Image Studies

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Image & Critique: Image-Thought-Text


Image & Critique: Image-Thought-Text
An International Conference for Theorists & Practitioners

Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th September 2003
Lakeside Arts Centre
University of Nottingham

Images surely need no introduction, yet that is all too often what we are inclined to give. So, what else might we afford images to say or show to us? The specific intellectual and cultural context for this conference has been referred to as the ‘visual’ or ‘pictorial’ turn, which raises the problematic of a purported shift away from a typographic or textual culture to a visual one. The recent trends in fields of image studies, visual culture, and visual rhetoric are important markers of just such a shift in intellectual focus. This interest has inspired a wealth of new and exciting research, as well as effecting a redefinition of theoretical concerns and (inter)disciplinary boundaries, which in turn has brought to light new positions, problems and dilemmas. What role, then, might images themselves play in relation to critical inquiry, and how are we to re-think the inheritance of ‘textual’ or linguistic modes of cultural and political analysis? In order to examine some of the key issues, and also to experiment with new ideas and modes of thinking and research, the conference brings together both distinguished theorists from across a number of disciplines, and innovative artists and practitioners whose work encompasses both images and text, so that we may develop our understanding and appreciation of the relationship between images and texts, as well as thinking further about the role they play in cultural and political critique.

The conference sessions are organised around four broad, and undoubtedly interlacing themes: (1) Visual literacy – an enquiry into what this mode is and who can lay claim to it, as well as, how such a mode of engagement can be understood to contribute to critical theoretical debates; (2) Placing the Visual – an consideration of relation of images to ‘things’, and the interface of images, texts and contexts; (3) Visual Rhetoric – questioning the role images and the ‘visual’ play in the understanding and use of critical and cultural theories, including how we might understand images in, and as the writing of philosophy and history; (4) Visual theory – to consider the status and efficacy of visual theories following the recent and rapid growth in teaching visual culture and critical art history. The conference will close with a Summary & Roundtable Debate in which all panellists will join for a final question and answer session to debate the themes and issues raised throughout the conference.

In addition, as part of a consideration of visual literacy, and using images as a ‘practice of thought,’ the conference includes a Practical Workshop, Figuring out Thinking, in which participants will experiment with image manipulation techniques to form critical images constellations, or Denkbilder (cf. Benjamin).


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