Workshop: Generative Images: Biology, History, Media
November 20/21, 2019
Within – but also outside – Western culture, ways of conceptualizing the creation of images have repeatedly overlapped with those used for framing the generation of human life and the body. Discourses on duplication, splitting, and reproduction, and on uniqueness and substitution have been particularly instrumental in shaping both scientific thinking and art theoretical reflections. Bringing together historians of science and art as well as film and media scholars, this workshop explores such crossings and convergences with reference to the early modern and contemporary periods.
Interested participants are cordially invited. Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Venue: IKKM, in the former Palais Dürckheim, Cranachstr. 47, 99421 Weimar, Salon (ground floor)
Stefano de Bosio (Freie Universität Berlin)
Lorenz Engell (IKKM, Bauhaus Universität Weimar)
Nick Hopwood (University of Cambridge)
Antonia Lant (New York University)
Stefan Neuner (Universität der Künste Berlin)
Bernhard Siegert (IKKM, Bauhaus Universität Weimar)
Stefano de Bosio
Generating Images: Elements for a Metaphorology of Printmaking in Early-Modern Europe and the Rise of the Concept of Reproduction
This paper aims to consider the terminology employed for framing the process of European printmaking by highlighting the shifts between different metaphors, biological (and not), ranging from the typological to the generative, from the translational to the reproductive. It will explore how speaking about prints and their production both shaped and was shaped by contemporary critical discourses in philosophy, literature and the natural sciences.
Seen in this context, the nowadays pervasive notion of ‘reproduction’ appears much more as a highly-historically located and characterized concept than a neutral category. For this reason, what seems to be the first appearance of the term of ‘reproductive print’ in the writings of the Viennese art historian Franz Wickhoff, around 1900, will deserve a special attention. This implies considering the connection with the new critical discourses fostered by the photographic medium as well as the possible incidence of contemporary protocols of the biology of art, as developed in anthropology from the late 19th century.
Stefano de Bosio is Lecturer in Art History at the Freie Universität Berlin, FUBiS and he is currently Tobey Fellow at Villa I Tatti – The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. His research focus on dynamics of cultural exchange in Europe during the early modern period and on theories and practices of image reversal, especially in printmaking. His book, Frontiere. Culture figurative ad Aosta e nell’arco alpino occidentale around 1500 will appear next year with Officina Libraria. In recent years, Stefano has held fellowships at the DFK - Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the IKKM - International Research Institute for Media Philosophy at the Bauhaus University in Weimar.
Human Development: A History of Serial Images
Biology depends on images that ground and exemplify concepts and may take on lives of their own. Media are the means of making pictures and shape their viewing. History should reconstruct how these visual tropes have functioned, their productivity and the problems they have created. The subject of this lecture is one of the most generative images, the developmental series, and in particular the series of ‘life before birth’ that have become the main account of human origins. The talk will review the serial representations of progressively more complex embryos and fetuses, which over the last 250 years anatomists and physiologists, gynaecologists and women patients, artists and audiences have made. It will explore the changing practices that have produced development as an effect, including collection and dissection, drawing, modelling and photography, ordering and selection, and publication, display and viewing. It will consider how images in various media were deployed to construct relations to other entities (for example, abortuses or children), to other species and to the people involved in producing, using and viewing the pictures. And it will discuss how certain images became dominant through copying or as formal standards. Though paying special attention to the ways that the gaze has been encouraged to track smoothly along series, it will include situations in which eyes were expected to move backwards or linger on single objects, as well as controversies in which pictures were challenged or rejected outright. The analysis will concentrate on key transformations around 1800, around 1900 and in the 1960s.
Nick Hopwood is Professor of History of Science and Medicine at the University of Cambridge. A former developmental biologist, he researches visual cultures, especially of embryology, reproduction, anatomy and evolution, and is interested most generally in how scientific images succeed and fail, become taken for granted and cause trouble. He is the author of Embryos in Wax: Models from the Ziegler Studio (2002) and Haeckel’s Embryos: Images, Evolution, and Fraud (2015), which won the Suzanne J. Levinson Prize of the History of Science Society. He co-curated the online exhibition Making Visible Embryos (2008) and co-edited the books Models: The Third Dimension of Science (2004) and Reproduction: Antiquity to the Present Day (2018) as well as the special issues Seriality and Scientific Objects in the Nineteenth Century (2010) and Communicating Reproduction (2015).
Techniques of Reproduction in Feminist Art of the 1970s
My paper interprets works of art of the late 1960s and 1970s by: VALIE EXPORT; Kirsten Justesen; Johanna Hamann; Marie Lassnig; Carolee Scheemann; and Celedida Tostes. Art of the period put a dent in the dominance of painting, and the feminist avant-garde—to which these women belonged--contributed centrally to its deposition. These artists took up more affordable and flexible resources than those of traditional art—video, Xerox, film, Polaroid, photography—media that conveyed intrinsic reproductive power.
The era saw the head-on confrontation of stereotypes of womanhood, and part of that work was to flay the equation of women with reproduction. These artists mobilize reproductive media to ignite their interrogations and generate their art-theoretical reflections. I focus my account on the subject of the feminine interior, a key site of interest for the above artists. Their work asks whether this space is one of reproduction; a place of occupation; or the site of the enemy within (as Shulamith Firestone and Germaine Greer debated).
The paper speculates as to if and how we might understand any relation of this radical wave to the mid-1960s arrival of a commercial contraceptive pill for women. The Pill brought new popular knowledges of reproduction and a new iconography of packaging in the shape of circles and dials. In tandem with artists, these chemicals challenged cultural conceptualization of the female interior as they disrupted its operations.
The Ferryman and the Possessed. Remarks on a Double History by Vittore Carpaccio
The paper discusses the telero painted by Vittore Carpaccio ca. 1494 for the albergo of the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice. It will show that the painting famous for the depiction of the old wooden Rialto bridge is not just a very circumstantial representation of a single event, but in fact a double narrative. The gap exposed between the two incidents of Sacred History and everyday life is mapped on the most fundamental divide between land and water structuring the city space of Venice. As it turns out, the famous topographical motive (the Rialto bridge) only epitomizes the fact that the painting in its narrative twofoldness confronts us with a problem which also defines the primary task of cultural technique in the Lagoon city: the problem of bridging.
Stefan Neuner is art historian and musicologist. He earned his PhD from the University of Vienna. From 1999–2005 he was research scholar at the Department of History of Art, University of Vienna, and from 2005–2010 at the Department of History of Art, University of Zurich. 2009–2010 postdoctorial scholar at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence (Max-Planck-Institut) and ERC-Assistant at the ERC research program "An Iconology of the Textile in Art and Architecture" at the University of Zurich. 2011–2017 postdoctorial fellow at eikones NCCR Iconic Criticism at the University of Basel and research associate at the Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani, Venice. Since since October 2017, he has been Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of the Arts, Berlin.
Splitting Bodies, Unfolding Masks
Art and Ontology of the American Northwest Coast
The paper takes up a characteristic feature of the art of the societies of the American Northwest coast, the splitting and unfolding of (mostly animal) bodies. This feature has been discussed among anthropologists since the beginning of the 19th century, most prominently by Lévi-Strauss in his 1945 article on "Split representation in the art of America and Asia". In contrast to these approaches, I will discuss the designs in the context of the animistic ontology of the Northwest Coast and especially in the context of transformation masks as cultural techniques.
Bernhard Siegert is the Gerd-Bucerius-Professor for Theory and History of Cultural Techniques at the Media Faculty at the Bauhaus University Weimar. Since 2008 he is one of the two directors of the International Research Center for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy (IKKM) at Weimar. Since 2013 he is also head of the DFG Research Unit "Media and Mimesis" at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Siegert has held fellowships and scholarships in Vienna, at UC Santa Barbara, New York University, Cambridge University, Stockholm University, UBC Vancouver and Freie Universität Berlin. Most recently he has been Visiting Professor at the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. His most recent book is Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real, trans. by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015). He is also the co-editor of the journal Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung and of the year-book Archiv für Mediengeschichte.