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Burnett taught at MoMA in the fall of 2013 — as part of the Contemporary Issues curriculum of the reanimated “People’s Art Center.” He lead a workshop/seminar entitled “Making the Invisible Visible” — a continuation of the Artist as Researcher program curated by Alison Burstein. See more here.

Burnett was in Istanbul from November 30th to December 4, as a guest at Spot Atöyeler. A short, collaborative sifting of the problem of temporary metempsychosis took place. On December 2nd, Burnett gave a talk entitled “The Problem of the Luminous Nose: Reflections and Deflections.”

On Friday, 29 November, Burnett ran a set of attention workshops (with Sal Randolph) at the Institut für Raumexperimente, an Olafur Eliasson Studio project, and part of the Universität der Künste Berlin.

Burnett served as one of the “interpreters” in Tino Seghal’s “This Situation” (2007) which was installed/performed in Princeton in the week of November 18-22; the project was a joint effort by the Lewis Center and IHUM.

Burnett and friends did a performance lecture at the Dairy Art Center in London on the 25th of October, alongside their show on Aldous Huxley. The Order of the Third Bird has work in the exhibition, which gets discussed here.

On the 24th of October Burnett led a workshop in the “100 Hours” project at University College London. This was an interdisciplinary experiment in the study of material culture, and the brainchild of Leonie Hannan and Kate Smith. Participants have posted some reflections on the occasion.

Burnett gave a pair of lectures at the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, in Oslo, on the 21st and 22nd of October. Details here.


Los Angeles enjoyed a week of Moby-Dick madness in early October—find details here.  As part of the festivities, Burnett presented (with the primatologist Amy Parish) at the LA Public Library on October 3rd: “How Scientists Came to Love the Whale”; and then on October 5th, he performed in David Schweitzer’s “My Moby Dick” at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica — info here, and a write up of the performance here.


On the 27th of September, Burnett moderated a discussion of “The Encyclopedic Palace” — this year’s Venice Biennial.  The event celebrated the US release of the catalog for the exhibition, which was a Cabinet project.  Participants included Lynne Cooke, Hal Foster, and Massimiliano Gioni, the curator. See video of the event here.


The Creative Destruction Consultancy is back, and participated in “Pataphysics: A Theoretical Exhibition” at the Sean Kelly gallery — Burnett and colleagues (in white lab coats) offered free consultations on the evening of September 12th. See more here  and here. See here for a short feature on the work of the CDC.

On September 11th, Burnett presented a short talk entitled “Money, Teeth, and Language” at the Bard Graduate Center, where he is a fellow for 2013-2014.


Cabinet’s summer 2013 issue is out; the theme is Money. Check out Burnett’s piece on the evolution of currencies here.


This past summer, some of Burnett’s work on human-dolphin relations was featured in The Whole Earth exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.



On July 27 Burnett participated in the Pedagogies of Attention workshop at The Emily Harvey Foundation a project hosted by the Order of the Third Bird.

Burnett ratcheted on—for all the whale lovers out there—about the finicky bits of dead cetaceans at the Smithsonian in early June, in connection with the new exhibition “Whales: Bones to Book.”

Burnett and friends were back at Mildred’s Lane this summer, August 5 to 11. More information here. The week finished with a performative exercise in historical conjuration.  See here for one account of the doings — from “The Great God Pan is Dead”.


Cabinet commissioned and edited the essays for the catalog of the 2013 Venice Biennale, and Burnett did an essay for the volume on the concept of the “Nondescript” in nineteenth-century systematics and taxonomy — and there is also some stuff in there on Charles Waterton, a very strange man.  The catalog was released at the opening of the exhibition at the end of May, and it looked great.

On the 25th of May, Burnett presented a talk entitled “Knowledge, Networks, and Power” at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, as part of Homeworks 6.  The session (with Turkish artist Burak Arikan) was curated by Zeynep Oz, and made up one episode of the “Plastic Veins” project. See more here.

On May 7, Burnett presented a short talk titled “The Metachrotic Swan Song” for the opening of School of Death, an educational institution dedicated to exploring the relationship between death and the examined life, organized by Cabinet magazine and philosopher Simon Critchley, at the gallery Family Business in Manhattan. More here.


Burnett was seconded to the Creative Destruction Consultancy, which held an open-house at the New Museum’s Ideas City festival on Saturday, May 4. More details here.



At the beginning of May, Burnett and the artist Natalie Jeremijenko presented a project on the history (and future) of plant acupuncture at IHUM’s big flora shindig.

Burnett hosted an exhibition/symposium at MoMA on “artistic research” on Thursday, April 18, at 12:30 p.m., featuring research-artists Sal Randolph, Steve Rowell, Brooke Singer, and Alexandra P. Spaudling. More here.

On Friday, April 12, Burnett participated in the symposium “What Is Cosmopolitical Design?” at the Princeton School of Architecture, giving a talk entitled “The Amphibious Laboratory: Think Tank for a Cetacean Nation.” For a full description and schedule, click here.

On Thursday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m., Burnett presented “A Subway Death: Reflections in the Dark,” the “Year in Faith” lecture, at Ascension Church in upper Manhattan. For more information, see here.

Burnett and conspirators were in residence at the Haut Ecole D’Art et de Design, Geneva, March 18–24, running a series of attention workshops for ESTAR-SER.

Burnett spoke at “Radical Enlightenment: A Symposium on Cybernetics and the Soul,” at the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris, on March 15. The symposium took place in conjunction with the Joachim Koester exhibition “Reptile Brain or Reptile Body, It’s Your Animal.” For more, click here.

On Friday, March 8, at Columbia, Burnett was one of four speakers on a panel entitled “Climate Change, Methods, and Practice: A Conversation across the Social Sciences and Humanities.” It went from 1 to 3 p.m. and was at Columbia’s Morningside Heights Campus. For more, click here.

On Friday, March 1, Burnett presented “Critical Play: Gaming, Reading, Writing,” as part of the panel “Form: Aesthetic, Social, Biological” in the symposium “Representing Complexity: Intersections of Art and Science” at the University of Maryland. For more information, click here.

Burnett kicked off a big whale session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston on Sunday, February 17—a video of the presentation is featured on the conference website here.


This spring semester, Burnett and Sal Randolph are teaching a program seminar on “Attention” for IHUM at Princeton. Click here for more.


Burnett was one of fourteen participants in a trial of Cabinet magazine, which took place at the NYPL on Wednesday, January 30, at 6 p.m. The trial coincided with the publication of the magazine’s recent anthology, Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine (in which Burnett is also featured; more on the book below). For more on the event, click here. The Wall Street Journal previewed the evening here.


On Friday and Saturday, January 25 and 26, Burnett will be speaking at the third roundtable of the ongoing event “The Fifth Geneva Convention: Nature, Conflict, and International Law in the Anthropocene.” The roundtable goes all day on Friday and Saturday at the Centre for Research Architecture in London (full address here); for more on the event, go here.

In conjunction with the exhibition “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos” at the New Museum, Burnett and others presented “An Afternoon of Fauna: From Ants to Whales.” It was the afternoon of Saturday, January 12, from 2 to 6 p.m., at the New Museum. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

On Saturday, January 12, at 7:30 p.m., Burnett moderated “In the Valley of the Uncanny: Humans and Humanoids,” presentations and a panel featuring artist Laurie O’Brien, filmmaker Allison de Fren, neuroscientist Asif Ghazanfar, and artist John Bell. The event took place at Union Docs, in Brooklyn; for more information, click here.


Burnett is featured, alongside an extensive roster of other artists, writers, and scientists, in Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine. The over-500-page anthology takes the form of > an illustrated encyclopedia, with idiosyncratic entries including Addiction, Animal Architecture, Goalkeeping, Micronation, Otolith, Sandal, Worlding, and Zoosemiotics. For more (including a link to buy with a 25 percent discount!), go here. The publication continues the conversation begun at a symposium of the same name held in April 2011 at Princeton. For more on the symposium, see here.

D. Graham Burnett bio

Burnett graduated from Princeton University in 1993 as the salutatorian and a recipient of the Pyne Prize. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship he completed a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University (1997 [2001]), where he was a member of Trinity College. Burnett was awarded the 1999 Nebenzahl Prize in the History of Cartography, and was editorially involved with the History of Cartography Project. Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2001, he taught at Yale and was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at Columbia University (1997–1999) and an inaugural fellow in the Center for Scholars and Writers (the Cullman Center) at the New York Public Library (1999–2000). He held the Christian Gauss Fund University Preceptorship in 2006, and has since been awarded a Guggenheim, and a Mellon “New Directions” Fellowship. His scholarly interests include the history of natural history and the sciences of the earth and the sea from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, including cartography, navigation, oceanography, and ecology/environmentalism. He has also worked on Charles Darwin, the history of exploration, and early modern optics. More recently, he has focused on aesthetics, media, vision, and the history of attention. His first book, Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography, and a British El Dorado (2000), examines the relationship between cartography and colonialism in the nineteenth century. He is also the author of Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest (2005), a monograph on Cartesian thought and seventeenth-century lens making, and A Trial By Jury (2001; Japanese edition 2003), a narrative account of his experience as the jury foreman on a Manhattan murder trial. His book Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Court Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Order of Nature (2007) won the 2007 Hermalyn Prize in Urban History and the New York City Book Award in 2008. (You can see Burnett talking about Trying Leviathan at the Smithsonian here; and click here [part 1part 2] for an interview with Burnett about the writing of the book.) The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century came out in 2012; listen to a recording of Burnett speaking about it here. In 2018, he published the co-authored KEYWORDS;…Relevant to Academic Life, &c., which subsequently appeared in a Turkish translation; more about that book here. His co-authored, co-edited work of speculative historiography, In Search of the Third Bird (Strange Attractor, 2021), represents more than a decade of collaborations with artists and scholars interested in material culture, archival poetics, and the history of “experience.” Twelve Theses on Attention (The Friends of Attention with Princeton University Press, 2021), co-edited with Stevie Knauss, offers an analysis of the politics of “joint attention” in the era of surveillance capitalism. Burnett has written essays and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New YorkerHarpers, the Economist, the American Scholar (where he served two terms on the editorial board), Daedalus (where he was a contributing editor), the New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and the New Republic. He has been an editor at Cabinet since 2008, and he serves on the editorial board of Lapham’s Quarterly. He is the founding editor of the “Conjectures” series at the Public Domain Review. Burnett is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and at Princeton he is affiliated with the Program in History of Science, the Princeton Urban Imagination Center, and the High Meadows Environmental Institute. He serves on the executive committee of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities or IHUM, where he teaches regular graduate seminars.

Curatorial or Conjured

In the fall of 2023, Burnett, Jo Fiduccia, and others are responsible for “The Third, Meaning,” an exhibition at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. It will be up until October of 2023.

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Burnett participated in the curating of a performative exhibition of Fluxus work from the holdings of the Emily Harvey Foundation on April 15, 2012.

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Burnett and fellow Cabinet editor Christopher Turner curated “The Slice: Cutting to See,” an exhibition that, moving across historical moments and disparate fields, examined the peculiar traditions that link the keen eye to the sharp blade. Everything you ever wanted to know about the microtome. The exhibition ran from Friday, November 19, through Wednesday, December 15, 2010, at the Architectural Association School of Architecture Gallery in London. See reviews of the exhibition in BMJ and the Independent. Watch a video walk-through of the exhibition below.

“The Slice: Cutting to See” Walk-Through. Video by Luke Currall. Thanks to Vanessa Norwood and the AA School.

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Burnett had a hand in organizing a show that opened on March 30, 2010: “An Ordinall of Alchimy,” at the Cabinet Space in Brooklyn. It’s about collecting, art, money, and the internet. After Cabinet, it moved on to the Slought Foundation in Philly, where was on view from April 30 until June 14. Click here for more on the project from Cabinet and here for more on its stay at the Slought Foundation.

Collaborations and Projects

Burnett helped recover and configure The Milcom Memory Box, a “temporary deinstallation” currently at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in Manhattan.  Special thanks to Federica Soletta, who took the lead on this important ESTAR(SER) project. More information here.

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Burnett worked with the “Always in Threes” Working Group of ESTAR(SER) to prepare the “PAS DE TROIS: THE MUSIC OF ATTENTION AND THE FRYE TRUNK” performance lecture, a new piece of dream-study delving the archival poetics of radical attention. Yes, there is organ music…

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The Milcom Memorial Library and Attention Library featured as an installation at Mana Contemporary from 2018-2023, and hosted programming, events, and exhibitions related to the ongoing work of the research collective ESTAR(SER). A follow-on installation, “The Milcom Memory Box,” is forthcoming later this year…

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Since 2018, Burnett has been working with THE FRIENDS OF ATTENTION, a loose coalition of artists, activists, and others who think about (and practice) forms of attention “resistant to commodification.” Lots of stuff here.

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Stills from Yara Flores’s short film The Kinetics of Textual Immersion appear in the new book from Dispersed Holdings: READING ROOM (2020).

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In addition, Burnett and Loh have a project, “Protocol for Two People and Two Unread Books,” in the volume.

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At the 2019 Spring Break Art Fair Burnett was one of the bootleg artists in Marisa Jahn’s “Rubbings and Bootlegs” installation. He did “bootleg” reinterpretation/knock-offs of selected works in the exhibition on commission.

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Yara Flores did a poster (“Self-portrait by a Friend,” 2018) in the “BB8 after BB8” exhibition, a post-hoc riff on the 2018 Bucharest Biennial.

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Yara Flores has a piece in Navigationedited by Hinrich Sachs and his friends in Eindhoven.

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Yara Flores had work in the group show Please Touch: Body Boundaries at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City.

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The Spring, 2018 issue of CAC Journal features Yara Flores. A tenth Issue release celebration involved a new and celebratory commission — part of a trans-Atlantic mind-over-matter launch event on the 15th of April, 2018.

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Yara Flores has work in Nina and Conny Blom’s new book: Conceptual Art (2017).

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On 2 December 2016 Yara Flores’ solo show Greebles opened at Raygun. More here.

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Yara Flores had work in “Fifteen People Present Their Favorite Book (after Kosuth),” open from 26 October – 11 November 2016 at Škuc Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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Yara Flores has new work in Tennis (Stockholm: Drucksache, 2015): a visual essay on the American Marxist artist-illustrator David Johnson Leisk (1906-1975).

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Burnett and a group of collaborators and friends installed a project at the 2015 Ljubljana Biennial. Here is a description (click for a few images):





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Burnett has been appointed to the Editorial Committee of the Proceedings of ESTAR(SER). More about the research consortium here, and recent updates on new work in the community here.

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Burnett and his friend/collaborator Mark Dion recently assembled a portfolio piece on the purposes of science for the Chicago-based platform The Point. “What is Science For?” juxtaposes found text and installation views; it kicks off an eponymous “Symposium” section of Issue 8.

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Burnett has been involved with the work of an innovative consulting organization, which works to bring contemporary artists and large corporations together in unpredictable ways.  The CDC/ICD is an ongoing project, with recent engagements at The New Museum and the Sean Kelly Gallery.

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In 2014, Burnett and Yara Flores teamed up to present “Pound vs. Stevens: The Rematch,” an installation in a pop-up exhibition which accompanied the Aesthetics of Information symposium at Princeton University. See more herehere, and here. This represented an outgrowing of work that began in 2009, a conceptual project involving chess and the novel.

For a taste of the earlier work, click here to read an experimental essay in “ludic criticism”; or click here to go right to the first fruit of the collaboration, an online computer program that lets you pit one novel against another in a chess match. The US Chess Federation recently ran a story about this project—click here to check it out.

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In 2012, as part of the IHUM “Pay Attention” workshop, Yara Flores and Burnett produced this short on Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.”

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Burnett and video artist Lisa Young teamed up in 2010 on a multimedia project that premiered as part of “Seeing from Above,” a conference at the Wellcome Collection, London. Part éloge, part montage, the collaborative piece, “Free Fall: The Life and Times of Bud ‘Crosshairs’ MacGinitie,” is an experiment in biographical sky-diving.


Poesis and Whatnot

In June of 2014, Burnett and Jeff Dolven organized a night of skew poetical resurrectionism. The dead poet of the night? William Blake. The mission? To unravel (and re-ravel) the Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Razor blades were deployed in studied silence by all. See some of the evening’s returns below.

IMG_1229 IMG_1243 IMG_1227 IMG_1220 IMG_1199

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Burnett has a longstanding interest in poetry, and he and Jeff Dolven host the semi-regular “Poetry Lab” at the Cabinet Space in Brooklyn. See here for stuff about the Séance with James Merrill; and here for the “Idea of Order on the Gowanus Canal.” A Sappho fan? Look here to see what happened when Anne Carson helped Cabinet shatter a set of terra cotta plates inscribed with Sapphic fragments. Yes, at the Whitman evening there was a naked guy with a prosthetic vagina. Back in the spring of 2003, in conjunction with the Humanities Council, Burnett and Dolven organized a much less crazy symposium on language and philosophy, entitled “Poetry and Knowledge.”

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And he has published some work in this area, including a study of Wallace Stevens (in Southerly) that ends with a Stevensian pastiche/palinode, and an essay about poetry and prayer in the July/August 2008 issue of American Poetry Review. Burnett also has a set of prose poems in the “Underground” issue of Cabinet. Click below to see PDF of this project.

Four Leaves from a Commonplace Book

Minimal Theology meets This Living Hand (2011)