Skip to main content

36th CIHA World Congress - Lyon 2024

Sponsored by the French Ministry of Culture,
the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research,
and the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Imaginary of Materials - Imaginaire des Matériaux

Stories in Transfer. Material Myths and Material Knowledge in Motion

Iris Wenderholm1, Barbara Welzel 2, Valérie Kobi 3
1
Universität Hamburg - Hambourg (Germany), 2Technische Universität Dortmund - Dortmund (Germany), 3Université de Neuchâtel (Switzerland)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The section is intended as a methodological contribution that transfers Michael Baxandall's concept of the period eye (Baxandall 1972) to questions of material and materiality and thinks them through further. Materials require knowledge in order to be perceived as such, in order to be measured in terms of their – pecuniary, theological, cultural or social – value and to be assigned an origin. Accordingly, as Baxandall has shown, materials are an integral part of the communication between clients and artists as well as between recipients. The next step is to ask about the knowledge bases with which the different materials were linked. Which learned patterns of perception and competencies shape the reception of the materials of art objects – for example, when merchants almost involuntarily think about the value of certain materials (Franke/Welzel 2012), when theologians associate well-rehearsed interpretations, when dealers frame the origin stories of the materials through the lens of travelogues. Assuming the historical conditionality of art perception, the section examines the ways in which material is classified and interpreted, and questions the conditions of professional and social affiliation, gender and cultural background.

The section focuses on materials that are transferred into a new cultural context through trade or exchange. It touches on the question of how these "travelling" objects and materials are connoted through intercultural and interconfessional transmissions of myths of origin. The reception and meaning of materials changes when local myths or natural history content are projected onto them. It can be observed that the gap that arises when encountering unknown new materials is filled with extremely heterogeneous bodies of knowledge. For example, stating that a certain type of stone comes from Corinth or from Asia invokes a specific horizon of meaning. Which existing narratives are applied to materials, which new stories are created? What is the purpose of such a construction of material myths?

Exchange is understood here as both non-violent and violent transfer of objects and narratives. While there is evidence of non-violent exchange in the sense of the exchange of trade objects in the Hanseatic area, in South America we must speak of a violent transfer. In this sense, the section examines both "sluices" such as Novgorod and Christianising "gatekeepers" in which power-political narratives are central.

Assemblage of heterogeneous materials in the sinicized area (17th- 19th century): an answer to the transformation of the literati/craftsman perception of materiality?

Estelle Bauer1, Lia Wei 2, Shao-Lan Hertel 3


1/2
Inalco - Paris (France), 2museum Für Ostasiatische Kunst - Koln (Germany), 3 Freie Universitaet Berlin (Germany) /Tsinghua University Art Museum (China)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

This session explores composite works, which bring together two- and three-dimensional objects (calligraphy, painting, prints, ceramics, lacquerware) from the sinicized area (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam) in the 17th-19th centuries.

During this period of return to the past, scholars, artists and craftsmen questioned inherited hierarchies of value and developed a new sensitivity to materials. These transformations are expressed through a more elaborate and thoughtful use of materials. The literary and theoretical production of the period allows us to understand the classifications or distinctions made between artistic fields and the values attributed to materials.

The cultural, social and political predominance of certain activities in East Asia - literati practices, tea and incense ceremonies, etc. - is embodied in composite works made up of heterogeneous materials and/or resulting from the transfer of one material to another. The variations in materials, which vary according to cultural areas or social groups, reflect the privileged status attributed to certain materials (ink and paper, stone, lacquer, gold, brocade, etc.). Some materials are used as they are, creating a continuity between the real, the artefact and the representation; others are evoked in a metaphorical/allusive way or are excluded from the assemblages. The sensory or aesthetic qualities, the virtues or defects attributed to the materials, but also the meanings associated with them - trace the limits of the eclecticism of the assemblages.

If, in China, the predominance of the arts of the brush determined the aesthetic judgment and the opposition between "spirit" and "form", the Japanese attitude, which values craftmanship, enriches the literati practices. The late imperial period in China witnessed a broadening of literati aesthetics, and served as a laboratory for experimentation in the imperial and private workshops of the Qing dynasty, indicating a new fascination for technical virtuosity and eclectic materials.

Queering Materiality

Petra Lange-Berndt 1 , Nadine Hounkpatin 2
1Universitaet Hamburg - Hamburg (Germany), 2Independent Curator and Cultural Producer  - Benin (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

This session stresses the politics involved when focusing on the materials of art: To consider the processes of making also means to address power relations. And this perspective has not only emancipatory impulses but is also firmly situated within gender politics. As philosopher Judith Butler (1993) has famously discussed and as art historian Monika Wagner (1996, 2001) has specified, matière, matter, matérialité, or materiality have been coded feminine (see also Didi-Huberman 1999; Lange-Berndt 2009; Auther 2010; Weddigen et al 2011, 2017). Within this rich field, we would like to focus on instances where binary models, for instance soft ‚female‘ wool or hard ‚male‘ granite, shift into a trans materiality (Barad 2015). This discussion is overdue: Since the 1960s, but especially after 1989, materials, which are connected to queer phenomena, have been increasingly appearing in art. One could name sticky or abject stuff, formless substances, genetically, hormonally, or chemically modified bodies, organisms dissolved into data clouds, glitter, the non-human, or magical materials and animism (Kristeva 1980; Bois / Krauss 1997; Preciado 2000; Hauser 2008; Rübel 2012; Suárez 2014; van Roden 2019). Taking up this impulse, from the perspective of agential realism and new materiality, the stuff that art is made of points to the whirling complexity and entanglement of diverse factors in the digital age, in which ‚material‘ is an effect of an ongoing performance (Deleuze / Guattari 1980; Plant 1997; Barad 2007; Bennett 2010; Braidotti 2013; Lange-Berndt 2015).

Likewise, the process of queering is meant to be critical of stable concepts of identity. It points to an investigation of social strategies of norming and normalisation and their regimes: Queering is a celebration of the indeterminate, an open web of possibilities, dissonances and resonances, or excesses (Sedgwick 1993; Jagose 2001; Ahmed 2006). While these discourses and their many politics clearly have been gaining momentum in the humanities and art practices alike, it would be timely to discuss the state of this debate within art history: Despite this rich theoretical discourse, there has been no thorough discussion of 'queering materiality'. In this panel, we would like to give a survey over this field. We invite academic and non- academic articles, experimental formats, as well as contributions from artists, from different temporalities and from all regions of the globe - in particular from Africa and its diasporas, at the intersection of new theories of materiality involved in current artistic practices that critically address this process of queering meant to critique concepts of identity stability. Exactly how can matière, matter, matérialité, or materiality be considered queer? How could this contemporary concept be historicised? Where – in a global context and within diverse cosmologies – do the materials of art disrupt or interfere with social norms, allowing for repressed, messy or unstable substances and impure or contagious formations to surface? What would the implications be for artistic work, for the art world, for art history? What does it mean to be complicit with and to follow a queered materiality?

"Bodies that Matter"

Christopher Reed 1, Tirza Latimer 2
1Pennsylvania State U - University Park (United States), 2California College Of The Arts (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

In a world wracked by alienation and division, how can the materiality of art help to bring us together? This session explores the ways that materials can present themselves as records of touch, gesture, and presence in ways that allow for a kinaesthetic empathy between viewer and maker. As viewers, we imagine the motions and emotions that brought together the materials we see in the configuration in which we see them. As makers, we manipulate materials to the point at which we imagine viewers can take over to complete an experience of being a body interacting with matter.

In her 1993 book, Bodies that Matter, Judith Butler advocated for “a return to the notion matter… as a process of materialization that stabilizes over time to produce the effect of boundary, fixity, and surface we call matter.” Butler’s influence is widely associated with sexuality and gender. This session returns to her words in order to expand their relevance beyond those categories, emphasizing her interest in how creative forms of materialization can interrupt and deflect normative dynamics of stabilization around individual identity. We are interested in how the materiality of art can connect us across political and social modes of identity and individuation premised on borders, stasis, and surface.

We draw the term kinaesthetic empathy from scholars in music and dance, who have recently reinvigorated turn-of-the-century German philosophic discourses of Êinfühlungästhetik to explore audience’s experience of performance both phenomenologically and biologically (such as in the imitative capacity of mirror neurons). We extend the term to include new-materialist theorizations of the agency of objects and materials – formulations that encourage inquiry into the ways viewers respond to perceptions of agency emanating from or reified within the physical properties of art.

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

Dans un monde ravagé, victime de divisions et d’aliénation, comment la matérialité de l’art peut-elle nous aider à nous rassembler ? Cette session explore les voies que les objets peuvent eux-mêmes utiliser, grâce au toucher, aux gestes et à leur présence pour qu’une empathie

kinésique puisse s’établir entre le spectateur et le créateur. En tant que spectateur, nous imaginons les gestes et les émotions qui se rejoignent pour produire cet objet que nous voyons dans le contexte où nous nous trouvons ; En tant que fabricant nous manipulons la matière au point d’imaginer le spectateur s’en emparant pour achever l’expérience d’être un corps qui interagit avec la matière.

Dans son livre Bodies that Matter (1993), Judith Butler plaide pour « un retour à la notion de matière […] en tant que procédé de matérialisation dans la durée afin de produire l’effet d’une frontière, d’une fixité et d’une surface que l’on appelle la matière. » L’influence de Butler est très largement associée à la sexualité et au genre. Cette session rappelle ces paroles pour les utiliser au-delà de ces catégories. Elle souligne son efficacité pour comprendre comment certaines formes de matérialisation peuvent rompre et détourner des dynamiques normatives l’identité d’un individu. Nous nous intéressons à la matérialité de l’art et à la façon dont il peut nous connecter à travers différents modes d’identités politiques et d’individualisation basés sur les frontières, la fixité, et la surface.

Nous tirons le terme empathie kinesthésique des chercheurs en musique et en danse qui ont récemment revigoré les discours philosophiques allemands du tournant du siècle de l’Êinfühlungästhetik pour explorer l’expérience du public de la performance à la fois phénoménologiquement et biologiquement (comme dans la capacité imitative des neurones mirror). Nous étendons cette notion pour y inclure les théories du nouveau matérialisme à propos de l’action [agency] des objets et des matériaux qui encouragent la recherche sur la façon dont les spectateurs réagissent au pouvoir émanant d‘eux, dans une forme réifiée dans les propriétés physiques de l’art.

Dead Matter and Animated Materials in Early Modern Art

Itay Sapir1 , Joana Barreto 2
1Uqam - Montréal (Canada), 2Université Lumière Lyon 2 - Lyon (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The Early Modern world was the theatre of a complex dialectics concerning the perceived liveliness and lifelessness of artworks and artistic materials. As Frank Fehrenbach’s recent Quasi Vivo: Lebendigkeit in der italienischen Kunst der Frühen Neuzeit (2021) has shown, the animation of lifeless matter was considered one of the principal exploits of artists from Giotto onwards, indeed sometimes the very novelty that distinguished Renaissance artworks from Medieval images, but the ambiguity of life and death remained constitutive of the perception of these objects all through the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The specific and varied propensity for liveliness of different materials was explored in painting and even more so in sculpture, where, as Michael Cole and others have shown, the history of making – the carving of marble vs. the casting of metal, for instance – had an impact on the level and type of liveliness attributed to the finalized works. The original organic or inorganic nature of materials – wood and cochineal in contrast with lapis lazuli and bronze, to name but a few examples, in Europe and far beyond – added another layer to these distinctions.

In many cases, the issue of matter itself being dead or, on the contrary, artistically enlivened was complicated by pictorial or (less often) sculptural narratives that also played on the uncertain transition between life and death – of living creatures, in this case, especially humans. The emergence, around 1600 and spectacularly in the work of Caravaggio, of an interest in the instant of death itself, in its ambivalences and temporal intricacies, questioned in parallel the material infrastructure of these depictions: how matter was both brought to life in the depiction of a person intended to be shown as alive, and at the same time exploited in its literal inanimateness in order to hint at the loss of life occurring at the present moment of the image.

In the case of religious subject matter, the theological ramifications of these issues cannot be exaggerated. That images of saints or the Virgin came to life to miraculously act depended, of course, on their divine status, but was also understood, in different degrees according to the precise historical moment of the images’ reception, in connection with their material properties on the one hand and the virtuosity of their maker’s craft on the other.

This session seeks to explore the complexities of life and death in the imaginaire associated with the different material components of early modern artworks. In particular, it will probe how the frequent depictions, in Renaissance and Baroque art, of life’s end, be it through violent death or in peaceful departure, interacted with the material choices (or constraints) of artists.

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

La période de la première modernité a été le théâtre d'une dialectique complexe concernant la perception de la vitalité et de l'absence de vie des œuvres d'art et des matériaux artistiques. Comme l'a montré le récent ouvrage de Frank Fehrenbach, Quasi Vivo : Lebendigkeit in der italienischen Kunst der Frühen Neuzeit (2021), l'animation d'une matière sans vie était considérée comme l'un des principaux exploits des artistes à partir de Giotto, voire parfois comme la nouveauté même qui distinguait les œuvres d'art de la Renaissance des images médiévales, mais l'ambiguïté de la vie et de la mort est restée constitutive de la perception de ces objets tout au long des quinzième et seizième siècles. La propension spécifique et variée à la vitalité des différents matériaux a été explorée dans la peinture et plus encore dans la sculpture, où, comme Michael Cole et d'autres l'ont montré, l'histoire de la fabrication - la sculpture du marbre par rapport à la fonte du métal, par exemple - a eu un impact sur le niveau et le type de vivacité attribués aux œuvres finales. La nature organique ou inorganique des matériaux - le bois et la cochenille contrastant avec le lapis-lazuli et le bronze, pour ne citer que quelques exemples, en Europe et bien au-delà - ajoute une couche supplémentaire à ces distinctions.

Dans de nombreux cas, la question de la mort ou, au contraire, de l'animation artistique de la matière elle-même était compliquée par des récits picturaux ou (moins souvent) sculpturaux qui jouaient également sur la transition incertaine entre la vie et la mort - des créatures vivantes, en l'occurrence, surtout des êtres humains. L'émergence, vers 1600 et de manière spectaculaire dans l'œuvre de Caravage, d'un intérêt pour l'instant de la mort elle-même, pour ses ambivalences et ses complexités temporelles, a interrogé en parallèle l'infrastructure matérielle de ces représentations : comment la matière était à la fois rendue vivante dans la représentation d'une personne destinée à être montrée comme vivante, et en même temps exploitée dans son inanimité littérale afin de suggérer la perte de vie qui se produit au moment présent de l'image.

Dans le cas de sujets religieux, les ramifications théologiques de ces questions ne peuvent être exagérées. Le fait que les images de saints ou de la Vierge prennent vie et agissent miraculeusement dépendait, bien sûr, de leur statut divin, mais était également compris, à des degrés divers selon le moment historique précis de la réception des images, en relation avec leurs propriétés matérielles d'une part et la virtuosité de l'art de leur créateur d'autre part.

Cette session vise à explorer les complexités de la vie et de la mort dans l'imaginaire associées aux différentes composantes matérielles des œuvres d'art du début de la période moderne. En particulier, elle examinera comment les fréquentes représentations, dans l'art de la Renaissance et du Baroque, de la fin de la vie, qu'il s'agisse d'une mort violente ou d'un départ paisible, ont interagi avec les choix (ou les contraintes) matériels des artistes.

The Matter of Pastel

Oliver Wunsch 1, Melissa Hyde 2, Juliette Trey 3


1
Boston College - Chestnut Hill (United States), 2University Of Florida - Gainesville (United States), 3Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) - Paris (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Fragile and ineffable, the materiality of pastel has been a source of anxious fascination since the medium’s invention. Its subtle colors and matte textures yield inimitable surface effects, but the tenuous adhesion of its pigmented particles to paper have vexed artists and conservators for hundreds of years. The medium’s complex and unstable properties create obstacles for research and loan exhibitions, confining its study to devoted specialists. Yet pastel also provides an ideal object for investigation into issues central to recent methodological reflection on art’s materiality more broadly, such as mobility, technological innovation, and the politics of care.

Pastel has been the subject of conferences and exhibitions in recent years, which have focused on individual artists, regions, or specific facets of the medium. In the past year alone, two exhibitions—“Color into Line” at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and “Vive le Pastel!” at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich—brought scholarly attention to two extensive museum collections of pastel. Other recent initiatives include an exhibition and conference on Jean- Baptiste Perronneau (2017), an exhibition and major publication on the pastels in the Louvre collections (2018), “Pastels in Pieces” at the Getty (2018), and a workshop at the Bibliotheca Hertziana on the “Fragility of Pastel” (2022). Neil Jeffares’s magisterial Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800 and catalogue raisonné on Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (2022) are indispensable online sources. Angela Oberer, meanwhile, published a major new biography of Rosalba Carriera in 2020. Thea Burns and Philippe Saunier’s The Art of Pastel (2015) has further expanded our understanding of pastel, including its use among nineteenth-century artists. A major exhibition at the Petit Palais in 2017 further highlighted the importance of the medium in the nineteenth century, and an upcoming show at the Musée d’Orsay (“Pastels de Millet à Redon”) promises to develop this area of research. In the field of contemporary art, pastel has also generated growing interest through the work of artists such as Nicolas Party. Next year is the 350th anniversary of Rosalba Carriera’s birth, which will be marked by an exhibition of her work in Dresden. Thus a CIHA session on pastel will be timely.

Though pastel is often seen as a quintessentially eighteenth-century medium, this session aims to consider it across geographic borders and time periods.

Building Identity: Architecture’s material significations

Ariane Varela Braga 1, Jonathan Foote 2


1Académie De France À Rome-Villa Médicis - Rome (Italy), 2Aarhus School Of Architecture - Aarhus (Denmark)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

How do building materials shape identity? Building materials have the power to transform the urban landscape and nourish human imagination. Beyond technical factors and availability, materials are loaded with significations. They carry associations that constantly evolve through changing historical, socio-cultural, economic and technical conditions.

Material identity, the correlation between materials and groups, geographies or histories, frequently runs parallel to power relations in architecture. The Roman marble trade is a well- known case of building materials in service of imperial power, laying a blueprint for materials to act in concert with colonial hegemonies. Beyond identifying with their place of extraction or production, building materials can also assume abstract values such as modernity or progress, as when copper was promoted by Anaconda Mining Company as a ‘Friend of Freedom’ by having been used to clad the Statue of Liberty.

Moreover, materials such as granite, in close relation with local geology, have been pivotal in strengthening the project of nation-building, as during the National Romanticism of Nordic countries in the late 19th-century. Examples abound when considering building materials in defining inter-cultural relations, often with shifting cultural agencies, as in the use of imported Dutch clay tiles by Ottoman royalty in 18th-century Istanbul. Materials can also become a place of cultural hybridisation, as when brick was used to associate the 19th century concept of the mudejár with a specific kind of Spanish architecture of the 13th and 16th centuries.

Such relations tell a story of contaminations and exchanges, of technical and cultural transfers. Cultural identity is not understood as a static entity - a signifier and a signified - but as affective and provisional, a process of negotiation, channelled through national, ethnic, and even highly personal histories.

This panel considers building materials as elements that participate in the shaping and representation of such identities from the early modern period to the 20th–century. More broadly, it is interested in how material identity is constructed vis-à-vis political and social relations, and how building materials have been used to assert, subvert or maintain such connections.

We aim for productive art historical discussions on materiality and identity as applied to the history of architecture. The issue of identity in architecture has been traditionally addressed through the notion of style. We would like to challenge this view and ask: What does it mean to think about cultural identity and architecture through the optics of building materials? What historiographical and methodological approach does it imply?

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

Comment les matériaux de construction façonnent-ils l'identité ? Ils ont le pouvoir de transformer le paysage urbain et de nourrir l'imagination humaine. Au-delà de facteurs techniques et de disponibilité, ils sont chargés de significations, porteurs d'associations qui évoluent constamment à travers différentes conditions historiques, socioculturelles, économiques et techniques.

L'identité matérielle – la corrélation entre des matériaux et des groupes, géographies ou histoires – se construit souvent en architecture en parallèle à des relations de pouvoir. Le commerce du marbre dans la Rome impériale agit ainsi de concert avec les hégémonies coloniales. Au-delà de l'identification au lieu d'extraction/production, les matériaux peuvent revêtir des valeurs abstraites (ex : modernité, progrès), comme le cuivre, présenté par la Société Minière Anaconda comme "Ami de la Liberté" pour son emploi dans le revêtement de la Statue de la Liberté.

En relation étroite avec la géologie locale, le granit a joué un rôle central pour la construction des états-nations lors du romantisme national des pays nordiques à la fin du 19e siècle. Nombreux sont les exemples de matériaux définissant des relations interculturelles, avec des agentivités changeantes, comme dans l'utilisation de tuiles en terre cuite importées des Pays- Bas par les Ottomans au 18e siècle. Les matériaux peuvent aussi devenir des lieux d'hybridation culturelle, comme lorsqu'au 19e siècle la brique fut utilisée pour associer le concept de mudéjar à une architecture spécifique aux 13e-16e siècles.

Ces associations racontent une histoire de contaminations et d'échanges, de transferts techniques et culturels. L'identité culturelle n'est pas comprise comme statique – un signifiant et un signifié - mais comme affective et provisoire, un processus de négociation, canalisé par des histoires nationales, ethniques et même très personnelles.

Ce panel considère les matériaux de construction comme des éléments qui participent à la formation et représentation de telles identités depuis le début de la période moderne jusqu'au XXe siècle. Plus largement, il s'intéresse à la manière dont l'identité matérielle est construite par rapport aux relations politiques/sociales, à la manière dont les matériaux de construction ont été utilisés pour affirmer, subvertir ou maintenir ces relations.

Nous visons des discussions productives en histoire de l'art sur la matérialité et l'identité telles qu’appliquées à l'histoire de l'architecture. La question de l'identité en architecture est traditionnellement abordée à travers la notion de style. Nous voudrions remettre en question ce point de vue : que signifie penser l'identité culturelle et l'architecture à travers l'optique des matériaux de construction ? Quelle approche historiographique et méthodologique cela implique-t-il ?

The Last Plastics Show

Charlotte Matter 1, Teresa Kittler 2
1
Institut D'histoire De L'art, Université De Zurich - Zurich (Switzerland), 2History Of Art Department, University Of York - York (United Kingdom)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

As the umbrella term for a whole range of products derived from hydrocarbons, plastics are a fairly recent addition to the history of art. They became widespread in the 1950s and have since then profoundly expanded the material culture of our modern world. Indeed, they appear synonymous with everything deemed “modern”—along with all the desirable and problematic associations of the term. While in recent years scholars have been engaging with plastics from the perspectives of cultural studies, environmental sciences, or conservation and restoration, much remains to be discussed from the point of view of art history. In this session for the CIHA 2024 congress, we want to explore the significance and the ambivalent implications that plastics have come to occupy in artistic practices and exhibitions after WWII. Exhibition making around plastics became something of a phenomenon in this period, inaugurating the heyday of plastics in the 1960s, or what some have called the “plastic age.” Their ubiquity in everyday life and break with visual arts’ traditions made them relevant to new audiences; this omnipresence, in turn, was parodied in an exhibition titled The Last Plastics Show (1972). Their subsequent drastic loss of popularity in the wake of the 1973 oil price crisis gave rise to another, more sombre term to describe the era: the “plasticene.” Despite growing awareness of their harmfulness for humans and the environment, plastics have endured, as evinced by a recent reiteration of that historical exhibition bearing the tongue-in-cheek title The Very Last Plastics Show (2014). As such, plastics in art present an opportunity to think about the broader cultural reach and the enduring legacy of these materials.

The session seeks to understand the elastic and sometimes highly contradictory meanings of plastics in art from the 1960s onwards. It also aims to reflect on the different temporalities and implications of their production and use as it has unfolded in diverse geographic contexts. By paying special attention to exhibitions that specifically addressed the question of materiality, ranging from large museum shows to smaller gallery or artists’ projects, we want to explore the way these materials have been conceptualised and presented to audiences, and the legacy of these early exhibitions in contemporary art making and curating.

How can we make sense of plastics in relation to the politics of gender, health and well-being, the interests of big industry and cold-war politics—that is, to topics that extend beyond the material itself? What has changed, but also, what continues to make plastics so compelling for our culture and its production? These are some of the questions we hope to tackle in this session.