Ecological Imaginings

Ecological Imaginings: Aztec Human Sacrifice, Photographic Objects, and Future Simulations
Tuesday, February 11, 6:00-8:00 PM
DePaul University Art Museum
935 W. Fullerton Ave.
The DePaul Institute for Nature & Culture presents a visually rich, interdisciplinary panel featuring three unique perspectives on relationships among images, ecologies, and various types of networks. The panel themes range from Aztec sacrifice, through contemporary photography and philosophy, to neuroscience and future landscape simulations.
Why did the Aztec earth need to eat human blood and excrement to survive?  How do photographs work to both reveal and hide things; can we say photos themselves have their own, distinctive creative agency?  How do images help change people’s minds about the environment, convincing them of the importance of green spaces?  Come and find out.
The evening will also include plenty of time for discussion to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue and student engagement.  The Public, Faculty and Students from all disciplines and interests are invited and encouraged to attend this perspective-broadening evening.
Three presentations will be followed by discussion: 
1. Kay Read, Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, Ecologically Picturing Human Sacrifice: The first presentation relates human sacrifice in pre-Hispanic, Nahua (Aztec) culture to the concept of “trophic webs” (ecological webs of sustenance).  By briefly examining pictographic manuscripts and selected Mesoamerican agricultural practices, the presenter explores how an approach centered in materiality helps us understand why human sacrifice provided “food” in light of those trophic webs, and asks how these explorations might help us think through our own troubled relationships with the natural world.
2. Randy Honold, Assistant Dean of LAS and Instructor, Department of Philosophy, Photographing Objects:  The second talk reflects on photography within the context of speculative realism and the intrigue of the photograph as object, focusing on the presenter’s own photographs.  Among the philosophical/aesthetic topics of the presentation are 1) the relationship of “the photograph” to the history of photography; 2) a consideration of the hybrid “nature” of photography; and 3) the mysterious manner in which photographs both reveal and conceal their objects. The images in this talk make visible the complexity of ever unfolding ecosystems of objects.
3. Christine Skolnik, Department of Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse, Imagined Ecofutures:  Employing a critical approach rooted in “realist magic,” the third paper reviews recent findings in the neuroscience of imagining the future within the context of landscape simulation The presenter argues for acknowledging the importance of the self in the process of imagining the future, and discusses images from the successful Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (LARRMP) as a case study.
Presenter Information:
Kay Almere Read, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies (DePaul University), holds degrees in Art (University of Illinois, 1969), Religious Studies (University of Colorado, 1982); and History of Religions (University of Chicago, 1983, 1991).  She researches Mesoamerican cosmology, mythology, imagery, time, sacrifice, ethics and the interface of religion, nature and culture.  She has authored numerous articles and books, including Time and Sacrifice in the Aztec Cosmos (1998), and periodically posts drawings on the Institute for Nature and Culture’s blog at
Christine Skolnik is an adjunct professor in DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse and a faculty advisor to the Institute for Nature & Culture.  She holds a PhD in English (Rhetoric) from Penn State and a recent MA in Urban Sustainability.  She teaches courses in environmental writing and rhetoric as well as technical/professional writing.  Her research interests include sustainability, rhetorical theory, psychology, and neuroscience.  She is currently a contributing co-editor of the popular DePaul Institute for Nature and Culture blog, Environmental Critique.
Randy Honold is currently compiling a set of photographs that translate ideas of ecology and object-oriented ontology, teaching environmental philosophy, and blogging at and 
This event is open to the public.  Parking is available at the Sheffield Parking Facility located at 2335 N. Sheffield Ave. and the Clifton Parking Deck at 2330 N. Clifton Ave.  For more information, contact Randy Honold at, (773) 325-4928

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Humanities and Ecology, Nature, Objects, OOO, Uncategorized, Urban Ecology

One response to “Ecological Imaginings

  1. Pingback: Remember: Ecological Imaginings on Tuesday, 2.11.14 | environmental critique

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