By Shane Barnes
From devastating political attacks to smaller, more isolated incidents of aggression, images of terror play increasingly on 24-hour news outlets. A conference next week at Ohio University is aimed at finding out how media images affect the population as a whole as well as the perception of terrible events.
The conference developed out of an interdisciplinary panel that included members from the College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences and Center for International Studies who realized the human fascination with terror in art. The conference -- Arts and Terror International Conference -- will take place from Friday, May 15, to Sunday, May 17, at Baker University Center.
"We realized the concept of terror has been the focus of people of all types for many years and we wanted to look into that. In order to deal with a phenomenon, you need to be able to understand it," said Vladimir Marchenkov, an assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts.
The conference, which includes 17 speakers from around the world in five panels, touches on terror in novels, theater, the Internet and new media, film, painting, music and most other media. By covering every artistic base, the conference organizers hope to find a better understanding of the effect of terror and how it is depicted in various art forms.
Of the numerous speakers, two are artists who deal with representations of terror in day-to-day life. Bob Paris, who will be presenting "The Cluster Project: Strategies and Transmissions," is a kinetic artist from Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts and has previously examined the televised footage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots in his video installation, "Disturbance."
The other is Tom Hayes, assistant professor of film at Ohio University. Hayes has documented troubles in Palestine in his film "People and the Land," and will be showing an excerpt of another of his works, "Two Blue Lines."
Both of these artists' pieces show different aspects of terror, from the social to the political.
"People often automatically go to political terrorism when they hear the word 'terror.' The goal of the conference is to set these events in a much broader context. We don't necessarily want to combat terrorism, we just want to change the perception of it," said Marchenkov.
Renowned philosopher Arnold Berleant, a professor from Long Island University, will be featured as the keynote speaker. His address is titled "The Aesthetics of Terrorism and the Negative Sublime." His work focuses on aesthetic philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty and what does and doesn't constitute art.
"The human mind is one of the most difficult things to change, but when people start thinking differently, maybe they'll start acting differently," Marchenkov said.
The conference is free for all Ohio University undergraduate and graduate students, $50 for non-OHIO graduate students, $60 for Ohio University faculty and staff and $100 for non-Ohio University faculty.
For the full schedule of events and registration, visit www.ohio.edu/conferences/artsandterror.cfm.
The conference is sponsored by Ohio University's College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics, Center for International Studies and Faculty Research Support Program.