Sensing Change: Mapping the Climatic Imaginary through Art, Science and History

Mark Meisner's picture
Event Dates: 
November 7, 2013 to November 9, 2013
Center for Contemporary History and Policy, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Center for Contemporary History and Policy, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In conjunction with the CHF Museum’s art exhibition Sensing Change, on view July 1, 2013-May 2, 2014, this conference will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore the social, historical and philosophical implications of contemporary art that addresses climate change. Changes in the global climate unfold over temporal and geographical scales that are beyond the scope of the individual human senses or the isolated observer to perceive. Our understanding of these changes is mediated by predictive models and simulations based on data collected via global networks of scientific instruments, yet the processes registered by this network are directly accessible only in the form of local effects. Sensing climate change, therefore, begins with developing a heightened awareness of one’s local environment, the rhythms of life of its flora and fauna, its weather patterns, water levels, and air quality.

Sensing Change showcases the work of nine contemporary artists—Vaughn Bell, Diane Burko, Roderick Coover, Katie Holton, Stacey Levy, Eve Mosher, Andrea Polli, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg—and draws upon the CHF’s resources as an institution of historical scholarship, its archival collection of scientific instruments, oral history program, and active program of public engagement in science to mobilize art and science into the service of sensing and reflecting on the implications of climate change for the Philadelphia area. Sensing Change therefore offers a unique opportunity to explore how what we may call the climatic imaginary has been articulated through contemporary and historical art and science as well as to consider the role of art exhibitions in provoking public discourse about climate change and other scientific matters of concern.

The aim of the conference is to foster an intensive cross-disciplinary conversation about the role of the arts in articulating the science and social implications of climate change. A limited number of spaces are available for audience participants, who are encouraged to contribute to post-presentation discussions. Breakfast, lunch and coffee will be provided for all participants. 

To attend please RSVP to Dehlia Hannah at<> AND Rebecca Ortenberg at<>


Conference Website:

Exhibition Website:


Thursday November 7: Public Event: An Evening with Andrea Polli<>

5:30 p.m. Reception

6:30 p.m. Conversations with Andrea Polli

Shuttle-bus tours to view Particle Falls at the Wilma Theater

8:00 p.m. Dessert and coffee

Friday November 8:

8:30 – 9AM Coffee and Breakfast

9AM – 9:30 Christy Schneider & Elizabeth McDonnell Curating Sensing Change: Gallery Tour

Jody Roberts Sensing Change in Context at the Chemical Heritage Foundation & the Center for Contemporary History and Policy

9:30 – 10:15 “Model Climates”

Dehlia Hannah<>, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for 21st Century Studies, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

10:15 – 11AM “The Productive Value of Contemplative Work”

Edward Morris<> (& Susannah Sayler), The Canary Project<>

Coffee Break: 11AM – 11:15

11: 15 – 12PM “Futurescape City Tours: Incorporating the Temporal, Sensory and Material in Public Engagement with Nanotechnology”

Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone<>, The Center for Nanotechnology and Society, Arizona State University

Lunch 12 – 2PM

2PM – 2:45  “Do Artistic Images Affect the Willingness to Buy Carbon Offsets? An Empirical Study”

Robert W. Turner<>, Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Colgate University

2:45 – 3:30 Artist’s Talk: “The "What's that?" and the "What if?" Visual Research, Map Rhetoric and Creative Practices”

Roderick Coover<>, Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Arts, Temple University

Coffee break: 3:30 – 3:45

3:45 – 4:30 “Adaptations of Bioart for Climate Change”

Hannah Star Rogers, Science and Technology Studies, University of Virginia

4:30 – 5:15 Diane Burko<> Artist’s Talk: “Polar Investigations”

5:30 – 7PM Keynote: “Seeing Global Warming”

Finis Dunaway<>, Professor of History, Trent University

Saturday November 9:

9 AM – 9:30 Coffee and Breakfast

9:30 – 10:15 “Artificial clouds”

Jim Fleming<>, Professor of Science, Technology, and Society, Colby College

10:15 – 11AM “Red Futures. Making Climate Change imaginable through Expert Graphs”

Birgit Schneider<>, Philosophische Fakultät Institut für Künste und Medien, Universität Potsdam

Coffee Break: 11AM – 11:15

11: 15 – 12PM “Invisible to Visible: Revealing the Climate Change through Heat”

Sabrina McCormick<>, Professor of Sociology, School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University

Lunch 12 – 2PM

2PM – 2:45 TBA

Anne Sophie Witzke<>, Department of Aesthetics and Communication - Information Science, Aarhus University

2:45 – 3:30 “Art & the Anthropocene: Aesthetics After Nature”

Rory Rowan<>, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London

3:30 – 4PM Closing Discussion

For additional information please visit: