CFP: Photofilmic images (Brussels, 12-15 Mar 14)

Wiels, Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels, March 12 - 15, 2014
Deadline: Oct 13, 2013

Photofilmic Images in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture

International conference organized by: Université catholique de
Louvain (UCL), KU Leuven, and Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for
Photography (LGC)

Over the past two decades, research on the interaction between
photographic and filmic images has become increasingly popular. This
new orientation is partially based on the insight that the ontological
differences between film and photography, claimed by scholars in
photography theory and film studies up until the 1990s, can no longer
hold in the digital era. With the advent of digital technology,
boundaries between the photographic and the filmic have become
increasingly blurred – both technically, in drawing on the same
software and hardware engineering, and perceptually, in leaving the
spectator in doubt of the (photographic or filmic) nature of the
image. The aim of this conference is to examine how photofilmic images
operate within our contemporary media culture across disciplines,
modes of display, media systems/economies, and institutional contexts.

Photofilmic images are generated on the basis of both photographic and
filmic principles. As such, they are both a symptom and a means of a
constantly transforming culture, where content flows across multiple
media systems and where the boundaries between disciplines and media
seem to dissolve. On the one hand, the study of photofilmic images is
closely linked to the question of how new media technologies have
transformed the way we use and experience images. On the other hand,
it is critical to understand how photofilmic images are not merely a
matter of technological change but are actually integrated within, and
acting as cultural processes. In line with recent research in visual
culture studies, the conference will therefore consider photofilmic
images not as passive objects, but rather as active agents or visual
events that operate within contemporary media culture, where they have
various aesthetic, social, and political meanings and functions.

Whereas most scholarship on the relationship between the moving and
the still image is concerned with cinema and/or video art in order to
‘offer new conceptions of the ontology of film and photography’
(Beckman/Ma), this conference wishes to displace the focus from that
of the media (photography, film, etc.) to a question of the image as a
place or an event where heterogeneous temporalities, perceptions,
uses, functions, and meanings encounter each other and overlap.
Photofilmic images are then ‘multi-mediating pictures’ (Van
Gelder/Westgeest) that operate within specific contexts and
institutions, and for particular purposes and audiences. Artists such
as David Claerbout, Jutta Strohmaier, Elina Brotherus, and Victor
Burgin, for instance, merge photographic and filmic techniques in
order to reflect on issues of time, memory, and perception. In cinema,
techniques such as morphing and bullet-time are used to intensify the
experience of a fictional situation. On the Internet, mash-up
techniques and virtual panoramas promise seemingly endless
possibilities of combination and direct, constant access to the world.
Whereas the problem of medium specificity has been at the heart of
most recent research on the relationship between photography and film,
this conference, instead, focuses on the function and perception of
photofilmic images in art, cinema, and popular culture. In order to
analyze this matrix of relations, the conference is organized around
three principle issues that shape the production and perception of
photofilmic images: temporality, display, and socio-political
significance.

Photofilmic Time Economies

Situated between movement and stasis, photofilmic images incorporate
different time economies typically associated with either photography
or film. Even if recent research has proven that photography is as
much a time-based medium as film (Baetens, Streitberger, Van Gelder),
it is still often perceived as a slice of time, suspended time, or
time at a standstill. Film, in turn, as a time-image, is linked to a
temporality that endures, to a time that reproduces the flow of the
‘live,’ or ‘real time.’ Images that are based on both photographic and
filmic processes blur these apparently opposite, mutually exclusive
time economies in favor of a simultaneity of multiple, heterogeneous
temporalities that compete with, rival, and overlap each other. The
papers in this panel will examine how photofilmic images that
incorporate different time strata – historically, psychologically, and
perceptually – create what the historian Reinhart Koselleck calls the
‘simultaneity of the non-simultaneous,’ a time economy where the past
and the future collide in the present, suggesting a notion of a
fractured, layered, multiple temporality. Art historian Terry Smith,
in turn, posits that the general condition of artistic production
today is one of contemporaneity, where the urgent question of being
with time, or being ‘contemporary’ in the deepest sense, is a matter
of understanding a coexistence of different temporalities and various
‘ways of being in relation to time.’ This section addresses questions
such as: how do photofilmic images reflect the complex relationships
among different time economies as they operate within contemporary
media culture? What kinds of photofilmic strategies do artists and
filmmakers use in order to respond to the perception of time in the
mass media environment, where the present becomes a ‘collage of
disparate times’ (Victor Burgin) and an intermingling of the real and
the virtual? To what extent are issues of memory and ‘post-memory’ –
an experience that one remembers via stories and images but does not
actually live through (Marianne Hirsch) – stressed by the multilayered
temporality of photofilmic images?

Photofilmic Displays

Photofilmic images occur in different institutional contexts and media
environments. As part of artistic videos or installations, they are
displayed in museums and galleries; within films and video clips, they
are viewed via cinema and television; and, of course, as products of
computer technology, they are distributed via the Internet and mobile
phones. Interactive video installations by artists such as David
Claerbout and Jeffrey Shaw delegate the responsibility of animating
still images to the viewer, who is thus integrated in a heterogeneous
media environment. If Marshall MacLuhan defined media as invisible
environments, then the aim of this section is twofold: to explore how
photofilmic images operate within, or constitute such media
environments, and to analyze how artists or filmmakers are using such
images to break up and subvert the invisibility/transparency of these
media environments. Recently, the convergence of different media
platforms, such as the Internet, television, and mobile phones, has
led to a crossover of multiple media systems in the space of
representation, resulting in the blending together of disparate images
and information in one media device, or their manifestation across
various media platforms. In this heterogeneous media environment
(Burgin), images no longer exist as autonomous, specific entities, but
are fragmented, hybrid, fluctuating. Photofilmic images, as
transitional hybrids, are ubiquitous within this convergence culture
(Jenkins). This section questions the connections established among
photofilmic images, displays, and viewers. We welcome papers for this
section that analyze how photofilmic images are displayed within given
spatial, medial, and institutional contexts, for instance the gallery,
the cinema, and multi-media platforms such as the Internet or mobile
phone. How do such displays and presentational formats shape or frame
the viewer’s perception and experience of photofilmic images?

Sociopolitical Significance

The third panel will interrogate the sociopolitical implications of
photofilmic images in relation to contemporary modes of power. This
not only includes the overt representation of political events and how
images are utilized to spread certain political agendas, or in turn,
how artists may work to resist such representations. But it also
concerns the larger ‘event’ of photofilmic images within a public
sphere and how such images may trigger political imagination or civil
engagement (Azoulay). The photofilmic has the potential to highlight a
never-ending series of encounters in both their production and
reception, to continually catalyze what Ariella Azoulay describes,
solely in terms of photography, as an ethos of ‘the many, operating in
public, in motion.’ Through disjunctions in temporality and
complexities of display, photofilmic images, as they appear in work of
artists and filmmakers such as Harun Farocki and Rabih Mroué, are also
conflictual images that have a great potential for what Chantal Mouffe
describes as a critical art ‘that foments dissensus, that makes
visible what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate.’
The tension between photography and film may contribute to the
creation of ‘an agonistic situation, a situation in which alternatives
are made possible’ (Mouffe). Ultimately, photofilmic images have the
potential to offer alternative forms of world-making and
countervisuality (Mirzoeff) within hegemonic public configurations and
networks. How are politically-charged issues being addressed vis-à-vis
photofilmic images in advertising, photojournalism, television, etc.?
How are artists or filmmakers, through cinema, (post)documentary film,
or political video, grappling with inequitable or oppressive systems
of power? Can photofilmic images and strategies catalyze spectators to
implicate themselves in such settings, to somehow engage as active
participants in the reconfiguration of such networks?

We welcome papers from scholars working in art history, visual culture
studies, media studies, and film studies.

Abstracts for a 30-minute paper (300 words) in English or French
should be emailed to Alexander Streitberger
(alex.streitbergeruclouvain.be) no later than October 13, 2013.
Submissions should also include a short CV or biographical text.

The research committee will notify speakers of their acceptance by
November 8, 2013.


Reference:
CFP: Photofilmic images (Brussels, 12-15 Mar 14). In: H-ArtHist, Jul 13, 2013 (accessed Aug 30, 2014), <http://arthist.net/archive/5756>.

Contributor: Alexander Streitberger

Contribution published: Jul 13, 2013

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