Toxicity Is Agency

Master's Thesis


Is matter fundamentally inert? Passive? Is it merely the raw components of the universe to be manipulated by human beings? Thinking away from the zone of living matter, there can be seen an uncanny realm of active materiality which troubles and disrupts the rigid hierarchies that Western thinking has carved out of the world. At stake here is not only the critical question of which images humans associate with agency, but whether or not we continue the kinds of thinking which condition our current, unsustainable participation in the universe. As a prolonged metaphysical imagining of new pictures of matter, particularly in its inorganic form, this project attempts to investigate notions of matter as being in some way fundamentally weird­­–that is, eluding a full descriptive account. In doing so, I am offering an image in which matter exceeds human thought, with something of the material world always remaining resistant to conceptualization and instrumentalization. Through this imagining, the conception of matter becomes one of dynamic, alien, and unsanitary activity–­­in which all substance exhibits a kind of vexing animacy.


Attribute NameValues
Author Lucas J. Korte
Contributor Kate Marshall, Committee Member
Contributor Maria Tomasula, Research Director
Contributor Grant Ramsey, Committee Member
Contributor Jason Lahr, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Art, Art History, and Design
Degree Name Master of Fine Arts
Defense Date
  • 2016-04-12

Submission Date 2016-04-15
  • Science

  • Speculative Realism

  • Representational Art

  • Nonhuman

  • Realism

  • Materialism

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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