Professor of Philosophy
He is the author of Sonic Flux: Sound, Art, and Metaphysics (University of Chicago Press, 2018) and Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation (University of California Press, 1999), and co-editor of Realism Materialism Art (Sternberg, 2015) and Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum, 2004/2017). The recipient of an Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation, Cox is editor-at-large at Cabinet magazine. His writing has appeared in October, Artforum, Journal of the History of Philosophy, The Wire, Journal of Visual Culture, Organised Sound, The Review of Metaphysics, and elsewhere.
He has curated exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Kitchen, CONTEXT Art Miami, New Langton Arts, G Fine Art Gallery, and other venues and has written essays exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Mass MoCA, the South London Gallery, Berlin's Akademie der Künste, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Oslo Kunstforening, and other venues.
This course will examine the ways that 20th- and 21st-century philosophers, theorists, and critics have approached the art of their time, and the ways that modern and contemporary art illuminates and grounds theoretical projects. Via writings by philosophers, theorists, critics, and artists, we will traverse a selected history of 20th- and 21st-century art guided by a selected history of contemporary philosophy and art theory. The course will survey artistic movements such as modernism, postmodernism, conceptualism, minimalism, institutional critique, performance, relational aesthetics, and social practice, and will examine critical approaches such as formalism, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, deconstruction, new materialism, and object-oriented ontology.
What are the basic features of reality? Where and when do these things exist? How and why do they change? This course will explore the ways that physicists and philosophers have answered these questions and have dealt with reconciling incompatible perspectives. Students will engage these questions through reading, writing, observation, mathematical problem-solving, art-making, and active discussion. We will use high school algebra and graphs to understand the fundamentals of Einstein's special theory of relativity and quantum mechanics; and we will consider philosophical theories about the nature of reality, time, space, and change through texts by Western and non-Western philosophers. Along the way, we will ask: How do we decide what is real? Does observation take precedence over theory (or vice versa)? What role do models and imagination play in this inquiry? What are the structures of authority that legitimize scientific and philosophical claims? No prior exposure to physics or philosophy is required.
What is power? Who or what has it? How is it exercised? Are we ever power-less? If not, what power do we have and how can we exercise it? To understand what power we have, we need to understand the systems and structures that control and shape our actions, thoughts, and capabilities. In this course, we will examine how power and power relations have shifted over time and examine various systems of modern power: sovereign power, disciplinary power, biopower and necropolitics, societies of control, surveillance capitalism, etc. We will try to locate these forms of power in our everyday lives and examine how activists, artists, and others have found ways to resist, subvert, or harness these forms of power. Readings by Foucault, Deleuze, Mbembe, Malik, Preciado, Zuboff, Haraway, Paglen, and others.
This course will explore a range of experimental musical practices and various approaches to thinking theoretically and critically about them. We will consider musical forms such as minimalism, indeterminacy, musique concrete, free improvisation, turntablism, and electronica, and examine these via texts by theorists, composers, and musicians. Investigating different modes of listening to and talking about contemporary music, we will ask such questions as: What are the relationships between music, noise, sound, and silence? What are the effects of recording and sampling on contemporary musical life? Can music have a political or critical function? How is sound inflected by gender and race?
Is there such a thing as "objective" or "absolute" truth? Or is everything "relative" - to a particular individual, culture, language, or conceptual framework? What is truth, anyway? In this course, we will examine the nature of truth, knowledge, and value, and consider a range of challenges to the idea of "objective" or "absolute" truth. We will begin by examining solipsism, skepticism, and subjective relativism, and then spend the rest of the semester discussing various forms of relativism and realism (epistemological, moral, cultural, aesthetic, etc.). Reading texts by ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophers, we will try to sort out strong from weak arguments for various versions of realism and relativism.
Immanuel Kant revolutionized philosophy by arguing that human knowledge does not grasp the world as it really is, but only the world as it corresponds to the human mind. Kant's great successor, G.W.F. Hegel, pushed this idea further, attempting to show that absolute reality is essentially ideal, mental, or spiritual. Though profoundly influenced by Hegel, Karl Marx emphatically rejected Hegel's idealism, arguing that the history of the world is not the history of ideas but of class struggle. In this course, we will closely read texts by these three thinkers and examine their conceptions of knowledge, reality, history, and freedom.