we care so much about finding ultimate truths, if we even can? As Jo explained our memories are fickle and unreliable narrators, and without hard empirical evidence, we should not believe everything that is told to us. Empirically acquired information is collected through observation, experience, and experiment and, ideally, serves as neutral arbiters between competing theories to define a reliable truth. What evidence of this kind do we really have to prove that man landed on the moon fifty years ago?

The way we define truth can also be done without empirical evidence, and can be full of biases, influence from social structures and conformity with others, which leads us to establish our beliefs, and our identity but ways of social trust. We currently live in a world of scientific realism, where through social trust of scientists, leaders and governments, we believe all current dominant scientific theories are true (or approximately true) but we can look to the not so recent history to see that that has not always been the case. Pessimistic meta-induction undermines this epistemic optimism in relation to anti-realism and is perhaps the way forward. Looking to today’s misinformation age, where technologies influence our memories and understanding of truth, what role does cynicism have to play in establishing truth in relation to conspiracy theories.

What value can we find in looking at outside the dominant theories in hopes of defining the truths which establish our identities.

Part 1: Social Trust

Human knowledge is deeply social. We learn from each other and use the information other shares to define our knowledge of the world, and this social trust defines our identity. Trusting things other people tell us is something we do all the time. This is how culture has always been established, through person to person relationships. We are, and always have been inclined to trust another, since this is how we learn and communicate.

But how do we decide who is trustworthy, especially in the current age of misinformation? We have each developed our own ways of doing this on the personal level, but ultimately we look to the people who are most like us, to find trustworthiness, and we are less trusting to people who are unlike ourselves. In the past all knowledge was transferred via a hierarchy, from those with authority, established by privilege and wealth to those without. But with the rise of the internet information age, more voices found their communities, and because of this, we have built communities around our like minded beliefs.

In science and history, this sharing has always come about as an individual sharing evidence, and then they draw their conclusions, which we are inclined to trust and then we make our own beliefs. But what about those who are less inclined to trust? This can extend to political groupings, religion and  “conspiracy theories”, (like that the moon landing was faked), or beliefs which we find different than our own. These have been prevalent in history but today they are labeled as fake news, and we just aren’t designed to handle fake news, as an inherently trusting species. But really conspiracy theorists are just another community who see the moon landing as real as a non-truth. These social groupings are often a large part of our identity and lead to mistrust of information.

This is an especially important distinction when it comes to events or experiences which are not necessarily universal. There are only a handful of first hand accounts of actually walking on the moon, and only a few hundred thousand that the mission happened. That leaves millions of people who are outside of this community, who did not have first hand experience of the truth in question.

So when someone reports an experience that we can’t experience directly, we want to learn from this, but since truth can be so easily manipulated, should we just blindly trust the information, or should we look for our own evidence to question it? Social factors, rather than individual psychology, are essential to understanding how truth and misinformation is spread.

Part 2: Pessimistic meta-induction and Anti-Realism 

Since, historically, we have been inclined to find truth in the information shared to us, and we cannot experience/investigate every theory firsthand, we established a world of scientific realism. In this world, we believe that scientific theories are true (or approximately true) because we have established and found authenticity in scientists via our social trust, groupings and hierarchies.

Pessimistic meta-induction undermines this epistemic optimism and is perhaps the way to move forward in developing our understanding of the world and ourselves, free from hierarchical baggage. The pessimistic meta-induction argument was first fully postulated by Larry Laudan in 1981. Using meta-inductive reasoning, rather than deductive reasoning, Larry Laudan argues that if past scientific theories which were successful were found to be false, we have no reason to believe the realist’s claim that our currently successful theories are true or approximately true.

We can look to the not so recent history to see that that has not always been the case, and scientific beliefs we once found to be true are completely erroneous. Ie. handwashing, the flat earth, hollow earth, pluto as a planet, the list could go on into thousands of examples. Overtime we have found new scientific concensouses, superseding these earlier theories, but what is notable about all our current theories on these topics, is that they started out in opposition to dominant beliefs, you might even call them ‘conspiracy theories’. If some of these past conspiracies have turned out to be truthful in the past, what prevents current theories from being proven truthful in the future. That we just cannot predict and maybe there was some foul play in the “moon landings’ which we have not fully found the reasoning for yet.

Philosopher Micheal Dummett proposes that “a statement about the past is rendered true or false only by evidence available to the speaker at the time of asserting it.” implying that the only evidence we can truly believe is in first hand knowledge based on empirical experience. “That individual takes the memory to their grave, then when the witness dies it ceases to be true that the event took place”. However, this is not how we have socially come to find truth in information, and while that statement might find truth in the evidence, when a community takes that evidence, they develop it to find meaning and usefulness with the evidence. This idea of finding truth from individual interpretation allows from any voices to become an authority on a subject. In political theory, or political philosophy, John Locke refuted the theory of the divine right of kings and argued that all persons are endowed with natural rights to life, liberty, and property and ultimately there can be authority found in many.

While Dummett ultimately argues against many aspects of Anti-realism, in theory we can conclude that the truth of a statement rests on its demonstrability through our internal logic mechanisms which are, ultimately, a part of our identities. So as we receive information socially from many authorities, in the search for truth it is ultimately up to us to individually question everything as we continue to move forward as a culture in search of truth.

Part 3: Machineries of Memory and role of artist 

Looking to today, technologies influence on our memories and understanding of truth as we receive our evidence not through physical first hand accounts, but socially through these technologies. Human memory and interpretation is fallibile as Bruce M Ross states ‘…a purely cognitive memory must belong either to a robot or to an inert database.’ Unlike machines, human memory is designed for information retrieval, not for information storage. So we must consider the authenticity of our evidence in relation to time and kind, to assess its usefulness.

George Steiner reflects in In Bluebeard’s Castle. Somes Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture, that “it is not the literal past that rules us…. It is images of the past” often as highly structured myths passed through human knowledge, or of late as data stored in machines. Walter Benjamin argues that each human sensory perspective is not completely biological or natural, it is also historical inn ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’. We perceive change, and shifting truths alongside social changes, or changes in ‘humanity’s entire mode of existence’. In the reproduction of evidence, truthfulness is not the same, like a work of art looking it’s aura through reproduction. Because this is how we often receive our evidence for our beliefs, via inference from mechanical and technical reproductions, video and photographs. We can only experience a moon landing through the images, video and audio that prevails, but how trust worthy of sources are those really?

Today, the construction and operation of machine memory is fully understood, as it has been completely generated by us, as opposed to human systems, our brain, which we are continuing to learn about. This may make machine memory more trustworthy in some instances, but it also allows for manipulation of information, which we can see lead to catastrophic results, if we are not critical of it.


In conclusion, finding universal truths may seem a futile practice as we fight against our inefficient human memories, social bias and incomplete understanding of ourselves and the world around us. However, by questioning the status quo, we may be able to find new truths in old theories as we forge ahead with pessimistic induction, even epistemic optimism is a lot easier to go along with. Questioning who holds authority and who we trust can generate more truthful truths, and allow us to find community in cultures built on these truths. By finding truth in multiple communities, there is not just true and untrue, but rather many truths made from many perspectives which may transcend our knowledge of the truth. By analyzing and questioning the collective memory we call history and science, our personal narratives in relation to these histories can become a navigational tool in defining our identity.

Furthermore, As technology continues to challenge our understanding of truth and ways we interpret information, we must also adapt to become more critical of the evidence itself, and find value in truths we first find outside the dominant theories defining our own identities. As artists looking to represent truths related to our identities, we must challenge the accepted truths and dominant narratives within the cultures we are a part of.



Baxter, Brian H. “Art and Embodied Truth.” Mind, New Series, 92, no. 366 (1983): 189-203. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2253780.

BESSI, ALESSANDRO, and WALTER QUATTROCIOCCHI. “Disintermediation: Digital Wildfires in the Age of Misinformation.” AQ: Australian Quarterly 86, no. 4 (2015): 34-40. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24877660.

Dorter, Kenneth. “Conceptual Truth and Aesthetic Truth.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 48, no. 1 (1990): 37-51. doi:10.2307/431198.

Eyerman, Ron. “The Past in the Present: Culture and the Transmission of Memory.” Acta Sociologica 47, no. 2 (2004): 159-69. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4195021.

Goodman, Steve, and Luciana Parisi. “Machines of Memory.” In Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates, edited by RADSTONE SUSANNAH and SCHWARZ BILL, 343-60. NEW YORK: Fordham University, 2010. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1c999bq.27.

Jarrett, Greg. “Conspiracy Theories of Consciousness.” Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition 96, no. 1 (1999): 45-58. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4320971.

Kelly, T. Mills. “Making: DIY History?” In Teaching History in the Digital Age, 102-25. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv65swp1.10.

Kelly, T. Mills. “True Facts or False Facts—Which Are More Authentic?” In Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology, edited by Kee Kevin, 309-28. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv65swr0.19.

Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K. and Gignac, G. E. (2013) ‘NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science’, Psychological Science, 24(5), pp. 622–633. doi: 1177/0956797612457686.

Lewandowsky, Stephan, Klaus Oberauer, and Gilles E. Gignac. “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science.” Psychological Science 24, no. 5 (2013): 622-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23409410.

MOHAN, S ARUN. “Fog of Conspiracy Theories.” Economic and Political Weekly 46, no. 28 (2011): 72. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23017823.

O’Connor, Cailin, and James Owen Weatherall. The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2019. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv8jp0hk.

RADSTONE, SUSANNAH, and BILL SCHWARZ, eds. Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. NEW YORK: Fordham University, 2010. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1c999bq.

“SCIENCE AND THE CITIZEN.” Scientific American 199, no. 6 (1958): 52-66. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24944849.

Solnit, Rebecca. “’Hope Is a​n Embrace of the Unknown​’: Rebecca Solnit on Living in Dark Times.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 15, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jul/15/rebecca-solnit-hope-in-the-dark-new-essay-embrace-unknown.

“The Reign of Gnomic Truths.” The reign of gnomic truths | esse arts opinions. Accessed October 29, 2019. https://esse.ca/en/article/68/the-reign-of-gnomic-truths.






MA3 — Week 5: Making Day, Misinformation and Pessimistic Meta-Induction

Making Day

Thinking about truth and images and use of diagrams/scientific aesthetics to convey some form of proof, I am planning to use these images/animations in conjunction with a lecture on the same topic.

I am curious about how Pessimistic meta-induction and Anti-Realism factor into how we decifer images as evidence of something, either evidence of a truth, experience, narrative or fiction.



Since, historically, we have been inclined to find truth in the information shared to us socially, and we cannot experience/investigate every theory firsthand, we established a world of scientific realism. In this world, we believe that scientific theories are true (or approximately true) because we have established and found authenticity in scientists via our social trust, groupings and hierarchies.

Pessimistic meta-induction undermines this epistemic optimism and is perhaps the way to move forward in developing our understanding of the world and ourselves, free from hierarchical baggage. The pessimistic meta-induction argument was first fully postulated by Larry Laudan in 1981. Using meta-inductive reasoning, rather than deductive reasoning, Larry Laudan argues that if past scientific theories which were successful were found to be false, we have no reason to believe the realist’s claim that our currently successful theories are true or approximately true.

We can look to the not so recent history to see that that has not always been the case, and scientific beliefs we once found to be true are completely erroneous, ie. hand washing, the flat earth, hollow earth, Pluto as a planet, the list could go on into thousands of examples. Overtime we have found new scientific consensuses, superseding these earlier theories, but what is notable about all our current theories on these topics, is that they started out in opposition to dominant beliefs, you might even call them ‘conspiracy theories’.

I think that artists often fall into a cultural category that works against the status quo, in aims of finding new truths, sharing new ideas and progressing social issues. But working against scientists to create para-fiction is also dangerous territory in an age of misinformation and fake news.



Studio Progress

A completed 7 min video for an exhibition in Moncton, NB as a part of Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie.

uranography, 2019

The video uranography proposes an alternative theory for the development of the observable cosmos. It animates a new proposition for the ordering of stars in the night sky. Drawing upon the history of astronomy, celestial cartography and mythological representations of Urania asssociated with cosmology, this video combines newly imagined and pre-existing stars to create a new arrangement of the cosmos. Using print, found footage and drawing, the untouchable cosmos becomes handheld by an anonymous, silent narrator.

Currently Reading: The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread by Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall