The First International Conference of Ultimology
Thursday 14th April 2016 at Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin
The First International Conference of Ultimology took place on Thursday 14 April 2016, at Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin. This inaugural conference performed the findings of the Department of Ultimology’s first Hilary term of existence. Through screenings, talks, tests and exploratory research, this conference brought together researchers and practitioners from inside and outside Trinity to explore the concept of Ultimology and how it relates to different fields of knowledge.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
Basma Alsharif, Ciarán Byrne, Lynda Devenney, Luna Dolezal, Isadora Epstein, Barry Edward Fitzgerald, Michael Gallen, Manchán Magan, Dennis McNulty, Isabel Nolan, Giacomo Raffaelli, Martin Sharry. Hosted by Fiona Hallinan and Kate Strain (Department of Ultimology)
Basma Alsharif is an artist and filmmaker. Born in Kuwait of Palestinian origin, raised between France and the US, she is currently based in Los Angeles. Since receiving a Master of Fine Arts in 2007 from the University of Illinois at Chicago, she developed her practice nomadically between Cairo, Beirut, Sharjah, Amman, and the Gaza Strip. Alsharif’s work centres on the human condition in relation to shifting geopolitical landscapes, natural environments and history. The video work screened today as part of the conference, titled We Began By Measuring Distance, was produced in 2009. It explores an ultimate disenchantment with facts when the visual fails to communicate the tragic.
Ciarán Byrne is in his final year of undergraduate study with the School of English at Trinity College Dublin. He recently presented on the subject of WB Yeats as part of RTÉ’s Reflecting the Rising centenary events. In his capacity as a student of Ultimology, Byrne undertakes research through quantitative analysis in independent projects. Some of his findings will be presented at the conference. Byrne is at a crossroads in his academic trajectory, currently considering whether to pursue a doctorate in English, or follow a path in Medicine. (Either way, he’s determined to be a doctor.)
Lynda Devenney is an artist and faculty member of the Department of Film, Art and Creative Technologies at IADT. She is currently working on a filmic installation based on research into Marino’s history as a Garden City, a concept first developed by Ebenezer Howard in 1898. As part of this work, she has been researching early mapping methods associated with Ordnance Survey techniques, in the City Archives. For the conference, Devenney has loaned new sculptural work to the Department of Ultimology. The sculpture is based on a hybrid form reflecting both the Gunter's chain and Colby’s bar, and will feature as part of her upcoming exhibition at Dunamaise Arts Centre in 2017.
Isadora Epstein is an artist and writer based in Dublin. Recently, she has produced work for the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival, for the Studio 6 Open programme at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, and for the Talbot Gallery’s Incubator residency series. Her work combines performance with a variety of arts practices. For the conference, Epstein has been commissioned to devise, script and direct a brief account of her experience of Early Printed Books, with reference to her ongoing research into epistemology, alternative methodologies, and the occult. This will be performed by the conference hosts.
Michael Gallen is a composer and performer and current Artist-in-Residence at Trinity Long Room Hub. As a PhD student in Music with the School of Drama, Film and Music at Trinity College Dublin, his research is concerned with the strategies that enable new methods and forms of multidisciplinary collaboration, and focuses in particular on the temporalities of different art forms. He has just finished work on Wilde Stories, a large-scale commission for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Cor na nOg, and is beginning work on a new opera. Michael is the singer and pianist with the band Ana Gog.
Barry Edward Fitzgerald is a barrister, legal researcher and mediator, with a specialisation in child law, community justice and human rights. He recently submitted his MSc thesis The Ethics of Greyness: Social Work and Law in Care Proceedings to the School of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin. For the conference Fitzgerald has been commissioned to present research into the celebrated but forgotten figure of Percy French, one of Ireland's most popular songwriters and entertainers. French wrote his first successful song while studying in the Engineering Department at Trinity; this was originally performed for a 'smoking concert' in 1877.
Luna Dolezal is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral ELEVATE Fellow, co-funded by Marie Curie Actions. She is based between the Department of Philosophy, Durham University and the Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin. Dolezal’s research is primarily in the areas of phenomenology, existentialism, embodiment theory and medical humanities. Her current research explores the themes of 'shame' and 'morphological freedom' under the paradigms of biomedicine and neoliberalism. Her writing has been published in several academic journals such asHypatia, Body and Society and Human Technology. Recent publications include a monograph titled The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism, and the Socially Shaped Body (Lexington Books, 2015).
Manchán Magan is a writer and documentary-maker. He has written several travel books and two novels, writes occasionally for The Irish Times, reports weekly on travel for The Right Hook, and has presented dozens of documentaries on issues of world culture for TG4, RTÉ & Travel Channel. He lives in his oak forest in a self-made hovel in the bogs of Ireland. His most recent television series for TG4, Crainn na hÉireann, explores the trees of Ireland. The Department of Ultimology have invited Magan to talk about the Book of Kells from the perspective of a 6th century monk.
Dennis McNulty is a Dublin-based artist. Informed by his studies in psychoacoustics and engineering, his work often takes hybrid forms, drawing on aspects of cinema, sculpture, sound and performance, often in relation to the built environment. An active member of the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG) based at CONNECT (Ireland’s research centre for future networks and communications), McNulty was commissioned to produce the lanyards for the first conference of the Department of Ultimology. He is currently working on a new multi-faceted research-based project, commissioned as part of Liverpool Biennial 2016.
Isabel Nolan is a visual artist based in Dublin. Her diverse work is connected by a desire to examine and capture in material form the moments of intensity that can define our labile encounters with the objects around us; moments that leave us with a heightened awareness of what it means to be in the world. With a particular interest in representations of death in fine art (including effigies, monuments and paintings), Nolan has been invited to introduce her work, specifically regarding her interest in pre-twentieth century art and the question of its relevance to contemporary art practice. Nolan’s involvement with the Department of Ultimology will continue into the future, as an Associate Researcher from the Department of No Discipline.
Giacomo Raffaelli is an Italian artist and researcher. His practice operates an examination of the more peripheral and anthropological aspects of scientific research. Raffaelli’s works are based on the deconstruction of both documentary footage and archival materials, through the use of green screen and 3D scanning technologies. The final outcomes take the form of video installations and films questioning the relationship of images with matter and the value of photographic indexicality within the digital realm. A dialogical approach is also crucial to his practice, through texts and performative lectures exploring the production of unexpected knowledge in cross-disciplinary contexts.
Martin Sharry is a Dublin-based theatre maker. As a writer and performer he is interested in exploring form first and content second. Through his work he aims to deal with the metaphysical potential of theatre. Adam Zagajewski is a Polish poet, novelist, translator and essayist. In 2010 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Martin Sharry will recite one of Zagajewski’s recent poems, titled We Know What Art Is. This poem was first published in the American magazine Threepenny Review some time ago. Originally written in English, a Polish version of it appeared in Zagajewski’s most recent collection Asymetria.
The conference was featured on RTE Radio One's Inside Culture show on April 25th 2016. To listen, click here (starts at 00:36:10).
The Department of Ultimology was established with the support of seed funding from Trinity Creative Challenge 2015. The department office is hosted by CONNECT (formerly CTVR), Dunlop Oriel House, Trinity College Dublin. The conference is funded by a Dublin City Council Project award. Ongoing research is made possible through support from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.