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36th CIHA World Congress - Lyon 2024

Sponsored by the French Ministry of Culture,
the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research,
and the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

New Materialities - Nouvelles Matérialités

The Materiality of Pious Texts: The Qur’an and Devotional Manuscripts

Alya Karame 1 , Umberto Bongianino 2

College De France - Paris (France), 2University of Oxford (UK)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Both the Qur’an and Islamic devotional manuscripts have traditionally been studied as texts and artistic achievements, but rarely as material objects. Concerns about how to handle and dispose of Qur’anic matter – how to use the manuscript, where to place it, when to touch it – or whether it is permissible to perfume it, ingest it or sell it, were among the anxieties of the first centuries of Islam. Formative to the Qur’an’s physical manifestation as codices, scrolls or inscribed artefacts, these debates shaped its sacrality in the material realm and affected the use of Islamic devotional manuscripts in which passages of the Qur’an appear next to other pious texts, prayers or illustrations of holy places. Art history has been rarely concerned with such phenomena, or with the corporeality of sacred and pious texts in general.

This session aims to interrogate the materiality of pious texts and the roles they played in shaping artistic forms embedded in a diverse range of practices, at the time of their production or in their afterlives: Qur’anic calligraphy, calligrams, and emblematic inscriptions in books and scrolls, but also on tablets and panels of various materials, interspersed or combined with devotional texts and images presented in diagrammatic or iconified forms. By moving away from archaeological taxonomies and the study of styles and repertoires, we hope to create space for approaching pious texts through their materiality, their use, and the range of physical reactions they elicited. Meanings – whether religious, political, or aesthetic – can be found not just in how texts looked, but also in how they functioned, and it is through the lens of materiality that previously neglected ideas and behaviors can be examined.

When Theory Becomes Practice – New Materialism, Object-Oriented Ontology and Perspectivism in Contemporary Art

Rahma Khazam 1 , Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira 2

Institut Acte, Sorbonne Paris 1 - Paris (France), 2Universität Zürich (Switzerland)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Recent decades have witnessed the emergence of new approaches to matter and materiality in contemporary art. The materials constituting the artwork, its realization and its conservation have become all-important – to the point where it is often forgotten that the material turn, as it is called, has philosophical and theoretical underpinnings that are reshaping and transforming the practices of a growing number of artists. Taking their cue from philosophical movements such as new materialism and object-oriented ontology (OOO), and scholars such as Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, Graham Harman, Tim Ingold, Timothy Morton and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, these artists are investigating the agency of matter and objects, their liveliness, their relation to other objects or materials, and their ability to decentre the human.

Even though these artistic forays into philosophy and anthropology have thus far attracted less attention than issues relating to material culture as such, they have nonetheless been taken up by a number of publications and exhibitions. Publications that explore the philosophical underpinnings of matter and objects and their impact on art include Realism Materialism Art (eds. Cox, Jaskey, Malik, Sternberg Press 2015) and Power of Material/Politics of Materiality (eds. Witzgall, Stakemeier, The University of Chicago Press 2018) , while Art + Objects (Graham Harman, Polity Press 2020) and The Power of Wonder: New Materialisms in Contemporary Art (ed. Heinzelmann, DCV 2022) are more recent investigations of some of these developments. Whereas exhibitions such as Magiciens de la Terre (Centre Pompidou/Grande Halle de la Villette 1989) opened up new non-Western perspectives for art, dOCUMENTA (13) (Kassel 2012), Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere (MIT List Visual Arts Center 2022-23) and We are all Lichens (Musée d'art contemporain de Rochechouart 2022) have featured artists who specifically engage with notions such as materiality, objecthood and non-human agency in their work, such as Pierre Huyghe, Candice Lin, Michael E. Smith, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Jenna Sutela, or Annicka Yi.

However a more systematic approach is required if we are to account for the impact of the new philosophical and anthropological approaches on art-making. This session will endeavour to lay the foundations for such an account by asking the following questions, among others: how do artists and exhibition curators apply theories such as perspectivism, new materialism and object-oriented ontology to art and are there commonalities between their approaches? Can one construct a coherent art-historical lineage for new materialist and OOO-inspired art, starting with process art or the ready-made and continuing through to contemporary bio-art, in which nonhuman agency is preeminent? What is the impact on artistic practice of post-human theories such as new materialism and OOO that question art history's humanist outlook by decentering the human? To what extent do new materialist, perspectivist and OOO-inspired art overcome the oppositions between form, idea, matter and object?

Materialities of the body

Andre Bocchetti 1, Erin Manning 2

Federal University Of Rio De Janeiro - Rio De Janeiro (Brazil), 2Concordia University - Montréal (Canada)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

A body is a crowd. The corporeal individuality, human or non-human, organic or not, can be thought as the result of a historical and ontological composition. What if we could, then, map, tell and fable such stories of the materialization of a body?

The session aims to bring together those interested in problematizing the materiality of the body, based on the debate on theorizations, investigative processes and experiments that can support it. From anthropology to the arts, from philosophy to education, bodily unity has been discussed in its modes of production: Tim Ingold once thought of “a body” as a heap, Judith Butler as result of citational practices, and still is possible thinking of it as a crossing of modes of existence in conversations with Etienne Souriau or Bruno Latour, to name just a few examples.

The materiality of bodies therefore carries the possibility of leading us to stories of ontological crossings that deserve our interest. Even because the mapping or even the fabulation of such stories has enormous political importance. Telling about the multiplicity that makes (and unmakes) a body, in its ever-paradoxical permanence, means open spaces for understanding the operations involved in the modeling of bodily reality itself, whether densely stabilizing the limits of a body or opening it to the creation of other modes of embodiment.

In the processes of materialization of the corporal unit are added historical and ontological movements on which are implied the most diverse somatic, social, and ecological relations. Therefore, we invite the participants of this session to think of a body as an entity with its own forms, representations, sensitivities and kinesthetics, but always connected, although in a contesting way, to the worlds and networks of meaning and practices that at the same time constrain it and provoke its inventive possibility.

Matérialités de l’architecture face aux mutations contemporaines (1945-2022)

Catherine Chevillot 1, Jean-Baptiste Marie 2, Yvan Delemontey 3

Capa - Paris (France), 2Ensa - Clermont-Ferrand (France), 3L’office Du Patrimoine Et Des Sites - Genève (Switzerland)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Materials of architecture in the face of contemporary change (1945-2022)

Research in the history of architecture has mainly focused : (1) on origins, theories and ideas, (2) on architectural objects and their design methods. Apart from a few very specific cases, architects and periods (Labrouste and cast iron, Perret and concrete, Prouvé and metal, etc.), it focused less on the process of manufacturing itself : production (sectors, choices of industrialization, transition from R&D to development, etc.) and design. Through the process of manufacturing, the link between “how it's made” and “how it's designed” appears, and questions how matter is aestheticized or used as a aesthetic statement in a global architectural proposal.

However, a history of materiality, therefore of “doing” as one inherent qualities of architecture, is inseparable from the history of major changes and key challenges that architecture has faced over time. Whether it is the beginnings of industrialization, mass production with concrete, the rise of the digital tools, collaborations between architect and engineer, or nowadays even the shocks of the climate crisis, cultural and technical evolutions have each time upset traditions, professions, processes, sectors...

This session could be structured around the idea of mutations and through three themes.

  • Industrialization and prefabrication
    (Taking into account new materials and construction processes, development of new types of building, development of sectors in architecture, experiments, etc.)
  • Investing in digital design
    expected or unintended consequences (Change in the relationship to materiality, impoverishment or enrichment of construction systems and materials, etc.)
  • Ecology at the heart of the technical question
    (Rehabilitation, re-use, research on new materials and related forms, return to traditional materials, etc.)

It aims a transversal approach between historians of architecture, historians of ideas, architects. By doing so, it will identify the mechanisms at work in the adaptation of manufacturing systems ; and how, in return, the work on manufacturing processes informs and transforms aesthetic proposals of architects throughout the history of art.

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

La recherche en histoire de l’architecture s’est souvent intéressée aux genèses, aux théories et aux idées, aux objets architecturaux et à leurs méthodes de conception. En dehors de quelques périodes bien précises (Labrouste et la fonte, Perret et le béton, Prouvé et le métal…), elle s’est moins penchée sur la fabrication, c’est-à-dire la production (filières, choix d’industrialisation, passage de la R&D au développement, etc.) et la conception, c’est-à-dire sur le lien entre le « comment c’est fait » et « comment c’est dessiné » ; comment la matière est esthétisée ou utilisée comme aliment d’une proposition esthétique.

Or une histoire de la matérialité, donc du « faire » comme des qualités intrinsèques de l’architecture, est indissociable de l’histoire des grandes mutations et des défis-clés auxquels l’architecture a été confrontée au cours du temps. Qu’il s’agisse des débuts de l’industrialisation, de la production de masse avec le béton, de l’impact de la numérisation, des collaborations entre architecte et ingénieur, enfin du choc de la crise climatique, des changements culturels et techniques ont à chaque fois bouleversé les traditions, métiers, processus, filières…

La session pourrait s’organiser autour de cette idée des mutations en trois thèmes, et, dans une approche transversale entre historiens de l’architecture, historiens des idées, architectes, tenter de cerner les mécanismes à l’œuvre dans l’adaptation des systèmes de fabrication ; et la manière dont en retour, la prise en compte de ces aspects informe et transforme les propositions esthétiques des architectes, et infléchit l’histoire de l’art.

  • Industrialisation et préfabrication
    (Prise en compte de nouveaux matériaux et procédés constructifs, développement de nouveaux types de bâtiment, développement des filières dans l’architecture, expérimentations…)
  • L’investissement de la conception par le numérique : conséquences attendues ou inattendues
    (Changement du rapport à la matérialité, appauvrissement ou enrichissement des systèmes constructifs et des matériaux…)
  • L’écologique au cœur de la question technique
    (Réhabilitation, réemploi, recherches sur les nouveaux matériaux et formes liées, retour des matériaux traditionnels…)
Curating and Preserving Olfactory Art and Heritage

Érika Wicky 1, Olivier David 2, Marjolijn Bol 3

Bibliotheca Hertziana - Roma (Italy), 2Institut Lavoisier / Uvsq Paris Saclay - Paris (France), 3Utrecht University - Utrecht (Netherlands)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Although invisible and intangible, smells emanate from matter and are themselves material. For this reason, they offer a singular perspective on the materiality of arts that traditionally address the sense of sight. At the crossroads of two approaches that emerged in the 1990’s - smell studies (Classen and Al., 1994) and technical art history (Wallert and al., 1995) - the olfactory approach to art and heritage has recently become internationally established in museums and academia. In addition to the recent emergence of contemporary olfactory art (Shiner, 2020 ; Barré, 2021), which offers an aesthetic experience based on the sense of smell (Jaquet, 2015), the smell of artefacts is increasingly taken into consideration (Classen, 2017), as it can provide information on their history (Castel, 2019) or on their state of conservation (Bembibre, 2020). If it has thus become common to consider perfume as art or odor as heritage the challenges related to the material specificity of odors, characterized by their ephemeral nature, remain mostly underexplored. This calls for new theoretical and methodological tools that are necessarily interdisciplinary and likely to renew the discipline of art history.

In particular, curating and preserving smells raises new challenges that this panel seek to explore through questions arising from concrete case studies related to early modern and modern periods (exhibitions, artworks, historical reconstructions, etc.): First of all, which smells are worth preserving, and according to which criteria should the contents of olfactory archives be selected? How do the different actors (curators, conservators, public, etc.) use their sense of smell and how can they be trained? How can we capture the smells of the current times and document smells for archival purposes, given that the use of formulas favored by the perfume industry has major limitations (such as the identification of raw materials)? How to adapt the tools of art history (description, illustration, etc.) to the new medium of olfaction and how to make olfactory descriptions/diagnoses provided by perfumers (noses) objective so that curators can benefit from them? How to archive the smells themselves and preserve the olfactory works of art? How to preserve olfactory historical reconstructions and to document a process that will become part of the history of olfactory culture? How to manage copyright issues since a perfume cannot be legally considered as a work of the mind and how to create an open archive? How to define olfactory authenticity and therefore evaluate the accuracy of reconstructions? How to implement historically accurate olfactory projects and how to communicate about the historical accuracy of the olfactory reconstructions? These are some of the questions arising from the blooming of smells in art and museums. This panel aims to stimulate interdisciplinary exchanges between researchers and actors in order to start answering these questions and to set up good practices regarding the curation and preservation of olfactory art and heritage.

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

Bien qu'invisibles et intangibles, les odeurs émanent de la matière et sont elles-mêmes matérielles. C'est pourquoi elles offrent une perspective singulière sur la matérialité des œuvres d’arts qui s'adressent traditionnellement au sens de la vue. Au croisement de deux approches apparues dans les années 1990 - les études sur l’olfaction (Classen et al., 1994) et l'histoire de l'art technique (Wallert et al., 1995) - l'approche olfactive de l'art et du patrimoine s’est récemment imposée internationalement dans les musées et les universités. Outre l'émergence récente de l'art olfactif contemporain (Shiner, 2020 ; Barré, 2021), qui propose une expérience esthétique fondée sur l’olfaction (Jaquet, 2015), l'odeur des artefacts est toujours plus prise en considération (Classen, 2017), car elle peut renseigner sur leur histoire (Castel, 2019) ou sur leur état de conservation (Bembibre, 2020). S'il est ainsi devenu courant de considérer que le parfum peut être un art ou qu’une odeur peut constituer un patrimoine (Odeuropa, H2020), les enjeux liés à la matérialité des odeurs, caractérisées par leur caractère éphémère, restent amplement sous-explorés. Cette lacune dans l’actualité de la recherche nécessite de forger de nouveaux outils théoriques et méthodologiques nécessairement interdisciplinaires et susceptibles de renouveler la discipline de l'histoire de l'art.

La conservation et la préservation des odeurs soulèvent de nouveaux défis que ce panel cherche à explorer à travers des questions issues d'études de cas concrets liés aux périodes moderne et contemporaine (expositions, œuvres d'art, reconstructions historiques, etc.) Tout d'abord, quelles odeurs ou parfums méritent d'être conservées et selon quels critères le contenu des archives olfactives doit-il être sélectionné ? Comment les différents acteur·trice·s (conservateur·trice·s, restaurateur·trice·s, public, etc.) utilisent-ils leur sens de l'odorat et comment peuvent-ils être formé·e·s ? Comment capter les odeurs de l'époque actuelle et les documenter à des fins d'archivage, sachant que l'utilisation des formules privilégiées par l'industrie du parfum présente des limites importantes (comme l'identification des matières premières) ? Comment adapter les outils de l'histoire de l'art (description, illustration, etc.) au nouveau médium de l'olfaction et comment objectiver les descriptions/diagnostics olfactifs fournis par les parfumeurs (nez) pour en faire bénéficier les conservateurs ? Comment archiver les odeurs elles-mêmes et préserver les œuvres d'art olfactives ? Comment préserver les reconstructions historiques olfactives et documenter leur élaboration, un processus qui fera partie de l'histoire de la culture olfactive? Comment gérer les questions de droits d'auteur, puisqu'un parfum ne peut être légalement considéré comme une œuvre de l'esprit, et comment créer des archives ouvertes ? Comment définir l'authenticité olfactive et donc évaluer l'exactitude des reconstitutions ? Comment mettre en œuvre des projets olfactifs historiquement exacts et comment communiquer sur l'exactitude historique des reconstructions olfactives ? Telles sont quelques-unes des questions soulevées par la floraison des odeurs dans les arts et les musées. Ce panel vise à stimuler les échanges interdisciplinaires entre les chercheurs et les acteurs afin d'entamer une réflexion sur l'utilisation des odeurs dans l'art et les musées.

Les matériaux coffrés et de concrétion: les nouvelles matérialités de l'architecture (XVe-XXe siècles)

Gilbert Richaud 1, Joao Mascarenhas-Mateus 2

1Larhra - Lyon (France), 2Université De Lisbonne - Lisbonne (Portugal)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Coffered and concretional materials: towards new materiality in architecture (15th-20th centuries)

The session is centered on the history of methods of formwork and new concretional materials conceived and experimented in Europe and territories under its influence, from the 15th century to the beginning of the First World War. These building systems aimed to replace traditional lime-based masonries and other materials such as ceramics, carpentry, or iron, for reasons of economy, durability, and mechanical resistance. The new processes could obtain monolithic objects or cast on-site constructions adopting the shape of the formworks in which materials had been compressed and agglomerated, manually or mechanically.

These innovations led to new architectural and artistic horizons based first on the resurgence and improvement of ancient vernacular techniques such as rammed earth, used by European neoclassical architects at the end of the 18th century. In the industrial era, ordinary or "agglomerated" concrete, concurrently with cast iron and laminated steel, eventually led to reinforced concrete and the gradual revelation of its full plastic nature and potential. These developments established a new architectural paradigm explored widely all over the world.

Early concretes had important links to improvements in various scientific fields. They encouraged imaginative uses and possibilities, drawing on new ambitions, aspirations, ideologies, and utopias. They suggested alternatives to the traditional masonry of stone or brick blocks and open the doors to walls and pillars free of orders and of the principle of compression of their structural elements. Alternative relationships with materiality were proposed, revealing also a form of agentivity, a kind of independent life of the new materials.

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

 La session est centrée sur l'histoire des matériaux coffrés et de concrétion conçus et expérimentés en Europe, dans les territoires sous son influence, du XVe siècle au début de la Première Guerre mondiale. Ces systèmes de construction visaient à remplacer les maçonneries traditionelles à base de chaux, la terre cuite, le bois ou le fer, pour des raisons d'économie, de durabilité et de résistance mécanique. Ces procédés permettaient d'obtenir sur place des ouvrages monolithes adoptant la forme des coffrages dans lesquels les matériaux avaient été comprimés et agglomérés, manuellement ou mécaniquement.

Ces innovations ont conduit à de nouveaux horizons architecturaux basés d'abord sur la résurgence d'anciennes techniques vernaculaires telles que le pisé, utilisé par les architectes néoclassiques européens à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. À l'ère industrielle, le béton ordinaire ou "aggloméré", parallèlement à la fonte et à l'acier laminé, a finalement conduit au béton armé et à la révélation de sa nature et de son potentiel plastiques. Ces développements ont établi un nouveau paradigme architectural largement exploré dans le monde entier.

Les premiers bétons ont eu des liens importants avec des progrès dans divers domaines scientifiques. Ils ont encouragé de nouvelles ambitions, aspirations, idéologies et utopies. Ils ont proposé des alternatives à la maçonnerie traditionnelle de blocs de pierre ou de brique et libéré les murs et piliers des ordres et du principe de compression des éléments structurels. Des relations alternatives avec la matérialité ont été proposées, suggérant également une forme d'agentivité, une sorte de vie indépendante de ces nouveaux matériaux.

Materiality in History of Architecture and Urban Planning: evolutions of techniques, perceptions and analyzes

Léo Noyer Duplaix 1, Jean-Baptiste Minnaert 2 , Ruxandra-Iulia Stoica 3

Centre André Chastel Umr 8150 - Paris (France), 2Sorbonne Université/centre André Chastel Umr 8150 - Paris (France), 3University of Edinburgh (UK)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The session questions old and new virtual materialities in the History of Architecture and Urbanism: architectural surveys of building archaeology, photogrammetry, laser scanning, geomatics, etc. This materiality influences the perception and analysis of space, but to what extent?

The first axis focuses on the history of the dematerialization of space for analytical purposes. While researchers specialising in the study of the Medieval period (especially building archaeologists) traditionally use reconstruction techniques, various Cultural Heritage study centres (within academia or not) have in particular used these techniques, essentially up to the limit of Modern and contemporary times. How, over the long term, have these techniques influenced the perception of space and therefore conditioned the analysis of buildings? Where (university departments, local authority heritage services, heritage conservation organisations, etc.) and by whom (photographers, surveyors, draftsmen, etc.) have these techniques been implemented? Finally, can we establish correlations between the evolution of these techniques and that of historiography?

The second axis focuses, always for analytical purposes, on the extension of the dematerialization of space since the ‘digital revolution.’ Medieval buildings are thus no longer the only concerned, but also those of later periods, as well as an entire area, whether urban, peri-urban or rural. The advent of digital technologies has brought a revolution in the perception of space, creating new methods of analysis. Which new materialization techniques have mostly influenced researchers in the history of architecture and urbanism? Have these techniques constituted a real revolution in analysis or are they only incidental tools for materializing space? Where and how are these techniques applied? What new techniques should evolve in order to further improve the analysis of buildings?

The session is made with the support of an International Scientific Committee: Christopher Drew ARMSTRONG (US), François BALLAUD (FR), Emmanuel CHÂTEAU-DUTIER (CA), Grégory CHAUMET (FR), Sophie CUEILLE (FR), Thorsten HANKE (UK), Andres LEPIK (DE), Anesti  KOUTSOUDIS (GR), Annunziata Maria OTERI (IT), Letizia TEDESCHI (CH) and Geoffrey STELL (UK).

For more information, see the session website:

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

La session propose de questionner les matérialités virtuelles anciennes et nouvelles en l’histoire de l’architecture et de l’urbanisme – relevés d’archéologues du bâti, photogrammétrie, lasergrammétrie, géomatique, etc. Cette matérialité conditionne la perception et l’analyse de l’espace, mais dans quelle mesure ?

Le premier axe porte sur l’histoire de la dématérialisation de l’espace à des fins d’analyse. Si les chercheurs spécialisés dans l’étude de l’époque médiévale – et tout particulièrement les archéologues du bâti – usent traditionnellement des techniques de reconstitution, les différents services d’étude du patrimoine culturel – universitaires ou non – ont notamment fait appel à ces techniques – essentiellement jusqu’à la limite des temps modernes et de l’époque contemporaine. Comment, sur le temps long, ces techniques ont-elles influé sur la perception de l’espace et donc conditionné l’analyse du bâti ? Où – départements universitaires, services patrimoniaux de collectivités locales, organisations de conservation du patrimoine, etc. – et par qui – photographes, topographes, dessinateurs, etc. – ces techniques ont-elles été mises œuvre ? Peut-on enfin établir des corrélations entre l’évolution de ces techniques et celle de l’historiographie ?

Le deuxième axe s’intéresse, toujours à des fins d’analyse, à l’extension de la dématérialisation de l’espace depuis la « révolution numérique ». Les édifices médiévaux ne sont ainsi plus uniquement concernés, mais aussi ceux des époques ultérieures, ainsi que l’ensemble d’une aire d’étude, qu’elle soit urbaine, périurbaine ou rurale. L’avènement du numérique a engendré une révolution dans la perception de l’espace, créant des nouvelles méthodes d’analyses. Quelles nouvelles techniques de matérialisation ont le plus influencé les chercheurs en histoire de l’architecture et de l’urbanisme ? Ces techniques ont-elles constitué une véritable révolution dans l’analyse ou sont-elles de simples outils accessoires de matérialisation de l’espace ? Où et comment sont-elles appliquées ? Quelles nouvelles techniques devraient être amenées à évoluer afin de perfectionner plus encore l’analyse du bâti ?

Cette session est réalisée avec le soutien d'un comité scientifique international : Christopher Drew ARMSTRONG (US), François BALLAUD (FR), Emmanuel CHÂTEAU-DUTIER (CA), Grégory CHAUMET (FR), Sophie CUEILLE (FR), Thorsten HANKE (UK), Andres LEPIK (DE), Anesti KOUTSOUDIS (GR), Annunziata Maria OTERI (IT), Letizia TEDESCHI (CH) et Geoffrey STELL (UK).

Pour de plus amples renseignements, voir le site internet de la session : www.materiality-