New materialism

New Materialism is an emerging trend in 21st century thought in several fields of inquiry, including philosophy, cultural theory, feminism, science studies, and the visual arts. Defined around the primacy of matter and its properties and actions, New Materialism re-works long-held assumptions about the nature of the stuff of the universe. It responds to the need for novel accounts of agency, nature and social relationships in the contemporary epoch, when new questions have arisen about our place as embodied humans in the world and the ways we produce, reproduce and consume our material environment.

In this challenge to invent new ways to understand the contemporary world, the visual arts have a special place given their concern with the manipulation of matter. For the artist or craftsperson in the studio or workshop, New Materialism can articulate and give agency to existing creative processes, and offer opportunities for new modes of authorship and expanded interpretations of materials and objects and our relationships with them.

How has contemporary practice embraced object oriented ontology to re-think questions about the embodied human in the material world?

How has contemporary art engaged with the agency of matter and the non-human in today’s human fractured world of bio-cyber-technologies?

How has contemporary art practice, in visual or other media, embraced New Materialist thinking in the areas of political economy, post-humanism and geopolitics?

Seano Connell, Collide, 2014

Sean O'Connell, collide, 2014


Transversal Practices: Matter, Ecology and Relationality conference, September 2015
2014 Graduate School Conference


Andrew Lavery (research cluster leader)
Rebecca Beardmore
Madeleine Boyd
Mikala Dwyer
Matthys Gerber
David Haines
Joyce Hinterding
Julie Rrap
Oliver Smith
Justene Williams

External member:
Associate Professor Barbara Bolt