Bryan Markovitz

That's why we believe there is more to be learned about surrogates.

What does the act of surrogation offer that other forms of representation do not?
What agencies do surrogates mobilize that their originals cannot?
How do surrogates benefit us, and how might they produce undesirable effects?


We invite you to join us on an adventure to create new surrogates for museum objects, and to help us describe their powers through an art installation presented at Brown’s Lost Museums Symposium on May 8.

We are looking for a small group of participants to fill one or more roles along the way: as Sleuths, Makers, Guides, or Documentarians.

The role you chose depends entirely on your interests. We imagine that everyone will have a part to play during the four stages of creative research that we have planned. Scroll down for more information.


Step 1, Search: We will begin in the last week of February at Brown’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology in Bristol, Rhode Island. With the help of museum staff, our sleuths will walk among the vast collections and search for five phenomenal objects. By ‘phenomenal,’ we refer to the objects’ ability to resonate with a set of ‘clues’ that the sleuths will use to conduct their search. These clues will be drawn from the sleuth’s own creative or research interests beyond the museum.

During this process, our documentarians will capture the process through a variety of media—from sketches and photographs, to GoPro cams attached to our moving bodies—or possibly within the constraint of one type of media. For example, what if we had to document the experience through sound alone? We will decide this together. Once the objects are chosen, our sleuths will observe and engage with their material presence on site, and collect additional archival evidence about their past.

Step 2, Surrogates: In early March, we will shift our attention to the art studio, where our makers (in dialogue with the sleuths) will replicate the objects with whatever raw materials respond best to their originals, and possibly with new technological attachments (such as microphones for hearing, or cameras for seeing). Meanwhile, our documentarians will continue to capture the work in progress.



Step 3, Scenarios: Over spring break, our guides will bring the newly made surrogates along with them into real-world scenarios—from field trips at science labs and libraries, to train rides and walks in the city, to ceremonies and spectacles. Our documentarians will follow along when possible, and the surrogates themselves may keep a record of their experiences. Our goal will be to explore how our surrogates enact their powers, and to pay careful attention to how those powers might mingle with others.

Step 4, Staging: Finally, during the month of April, we will bring the surrogates back to the studio, where our documentarians will help us reassemble the experience as a media installation for the Lost Museums Symposium that we will present on May 8. The installation’s form and content will depend entirely on the interests and abilities of our team, the surrogates themselves, and the paths that our adventure took.

For a more detailed project plan (that will be completed in conversation with the final group), you can view the Google doc here.



If you would like to join us, let us know by Saturday, February 7.

To reach us, please fill out the response form below. We are very open to your ideas, and we encourage you to think of ways to incorporate your own research and creative interests.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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