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Thomas Zummer - Biography

Thomas Zummer, is an artist and lecturer at the Tyler School of Art and a visiting professor in critical studies in the Transmedia Programme at the Hogeschool Sint Lukas, Brussels, as well as visiting professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee. Thomas Zummer is an internationally aclaimed independent scholar and writer, as well as being an artist and curator. As an artist he has exhibited internationally since 1976, including at Exit Art, Thread Waxing Space, and The Dia Foundation in New York City as well as at the CAPC in Bordeaux and Wigmore Hall in London. With his wife, they have had a long collaboration as well with The Wooster Group, acting in many of their performances. Most recently, Zummer was artist in residence at the haudenschildGarage in La Jolla, California. In 1995 Thomas Zummer won 5th Prize in the ACA/CODA Architectural Design Competition for the City of Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics.

Education has played an essential role in the development of Thomas Zummer as both an artist and writer. His academic career began in Michigan where his undergraduate studies at Delta College and University of Michigan. Zummer’s undergraduate studies focused on paleozoology, philosophy and cinema. In 1974 Thomas moved to Hartford, Connecticut. Thomas Zummer obtained his BFA in 1976, focusing on Aesthetics and Cinema Studies at the Hartford Art School / University of Hartford. Thomas Zummer participated as a panelist and attended seminars at the Center for 20th Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee room 1979-82. From 1980-81 Thomas was at the New School for Social Research where he was a graduate faculty and studied philosophy. In 1982 Thomas Zummer began his studies with Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida at Yale University in the Comparative Literature department. Thomas Zummer then worked as a research assistant to Michel Foucault. at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1981-86 Zummer studied with Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Umbert Eco, Paul Ricoeur and John Searle at the University of Toronto, Institute for Semiotics and Structural Studies. From 1991-92 Zummer studied Arabic Languages at The New School for Social Research.

Thomas Zummer’s art is unique in the focus on process that expands notions of mediums. It has been said that, “For Zummer it doesn’t matter whether one draws a grain of sand, a blade of grass, a motion-blur, scan lines or pixels, since in his hands the process of drawing is subjected to the same kind of scrutiny and unrelenting auto-deconstruction as the consideration of other, technically reproduced, shadows." Thomas Zummer has curated exhibitions at CinéClub/Anthology Film Archives, Thread Waxing Space, Wexner Center for the Arts, the Katonah Museum of Art, and the Palais des Beaux-arts/Brussels. CRASH: Nostalgia for the Absence of Cyberspace, an exhibit curated by Thomas Zummer in 1994, broke new grounds in the possibilities of digital exhibitions. The show was curated in collaboration with Robert Reynolds. The show dedicated a large portion of its space to the exhibition of digital and online works, and using works as and in other forms of transmission. The show has a book edited by Thomas Zummer and Robert Reynolds that was published by Thread Waxing Space.

Richard Rabkin Thomas has said the following about Zummer:

. . . there are any number of artist's who read philosophy; Thomas Zummer, on the other hand, is a philosopher who makes strange and exquisite works of art...

Thomas Zummer is the author of multiple articles that investigation the borders of virtuality and reality. Some of these articles include: “Projection and Dis/embodiment: Genealogies of the Virtual," in Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964-1977, “Arrestments: Corporeality and Mediation," in Suturas y fragmentos: Cuerpos y territories en la ciencoa-ficción (Stitch and Split: Bodies and Territories in Science Fiction) Fundacion Antoni Tapies/Constant vzw, Barcelona/Brussels, and “Variables: Notations on Stability, Permeability, and Plurality in Media Artifacts," in Saving the Image: Art After Film..

In the semi-autobiographical essay “Os Innominatum" Zummer explores the relationship of memory and philosophy. The essay is guided through Zummer’s memories as they are retrieved through family photographs. Thomas draws on his childhood in Saginaw, Michigaa while exploring the power of images and the nature of memory as it gains a phantasmic essence. Zummer writes:

There is a phantasmatic aspect in the naturalization of the cinematic: we are haunted by images, traces of an elsewhere that we have made our own, domesticated fragments that we have compelled to enter into strange and familiar relations, differential economies of sense

Other publications include: “What the Hell is That?" (2000) which examines the history of cinematic monstrosity. He has also written essays on Eleanor Antin, Vik Muniz, Leslie Thornton, Heleen Decuininck, Harun Farocki and others. Thomas Zummer’s drawings, media, and sculptural works have shown worldwide, with recent exhibitions at the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst/Antwerpen, Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Barcelona, Mütter Museum, Philadelphia, Frederieke Taylor Gallery, Marcel Sitcoske Gallery, and White Box. Thomas Zummer is a frequent lecturer on philosophy, aesthetics, and the history of technology, and has taught at Brown University, New York University, The New School, the Transart Institute/Linz, and Tyler School of Art/Temple University. He is currently a visiting professor in the Transmedia programme/post-graduate at the Hogeschool Sint-Lukas/Universite Leuven in Brussels, and Faculty in Philosophy at the Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinare Studien/European Graduate School (EGS), Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

Thomas Zummer is a professor of philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he teaches an Intensive Summer Workshop.