Immaterial podcast graphic

The marquee podcast of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is back for a second season with CSU University Distinguished Professor Camille Dungy returning as host. Immaterial: 5,000 Years of Art, One Material at a Time explores how artworks and the materials they’re composed of reflect “stories of identity, humanity, nature, power, tragedy, science, and history.”

The first season debuted in June 2022 and investigated how materials like paper, clay, and concrete, reveal deep truths about the human experience and the world at large. Building upon this idea, season two’s eight episodes expand the scope to “reveal the emotional origins and transformative power of art through the lens of materials.”

Dungy brings a fresh voice as “guide to the listener”

In an August 2022 interview published by The Met, Benjamin Korman compared Dungy’s approach to hosting as “serving as a sort of guide to the listener.” In response, Dungy discussed her role, and how she incorporates her own experiences into the story space:

“When I get excited about things, I make personal connections to my own life, I’m reminded of something important to me. In Immaterial, I’m excited about the people we’re speaking to and the objects and materials we’re exploring. When we’re talking about the materials that we’re using to describe the world, it’s not enough to just say one thing and move on. There’s very little about the way the real world works that can be summed up in just one thought. It just felt natural to me to draw out my own connections and share them,” she said.

Camille Dungy
CSU Distinguished Professor, poet and writer Camille Dungy. Photo by © Beowulf Sheehan

Korman also asked Dungy what it was like to enter the podcast medium from the perspective of a poet and writer. Dungy revealed:

“There was a lot that was very similar to poetry because of that distillation of information. There are these large chunks of information, long interviews, histories, et cetera, and I have to get all of that down to thirty-something minutes.

And so that distillation and compression—which does not mean omission, but just like a tightening down—that feels just like poetry.

When I’m writing, I really want to engage with my readers. I’m not the kind of poet who’s like, ‘I don’t care about the reader. They can just figure it out.’ I think readers could figure it out… or they could go bake a cake if they don’t feel engaged. They’re not necessarily going to bother to try and figure it out.

So it is important to me always to have that connection with an audience and with the reader in my writing. In making the podcast, I needed to think about the audience much earlier in the process than I do when I am writing contemporary American literature.”

Season Two Preview

The Met has teased that this season will not only focus on tangible materials, but also dive into speculative elements. Here’s the official preview description:

“This season we learn from Mexican artisans keeping centuries-old traditions alive; we go to ancient Mesopotamia to understand time travel; and we find a mythical tree in Belize that’s been making music for decades. From traditional materials like stone and wood, to more abstract ones like space and time, the podcast explores how these materials shape the inner lives of artworks and the human experiences they reflect.”

The first episode of season two, “Stone: Making and Breaking Legacies” dropped on June 4 and asked listeners, “What happens when the unbreakable shatters?” Take a sneak peek inside the episode:

Throughout art museums around the world, you’ll find ancient stone statues of rulers and marble monuments immortalizing noblemen. These objects were made to survive decay and destruction, to remain intact and whole. But from the moment that stone is extracted from the earth, it is bound to become a more fragmented version of itself—chiseled, chipped, and sometimes shattered over time. In this episode, we examine the many ways that stone breaks. How can a statue’s cracks and cavities tell a more complex story of our humanity?

Listen to Immaterial

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Happy listening!