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Local Initiatives

My work in sculpture and installation aims to create a space in which the audience, who usually identify as the surveyed, takes on the role of the surveyor and the performer. My pop-up hijacking of institutional spaces and bureaucratic processes gradually degenerates as it reaches its structural and participatory limit.

Michel Foucault recognizes the exemplary prison model of the Panopticon and developed his theory on the ways in which the society generates docile bodies through discipline. The Panopticon is a powerful prison model, because, regardless of the obvious physical presence and the inmates’ consciousness of the purpose of the inspection tower, the presence/absence of the observer in the tower was made unknown through a venetian blind behind the windows of the tower. In isolation and under ceaseless inspection, the prisoners of the Panopticon learned to internalize the discipline and govern themselves. The Panopticon not only prevented the prisoners from wrong-doing but also took away their wish to commit wrong, making them unable and unwilling.

Foucault expanded the prison and the prisoners of the Panopticon to the society and all its members. The docile self-governing bodies, in combination with the extensive history and knowledge the society has accumulated on its members, allow the society as a machine to achieve maximum efficiency by placing individuals as compartments within its mechanics according to their individual characters.

Various record keeping devices that obsessively bureaucratize information-gathering methods have been developed and ingrained deep within the contemporary psyche. Anonymous scribes keep filling in the charts of self-conscious, docile individuals in constant cognitive dissonance in regards to privacy and autonomy, while from the knowledge of the individuals societal power is generated.

The Letterist International declared commitment to authentic life alternative to that designed for the capitalist society and believed that the capitalist trance could be disrupted through détournement. Strategic device that appropriates the expressions of modern capitalist society and turns them against the design, détournement was proposed as a tactic in individuals’ resistance against the machine to reclaim the authentic life.

 

 

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James Butler, John Huddleston, Hedya Klein (Senior Studio Advisors) / Sanford Mirling (Academic Advisor) / Karen Rauppius 12′,  Tyler Madden 12.5′ (Collaborators)


 

 

A MiddLab Project

Sustainable Television 2011

In Spring 2011, nine students enrolled in FMMC 285 Sustainable Television: Producing Environmental Media, collaborating to produce a 50-minute television program on environmental issues. Watch the entire episode below, or scroll down for individual segments:

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Full Episode: (expand to full screen to fully enjoy)

Selected Stories:

A group of students capture the activist energy of Power Shift 2011 in Washington, DC:

Can a group of kids teach you about the science of climate change?

A profile of Vergennes farmer Erik Andrus and his sustainable agriculture and energy strategies:

Where does food in Middlebury dining halls come from?

Emeritus Professor John Elder reflects on his relationship to nature and place through the words of poets:

What happens when the oil party comes to an end?

Learn how two Vermont business people installing solar panels changes their environmental impact:

How do small choices you make everyday impact your carbon footprint?

A student takes a challenge to go vegetarian for a month to learn about the environmental impact of dietary choices:

Middlebury College President Ron Liebowitz proposes some sweeping changes to reach carbon neutrality:

 

Although early literature of Maryland and Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay reflected the first settlers’ unbridled consumption of resources, as the twentieth centuries due to habitat loss, overfishing, and pollution, literature, specifically an emergent genre of children’s and young adult literature, demonstrated a shift from entitlement towards stewardship of the Bay’s resources. Authors of children’s and young adult literature increasingly encouraged youth, either didactically or through metaphor, to value the Bay’s resources, protect the health of the Bay, and persuade others to become stewards of a healthy Chesapeake for future generations. This presentation will examine the transformation of Chesapeake Bay literature, and explore how these children’s and young adult works color the growing environmental education movement in the Bay region.

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Laura Williams
Researcher

Daniel Brayton
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of English & American Literature

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Despite unbelievable economic growth rates averaging between 8-10% in 2009 and bright economic prospects, China and India have become two of the largest contributors to world poverty. However, China has been able to alleviate more poverty than India. I believe that there are lessons to be learnt from China’s success. Thus, I will compare both nations and examine the impact of provincial politics (decentralization) on poverty alleviation to determine why China has been able to alleviate more poverty than India. Since China and India are populous, large countries, there is a strong presence of state-level political institutions, which guide policy implementation. I will, thus, examine the cases of Sichuan and Anhui in China and Kerala andBihar in India. The contrast between the success of Sichuan and Kerala and failures of Anhui and Bihar will provide insight on the impact of decentralization and effectiveness of policy implementation towards poverty alleviation.

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Ruchi Singh
Researcher

Jessica Teets
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of Political Science

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A MiddLab Project

Millborne Farms: A Case Study of Modern Dairy Farming in Vermont

Learn more about Economics at Middlebury College.

As times and consumer preferences change, how is a traditional Vermont dairy farmer to make a decent living? Is it worth their time to simply continue producing traditional products (milk, yogurt, cheese, butter) in a heavily saturated market, or should they branch out into kefirs, smoothies, or probiotic shots? Should they stay local and maintain the integrity of the farm or ship products around the country in order to avoid financial ruin? Gert and Arda Schute of Millborne Farms in Shoreham, VT deal with these concerns on a daily basis. This presentation will be the culmination of my personal research on profitability and dairy farming. It will also critically analyze the business issues currently facing Gert and Arda and offer solutions that will maintain the vitality and increase the profitability of their farm.

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Anne Bogert
Researcher

Jessica Holmes
Sponsor & Associate Professor of Economics

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A MiddLab Project

Monitoring Carbon Uptake on College Lands

Learn more about Biology and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College.

Middlebury College has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2016. As the largest private landowner in Addison County, there is tremendous potential for land management practices to contribute to the goal of carbon neutrality. As part of an effort to understand how carbon sequestration varies among the different forest types on College-owned lands, we monitored carbon uptake in the Battell Research Forest, an old-growth hemlock forest in East Middleury, VT. As expected for an old-growth forest, the Battell Research Forest contains substantial pools of carbon in live and dead biomass. The size of the woody debris pool was substantially larger at the Battell Research Forest than in secondary forests at Breadloaf. We conclude our presentation with a proposal for how to implement an ongoing carbon monitoring protocol on College-owned forest lands.

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