Terranova, Charissa

Associate Professor

Office:  JO 3.920

Areas of Specialization:  Post-WWII Art, Architecture and Urbanism and Media Theory

Education: PhD, Architectural History and Theory, Harvard University
MA, Architectural History and Theory, Harvard University
MA, Art History, University of Illinois at Chicago
BA, Art History, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Charissa N. Terranova is Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas. She lectures and teaches seminars on art and architectural history, theory, and criticism and media and new media theory. She is a scholarly writer and freelance curator and critic working both nationally and internationally. She is the author of Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image, 1920-1970 (forthcoming from I.B. Tauris, London) and Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (UT Press, 2014).  In January 2010, she stepped down from the position of founding director and curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency.

Research and Books

Dr. Terranova is currently completing Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image, 1920-1970, which traces the development of the digital image in art, focusing on the centrality of the integrated human, i.e. the human as a total biological system of the mind, body, and senses. Art as Organism foregrounds current video and digital new media art, interactive gaming, and virtual reality in a materialist politics of the body, which effloresced around the interactions of artists and scientists in the twentieth century. The story unfolds across time among an array of modernists, including László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Benjamin, Gyorgy Kepes, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, J. D. Bernal, Conrad Waddington, Kevin Lynch, Rudolf Arnheim, Robert Rauschenberg, A. Michael Noll, and Billy Klüver, from the heady waters of Weimar Berlin to the New Bauhaus in Chicago to the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dr. Terranova’s first book, Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art combines critical theory and new media theory to form the first philosophical analysis of the car within works of conceptual art. These works are broadly defined to encompass a wide range of creative expressions, particularly in car-based conceptual art by both older, established artists and younger, emerging artists, including Ed Ruscha, Martha Rosler, Richard Prince, Sylvie Fleury, Yael Bartana, Jeremy Deller, and Jonathan Schipper.

At its core, the book offers an alternative formation of conceptual art understood according to technology, the body moving through space, and what art historian, curator, and artist Jack Burnham calls “relations.” This thought-provoking study illuminates the ways in which the automobile becomes a naturalized extension of the human body, incarnating new forms of “car art” and spurring a technological reframing of conceptual art. Steeped in a sophisticated take on the image and semiotics of the car, the chapters probe the politics of materialism as well as high/low debates about taste, culture, and art. The result is a highly innovative approach to contemporary intersections of art and technology.