• Esther Leslie at Summer School as School 2021
Esther Leslie: News About Atoms

Esther Leslie at Summer School as School 2021
August 3, 2021, 20:00
Venue: Boxing Club

News About Atoms

The starting point for this lecture is Walter Benjamin’s review ‘News About Flowers’, which deals with what happens to nature in Karl Blossfeldt’s Urformen der Kunst, his enlarged botanical portraits. Here we explore the newest imaging techniques - those at the molecular scale - specifically cell imaging that circulates to wide acclaim - and consider the political ramifications of concepts such as ‘active matter’, in relation to materialist philosophy, poetics, political and social practice. What does it do to the world and to us to 'see' into the depths of the cell and to paint it up in pretty colours? What does contemporary scientific modelling try to tell us about ourselves and our not selves? For whom and for what can ontology be engineered?


Esther Leslie is Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London. Her books include various studies and translations of Walter Benjamin, as well as Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant Garde (Verso, 2002); Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry (Reaktion, 2005); Derelicts: Thought Worms from the Wreckage (Unkant, 2014), Liquid Crystals: The Science and Art of a Fluid Form (Reaktion, 2016) and Deeper in the Pyramid (with Melanie Jackson: Banner Repeater, 2018). Future work includes research for an exhibition at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art on the chemical industries of the North East of England and the poetic and political significance of butter in Ireland for the Limerick Biennale 2020.