Presentation Abstracts

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    "The Representation of Intersex Bodies in Klonaris/Thomadaki's Multimedia Practice" by Laura Giudici

    “The representation of intersex bodies in Klonaris/Thomadaki’s multimedia practice”
    Laura Giudici

    The core of my research is centered on the body, identity and visual representations of intersexuality. Where medicine and art meet, this topic is inevitably involved in delicate philosophical, social and cultural issues. These images are challenging to the art historian, opening a wide spectrum of methodological questions. From which perspective should these pictures be analyzed? How is it possible to develop a suitable interdisciplinary approach?

    The multimedia practice of the duo artists Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki is a very good example of how these issues can be integrated. Two series of works – Cycle des Hermaphrodites (1982‐1990) and Cycle de l’Ange (1985‐2003) –, are focused on intersexuality, both of which question in different ways the problem of the migration of images and ideas. The starting point for the first series was the famous sculpture of the Sleeping Hermaphrodite and, for the second, an anonymous medical photograph of an intersex person. Using different media approaches, the artists metamorphosed these pictures in many ways, combining them with other elements to create immersive visual and sound environments, thereby evoking links between the past and the present, as well as imagination and reality. The result is a work which not only addresses concerns of gender and (post‐)identity, but also technological, intermedia and interdisciplinary issues related to artistic practices. Another interesting aspect of Klonaris/Thomadaki’s projects is their reflection on an alternative understanding of performance and perception.

    The concept of “Nachleben” as investigated by Aby Warburg and the anthropological approach theorized by Hans Belting seem to offer efficient instruments for analyzing these two series of works. It is nevertheless necessary to combine them with other methodological points of view and the theoretical assertions made by the artists themselves to arrive at a thorough comprehension of their visual world.

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "Drawings from the Other Side" by Alicia Puglionesi

    “Drawings from the other side”
    Alicia Puglionesi


    Researchers in psychology and the cognitive sciences often look to the production and analysis of drawings to reveal the mental processes of their subjects. This talk presents three episodes that trace the emergence of drawing as an instrumental practice in the study of the mind. Between 1870 and 1950, the drawings of psychological subjects gained currency as a form of scientific evidence – as stable, reproducible signals from a hidden interior.

    This story begins with the use of drawings as data in the child-study movement, established by G. Stanley Hall in the 1870s, which aimed to produce an “inventory of the child mind.” It then moves to the telepathic transmission of drawings in psychical research, which adapted Hall's simple drawing activity as a tool for the scientific investigation of telepathy. Psychical researchers hoped to determine whether “impressions from the minds of those about us [can reach] our own minds by channels distinct from those of the senses.” Finally, I link this practice with the development of drawing as an experimental tool for studying neurological impairment. Drawings elicited from neuropsychiatric patients in the mid-twentieth century were understood to reveal particular breakdowns in the internal communication pathways of the brain. When the drawings of brain-injured patients appeared as figures in the scientific literature, they formed a taxonomy of lesions and a topology of communication failure.

    Thus, in the twentieth century, the same drawing exercises that once illustrated the universality of concepts and the porous boundaries of the self had become a tool for diagnosing the fragmentation of individual cognitive functions. In exploring these three cases, I link the role of drawing in investigations of the mind to the rhetoric of scientific images: where and how visual information can travel depends on our understanding of the seeing, thinking, and representing self.

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "Stripped Bare: Dissecting Wax, Print, and Paper Bodies in Antebellum America" by Juliet Sperling

    “Stripped Bare: Dissecting Wax, Print, and Paper Bodies in Antebellum America”
    Juliet Sperling

    The visual culture of 1840s Philadelphia was teeming with dissected bodies: sliced open, disassembled, and peeled apart layer by layer. As a popular anatomy craze swept the United States, crowds of thousands swarmed to public dissection lectures that featured life-size papier- mâché manikins. In emerging medical museums, visitors watched more delicate demonstrations on the lifelike wax forms of imported Anatomical Venuses. At home, curious viewers rehearsed their own procedures with “dissected plate” anatomy books, illustrated with intricately layered flaps that opened to reveal the body’s hidden depths. Movement dominated these new visions of the body—a soulless animation that living forms could never sustain, marked by excavations, expansions, and penetrations.

    This paper explores how these seemingly discrete aesthetic experiences converged on the stage of an emerging mass visual culture. I argue that movement—witnessed, remembered, and reenacted—was the crucial common feature that allowed audiences to suture otherwise disconnected perceptual experiences. In order to reconstruct these imaginative processes, I examine the intersection of two types of mass engagement with movable images of the human form: first, America’s first public exhibitions of lecture manikins and Anatomical Venuses, life-size demountable beauties with medical knowledge hidden beneath their wax flesh; and second, anatomy books with movable “dissected plate” illustrations, printed and distributed widely in the United States beginning in 1846. By tracing how visual knowledge was transmitted between separate media encounters, I identify an important shift in understanding bodily surfaces as increasingly unreliable sites of empirical knowledge.

    https://upenn.academia.edu/JulietSperling 

    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
  • Six Degrees of Francis Bacon
     

    "Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: History, Networks, Knowledge"

    “Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: History, Networks, Knowledge”
    Dr. Christopher Warren, Dr.
 Raja Sooriamurthi, 
Ivy Chung, 
Sama Kanbour,
 Angela Qiu, 
Chanamon Ratanalert

    http://sixdegreesoffrancisbacon.com/

    This poster presentation will introduce a web interface for Six Degrees of Francis Bacon (SDFB), a collaborative, multidisciplinary, visual humanities project with wide utility for several subfields in early modern studies. Historians, literary critics, musicologists, art historians, and others have long studied the way that early modern people associated with each other and participated in various kinds of formal and informal groups. Yet their scholarship, published in countless books and articles, is scattered and unsynthesized. By data-mining existing scholarship that describes relationships between early modern persons, SDFB is creating unified, systematized representations of the way people in early modern Britain were connected.

    In seeking to characterize early modern social networks in previous work, scholars have of course relied primarily on their most cherished medium, prose. Yet it is far from obvious that prose, or rather prose alone, is the most appropriate medium for representing social networks. Most editions of Shakespeare’s works implicitly acknowledge the limitations of prose when they choose to display the genealogy of English kings in the form of a family tree. The visual image of the tree conveys relationships with a clarity and succinctness that even the best prose stylists would be hard pressed to match. Yet it is not only for reasons of clarity and succinctness that a digital medium is superior to prose alone in representing the complexities of the early modern social network. Unlike published prose, our web interface is extensible, collaborative, and interoperable: extensible in that affiliations can always be added, modified, developed, or, removed; collaborative in that it synthesizes the work of many scholars; and interoperable in that new work on the network is put into immediate relation to previously mapped relationships.

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "The World, as it is Written on the Wall" by Patricia K. Guiley

    “The World, as it is Written on the Wall”
    Patricia K. Guiley

    Throughout history artists have incorporated or used graffiti as a mode of social expression and artistic exhibition. When analyzing graffiti, from the earliest inception of cave drawings spanning up to current graffiti works, it is necessary for the viewer to conceptualize graffiti as a body which can assume two forms, that of text and that of image. Graffiti art frequently employs depictions of obscured text in effort to communicate a social message and illustrate artistic prowess creating a synergistic bridge between text and image vocalizing the rebellious spirit involved in much of its production.

    In the 20th and 21st centuries, graffiti writers have employed various techniques in order to communicate dense social messages with their art. These techniques frequently involve appropriation of existing images and maintain staunch social messages. While examining the social messages conveyed in both the text and pictorial images in graffiti, some of the world’s most prolific (sanctioned and non-sanctioned) graffiti art of the past two decades, will be outlined and used as examples. Included in this lineup will be works from: Banksy, Obey, Gajin Fujita, Princess Hijab, and Blu. It will be illustrated that intensely controversial social messages are communicated in a fluidly artistic manner uniquely found in graffiti’s voice, which reaches further than language alone.

    The final argument will show that these works are the platform for uncensored global conversations and serve as the only form of free speech in many parts of the world, thusly maintaining a unique and sharp historical perspective on political and social climates within the cities in which they appear.

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "Equivocating Diagrams: The Many Epistemic Virtues of C.H. Waddington's Images and Arguments" by Matthew Allen

    “Equivocating Diagrams: the many epistemic virtues in C H Waddington’s images and arguments”
    Matthew Allen

    The argument has been that images are particularly revealing windows onto scientific production – choices of visualization put “epistemic virtues” on display for all to see. In Objectivity, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison persuasively describe hard-working scientists toiling away with photographic equipment in pursuit of mechanical objectivity and experts creating interpretive drawings to convey their trained judgment. In each case, a singular scientific persona, a distinct set of visualization techniques, and a particular type of image are linked neatly together.

    But what about those cases in which images equivocate and values refuse to be categorized? Sometimes in the course of knowledge generation images are deployed which suggest very different things and may even be odds with each other. In this paper I will analyze a series of diagrams created between 1940 and 1966 by developmental biologist Conrad Hal Waddington, all meant to explain the same pair of concepts (the chreod and the epigenetic landscape). Each diagram in isolation is relatively straightforward, explaining a different aspect of his theoretical concepts and suggesting different possibilities for intervention in developing embryos. But seen in the context of Waddington’s ambitious program for what he called “theoretical biology,” these images work against the deliberate typecasting done by his intellectual rivals – particularly Ernst Mayr, successful proponent of the so-called Modern Synthesis. Waddington’s diagrams act as mediating devices, helping the viewer/reader understand the subtleties of his theories. They militate against what Waddington saw as overly-simplistic attempts to bracket one area of biological knowledge from another. As a set, these contradictory images point towards a complex, nuanced theoretical model for which no simple analogy, no singular persona, and no discrete set of epistemic values would suffice. 

    To open up to a larger discussion of the connections between epistemic virtues and visualization, I will end with an analysis of the most famous of Waddington’s diagrams. Placing it in the context in which it was published, and keeping a close eye on the disciplinary arguments at work, I will show that, even in this single instance, Waddington toggles between very different personas and virtues in a way that would seem schizophrenic in Daston’s and Galison’s account. This suggests that even straightforward images typically support many different ways of seeing and contrasting values, and that a larger discursive apparatus is required to either limit or expand their interpretation.

    Images are depictions of Conrad Hal Waddington's concept of the epigenetic landscape. The ball represents a cell, and the branching system of valleys represents the division and specialization of cells during the development or an organism. Each valley in the landscape is formed by tension on guy ropes that are attached pegs stuck in the ground, which represent genes. From Waddington, C. H. The Strategy of the Genes (Geo Allen & Unwin, London, 1957).

    Allen's talk is now an article published in Volume 4 of Contemporaneity: http://contemporaneity.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/contemporaneity/article/view/143

    Categories: 
    • Debating Visual Knowledge
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    "The Japanese Nationality Room: Showcasing Japan's Cultural Past to Facilitate American Interest," by Mariah Simensky

    The Cathedral of Learning’s Japanese Nationality room highlights 18th century minka style architecture and includes a variety of cultural elements illuminating Japanese traditions of all social classes. The room, dedicated on July 25, 1999, differs in purpose compared to the other nationality rooms. Where the other rooms attempted to carve out an identity of the immigrant communities' new cultural background, a mixture between that of their homeland and the culture adopted from the United States, the Japanese Nationality Room, sought to facilitate interest in Japan and educate the people of Pittsburgh of its cultural heritage. I will be arguing that the Japanese Nationality room committee created a room acting as a tool to initiate public and international interest towards Japan and its traditions through the design of the room, one that highlights high court and working class Japanese culture, the insertion of objects, both ritual, classical, and mundane, representative of Japan as a whole, and through the archival records that demonstrate the diverse ideas of the committee members.

    My research will focus on the evolution of the design of the room from the proposed plan of two Japanese gardens in the cathedral’s inner courtyards of 1971, to the transformation of the room’s design moving from katura teahouse, to Noh theater stage, to the decided upon minka style farmhouse, and the reasoning behind the design’s transition from one to the other. I will also be investigating how the committee came up with ways to justify or assert certain cultural elements as representatives of Japanese culture over others. Furthermore, I will research how those cultural elements interact and blend together to form a seamless mixture of cultural aspects from the different social classes that shaped Japan’s history in order to prove the room as being an intended tool used to perk the interest of Japanese culture as a whole within the local community and the greater United States.

    For more information about Mariah, click here.

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Shifting Perspectives: Evolution of Imagery as Identity in the Hungarian Room" by Melissa Quarto

    The Hungarian Room that exists today combines folk artistic traditions with a visual timeline to narrate the nation’s complicated history. The Hungarian Committee formed in 1927, and with great enthusiasm became the first committee to put forward a donation to the Nationality Room Council and grew to include Magyars from surrounding Pittsburgh suburbs. Minutes from meetings reveal their eagerness demonstrate their historic achievements in an open dialogue between themselves and a transcultural audience.

    National symbols of Hungary, such as the Holy Crown of St. Stephen, coupled with the inclusion of folk motifs, primary references to historical agriculture products, illustrated by decorative tulip carvings, paprika red coloring the ceiling, complimenting the warmth of a tobacco stained oak veneer. The need to define their target audience, either the local ethnic community or the general city public, would consequently determine the form of the room. The Hungarian Room seeks a comprise between an aesthetic interpretation of cultural heritage recognizable to a fellow Magyar, and an educational presentation in order to educate students of Hungary’s complicated past. According to correspondence, the Hungarian Committee seeks to install a variety of objects to represent the various backgrounds that made up Hungary over a long period time, including translations of Hungarian literature, musical scores, reproductions of historic paintings, and a painted panel depicting figures important in shaping Hungary’s complicated past.. I will explore why these objectives were not met at the room’s dedication in 1939. Following the later addition of the stained glass windows in 1956, the room shifts from an inclusive, cultural perspective to a broader, informative narrative of Hungarian national history, geared towards a universal audience. What obstacles prevented the Hungarian committee for constructing an image of their cultural identity geared towards a multicultural audience in their initial actualization of the room, and through what modes were they able to rally up morale and support in order to execute the later addition of the stained glass windows?

    For more information about Melissa, click here.

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Czech, Slovak, Czechoslovak: National Identity in the Czechoslovak Nationality Room," by Max Adzema

    My interests have led me to research the Czechoslovak Nationality Room, in that it represents the distinct and deliberate joining of two or more peoples into a single nation.  Formed as a nation in 1918, Czechoslovakia represented a unified nation of multiple ethnicities.  However, these self-identifying ethnic groups had (and still have) very different traditions and identities, including language, art, history, and way of life.  Since the vast majority of Czech and Slovak immigrants arrived in the United States before Czechoslovakia’s 1918 creation, they were fiercely proud of their individual ethnic heritage.  They kept it distinct from the other, living in very separate communities and maintaining separate identities.  Through my research, I have found that it was a very difficult task to represent these two groups fairly and equally in one room.  I argue that, while the Czechoslovak Nationality Room attempts to paint a picture of multi-cultural “Slavic unity,” it reversely portrays a class society where Czechs have superiority over Slovaks, an issue that existed since the country’s creation.  Although the Czechoslovak-Americans that created the room may have wanted to show the harmony of a unified state (they were heavily influenced by their brethren still in Europe), they left telltale signs that Czechs and Slovaks were not thought of as equal.  The problems and benefits of uniting these two peoples into one country can be seen in the microcosm of the Czechoslovak Nationality Room, which I aim to show.

    For more information about Max, click here.

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work

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