[S-fotografie] CFP: Agency & Automatism: Photography as Art since the Sixties (London, 10-12 June 10)

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Ven 9 Ott 2009 00:20:54 CEST

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Call for papers:


'Agency and Automatism' is the culminating conference of the 3 year AHRC research
project 'Aesthetics after Photography,' co-directed by Margaret Iversen (Dept of Art
History & Theory, University of Essex) and Diarmuid Costello (Dept of Philosophy,
University of Warwick). The conference will take place at

Tate Modern, London, 10-12 June 2010.

Taking as a point of departure the notable transformation in artists' use of
photography from 1960s to the present, the project considers its
implications for aesthetic theory. The art historical side of the project tracks
photography's transformation from anti-aesthetic, post-conceptual document to large
scale pictorial art. The philosophical side investigates what distinguishes
photography as a mode of depiction and an artistic medium, particularly in light of
recent artists' use of digital
technologies. Bringing these disciplines together promises to enhance our
understanding of one of the dominant mediums of contemporary art.

The conference aims to bring art history and philosophical aesthetics into dialogue
at the point of their intersection around questions of agency and automatism in the
photographic process. Such questions can be understood, art historically, in terms
of the recent history of artists' interest in the medium, particularly those
conceptual and post-conceptual artists who value photography in so far as it might
be thought to bracket artistic agency and authorial control. This is manifest in the
preference for unpretentious snapshot effects, documentary value, and deadpan anti-
or a-aesthetic qualities in conceptual and post-conceptual art, as well as in uses
of photography for the appropriation and recycling of existing imagery.

Similar questions of agency and automatism have arisen in recent debates in the
philosophy of photography. Philosophers tend to start from certain assumptions about
the mechanical, causal or "mind-independent" nature of the photographic process that
are taken to distinguish photographs from other forms of depiction. Given this
starting point, a special case then needs to be made for art photography, given its
evident porosity to artistic intention. By now almost all have rejected the extreme
conclusion that their underlying assumptions about photography as an automatic
recording mechanism preclude the possibility of fully-fledged photographic art.
Nonetheless, dominant conceptions of photography in philosophy still face problems
doing justice to artistic uses of the medium.

>From an art historical point of view, this is ironic, given that photography
arguably entered the mainstream fine art canon when artists turned to the medium to
exploit the very features of its process that appear, from a philosophical point of
view, to be in tension with its status as art. Such artists were interested in the
non-art nature of photography as a new resource and horizon of possibility for
artistic practice. That is, many artists valued photography in all the respects in
which it seemed to evade, rather than mimic, art with a capital 'A'. In view of
this, one way to understand the foregrounding of artistic intention in more recent
large scale, and often digital, art photography is as a rejection of this
post-conceptual settlement concerning the automaticity of photography. Whether such
practices go beyond conceptual photography or return
photography to the terrain of pre-conceptual pictorial art remains much debated.

Given the centrality of these issues, and particularly the unremarked interplay of
their art historical and philosophical manifestations, we invite papers that address
key conceptual antinomies in this debate - not just agency and automatism, but a
wide range of cognate notions such as intention and causality, mind and nature,
decision and chance, picture and document, icon and index, expressive vs. deadpan
style, etc  - or consider specific artists since the 1960s whose work bears on such
issues in illuminating ways. Invited speakers include: Carol Armstrong; Cynthia
Freeland; Robin Kelsey; Joel Snyder; Jeff Wall.

Submissions should consist of a 300-500 abstract, addressing the conference theme,
and an accompanying 1-2pp abbreviated CV. The deadline for receipt is 1 December
2009, and we aim to notify in January 2010.

Please e-mail all submissions to both Dawn Phillips and Wolfgang Brückle, the
project research fellows at: Dawn.Phillips a warwick.ac.uk;
wbruckle a essex.ac.uk.

Dr. Wolfgang Brückle
Senior Research Officer
Department of Art History and Theory
University of Essex
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom
+44 01206 872200 tel (admin)
+44 01206 872606 tel (direct)
wbruckle a essex.ac.uk

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