Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
Since 2008, the world has changed in at least four registers. The human population is now mostly young (under 30), lives in cities and has some connection to the internet. The entire earth system has entered a new epoch of climate change. People have taken to creating visual images as a means to try and understand these changes, creating them in unprecedented numbers. Others have taken the interface of images and social life as a place to create change, which I call visual activism.
In this presentation, I’ll look at the selfie as a key index of the current anxiety. Then I’ll consider the new ways of seeing that have been produced around Black Lives Matter and the new geological epoch caused by human activity that has been called the Anthropocene. In closing, I will ask how our institutions can respond to these challenges, from museums to universities.
Nicholas Mirzoeff works at the intersection of politics and (global/digital) visual culture in activism and scholarly investigation. He is a Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University. His most recent book How to See the World was published by Pelican in the UK (2015) and by Basic Books in the US (2016). It has been translated into seven languages and was a New Scientist Top Ten Book of the Year for 2015.
Mirzoeff is considered one of the founders of the academic discipline of visual culture in books like An Introduction to Visual Culture (1999/2009) and The Visual Culture Reader (1998/2002/2012). Currently, he is working on a project entitled The Space of Revolution #BlackLivesMatter to be published as a free e-book by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Miami. His book The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011) won the Anne Friedberg Award for Innovative Scholarship from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies in 2013. Mirzoeff was Deputy Director of the International Association for Visual Culture from 2011-2016. Since 2013, he has been Visiting Professor of Visual Culture at Middlesex University, London. A frequent blogger and writer, his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Time and The New Republic.