The first Department of Ultimology was established by Fiona Hallinan and Kate Strain in January 2016, at Trinity College Dublin. A nascent discipline, Ultimology is the study of that which is dead or dying in a series or process. When applied across academic areas of study, it becomes the study of extinct or endangered subjects, theories, and tools of learning. Ultimology responds to a contemporary environment of anxiety around endings; a time of apocalyptic climate events and turbulent political change, threats of resurgent populism, depleted resources, rapid obsolescence and technological changes that are shifting society. The Department of Ultimology is part of the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG), a research group based at CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. OMG is a research platform within CONNECT that works in critical and creative relation/tension with technology. Working through artistic methodologies, they utilise Ultimology as a tool for critical reflection by engineers working in cutting edge technology, and as a means for those outside that sphere to gain insight into complex subjects.
Fiona Hallinan is artist and researcher for the Department of Ultimology. Based in Brussels, she conducts interviews, organises events and commissions, researches and writes. She is interested in thresholds, the moment of entering a different state, or ‘inducing the uncanny’ (Jalal Toufic). She enacts this theme through gestures of hospitality, instigating new encounters between individuals and things. Her work has been shown at Kerlin Gallery, IMMA, Mother’s Tankstation and Brown University. She is currently a member of the Science Gallery Dublin Leonardo Group and is developing projects for Fingal Arts and Grazer Kunstverein. She is a graduate of History of Art and Architecture, at Trinity College Dublin and a member of the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG), a research group based at CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre.
Kate Strain is a curator researching performativity in contemporary visual arts practice. She is artistic director of Grazer Kunstverein, Austria and co-founder of the Department of Ultimology. She was acting curator at Project Arts Centre, Dublin 2014-15; Curator in Residence at Cow House StudiosWexford 2016; and Curator in Residence at CONNECT Centre for Future Networks and Communications, Trinity College Dublin 2017. Ongoing curatorial projects include online research and commissioning body The Centre For Dying On Stage and the paired curatorial practice with Rachael Gilbourne RGKSKSRG. She is a graduate of History of Art and Architecture, at Trinity College Dublin and a member of the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG), a research group based at CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre.