By Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center)
After knowing about the book for a couple of years, I finally found the time to read The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), Edmund de Waal’s evocative exploration of his material patrimoine. The book traces its author’s geographical, archival, and emotional wanderings though the past century and a half and across the globe as he pieces together the story of his family, largely through its accumulated—and then mostly alienated—collections. Where objects are no longer extant, de Waal reconstructs their once-presence from lists, ledgers, account books, registries, catalogues, photographs, letters, memoirs, and novels.
“Three Confederate prisoners, Gettysburg, 1863.” Colourisation (by Photo Chopshop) from a black and white stereograph, wet collodion on glass substrate by Mathew Brady. June or July, 1863, Gettysburg, PA., USA
A recent article in the Daily Mail drew my attention to a small group of professional colorists who have been using digital media to colorize photographs of the American Civil War — some iconic, and some quite pedestrian. Much of the online chatter about the pixel-pushers celebrates their ingenuity, patience, and skill in bringing history to life. Some of the images are truly remarkable in the way that the simulated color adds texture and depth and a sense of reality to scenes we’ve only experienced in grey-scale, but many of them look much like any well-hand-tinted photos of the past century. Some, to my eyes, are too cleaned-up to convey the historicity that they are meant to salvage, and that the faded, scratched, and worn paper or tin or glass originals embody. Is color the only means by which we are meant to connect to these timely things? Does removing the photographs themselves (as objects, not only as images) from their own time and technologies of production and reception damage them in other ways, not to mention our ability to relate to them, or to their subject-matter through them?
This summer saw the conclusion of ‘Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity’, an international research project led by Leon Wainwright (Department of Art History, The Open University, UK) which began in December 2011. (For an overview of the project, visit: www.open.ac.uk/Arts/disturbing-pasts/ )
The main focus of Disturbing Pasts was a major conference that took place over three days at the Museum of Ethnology, Vienna (recently renamed Weltmuseum Vienna) on 20-22 November 2012. The majority of speakers were from outside academia, the event was free to attend and widely publicised, while ample time was allowed for discussion and interaction with the audience and for networking among participants. It consisted of panels of highly-illustrated presentations on five distinct yet complementary themes. Each panel combined speakers from the three selected groupings of stakeholders (artists, curators and academics) and saw a productive exchange between them.
The sessions were filmed by technicians from The Open University and an audio-visual record of speakers’ presentations is now available at the Open Arts Archive (www.openartsarchive.org) Click on the links below for each presentation, available by ‘open access’.
Panel 1, ‘Cultural Loss and Fragmented Heritage’, began with two presentations from the artists Peju Layiwola (Lagos, Nigeria) and T. Shanaathanan (Jaffna, Sri Lanka), who showed how historical episodes of violence and the removal of cultural property – a British punitive expedition of 1897, and conflict in Sri Lanka – have been explored in each artist’s creative practice, as well as those of their peers. The curator Shan McAnena (Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University Belfast) evaluated recent curatorial attempts to reconnect the city of Belfast to the troubled memory of the Titanic. The visual anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards (De Montfort Leicester) and art historian Simon Faulkner (Manchester Metropolitan University) responded with a related critical debate on museum practice and colonial archives across the UK, and issues of public memory that are raised by paintings of Gerhard Richter recalling the history of Left-wing extremism in 1970s Germany.
Extended abstracts (500 words max.), for a 15 minute presentation, can be submitted by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org until 17th March 2013
4-6 September 2013
Lisbon, Catholic University of Portugal
Convergence and digitalization have become buzz-words employed to demonstrate how technological change has impacted on the media and is reconfiguring today’s media systems. Accordingly, media research in the last decade has centered itself on the contemporary changes operated on and by the new media, sometimes over-estimating the transitions that are taking place and not acknowledging common patterns that can be found between the emergence of new media and the appearance of other means of communication in previous decades. In fact, instead of being something new brought by digitalization, moments of technological transition can easily be found in many historical periods, namely throughout the 20th century. While today the internet and new media are inducing new patterns of media consumption, back in the 1920s radio broadcasting facilitated change in everyday life by bringing entertainment into the homes, while in the 1950s television also enabled new patterns of media consumption inside the home.
9th Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Conference University of Rochester April 5-7, 2013
Deadline: Submit a 250-word abstract for 20 minute paper presentations and CV via email@example.com by no later than January 15, 2013.
As cultural critics have noted over the past thirty years, we seem to be living in an age of dematerialization. Increased information transfer speed, the disintegration of boundaries between private and public, and the commercialization of image networks have provoked anxiety regarding the control of objects and images. Yet, taking a critical stance toward the temporal thrust of this thinking—its teleology, its faith in progress—we seek to historicize this anxiety as merely another renegotiation in a continually evolving relation of time and matter. Has our relationship to material objects ever been fixed?
Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Convenors: Professor Yoko Hayami and Dr Loh Kah Seng
16-17 January 2013
The workshop invites papers that undertake inter-disciplinary and transnational approaches to the study of natural disasters. It aims to historically contextualise the causes and consequences of disasters and to compare them across societies. The focus is on cities in Southeast Asia and Japan after World War Two, as expressed along three general lines of inquiry.