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The following is a list of History of Art departmental events, events the department is co-sponsoring, and events involving History of Art faculty.  

Luciferous: On Bioluminescence + (Sub)surface Darkness

Cecilio M. Cooper, Forsyth Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of the History of Art
Thursday, November 18, 2021
4:00-6:00 PM
Fireflies are among the most conspicuous bioluminescent organisms existing topside. Creatures that emit their own chemically generated light from within also populate oceanic and subterranean depths, which are obscured planetary realms long associated with chthonic underworlds. Bioluminescence causes squids, fish, fungi, insects, bacteria, and worms to glow in dim conditions beyond the Sun’s rays. Their colorful flashes and glimmers function as camouflage, thus allowing them to evade predators and lure prey. Sensitive infrared night vision cameras seem best equipped to image the phenomenon. Two of the main substances fueling bioluminescence, Luciferin and Luciferase, share etymological roots with Lucifer, the radiant fallen angel and ruler of hell below chronicled in Abrahamic traditions. Coincidentally, certain clinical and industrial applications of bioluminescent technology have attracted public suspicion because they are thought to be readily weaponizable for malevolent purposes. Given this context, my talk considers how demonological perspectives inflect understandings of bioluminescence as a visual and scientific phenomenon.

Cecilio M. Cooper is a Forsyth Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Michigan. By engaging the visual cultures of alchemy, demonology, and cartography, their first book manuscript South of Heaven: Surface, Territory + the Black Chthonic examines the occulted role blackness plays in cosmological constitutions of territory throughout Europe and the Americas. They earned their PhD from Northwestern University in 2019.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: Art, History
Source: Happening @ Michigan from History of Art