Photography

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    Tour of "Configuring Disciplines: Fragments of an Encyclopedia" with Faculty Curator Dr. Drew Armstrong

    In Spring and Summer of 2014, Dr. Drew Armstrong worked with a group of graduate and undergraduate students in History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh to organize an exhibition that explored relationships between images and knowledge. As part of the Debating Visual Knowledge weekend, Dr. Armstrong gave a tour.

    More on the exhibition can be found here.

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "Instant Interferences" by Jeffrey Curran and Jocelyn Monahan

    “Instant Interferences”

    Jeffrey Curran and Jocelyn Monahan

    Google has recently built a number of new data centers around the United States. These structures are often discussed in terms of shifts from industrial to post-industrial labor, job loss/creation, gentrification, and other human factors. However, the topographies of these towns also change, in order to accommodate such structures. This project will use instant photography to convey the changes this transition has on the landscapes themselves, focusing specifically on the newly constructed data center located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the 2014 harvest season. Over these months, I will document new roads, subdivisions, and shopping structures, as well as capture instances of farmland before it disappears. These will then be combined with field recordings and audio from low-frequency antennas taken in the same locations to create a new visual and aural picture of a rural town in transition.

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "Visual Agnotology: Visual Production and Maintenance of Ignorance" by Chloe Hansen

    “Visual Agnotology: Visual Production and Maintenance of Ignorance”

    Chloe Hansen

    Relationships between knowledge and the visual continue to receive scholarly attention and deservedly so in our image-driven age. However, the flipside of those relations – the relationships between ignorance or not-knowing and the visual – has not been as explicitly addressed. This visual rhetoric and visual culture project draws on the concept of agnotology – the study of the social construction and maintenance of ignorance – to examine the roles of images in producing and perpetuating the absence of knowledges. Considering the three forms of ignorance explored in existing agnotology scholarship – recognized gaps in knowledge that we work to fill; overlooked or forgotten areas of knowledge; and areas of knowledge foreclosed by strategic plot – I examine some of the ways artifacts give visual form to the unknown or unknowable, specifically focusing on Colin Powell’s 2003 address to the UN Security Council. My goal is to begin to address a dearth in visual rhetoric literature on ignorance by demonstrating that visuals play a central role in constituting “unknowability,” thus limiting the conditions of possibility for knowledge. By considering not only what is made known or knowable via images but also what is erased, marginalized, denied, or otherwise made unknowable through visual representation, this exploration of visual agnotology works to expand understandings of visual rhetoric and conceptions of the knowledge work done by visuals more broadly.

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "Post-studio Sublime: Southern California Art and Technology after Earthrise" by Ginger Elliott Smith

    “Post-studio Sublime: Southern California Art and Technology after Earthrise
    Ginger Elliott Smith

    In December 1968, the Apollo 8 crew became the first humans to complete a lunar orbit. During that momentous voyage, William Anders captured the iconic photograph, Earthrise (fig. 1), which significantly expanded visual knowledge of the expanse, scale, and sublimity of outer space. The Last Whole Earth Catalog opined, “Earthrise established our planetary facthood and beauty and rareness [. . .] and began to bend human consciousness.”[1] Culled from “Chapter 4” of my dissertation, this paper positions Earthrise as a vector for post-studio art/technology practices in Southern California after 1968.

    My dissertation, “Practicing Big Science: Art, Technology, and Institutions in 1960s and 1970s Southern California,” examines the ways in which high-technology growth in Los Angeles during the postwar years spurred many artists to experiment directly with industrial processes and innovative materials. In the studio, artists independently researched, appropriated, and became self-taught experts on discrete technologies. Beyond the studio their methods operated more divergently by applying physical (e.g., industrial lighting schematics) and/or theoretical (e.g., neurophenomenology) technologies to art. This paper connects the paradigmatic shifts that 3 instigated with a contemporaneous program launched at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The initiative, “Art and Technology,” paired each artist with prominent technology corporations during the late 1960s, culminating with an exhibition and catalog in 1971. I treat the collaborative experiments conducted by physiological psychologist Dr. Edward Wortz and artists Robert Irwin and James Turrell at Garrett Corporation as exemplars of the post-studio paradigm. My analysis attends to the necessary movements enacted by viewers and the ways in which these psychological environments relied on Ganzfeld and anechoic research conducted by NASA, Garrett, and others, in preparation for human space exploration. I term this embodied experience “mobile opticality”—the metacognitive awareness of vision or “seeing yourself seeing.”

    [1] The Last Whole Earth Catalog (Menlo Park, CA: Whole Earth Catalog, 1971).

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "'Divine Truths Photographed Upon the Soul': The Holy Land through the Stereoscope (1900)" by Jeff Richmond-Moll

    ““Divine Truths Photographed Upon the Soul”: The Holy Land through the Stereoscope (1900)”
    Jeff Richmond-Moll

    In 1900, America’s leading stereograph firm, Underwood & Underwood, called upon Jesse Lyman Hurlbut of the Methodist Sunday School Union to create Traveling in the Holy Land through the Stereoscope, a “travel guide” that would carry the viewer-turned-pilgrim across the biblical landscape using Bert  Underwood’s 1897 stereoviews. Previous studies identify the nationalist and gendered worldview of this Palestine set; however, this paper examines less what the views capture and more how they operate technologically and conceptually. For, despite the often fraught relationship in scholarship between vision and Protestant faith – and despite a frequent emphasis on stereography’s “haptic” (sculptural) qualities, which seem antithetical to the noncorporeal nature of Protestantism – the optical mechanisms of the stereograph were instrumental to Hurlbut’s efforts to promote biblical truth.

    Hurlbut’s background in Methodism, which often stressed visual experience as a means to the divine, may explain his insistence on the stereograph’s ability to lead viewers from sight to belief. Perhaps inspired by the repeated progression of “come”-“see”-“believe” throughout the New Testament, Hurlbut invited his viewers to “come” with him to Palestine, “see” the earth on which the Bible unfolded, and “believe” in Christianity’s veracity. Moreover, Hurlbut thematized the concept of vision throughout his text, whether describing the views as if one sees “through the eyes of” biblical characters themselves (the view of Jerusalem that Jesus wept over [Fig. 1]) or frequently identifying holy sites in relation to stories of vision (Christ’s miraculous [dis]apparition at Emmaus [Fig. 2]). Joining contemporary scientists and even Methodist theologians, Hurlbut envisioned the stereographic eye as a transparent, camera-like aperture, capable of “photographing” divine truths directly upon a viewer’s soul. Ultimately, however, Hurlbut – and his audience –struggled to distinguish between staring upon and seeing through these tactile, stereoscopic images. Like Jesus with his earliest disciples, Hurlbut called the viewer to “come and see”; but, like Doubting Thomases, viewers instead reached out into the stereographic plane as if to touch Christ’s wound and thereby connect with and confirm the veracity of their vision.

    Image is by Underwood and Underwood, The Village of Amwas (Emmaus), Palestine (St. Luke xxiv: 13-31)
, 1900
, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge