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James Nisbet (UC Irvine) & Hans Baumann (Independent Artist)

*Aligning with UC San Diego’s COVID policies, this talk is hosted entirely online. Please register via Zoom. UPDATE: New Zoom registration link created for this event.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at 4:00 P.M.
Remote via Zoom


Towards a Radical Aquarium

Using UCSD’s own Birch Aquarium as a case study, this lecture examines the past and present visual culture of “the aquarium” and emphasize its inherent, destabilizing hybridity. Simultaneously a research institution and site of public recreation, a terrestrial simulation of the aquatic and a site of infrastructural entropy and biological abundance, the Birch is an uncannily common and also unique institution among aquaria. Our talk unravels the various techno-cultural systems that construct and sustain our understanding of it as an aquarium and interface of oceanic experience and knowledge.


James Nisbet is Chair of the Art History Department and Associate Professor in Visual Studies at UC Irvine. He is author numerous articles and catalog essays, and, most recently, of the books Second Site, a meditation on site specificity and its myriad durations published in Princeton University Press’s POINT series, and, as coeditor, The Invention of the American Desert: Art, Land, the Politics of Environment, published by University of California Press.

Hans Baumann is a Swiss-American artist and land art practitioner based in Los Angeles. His work addresses the decolonization of Western epistemologies, narratives of ecological collapse and nonhuman timescales. Baumann holds a degree in landscape architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and his projects have been supported by institutions such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Antipode Foundation for Radical Geography and the Center for Land Use Interpretation.


Design@Large is a speaker series hosted by The Design Lab at UC San Diego, where each quarter we examine a topic in society and the relevance and implications through the lens of human centered design.

Our theme this quarter is “Winter Polar Reversals ~~~ from the Future to the Past~~~~ from the Sky to the Ocean Floor”.

Follow along as speakers in ocean media, maker, and mapping cultures shift your geopolitical orientation. It’s cold on Zoom. Bring your life jacket. Hourlong lectures will be followed by workshops, walks, immersive experiences, and/or hands-on making and doing, to be performed on Zoom when pandemic circumstances bring us together remotely.

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