Visiting Lecture | Shannon Mattern: Arboreal Media

Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Add to Calendar

Annual Report of the California Avocado Association, Riverside California, 1916.

Image: Annual Report of the California Avocado Association, Riverside California, 1916.

This event will be conducted in-person in room 315F and through Zoom. 

For Zoom attendance, please register in advance here.

Image Caption: Annual Report of the California Avocado Association, Riverside California, 1916.

Trees commonly serve as proxies for progress. We count and map them to track climate health and social justice. Their transformation into datafied and computationally fabricated objects offers the promise of more efficient and sustainable construction and communication. But trees — in their organic, knotty, networked forms — also embody different ways of knowing: they encode deep histories, serve as media for material expression, scaffold broad systems of ecological exchange. This talk examines these branching forms of arboreal intelligence.

Shannon Mattern is the Penn Presidential Compact Professor of Media Studies at Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. From 2004 to 2022, she served in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York. Her writing and teaching focus on media architectures and infrastructures and spatial epistemologies. She has written books about libraries, maps, and urban intelligence; she serves as president of the board of the Metropolitan New York Library Council; and she contributes a column about urban data and mediated spaces to Places Journal. You can find her at 

The in-person event is open to current Cooper Union Students, Faculty, and Staff only. The Public may attend this event through Zoom.

Located at 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • 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.