Chad Elias, "Atmosphere As Cultural System"

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 7:00 - 8:30pm

Add to Calendar

Chad Elias delivers a free, public lecture as part of the Intra-Disciplinary Seminar series that analyzes a series of case studies in which two meanings of atmosphere are considered. Derived from the Greek atmos, meaning “vapor,” “atmosphere” refers most commonly to the layers of gases surrounding the planet. More figuratively, atmosphere also serves to designate a “characteristic mental or moral environment.” Both definitions hinge on the degree to which something or someone can exert influence on their surroundings. As opposed to the dominant impulse to manage or govern natural forces (as exemplified in the ascendant field of climate technics) or bring the weather indoors, Elias looks to instances in which art and architecture operate less as containers than as interactive interfaces between unpredictable meteorological conditions and prevailing moods or cultural atmospheres that also resist containment.

Chad Elias is Assistant Professor of Art History at Dartmouth College, and Tate Modern Research Fellow. His first book, Posthumous Images: Contemporary Art and Memory Politics in Post-Civil War Lebanon, was published by Duke University Press in 2018. In collaboration with the Hood Museum, he recently organized Futures Uncertain, a multidisciplinary symposium on contemporary art in the anthropocene, which explored questions relating to resource extraction, carbon imaginaries, species extinction and evocations of the deep past and worlds-to-come in contemporary art. A third research project in progress centers on the futures projected by new infrastructures for cultural production and dissemination in the Arabian Gulf in the era of peak oil.

The Spring 2019 IDS Lecture Series at The Cooper Union is organized by Leslie Hewitt and Omar Berrada. The IDS Public Lecture Series is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding and support from the Robert Lehman Foundation for the series. The IDS Public Lecture Series is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.