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On Certainty at Bose Pacia, New York

Shifter 14 was released in conjunction with a group show featuring Lindsay Benedict, Joshua Hart, Abhishek Hazra, Pat Palermo and Kiran Subbaiah curated by Sreshta Rit Premnath. A weekly series of lectures and presentations accompanied this show.

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“Lack of clarity in philosophy is tormenting. It is felt as shameful. We feel: we do not know our way about where we should know our way about. And nevertheless it isn’t so. We can get along very well without… knowing our way about here.”

“…In any serious question uncertainty extends to the very roots of the problem.”

-from “Remarks on Colour,” Ludwig Wittgenstein

John Keene and Christopher Stackhouse

March 14, 2009
Bose Pacia, New York

John Keene and Christopher Stackhouse presented a polyvocal performance reading with image and text projections from their collaborative book Seismosis (1913 Press). The book features drawings by Stackhouse and text by Keene in dialogic response to each other. The presentation is part performance, part lecture/reading. The audience has the opportunity to experience the drawings, text, and vocalizations of both writer and artist in this immersive setting.

Christopher Perkins – Guess and Check is Valid Math

March 21, 2009
Bose Pacia, New York

The basic problem of looking for the unknown leads to questions regarding where to look and what to look for. New discoveries in the field of physics are based on previous discoveries but the problem remains of which leads to follow and which to abandon. Even once an avenue for further research is chosen, the scientists involved must design an experiment and decide whether or not this experiment is capable of finding what they are looking for, even before they know what they will find. All that can be done is to choose a subset of the parameter space that offers the possibility of new discovery. We will lead a discussion on the process that precedes the reporting of scientific results and how scientists believe an avenue of research is valid.

Arjun Jayadev – Uncertainty, Confidence and Crises

March 28, 2009
Bose Pacia, New York

"We are seeing things that were 25 standard deviations moves, several days in a row". This was the comment that David Viniar, CFO of Goldman Sachs offered as his explanation for the crisis. In other words, bad luck– an awful lot of it– has brought the world to the edge of a recession.. How accurate is this statement, and what made Viniar, one of the central players in the financial system believe this to be true? How does one understand the crisis from the viewpoint of uncertainty in financial markets? And what does this mean for the future?

Lawrence Liang – Rewiring the Soul: Technologies of the Truth

April 11, 2009
Bose Pacia, New York

Truth technologies at the service of law from the Lie Detector to Narco-Analysis have made a sudden reappearance in the world after 9/11. In the Indian context, high profile cases including Abu Salem and Telgi’s have centered on highly performative extractions of the truth, which are often televised on television. This paper attempts to provide a philosophical and cultural history of technologies of lie detection. It looks at the ways in which truth and lies were rendered technologically accessible, and how the body simultaneously becomes the archive of the soul and in turn produces a new regime of physiological truth. Popular discourse on crime and detection are vital to the legitimacy of these technologies of truth, and in many ways lie detectors were legitimized through popular culture before the found acceptance in law. This paper will locate the re-emergence of lie detectors within the dynamics of secrets and lies in the hyper mediatised world that we live in.

Sreshta Rit Premnath


Premnath (1979, Bangalore) is the founder and co-editor of Shifter and has had solo exhibitions at KANSAS, New York; Gallery SKE, Bangalore; The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago; Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin; Wave Hill, New York; Art Statements, Art Basel; as well as numerous group exhibitions at venues including Queens Museum, New York; YBCA, San Francisco; Galerie Balice Hertling, Paris; 1A Space, Hong Kong and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York.

He completed his BFA at The Cleveland Institute of Art, his MFA at Bard College, and has attended the Whitney Independent Study Program, Skowhegan and Smack Mellon. He has received grants from Art Matters and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and was awarded the Arthur Levitt Fellowship from Williams College.

Based in Brooklyn, Premnath is Assistant Professor at Parsons, New York.

Matthew Metzger

Editor, Shifter 17-21

Matthew Metzger (1978, USA) is a practicing visual artist and educator who lives and works in Chicago.

He completed his MFA from the University of Chicago in 2009, and attended the Skowhegan Artist Residency Program also in 2009. He has since exhibited at such institutions as The Smart Museum of Art in Chicago and The Soap Factory in Minneapolis while mounting solo exhibitions at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Sikkema & Jenkins Co. in New York, Arratia Beer in Berlin, and Tony Wight Gallery in Chicago. Metzger recently presented a project titled Be-Longing at Art Statements, Art|43|Basel, 2012.

Metzger is also currently on faculty at The University of Illinois at Chicago as Assistant Professor in Studio Arts.

Avi Alpert

Editor, Shifter 13, 22

Avi Alpert received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014. For 2014-2016, he will be a Mellon Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of English and Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University. He is currently at work on a book project with the working title, Unbearable Identities: Essaying the Globe in Idealism, Transcendentalism, and Zen. He was previously in the Critical Studies section of the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program, and a Sauvé Scholar at McGill University. His articles are published or forthcoming in diacritics, Early American Literature, Third Text, Twentieth Century Literature, and Postcolonial Studies. He is also a member of the collective Research Service, a collaborative experiment in performative scholarship. Research Service has performed at the ICA-Philadelphia, the Drawing Center, the Palais de Tokyo, the Lisa Cooley Gallery, and elsewhere.

Thom Donovan

Editor, Shifter 23
Co-Initiator of Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior

Thom Donovan lives in New York City where he edits Wild Horses of Fire weblog and coedits ON Contemporary Practice. He is a participant in the Nonsite Collective and a curator for the SEGUE reading series. His criticism and poetry have been published widely in BOMB, PAJ: performance + art, Modern Painters, and at the Poetry Foundation where he currently blogs. He holds a Ph.D. in English literature from SUNY-Bflo and is an adjunct professor at Bard College and School of Visual Arts.

Dan Levenson

Print Design, Layout and Production

Dan Levenson is a visual artist whose work places a variety of materials and techniques in the service of an incomplete narrative. A recent project presented sculpture, painting, video and printed matter as artifacts from a fictional art school which existed in a fictional Switzerland in a fictional 20th century.


Shifter 18 : Olaf Nicolai


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Kenneth Perrine – The Neuroscience of Language and Certainty

April 18, 2009
Bose Pacia, New York

In his presentation Dr. Perrine will discuss language and certainty, weaving together the questions posed by philosophers from Western (e.g., Wittgenstein, Bateson) and Eastern (Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism) traditions regarding language and subjectivity, with his research findings from performing the Wada test in which a sedative is injected into one hemisphere of the brain at a time. The effect is to shut down all functions in that hemisphere in order to evaluate the capabilities of the other, “awake” hemisphere. During this period of anesthesia he probes the neural mechanisms of memory, language and thinking in each hemisphere separately. He also performs Cortical Stimulation during awake neurosurgery to localize language and other cognitive processes by selectively disabling small (1 cm) cortical areas during cognitive testing. These procedures allow testing of hypotheses relating the neural bases of language, certainty, self-awareness and other mental functions to the questions posed by philosophers for millennia.