La Becque Artist Residency

Located on an exceptional site on the shores of Lake Geneva in La Tour-de-Peilz, midway between Vevey and Montreux, the artist residency La Becque was developed under the conduct of the Fondation Françoise Siegfried-Meier. From spring 2019, it will start welcoming artists from all over the world, both up-and-coming and confirmed practitioners, active in potentially all artistic disciplines, cultivating classical as well as the most contemporary forms of expression.

“Switzerland has an art education system of the highest order, particularly in this part of the country where the concentration of quality institutions across sectors (visual arts, design, performing arts) is particularly dense within the HES-SO (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland) network. We intend to open La Becque to these schools’ graduates so that new generations of artists can learn from the more established practitioners they will encounter at La Becque, “ Luc Meier explains. “Conversely, access to the art education and production networks of this region and of Switzerland as a whole will be key to our attractiveness for international residents—just as much as the natural splendor of the site and its immediate environment.”
“Technology will remain a core focus of mine, and this will be reflected in the selection of artists present at La Becque,” Meier continues. “The residency will offer a platform for creative inquiries into our contemporary ties to technology, and to our ties to nature. These two are intimately linked today and they are inescapable topics, whatever the artistic discipline. The contemporary state of music for example, which was particularly dear to the founder of our institution, reflects that fact very clearly.”
Inauguration events will be held in mid-September 2018 on the site of La Becque in La Tour-de-Peilz. The complete event program will be announced at a later date.
It is also in September that a first call for applications will be issued, for residencies taking place the following year (starting in spring 2019). All information relative to the call and selection process will be published on La Becque’s website.
About Fondation Françoise Siegfried-Meier and La Becque Artist Residency
La Becque artist residency was developed under the auspices of the Fondation Françoise Siegfried-Meier.
A violionist of renown born in 1914, Françoise Siegfried-Meier showed an unswerving commitment to the artists of her time. Generous and passionate, she expressed a wish to durably support a number of public organizations and institutions, particularly in the field of the arts, by creating a foundation bearing her name.
Françoise Siegfried-Meier wish for her family’s domain in La Tour-de-Peilz to become a haven of creativity and exchange is now realized through La Becque, a residency infrastructure that is a natural fit for this unique and stunningly beautiful site.

 

Versatile Camcorders: Looking at the GoPro-Movement (Potsdam, 21-22 Jun 18)

Potsdam, ZeM (Brandenburgisches Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften), 21. – 22.06.2018
<http://versatilecam.de/>

Internationaler Workshop

Versatile Camcorders: Looking at the GoPro-Movement

ZeM (Brandenburgisches Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften), veranstaltet von Winfried Gerling und Florian Krautkrämer

Die GoPro ist ein sogenannter Action-Camcorder, eine kleine, einfach zu bedienende und besonders robuste Kamera, mittels der man sowohl unter Wasser als auch beim Fallschirm-springen und anderen schwer zu filmenden Gelegenheiten Videoaufnahmen machen kann. Sie kam 2004 noch als analoge Fotokamera für Surfer auf den Markt. Im Markennamen Go-Professional ist eingeschrieben, was das Ziel dieser neuen Kultur ist: vermeintliche Professionalisierung der Bildproduktion unter schwierigen Bedingungen.
Mit der GoPro als die ‘worlds most versatile camera’, wie es im Werbetext heißt, überträgt sich der Gestus der angepriesenen Beweglichkeit auf die Aktionen der Aufnehmenden bzw. die Möglichkeiten, die Kamera an diverse bewegliche Objekte und Subjekte zu koppeln. So entsteht ein Genre von riskanten (existenziellen) Bildern. Bilder z.B. von Fallenden (Fallschirm-springerInnen, BasejumperInnen und Wingsuit-FliegerInnen) und ‘Gefallenen’ (bspw. wenn die Helmkamera von Kämpfenden Bilder aus Gefechtssituationen aufzeichnet) sowie von außer Kontrolle geratenen Situationen (Tiere entführen die Kamera). Stärker als in der bekannten Ästhetik der Handkamera taumeln hier Perspektiven; Vertikalität und Horizontalität spielen kaum eine Rolle, die Körper der Filmenden bilden das Zentrum der Perspektive. Die GoPro hat nicht nur ein neues Kamerasegment eingeführt, sie hat auch die Bildwelten der Amateurfilmproduktion verändert, was sicherlich nicht nur den technischen Möglichkeiten geschuldet, sondern auch Ergebnis aggressiver Markenkommunikation ist.
Themen, die aus der Perspektive dieses noch relativ neuen Apparates auf der Tagung diskutiert werden, sind u.a. die Veränderung des Amateurfilms und den damit zusammenhängenden Bildwelten, die Geste der riskanten Aktion und der erhöhten Risikobereitschaft, der Einfluss auf den (Bürger-)Journalismus, Aspekte der Zirkulation der Bilder in sozialen Netzwerken, neue Gesten wie das Selfie sowie Aus- und Einwirkungen des Apparates auf den Körper.
Der Fokus des Workshops liegt auf dem Austausch, nach jeder Präsentation gibt es Raum für ca. 30minütige Diskussion.

Um Anmeldung wird gebeten an: goprocall@zem-brandenburg.de

Vollständige Abstracts und weitere Informationen finden sich auf der Konferenz-Homepage unter http://versatilecam.de/

Panel: “Architectural Fallout from Moral Failure”

Session Co-Chairs: Nathaniel Walker, The College of Charleston, and Peter Sealy, University of Toronto

In their quest to locate historical meaning in architectural form, designers and scholars have long assigned moral positions to buildings. Whole styles, such as the Gothic or the Baroque, have been charged with dishonesty, while specific buildings have also been publically indicted for perceived vices. Ornament has been accused of intractable criminality, while its absence has been derided as puritanical.

The problems of linking human morality and architecture are inseparable from questions of culpability and victimhood, and thus produce a series of seemingly intractable questions: if a building is “evil,” whose fault is it? How, precisely, can architecture cause suffering? Can a depraved architect design a good building for an awful client? Can a morally corrupt building or space be redeemed? What happens when a good building turns bad—when new information comes to light, or old information acquires new meaning? This last question is of particular relevance in the present, as people of conscience grapple with the histories of exploitation woven throughout our built environment.

We invite papers that critically explore the problem of moral failure in architecture around the world, particularly its reception by individuals, the public, governments, scholars, and design professionals. There are many potentially productive angles from which to address this topic, ranging from studies of specific buildings that are demolished or shunned due to their associations with moral catastrophe, to the apologetic interpretation of the work of architects known for personal moral failure. Studies of built or unbuilt works tied to the fictional narratives of literature or film are also very welcome, as they offer rare glimpses of buildings that are deliberately crafted to convey moral failure, and can thus shed a great deal of light on the ways that people have viewed, and continue to view, the ethics of architecture in the real world.

The 72nd Annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians will take place on April 24-28, 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island. Applicants must submit a 300-word abstract and CV through the online portal of the Society of Architectural Historians (http://www.sah.org/2019 ).

Further details of the submission guidelines are available at www.sah.org. Please do not send materials directly to the panel co-chairs. Submission of proposals to the SAH online portal closes at 11:59 on June 5, 2018 (Central Daylight Time).

Explorations – 40th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association (NCSA) (Kansas City, 7-9 Mar 19)

Kansas City, Missouri, March 7 – 09, 2019 Registration deadline: Sep 30, 2018

40th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association (NCSA)

EXPLORATIONS

The NCSA conference committee invites proposals that examine the theme of explorations in the history, literature, art, music and popular culture of the nineteenth century.

Disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to this theme are welcome from North American, British, European, Asian, African and worldwide perspectives.

From the early nineteenth century, when Lewis and Clark paddled through the Kansas City area on their way up the Missouri River to explore the North American continent, through the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the building of factories and railroads, the mechanization of agriculture, and the advent of mass-produced cultural artifacts, the American Midwest became a crossroads for explorers and inventors, hucksters and entrepreneurs, artists and musicians, poets and dreamers who pursued their discoveries toward destinations made possible by the wide-open spaces of the Great Plains. In this way, the Kansas City region is emblematic of a larger set of trends in the global evolution of culture that radically altered the fundamental conditions of human existence during the nineteenth century.

How does the discovery of new geographical knowledge change the perception of human possibility?

How do innovations in science and technology affect the development of literature, music and art?

How does the recovery of previously unheard voices – of women, of workers, of ethnic minorities and people of color – influence the understanding of social history in America and the wider world?

Topics for investigation include encounters between Western explorers and indigenous people; the impact of steamships and railways upon changing perceptions of time and space; resistance and accommodation between traditional folkways and mass-produced culture; and the development of new idioms in literature, art and music to express the broader horizons of nineteenth-century self-awareness.

Proposals are due by September 30, 2018. Send 300-word abstracts (as an email attachment in MS Word format) along with a one-page CV to ncsa2019@gmail.com

Call for Roundtable Proposals:

Roundtable discussions provide conference attendees the opportunity to engage in spirited conversation and collaborative exchange of information and resources. The format of roundtable discussions will be lively, interactive discourse among presenters and conference participants, not lecture or panel-style delivery.

Roundtable sessions will be 80 minutes long. Presenters should regard themselves primarily as facilitators and should limit their own prepared remarks to five minutes or less. Extensive collaboration among the presenters before the conference is encouraged, since the goal is to foster extensive, diverse, and cogent perspectives on interdisciplinary research topics of general interest to NCSA members.

Roundtables should be pre-organized by a group of 4-8 presenters. To propose a roundtable topic, please send a single 300-word abstract describing the general topic of the roundtable (as an email attachment in MS Word format) to ncsa2019@gmail.com.

Your abstract should include the proposed session title and the full name of each presenter, with their email and phone contacts, job title and affiliation. Indicate which presenter has agreed to serve as discussion moderator. Please be sure to confirm the participation of all presenters before submitting your abstract.

Roundtable proposals are due by September 30, 2018.

Conference Venue: The conference will be held at the newly renovated Marriott Country Club Plaza in midtown Kansas City, adjacent to the open-air shops and restaurants of the Country Club Plaza and in easy walking distance of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Conference Registration will open in December 2018. AV requirements are due January 1, early registration closes on January 20, and registration ends on February 20.

Conference website: http://www.ncsaweb.net/Current-Conference

Marilouise Kroker – RIP

Marilouise Kroker, died earlier this week at home on May 22, 2018. She was an author and Senior Research Scholar at the Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture, University of Victoria. With her collaborator and husband, Arthur Kroker, she wrote Hacking the Future (1996). She also co-edited and introduced numerous anthologies including Critical Digital Studies A Reader (2008), Digital Delirium (1997), Body Invaders (1987), The Last Sex (1993). Arthur and Marilouise also jointly edited the online academic journal Ctheory, an international journal of theory, technology and culture. Collaborating with Tim Murray they created the curatorial online project, C-theory Multimedia. For more of their work:

http://krokers.net/

http://ctheory.net/ctheory_wp/author/marilouisekroker/

http://ctheorymultimedia.cornell.edu/

Marilouise and Arthur Kroker have been vital parts of our personal fiber for the past twenty years. It has been their courage and trailblazing efforts at personal collaboration that provided us the beacon of example for us personally.  Tim’s common work and writing for CTHEORY Multimedia has been one of the personal and artistic highlights of his career.  Marilouise was ripped from Arthur so quickly and cruelly.

Emergency Measures in Architecture and Urbanism (Rome, 6-7 Sep 18)

Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History (Rome, Italy), September 6 – 07, 2018
Deadline: Jul 1, 2018

Cities in Crisis: Emergency Measures in Architecture and Urbanism, 1400-1700

Organizers: Danielle Abdon (Temple University/Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History) and Margaret Bell (UC Santa Barbara/Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence)

This interdisciplinary Study Day at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome will focus on how early modern cities responded to or attempted to anticipate social or health crises by repurposing structures, constructing temporary shelters or buildings, or adapting urban spaces in the context of emergencies. These include, but are not limited to, disease outbreaks, displacement, migrations, wars, natural disasters, famines, etc. Over the centuries, these interventions have taken various forms, such as lazaretti, temporary military barracks, makeshift refuges, quarantine or segregation zones, among many others, and we encourage submissions that interpret the notion of ‘crisis architecture’ beyond these examples.

We are interested in papers engaging with methodological issues, including questions of public and private space; gender, race, and socioeconomic identities; public health and social welfare; environment and materiality; structural and infrastructural innovations; and ephemerality and permanence. In addition, we particularly welcome submissions that address the theme from a global perspective. For instance, in the period of European colonial expansion and missionization, these questions took on added complexity as social and sanitary pressures increased and different cultural approaches to crisis architecture came into contact and conflict. We will also consider papers investigating the notion of risk, specifically in terms of how anticipation of and preparation for crises shaped architecture and urban planning. Moving away from a study of architecture focused on monumentality and magnificence, we ask how emergency structures embodied and responded to disruptive scenarios in the early modern period.

From the ongoing global migration crisis caused by the displacement of millions of refugees, to the current rebuilding of Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean and Central America after devastating earthquakes and hurricanes, and the need for crisis units resulting from recent Ebola and plague outbreaks in Africa, architectural responses to crisis are as pressing now as they ever were. The fields of humanitarian and emergency architecture continue to gain relevance due to recurring catastrophes and new technological developments, and it is our hope that this study day will help us engage these questions historically and bear fruit in our thinking about the present.

We welcome submissions for a 20-minute presentation in English from doctoral candidates and post-doctoral and early career scholars. Throughout the course of the Study Day, we anticipate focused and productive discussion between junior and invited senior scholars, with dedicated time to address current issues surrounding the production and study of crisis architecture as a continuous phenomenon.

Please send a 300-word abstract, title, and current CV to both organizers, Danielle Abdon (danielle.abdon@temple.edu) and Margaret Bell (mfbell@umail.ucsb.edu), by July 1, 2018. Drafts of papers will be expected one week prior to the Study Day. The Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History will provide accommodation for three nights in Rome and partially reimburse travel costs (up to €150 for scholars based in Europe and up to €500 for those coming from elsewhere). Accepted papers may be considered for future publication in an edited volume.

Leonardo – Open Calls

Leonardo<https://www.leonardo.info/leonardo> was founded in 1968 in Paris by kinetic artist and astronautical pioneer Frank Malina who saw the need for a journal to serve as an international channel of communication among artists, with emphasis on the writings of artists who use science and developing technologies in their work. Published by The MIT Press and led by executive editor Roger Malina, Leonardo has become the leading international peer-reviewed journal on the use of contemporary science and technology in the arts and music and, increasingly, the application and influence of the arts and humanities on science and technology.

Leonardo is interested in work that crosses the artificial boundaries separating contemporary arts and sciences. Featuring illustrated articles written by artists about their own work as well as articles by historians, theoreticians, philosophers and other researchers, the journal is particularly concerned with issues related to the interaction of the arts, sciences and technology. Leonardo focuses on the visual arts and also addresses music, video, performance, language, environmental and conceptual arts—especially as they relate to the visual arts or make use of the tools, materials and ideas of contemporary science and technology. New concepts, materials and techniques and other subjects of general artistic interest are covered, as are legal, economic and political aspects of art.

The following are the current calls for Special Section papers for Leonardo journal. Please see each for information on solicited topics, paper types, and submission processes.

* Art and Atoms<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-art-and-atoms>, guest editor Tami Spector

* Art and Cancer<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-art-and-cancer>, guest editor Dhruba Deb

* Artists and War<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-artists-and-war>, guest editor Michele Emmer

* ArtScience: The Essential Connection<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-artscience-the-essential-connection>, guest editor Robert Root-Bernstein

* Environment 2.0<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-environment-20>, guest editor Drew Hemment

* PhD in Art and Design<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-phd-in-art-and-design>, guest editors Ken Friedman and Jack Ox

* Pioneers and Pathbreakers<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-pioneers-and-pathbreakers>, to coincide with Leonardo’s 50th anniversary

* Pioneers and Pathbreakers/Narratives in Dark Culture<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-pioneers-and-pathbreakersnarratives-in-dark-culture> memoir series

* Smart Textiles: Science and Technology of Textile Art<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-smart-textiles-science-and-technology-of-textile-art>, supported by the Marjorie Duckworth Malina Fund

* Leonardo Abstracts Service (LABS)<https://www.leonardo.info/labs>, editor-in-chief Sheila Pinkel

Now announcing The Leonardo STEAM Initiative on Education<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-leonardo-steam-initiative-on-education> with guest editors Robert Root-Bernstein and Tracie Costantino.

UPDATE 25 May 2018: Please see the call for papers for a new special section Science and Art: The Essential Connection<https://www.leonardo.info/opportunity/call-for-papers-science-and-art> with guest editors Catherine Baker and Iain Gilchrist.

Sublimation – Mind, Matter, Concept in Art after Modernism

Report by Laura Domes, Laura Gvenetadze, Christopher Nixon, Katharina Täschner

Sublimation – Mind, Matter, Concept in Art after Modernism

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, 14–16 December 2017

“Take a chemical process, a philosophical concept, a set of artistic practices, put them together and see how they react.” This experimental idea by Annika Schlitte and Christian Berger (2017) was at the core of their interdisciplinary conference “Sublimation – Mind, Matter, Concept in Art after Modernism”, held at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz from December 14–16, 2017. With a close concentration on the term’s relation to conceptualist art practices of the 1950s to 1970s, they have brought together a wide range of international speakers, giving equal consideration to both European as well as American scholarship.

The conference’s agenda drew significantly from its dual art historical and philosophical perspective. Building on a critical reading of Lucy R. Lippard and John Chandler’s 1968 notion of a “dematerialization of art”, the theoretical framework of sublimation eventually opened a fundamentally new and productive perspective on the complex interrelations of materiality and immateriality in post-war American art. Sublimation, in its various contexts, carries meanings of elevation, ennoblement, and even dissolution. Nevertheless, it is strictly bound to questions of materiality, since it always describes the transformation of matter into something else. Matter and its transformation, especially in the case of conceptualist works of the 1960s, thus play a crucial role in the production and reception of art. Accordingly, the scientific and philosophical dimensions of the term went hand in hand throughout the conference. In scientific terms, sublimation is the direct conversion of a solid substance into a gaseous state. However, sublimation most famously entered psychoanalytic discourse as defined by Sigmund Freud, who described it as the transformation of libido into artistic energy. Sublimation thus not only alludes to the increased artistic use of volatile substances throughout the “long Sixties” (Arthur Marwick), but can equally evoke a socio-cultural perspective relating to the artwork’s production as well as its reception.

The German phenomenologist Günter Figal (Freiburg) delivered the conference’s first keynote lecture. Building upon Aristotle’s thought, he developed concepts of object, matter, and space that he then applied to James Turrell’s installation “Open Field” at Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima, Japan, and on Morton Feldman’s musical composition “Rothko Chapel”. Figal argued that even the non-tangible matters of light and sound are connected to the genuine conditions of the artwork’s spatial appearance.

In his consideration of Dan Flavin’s fluorescent light installations, Vangelis Giannakakis (Frankfurt) began the first panel by offering another perspective on Figal’s thesis. Referring to Jacques Rancière’s concept of the aesthetic regime of art, he focused on the split between materiality and intangibility by the example of the neon tube as a commonplace item and as an artwork. According to Giannakakis, the artwork depends on the recipient’s imagination in order to sublimate the mere thingness. This emphasizes the importance of the audience and, at the same time, questions the traditional role of the artist in the creation of art. This shift of perspective is also crucial to the work of the Italian artist Piero Manzoni, as Lara Demori (Munich) demonstrated in her talk. In positioning a sublimated concept of the artist against the banality of the act of inflating a balloon, Manzoni jeopardized the concept of a preserved and authentic artwork. Anna-Rosja Haveman (Groningen) analysed “The 5 Continent documenta 7” by James Lee Byars. Protesting against Documenta’s Western-centric perspective, Byars developed several performances, which are by definition ephemeral. Additionally, he sent 300 letters on fragile black paper, one of which Haveman rediscovered in the archives of the Groningen museum. Byars’ work therefore illustrates the challenging relationship between an artwork’s concept and its material foundation.

The second panel dealt with phenomenon of dissolution as a method of artistic labor as it relates to the term sublimation. Annemarie Kok (Groningen) showed that the complex intertwining of motion, energy, matter, creation, and destruction that David Medalla developed in the quasi self-dispersing foam-sculptures of his “Bubble Machines” was updated and enhanced in the ephemeral sculptures comprised of participants´ bodies during his later collaborative and performative artwork. Thus, the collaborative process offered a complementary conception of sublimation as dissolution, which could eventually function as a social and spiritual utopia. To further examine the ways artists composed works with only the slightest trace of the material, such as air or other volatile substances, Friedrich Weltzien (Hannover) focused on works by Yves Klein, the ZERO group, and the Japanese Gutai Art Association. Departing from the physiochemical requirements of sublimation, he identified the different implications of sublimation that served as a basis for the presented artworks. Antje Krause-Wahl (Frankfurt) offered a perspective on artistic approaches to the dematerialization of the artwork itself by means of a material that actually sublimates in the physicochemical sense of the term: Judy Chicago´s and James Rosenquist´s works with dry ice. Citing the use of dry ice in military contexts during the Cold War era as additional context for these works, she stated that sublimation in its artistic usage could be conceived as a metaphor for dissolution in social and political instances and that it may therefore be understood as a medium of political criticism. The last presentation of the panel was given by Adi Louria Hayon (Tel Aviv), who interpreted Bruce Nauman’s works as reflections on mathematician Kurt Gödel´s incompleteness theorems. She showed that while Nauman explored the relationships between body, perception, technology and the production of knowledge within the means of art, he used the operation of sublimation as a perpetual process by continuously failing said operation.

The third Panel concentrated on the bodily experience of artwork and time, processes of sublimation that take place in the body of the viewer, and in the bodies of paintings. Closely connected to this are psychoanalytical concepts that try to answer the question about the function of art and its relation to the psychological object – ideas of practice (discipline) and theory (doctrine). Christa Noel Robbins (Charlottesville) showed how Kenneth Noland’s series of circular paintings could be meant for practical use in psychoanalytical therapy and were therefore intended to provoke a physical reaction in the viewer by means of the artworks’ “hypnotic opticality”. The act of psychological sublimation thus begins in the eye of the beholder. Martin Barré’s non-figurative paintings, as interpreted by Claire Salles (Paris), create a similar experience. By confronting the beholder with the thickness of paint and halo-like pentimenti on unprimed canvas, Barré destabilizes the viewer’s notions of foreground and background, and thereby plays a role in criticizing the Greenbergian notion of “flatness” as the most essential quality of painting. Speaking in Lacanian terms, these paintings, far from having any concrete use or function, are elevated objects that bring the viewer nearer to the “thing”.

Lynn M. Somers (Madison, NY) pointed out that Louise Bourgeois’ “Janus” series is closely connected to the concept of transformation that constitutes sublimation. Bourgeois’ ambisexual sculptures made of ‘noble’ materials recall the tradition of male Western sculptors, while at the same time destabilizing the viewer with their ambiguity and multiple layers of meaning. Bourgeois’ strong interest in psychoanalysis lets us perceive her art-making as a cathartic experimentation. Art, a form of neurosis, can be understood as a passion transformed, as Freud had stated. Another approach to art is bound to the experience of time. In his works on elements, Gaston Bachelard used the term “nostalgia” to describe the series of fragments that constitute time – which is, for Bachelard, a personal concept that each individual must work to grasp. Dylan Trigg (Vienna) talked about different concepts of duration, nostalgia for a lost world, and Bachelard’s poetic instant with respect to Joel Sternfeld’s polaroid photographs of traumatic places. Nevertheless, his concept of vertical time cannot free itself of a certain valorisation embedded in the notions of up/down or high/low.

James Nisbet’s (Irvine) second keynote lecture on Robert Barry’s “Inert Gas Series” addressed an archetypical example of an artwork from the 1960s that focuses on the alleged dissolution of matter. The inert gases released by the artist expanded infinitely, almost dissolving completely, but without allowing the molecules to mix with the atmosphere. The concept of “sublimation” thus helped explain the fundamental leap in the reception of Barry’s work from an environmental to an ecological perspective. Taking into account the large number of posters, photographs, and other documents that are the material traces of Barry’s performance, Nisbet argued that it may be understood as “sublimating” from the strict boundaries of its own specific environment to the wider field of (material and personal) interconnectedness and relativity.

The Kunsthalle Mainz hosted the fourth and last panel of the conference. Seated amongst the site-specific works of Daniel Buren and Bettina Pousttchi on display at the Kunsthalle, the four speakers reflected on different relationships between matter and concept, with a strong emphasis on sculptural practices, Land Art, and photography. Julia Polyck-O’Neill (St. Catharines) began the day with a close and highly contextualized reading of Rosi Braidotti’s philosophical theories. In order to explore the potential of photography to construct subjectivity, she analysed works by Jeff Wall with respect to their inherent conceptions of the photographic medium as epistemic and ontological. Polyck-O’Neill argued that this opposition could address conceptual photography’s relationship to notions of the subject. The talks by Andrew Chesher (London) and Dominic Rahtz (Canterbury) that followed then opened complementary perspectives on situation- and process-oriented artistic practices. On the one hand, Chesher carried out an archaeology of Robert Morris’ changing phenomenological approaches to sculpture in his article series “Notes on Sculpture” and the essay “Anti-Form”. On the other, Rahtz took up Chesher’s observation of a “desublimation of Gestalt” in Morris’ writings and focused on shifting processes in Richard Serra’s “Splashings”. Referring to Dan Graham and philosopher Gilbert Simondon’s idea of “in-formation”, he argued for a temporal understanding of material formation that considers changing constellations of artist, work, and viewer. A similar approach to sculpture in the 1960s also motivated Marin R. Sullivan’s (Keene, NH) case study of Robert Smithson’s “Asphalt Rundown”. In her talk, she analysed photography’s role in the transformation of the work, allowing it to exist in multiple registers of a complex multimedia system. Rather than clearly prioritizing its photographic manifestation or the action itself, Sullivan clarified how Smithson’s ambiguous use of photography could direct the viewers’ experience towards the sensation of an “elsewhere” or towards an abstraction of the earthwork at hand, even though in Smithson’s artistic agenda the photographic medium as such only serves as a means to an end.

It became clear during the conference that sublimation is indeed a helpful term for describing and understanding the transformational processes of matter in conceptualist artworks of the long 1960s. The correlation between matter and energy that is inherent to sublimation emerged in many of the presentations, which then thematised different types of energy such as temperature, electricity, and labour. Of paramount importance was the question of containment, because the artists under consideration worked with diffuse materials that they then framed or contained (even if it were only within the “system” of art). Finally, the concept of sublimation illuminates two important dimensions that constitute the artwork and its institutional perception: one physical (what is happening in an artwork?), and one theoretical (what is happening to an artwork?). Both as physicochemical process and as personal experience, sublimation questions the gap, shift, and transfer between two states of matter.

Further information on the conference:

http://www.sublimation.uni-mainz.de