• 1:1
  • Systems
  • Theory
  • in Practice
  • since WWII
  • at
  • Yale University

On April 20–21, the History of Art Department at Yale University will host a two-day conference to ask how comparisons between humans and computers have informed art and technology since WWII. This event questions how—perhaps if—we might articulate a politics embedded in these analogies.

1:1 organizes conversations around systems theory, the post-WWII discipline that emerged in the field of signals engineering but has since been absorbed internationally by generations of artists and social scientists. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy defines systems theory as “the transdisciplinary study of the abstract organization of phenomena, independent of their substance, type, or spatial or temporal scale of existence.” Crucial to 1:1, systems theory “investigates both the principles common to all complex entities, and the (usually mathematical) models which can be used to describe them.”

Systems theory relies on a core assumption of equivalence: large, complex systems operate according to universal principles and exhibit parallel behaviors. While this ethos of equivalence enables broad applications of systems theory across the sciences and humanities, it also attenuates the demand for technical and cultural specificity. 1:1 re-evaluates the historical narrative of systems theory by highlighting the many forms of difference it has tended to suppress.

By encouraging dialogue between the fields of art history, the history of science, literature, anthropology, and architecture, we will revisit systems theory in its many contexts to assess its far reach since WWII: from artists making experimental work, to organizational theorists studying corporations, to biologists exploring ecosystems, etc.

  • April 20
  • 4:45PM  Registration
  • 5:30PM  Keynote Speech
    Pamela Lee
  • 7:30PM  Reception
  • April 21
  • 8:15AM  Registration & Coffee
  • 9AM  Frameworks
    Hunter Heyck
    Eve Meltzer
    Fred Turner
  • 11AM  Arts: Organized
    Colby Chamberlain
    Deak Nabers
    Zabet Patterson
  • 12:45–1:45PM  Mid-day Break
  • 1:45PM  Soft Systems: Language as Information System
    Gregg Bordowitz
    Judith Rodenbeck
    Soyoung Yoon
  • 3:30–4PM  Afternoon Break
  • 4PM  Contemporary Perspectives
    Fia Backström
    Caitlin Cherry
    Michelle Kuo
    Sarah Oppenheimer
  • 5:45PM  Reception

Jeffrey Loria Center
Room 250
Yale University
190 York Street
New Haven, CT 06520

This event is free and open to the public. The Loria Center is wheelchair accessible.

  • Fia Backström
  • Gregg Bordowitz
    Artist and Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Colby Chamberlain
    Lecturer at Columbia University
  • Caitlin Cherry
  • Hunter Heyck
    Associate Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oklahoma
  • Michelle Kuo
  • Pamela Lee
    Osgood Hooker Professor in Fine Arts at Stanford University
  • Eve Meltzer
    Associate Professor of Visual Studies at New York University Gallatin School
  • Deak Nabers
    Associate Professor of English, Brown University
  • Sarah Oppenheimer
  • Zabet Patterson
    Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art and Digital Media at Stony Brook University
  • Judith Rodenbeck
    Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California Riverside
  • Fred Turner
    Harry and Norman Chandler Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at Stanford University
  • Soyoung Yoon
    Assistant Professor of Visual Studies at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School
Please RSVP by email.
  • The History of Art Department
    at Yale University
  • The Edward J. & Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund at Yale University
  • The Charles Gallaudet Trumbull Lectureship
  • Yale Modernist Forum