Beams and Struts - Contributors
The Fearologists

The Fearologists


The fearologists are a team comprised of Trevor Malkinson and R.Michael Fisher. Together we've created something called The Museum of Fearology (see background here). As a creative way to engage the topic of fear and the culture of fear, we've created avatars or cyber-identities to be the curators of the Museum (see background here). Here now are our curator bios, starting with Trevor's:

"What’s my avatar all about? Well, I’m not sure, some kind of combination of Hunter trev co-curat1-2S. Thompson and an old school archaeology professor. Ready and willing to stumble and twirl through the godforsaken halls of fear. And as Yoda said, you only find in the cave what you brought in. Shit, sweet mother of Mary, this could be one hellacious trip, one mad descent into the strange and unruly within. But as they say, buy the ticket take the ride. I’m ready. Let’s do this. There’s an inordinate amount of fear in our culture. It must be punctured. Sought after. Understood. And then eatin like a fuckin fried egg sandwich on the sweet road outta hell. Those bastards will never take us alive, the Great Magnet is too strong for that. But first, a dance in the museum, a carnival embrace of our shadowy lights. This will make us stronger. This will liberate the fast sparks of love. So join us, as we open the Great Door, and observe with delicacy and delight the Exhibits of our own inner reaches".

And Michael's:

"I consider the Museum of Fearology a premise for a play that wants to be written and acted, many times over, perhaps even one day, heaven forbid, a Broadway hit. I'm told in manuals on How to Write A Play, the playwright has to (step 1) "formulate a premise," with 12 more steps to follow. Step 2: "choose the pivotal character who will force the conflict--who will go all the way." And so on...RMF phantom-2

The Museum of Fearology is not the Museum of Loveology. The premise behind that fact is that I consider it more important today in a very dangerous world we've created to understand fear more deeply and nuanced than we need to understand love. Yet, my own research for 25 years has shown that Fear and Love are the great emotions, forces, motivators, and lenses on reality we cannot avoid as humans. They are a dialectic, in conflict as oppositional poles, dependent on each other, as much as they are grist for the mill of creation and creativity. It is in discovering the sides of one, deeper and yet deeper still, that one discovers the deepest sides of the other.

Take your choice of where to begin. Throughout the history of the exhibitions at the Museum of Fearology I suspect the visitors to the museum will make up their own mind of how important it is to understand fear, and may their love life improve thereafter.

The character who will force the conflict and go all the way is me. But not me as normally enacted day-to-day in real world. Paradoxically, the museum Trevor and I created is a virtual museum and that gives us the flexibility to get outside ourselves and our "me" as the same time. Thus, we decided to create an avatar (see photo image) each works at the museum as a volunteer job.

My avatar was created two years prior to meeting Trevor. I was on another experimental collaborative process with a writer-poet in Winnipeg and we had fun for some months but it didn't manifest. My avatar morphed with more additions as I created it for the Museum of Fearology specifically. The body is not mine. It is from the major digital designer of the graphic effects in the movie Avatar, and I put my face on it. Obviously, my desire at 60 years of age to claim a renewed youthful cool body and gesture and success, and the long hair with it. I'm pretty much white and bald. Then I added in the background scene with a little dark shading here and there to create a mysterious laboratory of human anthropology, and in all the cupboards and drawers are my files and collections of fearological materials that the museum archives.

When I look at all my research, writing and publishing I have three main streams or styles: (1) serious technical academic, (2) guidebooks, and manuals and, (3) artistic works of all kinds, and a dissertation that explored the form of representing the data in a play script. Working at the Museum of Fearology will likely combine a lot of those forms of expression and yet outstanding to them all is the act of interpret-ation, and thus as co-curator we'll be exploring how we both interpret the world of fearological co-curat bio photos-1materials or artifacts. And we knew from the start of this venture we wanted to be creative. And a good museum is only as good as those who join and participate with us, co-creating their artifacts to add to the museum as well as commenting on exhibitions and sharing it with their friends. It's really a party.

Lastly, I am well aware that fear is not the most attractive topic for most people. Love or hope and being positive is often better received. People don't like to be reminded of that which is painful and negative. What I want to do is bring a light to the topic to show that fear is fascinating, as fascinating as going into the caves of Old Europe and finding cave paintings, artifacts of human history and interpreting them as to how they can have a meaningful role in us finding our who we are and what we are here for. Yet, one has to go into the dark because that's the way caves are made.

My avatar's goal is to bring out all possibilities from the dark-side of human existence. Yet, you'll find my avatar has a character that loves to "force the conflict" in the play and yet, create movement and e-motion that directs towards resolving and transforming the conflict as great artists are able. And to bring all possibilities or possibility thinking alive is to also bringing impossibility as one possibility. The realist comes in strong costume in my avatar to remind us of the embedded historical fragility of possibility, life, hope, love. The impossibility of our start in life is a reminder: we have a lot of spontaneous abortions in utero in our species with estimates difficult to calculate but we do know that "an embryo with a genetic problem has a 95% probability of being aborted. Most chromosomal problems happen by chance, have nothing to do with the parents..." (thank you Wikipedia)-- this is reality, the reality of impossibility as one of the many possibilities.

My avatar, and his curatorship at the Museum of Fearology will explore what architectural historian Dr. Mark Jarzombek (at MIT) calls "curating critical impossibility"(1), where curator-artist combine roles and move beyond trying to be the curator of permanence, value-neutral object position, and rather moves into a creative subject position exploring the value of impermanence and turning things on their head at times, as well. Integrating those two is my avatar's interest, and that means being critical and expressive in curatorial practices that are not merely about preserving the status quo interpretations of fear and the fearological artifacts of the world. Virtual worlds like the museum we've created can do just that and introduce a messy reality in the museum experience but also bring the best of tradition in archival respect. The combination may lead to transformations of how we know fear and ourselves and that creates possibilities for a different future, and maybe a healthier one. It's all about learning, in and out of the 'Fear' Matrix. Stay tuned...

-R. Michael Fisher


June 1, 2012

Carbondale, IL

End Notes

  1. Jarzombek, M. (2011). The metaphysics of permanence--curating critical impossibilities. Log #21, 125-35. New York: Anyone Corp.


The MOF officially opens its doors with a multi-media exploration of the architecture of fear.

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