PRE-CONFERENCE, THURSDAY 05.04.2006
Before the opening round of talks on Thursday, I quickly toured the Dada exhibit, currently on view at the National Gallery of Art. The exhibit opened with images of the carnage from WWI; a carnage made all the more horrible from previous battles by the scale and pace of the now mechanized destruction. Arguably, it is this shift that cultivated the ground from which Dada sprang. I was struck by the idea that Dada was a way of saying that modernity was a mess. It was not a clean, rational “new” order; rather it was a machine run berserk.
Was Dada a symbol of the break from our environment, a break enabled by our power over nature, gained in the Industrial Revolution? Was it the apogee of our technological and cultural retreat from connection to the environment? What excites me about this conference is that we seem to be at the point as a culture where we are ready to address this retreat. We seem to be serious about re-integrating our complex, highly technological society with our complex, highly interdependent ecosystem.Stuart Magruder