Spectral Objects-Master of Arts Exhibition
Philosopher Tim Morton in Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People describes spectral characteristics of objects, including their ability to transmit latent psychic trauma. All objects that comprise the human ecological construct have the capacity to be trauma-inducing and inevitably to point to a developing state of ecological crisis. We cannot unlearn this knowledge, and these significations cannot be washed away from our experience with the physical world around us. Objects have become cross-sectional referents of temporally non-specific concepts and objects, coined hyperobjects. Hyperobjects are objects (and concepts) so esoteric in nature and/or massively distributed in time and space as to transcend immediate human spatiotemporal specificity, understanding, and perhaps remediation. For example, climate change, species extinction, Styrofoam and radioactive isotopes are all hyperobjects. When we perceive these objects, we are unaware that we are also subject to the profound psychic implications of our collective awareness of the hyperobject to which they signal. Modern human experience, the entirety of the human ecological space, consists of indexes of hyperobjects. A car, for instance, no longer represents only human progress, locomotion, efficiency, convenience and comfort. It also signals the devastation wrought by human progress, the current ecological emergency and personal culpability.
But what does a spectral object look like? What can a hyperobject be said to look like? What does an index of something unknowable look like? What does latent or subconscious trauma manifest as? Spectral Objects makes manifest, through ad absurdum provocations, this sense of trauma. The installations are literalized intersections of human ecology and non-human constitutes. Each piece refers to the semiotic force of objects, speculates about other significances contained within, and points to an implied chain of events surrounding their creation, use and destruction that humans may be latently attuned to. If objects consist meaningfully of more than their tangible parts, than they must exist at least partially as apparitions, transmissions that float into human psychic space. Whether we are aware or not, whether we like it or not, we are haunted by our things. They are, as Morton says, the “ghostly presence of nonhumans subjected to human metabolism.”