Author Charissa Terranova on iPhones, Cars and the Dallas arts scene

It's 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning and Dr. Charissa Terranova is regretting last night's purchase of the iPhone 5. "I'm really not happy with Apple as a company right now," she explains. "I may take it back and get the new Samsung."

This week she may be deliberating on her medium for cellular communication, considering its functionality, aesthetics and even the ethical implications of the company behind the product. But that's to be expected. As a scholar of art history and architecture, Terranova's spent years asking questions of human interactions with both art and the everyday landscape. In her newest book, she considers the automobile. Tonight RE Gallery hosts a book signing and launch party for Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art.

Terranova is an assistant professor of aesthetic studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, where she lectures and teaches seminars on art and architectural history, theory, and criticism and media and new media theory. She earned a doctoral degree from Harvard University in architectural theory and history. SMU lured her to Dallas with a teaching position almost a decade ago, which is where she formed a preoccupation with cars as conceptual art.

"When I first arrived to teach at SMU in the art history department, I was teaching classes on conceptual art, which is where I first started to consider the experience of the machine," Terranova explains. "A lot of what I was thinking about at the time didn't fit into the commonly accepted theories, in which conceptual art disappears into words on a canvas."

In her book, she not only explores car-based conceptual art by artists including Ed Ruscha and Richard Prince, but she also chronicles both the history and the everyday experience of the motor vehicles. "On principle, I dislike cars," Terrranova admits. "But there really is nothing like driving down an open highway. It's something you don't really experience on the East Coast like you do here."

She approached Automotive Prosthetic with a journalistic perspective, including chapters on the rise and fall of the Hummer, the use of the car in Iraq and other topics that are at once scholarly and accessible. This balance is present in much of her writing, which can be seen on the pages of numerous publications throughout Dallas. When she first moved to this city, she familiarized herself with the local arts and architecture scene as a journalist and critic.

"From the moment I landed here, I realized one of the most powerful and important significant thing in this city is really the arts communities," Terranova says. "It's really the thing that's putting Dallas and Houston on the map."

Tonight at 7 p.m., meet Terranova and let her autograph your copy of the book at the RE Gallery event.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Smart
Contact: Lauren Smart