On Certainty

Curated by Sreshta Rit Premnath
March 13 – April 18, 2009.

Opening (and SHIFTER14 release): Friday, March 13 from 6pm – 8 pm

Lindsay Benedict

Joshua Hart

Abhishek Hazra

Pat Palermo

Sreshta Rit Premnath

Kiran Subbaiah

Bose Pacia Gallery
508 West 26th Street on the 11th Floor,
New York, NY 10003Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6 pm and by appointment.

“On Certainty” includes a group show, a new issue of the magazine Shifter (with contributions by the participating artists), and a series of public dialogues with economists, neurologists, physicists and writers. The participants contemplate the notion of certainty and its sibling, uncertainty: How and why do we constitute a unified self from which to speak and construe meaning in this world? When we say, “I know…” with certainty, what do we mean?

The title of the show, lifted from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s posthumously published book, signals our attempt not only to investigate knowledge and factuality, but furthermore, to interrogate the statement “I saw it with my own eyes.” What is the position of the witness (who represents an event) and the authentic subject (who represents a group) in knowledge production?

The interdisciplinary programming of the lecture series reflects the curatorial desire to use the gallery as an intellectual commons. As Edward Said has said, specialization sometimes “means losing sight of the raw effort of constructing either art or knowledge,” and by opening up an interdisciplinary conversation we hope to investigate the “choices and decisions” that produce these knowledges, and their certainties.


Saturday, March 14, 3-6pm
Seismosis: A Performance*

Christopher Stackhouse and John Keene (CS: Writer/ Artist; JK: Associate Professor of English & African American Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston.)
John Keene and Christopher Stackhouse will present 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.

Saturday, March 21, 3-6pm
Guess and Check is Valid Math*

Christopher Perkins (Researcher, STAR Detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, Brookhaven National Laboratory, 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.

Saturday, March 28, 3-6pm
Uncertainty, Confidence and Crises*

Arjun Jayadev (Asst. Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston.)
“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?

Saturday, April 4, 2-5pm
Readings by Poets, Followed by Discussion*

Organized by Christopher Stackhouse
please check www.oncertainty.net for details closer to the date.

Saturday, April 11, 3-6pm
Rewiring the Soul: Technologies of the Truth*

Lawrence Liang (Founding Member, Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore)
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.

Saturday, April 18, 3-6pm
The Neuroscience of Language and Certainty*

Kenneth Perrine, followed by discussion with Arani Bose
(KP: Clinical Neuropsychologist, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center; AB: Gallerist, Director of Stroke Research, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City.)
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 qu estions posed by philosophers for millennia.

*Details regarding the presentations can be found at www.oncertainty.net