What is Ultimology?
Ultimology is the study of that which is dead or dying in a series or process. When applied to academic disciplines, it becomes the study of extinct or endangered subjects, theories, and tools of learning.
Ultimology responds to a contemporary environment of anxiety around endings; a time of apocalyptic climate events and turbulent political change, threats of resurgent populism, depleted resources, rapid obsolescence and technological changes that are shifting society. In our work at CONNECT, we utilise Ultimology as a tool for critical reflection by engineers working in cutting edge technology, and as a means for those outside that sphere to gain insight into complex subjects. Working through artistic methodologies, Ultimology presents complex issues in a playful and exploratory manner.
The first Department of Ultimology was established by Fiona Hallinan and Kate Strain in January 2016, at Trinity College Dublin. Operating from the department's headquarters at CONNECT, located in Dunlop Oriel House, the department conducts qualitative research into endangered subjects within academic disciplines across the university, as a way to explore the evolution and disappearance of forms of knowledge that in turn shape academia and the educational context.
The Department of Ultimology is part of the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG), a research group based at CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. OMG is a research platform within CONNECT that works in critical and creative relation/tension with technology.
The department was initiated with the support of Trinity Creative Challenge Award. Ongoing research and further developments are made possible through a number of partnerships and collaborations, including support from Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, the Grazer Kunstverein, CONNECT Centre for Future Networks and Communications, and the generosity of numerous wise and brilliant individuals. Throughout 2017 the department was supported by the Arts Council of Ireland through a curator in residence award.
The Department of Ultimology envisages a 100 year existence as a field of study at Trinity College Dublin.