Queen Mary College, University of London
From the lending library to the iPod
I will examine the evolution of cultural markets in Europe since the beginning of the 19th century, how the method of distribution affects the cultural artefact and the cultural transfers of operates across Europe and, in the 20th century, in the global markets. I will deal with books (fiction and non-fiction), graphic texts (comic strips), the press, music (musical instruments, partitions, paid performances, records and their successors (cassette, CDs, MP3s), theatre, films, radio broadcasting and television examining the interconnectedness between these formats.
Donald Sassoon, The Culture of the Europeans, London: Harper Press, 2005 (introduction, conclusion and one chapter from Part III).
W. J. T. Mitchell
University of Chicago
Showing seeing: a critique of visual culture
Rather than a formal lecture, I would prefer an informal conversation with the audience, based on the last chapter of my book What Do Pictures Want? (2005). I will briefly introduce the topic, and then take questions for discussion.
W. J. T. Mitchell, What do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2005, chapter 16: “Showing Seeing: A Critique of Visual Culture”, pp. 336–356. (Originally published in Journal of Visual Culture, vol. 1, no. 2, 2002, pp. 165–181)
In this lecture, I will try to trace a basic difference between the Western and East Asian worldviews that is reflected also in the ways of visual modelling of the world: iconic representation in the West and, for a lack of a better term, “direct pointing” in China and adjacent cultures – a difference manifest not only in the systems of script and the theories of painting, but on a much deeper level of how we see things to be.
independent scholar and journalist
Seeing culture everywhere
In this lecture I will be reflecting on various uses of the „culture“-concept in academic anthropological research as well as in a wide range of other areas, from intercultural communication to international politcis, multiculturalism and marketing. Interwoven in this analysis is a call for anthropologists to participate more actively in debates concerning everyday appropriations and mis(uses) of „culture“.
1. Abu-Lughod, Lila, “Writing Against Culture“, in: Richard Gabriel Fox (ed.) Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present, Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 1991, pp. 137-233, available online
2. Appiah, Kwame Anthony, “Whose Culture is it?”,The New York Review of Books, February 9, 2006, pp. 28-41
3. Breidenbach, Joana and Pál Nyíri, Seeing Culture Everywhere, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2009, pp. 3-29 (Introduction) and pp. 319-346 (Conclusion)
4. Sen, Amartya, “Chili and Liberty”, The New Republic, February 27, 2006, available online
Institute of Education, University of London
Recognition without proper lenses: the issue of learning in contemporary education. A perspective from a social semiotic theory of multimodality
‘Education’ is one of the central institutions of certain contemporary societies. In its outlines and in many details it used to mirror the major outlines of the society in which it acted.
When things go well, it functions both in mediating a certain selection of cultural processes, values and understandings to a large part of that society; and it functions as a site of constant re-making of these processes, values and understandings by that group. Given that many (‘developed’) societies have undergone and are still undergoing profound changes, there have been and still are effects on ‘Education’, along the lines of the social changes.
The social and the pedagogic changes are proceeding at a different pace, so that in schools, by and large, older forms of social relations and their attendant values and practices persist. The identities of young people in schools are formed by the new social givens; in school they meet expectation that match identities that fitted the former social.
This meeting leads to a profound problem of mis-recognition: neither side has the tools necessary for recognition of the other.
In some respects the problem is much like that of the lack of tools for recognition in inter-cultural communication, though here occurring in what is in many ways still ‘one’ society.
In the talk I will explore this issue, in a sense taking ‘learning’ as the metaphor around which such problems of recognition can be gainfully discussed. The theoretical framework will be that of a Social Semiotic Multimodality.
1. Gunther Kress, “What is Mode?”, in The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis, ed. by Carey Jewitt. London and New York: Routledge, 2009, pp. 54–67.
2. Gunther Kress, “Assessment in the Perspective of a Social Semiotic Theory of Multimodal Teaching and Learning”, in Educational Assessment in the 21st Century, ed. by Claire Wyatt-Smith and J. Joy Cumming. Dordrecht et al.: Springer, 2009, pp. 19–41.
3. Gunther Kress, “Writing in a world of provisionality”, in Skriving i kunnskapssamfunnet, ed. by Gunhild Åm Vatn, Ingvild Folkvord, Jon Smidt. Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk Forlag, 2009, pp. 13–48.
4. Gunther Kress, “Meaning and Learning in a World of Instability and Multiplicity”, Studies in Philosophy and Education, Vol. 27, 2008, pp. 253–266.
Kenneth R. Olwig
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Aether: the lost quintessence of the gaze in Western culture
There is a rather extensive literature on the role of the spatial geometries of perspective in constituting the modern, post Renaissance, idea of landscape as a form of scenery to be gazed upon. In my research, however, I have discovered that the key concept in the development of perspective was not, in fact, space, but aether. Throughout most of the West’s cultural history artists and writers have drawn upon a complex body of cultural theory based upon the four elements or essences (earth, air, water, fire). There was, however, also a fifth element/essence called aether, which was the quintessence. Aether combines especially air (space), light, heat, and sound, and it came to play an important historical role in the development of both the arts and sciences – e.g. the modern scientific theories of light and electro-magnetism. During the early 20th century the concept of space subsumed that of aether, to the point that many have forgotten aether’s existence, but this now lost quintessence arguably provides a greater understanding of the role of the gaze in the performance of Western culture than does space alone.
1. Kenneth R Olwig, All that is landscape is melted into air: the ‘aerography’ of ethereal space, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 29, 2011, pp 519-532
2. Kenneth R. Olwig, Performance, ætherial space and the practice of landscape/architecture: the case of the missing mask, Social & Cultural Geography, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2011
Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe
The immersion of the gaze. Illumination, drawing, painting, and film
The starting point will be the famous painting „Hunters in the Snow“ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The tremendous spatial effect of its landscape that is offered to the gaze is of a peerless quality. Especially in an intermedial way, even in a way which transcends the respective media, an animation of the gaze and translation of images can be traced: in the case of this winter painting, as I will have to show, from illumination via drawing to panel painting and finally, in a long leap ahead, to the immersive possibilities of film. Its particular technique and logic succeed in translating the intrinsic movements of the ultimately static painting into a medium of the moving image, as well as the gaze of the observers, which is linked to the pictorial technique of immersion. The transgressive art of moving images is already present in Bruegel’s landscape and thus appears, carefully put, as a pre-cinematic quality. In addition, this painting also exists within the continuum of a voyage through time, which is inspired less by motifs but rather by the fascination of the imaginary space of the landscape and the immersion of the gaze: a travel through time and space from the depictions of the months in a book of hours up to the cinematic adaptation and transformation of the painting, as it was accomplished by Andrei Tarkovsky in his film “Solaris” from 1972. This leads to a crystalline compression of space and time, in which past and present, actual and virtual space, material and mental images, painting and film and, not least, technology and gaze permeate and determine each other.
1. Hans Belting, An Anthropology of Images. Picture, Medium, Body, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011, ch. 1: “An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body”, pp. 9–36.
2. W.J.T. Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want?, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2005, ch. 2: “What Do Pictures Want?”, pp. 28–56.
3. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2. The Time-Image, London: The Athlone Press, 1989, ch. 4: “The Crystals of Time”, pp. 66-97
4. Martin Schulz, “The Unmasking of Images: The Anachronism of TV-Faces”, in Imagery in the 21st Century, ed. by Oliver Grau with Thomas Veigl, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011, pp. 37–55.
Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Medientheorie, Karlsruhe
Eldorado. Politics of the Gaze in Myth, Wallpaper and Video
With the name ‘Eldorado’ today we still associate a mythic land of gold, which since about 1500 fascinated the Spanish conquistadors of South America in such a way that the search for it became an obsession: the dream of infinite wealth in the paradise of the New World just had to be true. ‘Eldorado’ was also the name given to a panoramic wallpaper created in 1849, which showed four of the continents. It was the French wallpaper factory owner Zuber who named one of his most elaborate and exclusive designs like this. And finally and more current, ‘El Dorado’ is also the title of the multi-piece work by artist Danica Dakić. It was exhibited at Documenta 12 2007 in Kassel and consists of photographs and – as its core – a video of about 14 minutes. Teenagers are represented who were trying to apply for asylum in Germany at that time. They perform different postures and movements in front of the Eldorado wallpaper and other pieces shown in the German Museum of Wallpapers at Kassel (Deutsches Tapetenmuseum). On the one hand, the teenagers had different motivations for asking for asylum in Germany. They were coming from places with very different problems. But on the other hand, they shared a common idea of a new life in a new world, so to say the modern ‘Eldorado’.
Regarding the situation of the teenagers the lecture will focus on the fact that we have to deal with ideas formerly projected by Europeans at distant, alien regions and countries which are now turned around and mirrored back to Europe. Europe is the new ‘New World’, promising a pacified, paradisiacal life in peace and security, prosperity and liberty. But how does one treat the children of paradise who are suddenly knocking at one’s door? In choosing the Museum of Wallpapers, Dakić selected a setting full of historical and playful allusions that artfully interlocks and confronts different projections and their topologies with each other, to finally mirror them and make them become an image in the video projection itself. Above all, two historical lines are joined, which after re-coding and subversion become the new idea of Eldorado: on the one hand the historical legend and on the other hand the topology, the structure of the gaze, and the constitution of the subject as it pertains to the panoramic wallpaper, or put differently, the regimes of narrative gaze and visual projection.
1. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison, New York: Random House, 1977, ch. III, 3: “Panopticism”, pp. 195–228.
The University of Manchester
Arts of noise: explorations in listening to images
This presentation examines how differences between ways of looking, such as the gaze and the glance, may be appreciable by thinking in terms of their interrelationship to other sensory modalities, in particular their relationship to the realm of the auditory.
Taking the case of art-works displayed in museums in Nagasaki, Japan we will look at how the ascription of value to forms of vision in an art gallery setting may be contingent on the control of sound and speech and on a recognition of the acoustic qualities of art works such that they are heard as well as seen.
In the second half of the presentation we will consider works that arise from and respond to sound in the environment by looking at war-art in Okinawa, Japan. We will reflect on how the subjects and material composition of these works are designed so as to connect acts of looking to acts of listening.
Overall, the presentation argues for the importance of considering vision in relation to the other senses and makes a case for listening and the appreciation of sound.
1. Cox, Rupert, “Wandering without purpose: auditory journeys through History and Memory in Nagasaki”. Special issue of Journeys: The Map is not the territory, Mind, Body and Imagination as Globally Human. ed. by Andrew Irving, 2008, pp. 76-96
2. Cox, Rupert, “Objects that move: Japanese Namban screens in time, space and the imagination”, Journal of Instituto de História da Arte –Revista de História da Arte Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas. Lisboa. No 8, 2010, pp. 127-139
3. Cox, Rupert, “The Sound of Freedom: US military aircraft noise in Okinawa”, Anthropology News, American Anthropology Association. December, 2010, pp. 13-14.