Plenary Speakers

The International Conference on the Arts in Society will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Suzanne Anker Dieter Mersch
Nina Czegledy Victoria Vesna
Klaus Ferentschik Günter M. Ziegler
Erika Fischer-Lichte

Garden Conversation Sessions

Plenary Speakers will make formal 30-minute presentations. They will also participate in 60-minute Garden Conversations – unstructured sessions that allow delegates a chance to meet the speakers and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

Please return to this page for regular updates.

The Speakers

Suzanne Anker
Suzanne Anker is a visual artist and theorist working at the intersection of art and the biological sciences. She works in a variety of mediums ranging from digital sculpture and installation to large-scale photography to plants grown using LED lights. Her work has been shown both nationally and internationally in museums and galleries including the Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Institute, the Phillips Collection, P.S.1 Museum, the JP Getty Museum, the Mediznhistorisches Museum der Charite in Berlin, the Center for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin, the Pera Museum in Istanbul and the Museum of Modern Art in Japan. Her books include The Molecular Gaze: Art in the Genetic Age, co-authored with the late sociologist Dorothy Nelkin, published in 2004 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and Visual Culture and Bioscience, co-published by University of Maryland and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Her writings have appeared in Art and America, Seed Magazine, Nature Reviews Genetics, Art Journal, Tema Celeste and M/E/A/N/I/N/G. Her work has been the subject of reviews and articles in the New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, Nature and has been cited by Barbara Maria Stafford, Donna Haraway and Martin Kemp in their texts. Most recently she has collaborated with anthropologist Sarah Franklin, on an article and interview for Social Text journal. She has hosted twenty episodes of the Bio Blurb show, an internet radio program originally on WPS1 Art Radio, in collaboration with MoMA in NYC (, now archived on Alana Heiss’ She has been a speaker at the Royal Society in London, Cambridge University, Yale University, the London School of Economics, the Max-Planck Institute, University of Leiden, the Hamburger Bahnhof, the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Banff Art Center any many others. Chairing SVA’s Fine Arts Department in NYC since 2005, Ms Anker continues to interweave traditional and experimental media in her department’s new digital initiative.

Nina Czegledy
Nina Czegledy is a media artist, curator and writer, that has collaborated on international projects, produced time based and digital works, and participated in workshops, forums and festivals worldwide. Czegledy is a Senior Fellow at KMDI, University of Toronto, Adjunct Associate Professor at Concordia University, Montreal and the current Chair of the Inter Society for the Electronic Arts (ISEA). She has exhibited her work with the ICOLS group and toured with the Girls & Guns collective and the Achtung Baby! Project in East Europe. Czegledy’s latest Aurora Feast Public Art Collaborative Project has been presented at Heureka the Finnish Science Centre, Finland, at the Gowett Brewster Gallery in New Zealand and the Waves Festival in Riga, Latvia. Resonance, the Electromagnetic Bodies Project, Digitized Bodies Virtual Spectacles and the Aurora Projects reflect Nina’s art & science & technology interest. These projects focus on the changing perception of the environment and the human body and are presented via on-line and on-site events. Over the years Czegledy produced over 35 digital art/video programs presented in more than 25 countries. Her academic lectures and international conference presentations have led to numerous publications in books and journals worldwide.

Klaus Ferentschik
Klaus Ferentschik, born 1957 in Graben, Germany, is Regent at the Collège de ‘Pataphysique (College of Pataphysics) and a chair of Démonologie Spécialel. He received a PhD in philosophy and is the author of several novels and a book about ‘Pataphysics. His exhibition works include collaborations with Harald Szeemann from 1996-2005, and he is now preparing a monography about Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern.

Erika Fischer-Lichte
Erika Fischer-Lichte is director the International Research Centre “Interweaving Performance Cultures” and Professor of Theatre Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. From 1995 to 1999 she was President of the International Federation for Theatre Research. She is a member of the Academia Europaea, the Academy of Sciences at Goettingen, and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. She has published widely in the fields of aesthetics, theory of literature, art, and theatre, in particular on semiotics and performativity, theatre history, and contemporary theatre. Among her numerous publications are Global Ibsen. Performing Multiple Modernities (2010), The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics (2008, German 2004), Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual. Exploring Forms of Political Theatre (2005), History of European Drama and Theatre (2002, German 1990), The Show and the Gaze of Theatre: A European Perspective (1997), The Semiotics of Theatre (1992, German 1983), and The Dramatic Touch of Difference: Theatre, Own and Foreign (1990).

Dieter Mersch
Dieter Mersch is Professor for media-theory at the University of Potsdam and Head of the Department for Arts and Media. He studied mathematics and philosophy at the Universities of Cologne and Bochum and got his PhD in philosophy at the Technical University Darmstadt. From 2000 to 2003 he was Guest-professor for Philosophy of Arts and Aesthetics at the School of Arts in Kiel, in 2006 Guest-professor at the University of Chicago and in 2010 Fellow at the IKKM in Weimar. His main areas of interests are Philosophy of media, Aesthetics and Art Theory, Semiotics, Picture-theory, Hermeneutic and Post-Structuralism. He published several books, such as Introduction to Umberto Eco (Hamburg 1993, in German); What shows itself. On Materiality, Presence, and Event (Munich 2002, in German); Event and Aura. Investigations on Aesthetics of Performativity (Frankfurt/M 2002, in German); Introduction to Media-Theory (Hamburg 2006, in German), and most recently Post-Hermeneutics (Berlin 2010, in German).

Victoria Vesna
Victoria Vesna is a media artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci center at the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI). She is currently a Visiting Professor and Director of Research at Parsons Art, Media + Technology, the New School for Design in New York and a senior researcher at IMéRA – Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées in Marseille, France and Artist in Residence at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol. Her work can be defined as experimental creative research that resides between disciplines and technologies. With her installations she explores how communication technologies affect collective behavior and how perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation. Victoria has exhibited her work in over twenty solo exhibitions, more than seventy group shows, has been published in excess of twenty papers and gave 100+ invited talks in the last decade. She is the North American editor of AI & Society and in 2007 published an edited volume – Database Aesthetics: Art in the age of Information Overflow, Minnesota Press. In Press is Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts. Edited with Christiane Paul and Margot Lovejoy. Intellect Press, 2011.

Günter M. Ziegler
Günter M. Ziegler was born in München, Germany, in 1963. He got a PhD at MIT with Anders Björner in 1987. Since 1995 he is a Professor of Mathematics at TU Berlin. In 2006 he became the founding chair of “Berlin Mathematical School”, where he remains active as a co-chair. He is a member of the DFG Research Center MATHEON “Mathematics for Key Technologies” since its start in 2002. In 2011 he has joined Freie Universität Berlin as a MATHEON Professor.

His interests connect discrete and computational geometry (especially polytopes), algebraic and topological methods in combinatorics, discrete mathematics and the theory of linear and integer programming. He is the author of “Lectures on Polytopes” (Springer-Verlag 1995) and of “Proofs from THE BOOK” (with Martin Aigner, Springer-Verlag 1998), which has by now appeared in 14 languages. His latest book is “Darf ich Zahlen? Geschichten aus der Mathematik” (“Do I count? Stories from Mathematics”, Piper, Munich 2010).

His honors include a “Leibniz Prize” (2001) of the German Science Foundation DFG, the “Chauvenet Prize” (2004) of the Mathematical Association of America, and the 2008 “Communicator Award” of DFG and Stifterverband. He is a member of the excecutive board of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. 2006-2007 he was the first chair of the `”Berlin Mathematical School”, a joint Graduate School of the three Berlin mathematics departments, funded in the framework of the German Excellence Initiative. 2006-2008 he was the President of the German Mathematical Society DMV, he initiated and co-organized the German National Science Year “Jahr der Mathematik 2008” and now directs the DMV Media Office and the DMV Network Office “Schools-Universities”.