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What if modernism had been characterized by evolving, interconnected and multisensory images -- rather than monolithic objects often described by artists and theorists? In Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (2016), Charissa N. Terranova shows that the digital image was a rich and expansive artistic medium of modernism, from kinetic and interactive art to early computer art and installations spanning an entire city. The book links the emergence of the digital image to the dispersion of biocentric aesthetic philosophies developed by Bauhaus pedagogue László Moholy-Nagy, from 1920s Berlin to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970s. Art as Organism unearths a forgotten narrative of modernism, which charts the influence of biology, General Systems Theory and cybernetics had on art in the twentieth century. It uncovers seminal but overlooked references to biology, the organism, feedback loops, emotions and the Gestalt, along with an intricate genealogy of related thinkers across disciplines.  She is also author of Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art  (2014), editor of a double-issue of Technoetic Arts devoted to "Complexism" (2016), and coeditor with Meredith Tromble of The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016).

Terranova lectures and teaches seminars at the University of Texas at Dallas on modern and contemporary art and architectural history, theory, and criticism, the history of biology in art and architecture, and media and new media art and theory. Inaugural director and curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency, Terranova regularly curates and writes art criticism. From September 2015 to February 2016, Terranova collaborated with Davidson College Professor of Biology Dave Wessner in the SciArt Center NYC's virtual residency program. As part of the residency, Terranova and Wessner co-curated in February 2016 Gut Instinct: Art, Design, and the Microbiome, an on-line exhibition about art, the gut-brain axis, and gastrointestinal microbiome. In the fall of 2015 at Gray Matters Gallery in Dallas, Texas she curated Chirality: Defiant Mirror Images, an exhibition about art and the scientific concept of "chirality," or non-superimposable mirror images.

Before joining the faculty of the
University of Texas at Dallas to launch Centraltrak, the university's artist residency program, Terranova taught modern and contemporary art and architectural history at Southern Methodist University, modern architectural history and art theory at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, architectural history and theory at the Boston Architectural College, and architectural history and theory at Harvard University. 

About Charissa

  • Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas 
  • Expertise in Modern and Contemporary Art and Architectural History, History of Biology in Art and Architecture, New Media Art History, History of Urbanism
  • Freelance Curator and Critic
  • Ph.D. Harvard University, Architectural History and Theory, 2004
  • M.A. Harvard University, Architectural History and Theory, 2001
  • M.A. University of Illinois at Chicago, Art History, 1996
  • B.A. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Art History, 1992


Books and Edited Volumes

  • Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, an anthology coedited with Meredith Tromble, Routledge Press, 2016
  • Editor of Double-issue of Technoetic Arts devoted to "Complexism,” Intellect Ltd., 2016
  • Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image, I. B. Tauris, 2016
  • Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art, University of Texas Press, 2014
Copyright © Charissa N. Terranova. All rights reserved.