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Negative Space

May 5, 2018

Negative space, as used in the arts, denotes not just the space surrounding a perceptible object but also part of what defines, forms, and brings tension to that object. In this year’s Anthropology Graduate Student Conference, we are interested in the epistemological possibilities that might emerge from thinking beyond the boundaries of spaces and objects we interact with on a daily basis, and the ways we experience and engage with such spaces and objects even when they escape our sensorial perception. For example, how can we seek, engage with, and generate the elusive yet potent spaces around what have traditionally been considered objects of inquiry in the field of anthropology? What can we gain from doing so?

Exploring these possibilities will take interdisciplinary collaboration. We therefore invite thinkers from all disciplines – theorists, designers, artists, architects, policy makers, and more – to partake in this discussion. If interested, please submit paper abstracts and/or proposals for projects- including art installations and works in progress – pertaining, but not limited, to the topics and questions below:

-Mapping and Designing Negative Space: 

How has negative space been understood  spatially, temporally, physically? How can it be rendered differently? What are the methods by which we locate something in-between, on the borders of, or concealed within what we perceive as real? What epistemological and ontological “turns” are necessary to do so?

-The Politics of Negative Space:

What are the political processes and consequences behind the production of spaces that are not meant to be seen? Behind the rendering of neglected, damaged, or hostile spaces, spaces with negative meanings? How do unacknowledged spaces render persons and bodies illegible or  disposable?

-Sensing  and Remembering Negative Space:

What is our sensorial experience of negative space? How does design stimulate these senses? How does it feel to walk its borders, to pass through or be within it? How does such space enter the realm of memory and forgetfulness?


Anthro Lounge (9th floor)

6 E 16th St

The New School