Visual Semantics (Paris, 13-14 Jun 19)

Paris, Ecole normale supérieure, Amphithéâtre Rataud, ENS, 45 rue d'Ulm, June 13 - 14, 2019

Visual Semantics - Visualizing Global Networks, Circulations, and Patterns
International Conference

Co-organizers :
École Normale supérieure, Université de Grenoble-Alpes/Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes, Purdue College of Liberal Arts.

Chairs :
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Paula Barreiro-Lopez, Catherine Dossin.

As part of the 10th anniversary of the Artls project, we are organizing an international conference on the digital approach to the circulation of images and forms.

In his groundbreaking project, the Atlas Mnemosyne, Aby Warburg suggested that some shapes travel, passing times and cultures. On their way, accompanied by processes of mixture, borrowings, transfers and resemanticizations that contribute to their impact, they become acting symbols. Building on this idea, Herbert Read proposed in The origin of forms in art (1965) that artistic forms can be formalized and reduced to certain shapes that carry "lines of beauty" and thus symbolic meaning. Such ideas, we believe, could serve as a starting point for cross-disciplinary research that would bring together art historians, historians, linguists, and computer and cognitive scientists with the aim to discover the basic units of a generalizable "visual semantics" of artistic creation.

More and more art historical sources are available online worldwide. This should not only excite us to reconstruct the global circulation of images and artifacts, but also use these tools to (re-) consider the mobility of images, patterns, and styles. This international conference aims to assess the potential of digital technology in renewing our study and understanding of artistic circulations and in the collective and progressive deployment of alternative narratives which are more de-centered and more inclusive.


Thursday, June 13
Amphithéâtre Rataud, ENS, 45 rue d'Ulm, Paris

9:30 – 9:45 – Tea and Coffee

10:00 – 10:15

10:15 – 11:00
Image Contagions
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, École normale supérieure-PSL

11:15 – 11:45
Active Diagrams: Reconsidering Visual Representations of Networks in Avant-Garde Magazines of the 1920s
Gábor Dobó and Merse Pál Szeredi, Petőfi Literary Museum–Kassák Museum

11:45 – 12:15
Regional Cohesion and the Centrality of the Arts Maximilian Schich, UT Dallas

14:00 – 14:30
Patterns of Transregional and Transnational Circulations in American Women Artists' Professional Networks
Catherine Dossin, Purdue University

14:30 – 15:00
Paths of (French) Glory. The Visual and Physical Circulation of Matsukata's Confiscated Collection (1944-1959) (Léa Saint-Raymond, Collège de France, and Maxime Georges Métraux, Sorbonne Univ. / Galerie Hubert Duchemin)

15:15 – 15:45
Raphael All Over: Mapping and Qualifying Originals and Copies
Marco Jalla, Université de Genève

15:45 – 16:15
New York, Latin America, Barcelona. On Geolocating a Portapak as Means to Historicize Relational Networks
Pablo Santa Olalla, Univ. de Barcelona, MoDe(s)

16:30 - 17:00
Images of Political Leaders in Circulation in Africa.
A Digital Cognitive Approach
Sophie Bodénès-Cohen, ENS, CogMaster

A Formal Ontology for the description and contextualization of iconographical representations
Nicola Carboni, University of Zurich

17:30 – 18:00
Side by Side: Al Freeman's Art History
Taylor Walsh, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Friday, June 14
Amphithéâtre Rataud, ENS, 45 rue d'Ulm, Paris

9:30-9:45 – Tea and Coffee

10:00 – 11:00 Keynote Address
Time Machine Europe
Frédéric Kaplan, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

Replica: Looking for Patterns in Big Digital Artwork Databases
Isabella di Leonardo & Benoît Seguin, ÉPFL

11:15 – 11:45
Tracking Venus Through the Ages. Deep Learning and the Study of Long-Term Iconological Circulations
Mathieu Aubry, École des Ponts ParisTech, Xi Shen, École des Ponts ParisTech, Oumayma Bounou, École nationale des Chartes, K. Bender, Independent Researcher, and Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, ENS-PSL

11:45 – 12:15
Reddit "Place". A Warburgian Case Study in Image Circulation and Affective Afterlife in Collective Online Art
Philipp Wüschner, Freie Universität Berlin

14:00 – 14:30
Beyond Text. Retracing Artistic Shapes Through Computer Vision
Tino Mager, Delft Univ. of Technology

14:30 – 15:00
Visual Style in Two Network Era Sitcoms
Taylor Arnold and Lauren Tilton, Univ. of Richmond

15:15 – 15:45
EUROPEANA: Looking at a screen on cultural heritage, art, and remembrance
Idalina Conde, ISCTE-IUL University Institute of Lisbon

15:45 – 16:15
Aby Warburg's Mnemosyne Atlas as Art Historical Method
Allison Leigh, Univ. of Louisiana, Lafayette

16:15 – 16:45
Dangerous Dematerialization: Countering Techno-Utopianism with Material Specificity
Alexander M. Strecker, Duke University, Durham, NC

17:00- 18:00
Closing Discussion.

Moderation: Paula Barreiro-Lopez, Université Grenoble-Alpes, Laboratoire LARHRA

18:00 - 19:30
Artls' 10th Anniversary Celebration


A Conference organized by Artls (, with the support of the Laboratoire d'excellence TransferS (programme Investissements d'avenir ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL and ANR-10-LABX-0099,, the Département d'histoire et Théorie des Arts, ENS ( and the Institut d'Histoire moderne et contemporaine (ENS/CNRS:, and the Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA,, in collaboration with the project MoDe(s)2 – Modernidad(es) Descentralizada(s): arte, política y contracultura en el eje transatlántico durante la Guerra Fría (Universitat de Barcelona, ref. HAR2017-82755-P).

CONF: Visual Semantics (Paris, 13-14 Jun 19). In:, May 23, 2019 (accessed Jul 8, 2020), <>.

Contributor: Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Ecole normale supérieure (rue d'Ulm)

Contribution published: May 23, 2019

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