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36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

Dematerialization / Rematerialization - Dématérialisation / Rematérialisation

Materiality of Memory: Towards Intangible and Digital Matter

Claudio Hernandez 1

Tecnologico De Monterrey - Monterrey (Mexico)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Materiality of Memory: Towards Fragile Intangible and Digital Matter
Science fiction, what a redundancy
Jorge Luis Borges

Posed as a contradiction, Borges’ though can be read as a pleonasm. Memory converges the idea of tangible and intangible matter and could be considered under a process of dematerialization and rematerialization in this digital transformation era. Something always remains about memory such as an emotion or a traceable bit that we can understand as a new materiality (Braidotti, 2013), since in the Digital Turn servers, clouds, digital art, and installations signify a materiality of content which involves issues about sustainability and preservation that is not clear to see, comprehend and estimate.

Fiction creates reality and viceversa, both could be considered exclusive and opposites notions. Fiction usually is based on reality, it is not dissociated from it, but rather shapes and defines it. On the other hand, reality is sustained and articulated in some kind of fiction such as myths, religions, nationalisms, philosophical systems, axioms, working hypotheses (Schwartz, 2022).

This proposal invites an interdisciplinary approach, experience, and experimentation to rethink, create, imagine, reenact, sense the relationship between matter and materiality of memory. Digital transformation of heritage raises many questions regarding the interactions between digital objects, its production, circulation, dissemination, value, preservation or destruction/reconstitution and their ways of transition, access, affection, and care.

The follow examples conduct the same question: What remains in terms of materiality of memory within the Digital Turn? Which highlight the tension between virtual dematerialization of art towards a digital materialization. Based on the fact, that art is autonomous, amoral, apolitical, religious, a juridical (Gabriel), What are digital remains? What are the creational, processual and performance digital residues?

In 2022 a private drawing by the artist Frida Kahlo titled Sinister Ghosts was incinerated at a farewell party to create a series of NFTs up for auction (see image 1). The owner argued to develop a new art form born from the material ashes of the work. This action generated great controversy due to the fact of destroying an original work on paper to create a work for a digital environment such as an NFT.

On the other hand, artist Refik Anadol affirms: “I am trying to find ways to connect memories with the future and make the invisible visible” (see image 2). In his installation Hallucinations, this creator uses AI to interpret and transform thousands of images to conceive a work of art. Whether due to the singularity of a work converted into NFT through burning/dematerialization, or due to the sum of thousands of images to integrate/rematerialize a unique work, the materiality of memory is no longer fixed but in movement in a continuous process of redefinition.

Finally, we cannot stop paying attention to the fragility of the intangibility and digitality of the matter of memory, since the meanings of loss, change and damage (Henderson) have a different perspective to the perception of all works of art.

Matter in Motion: Transcultural Material and Symbolic Transformations

Julie Codell 1 , Sabine du Crest 2

Arizona State University - Tempe (United States), 2Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, Pessac (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Transcultural exchanges increasingly dominate art historical studies investigating objects through their transformational spatial and temporal travels. While matter appears ineffable and fixed, materials nonetheless embody emotions, kinesthetics, memories, histories, resonances, and skills, making interpretations of surface textures as unstable and indeterminate as are the changing contents and meanings of works that cross borders.

Whether embedded in hybrid things produced by combining cross-cultural materials or images linked through encounters or in histories of the changing valuations of an object that crosses cultures, transculturation underscores contingencies of physical matter—e.g., darkening, patinas--and of content re-interpreted and re-inscribed by another cultures’ histories, social orders and ideologies, e.g., French tapestries sent to a Chinese emperor; Ukiyo-e prints, used as packaging in Japan, enjoying aesthetic value in Europe.

Crossing borders through trade, consumption, diplomacy, collecting, exploration, colonialism, and fashion, objects can generate assimilation, appropriation or resistance. Such objects juxtapose distance and presence to highlight how the local engenders mutable physical, symbolic and affective meanings through transcultural dynamics. Studies of the geohistory of art offer methods to analyze cross-cultural perspectives that rewrite materials, contents and formats, revealing that objects have no fixed meanings but undergo continual processes of unmaking/remaking and decontextualizing/recontextualizing.

Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge

Jules Pelta Feldman 1, Emilie Magnin 2, Hanna B. Hölling 3

1/2 Bern Academy Of The Arts - Bern (Switzerland), 3Bern University (Switzerland)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Performance art is often considered an immaterial medium. Yet its immateriality is belied not only by the material physical traces it leaves behind – including documents, costumes, and other objects – but also by the insistent, if ephemeral, materiality of the human body. This proposed panel seeks papers on the topic of performance’s materiality considered through the lens of conservation. What is the relationship between a performance and the materials it leaves behind, and what experience of the performance can be gleaned from them? Do photographs, “relics,” and other objects replace an absent body, thus smothering performance’s liveness, or do they refer melancholically to an unfillable lack? How might we understand the materiality of the body or, indeed, that of non-human performers such as animals, machines, or even bacteria? How can the material or immaterial elements of a performance be conserved? Though performance has sometimes been considered beyond the realm of art conservation, its increasing presence in museums and museum collections has rendered these questions urgent.

Encouraging global perspectives and particularly those form underrepresented contexts, we are calling for papers from scholars, conservators, artists, curators and others that take a theoretical or practical approach to exploring the various materialities of performance and their role in its continuation. We invite contributions from all over the world that explore the conservation of contemporary, historical or indigenous performance; comparative examples of modern Western and non-Western conservation practices of performance conservation; performative elements in material art forms; the materiality of the performing body and its documentatory potential; the persistence of performance through physical elements or traces; the role of orality in the conservation of performance; aspect of continuity of performance in indigenous cultures; non-human performance and its conservation; care-thinking and communities of care and performance conservation; or any other relevant topic.

This panel is organized by team members of Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge, a research project sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation and hosted by the Bern Academy of the Arts. While there has been increasing interest within scholarship and curatorial practice in performance and its afterlives, this research project is among the first to specifically address the problem of performance conservation.

Cinema, Video, and the De- or Re-Materialization of Moving Image

Tianle Huang 1 , Vanessa Frangville 2

Communication University Of China - Beijing (China), 2Université libre de Bruxelles - Brussels (Belgium)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The contemporary discourse on cinema is inextricably intertwined with the conceptual crises of 'materiality' and 'medium' in the post-cinematic era. Films are projected and stored, with their material qualities being divergent, if not irreconcilable. As the transition from film to digital media occurs, film’s 'immateriality', generally alluding to the sacred or spiritual dimensions in the Western tradition, becomes increasingly pronounced. Hence, 'film', derived from 'pellis' (Latin for 'thin skin'), can be regarded as an 'oxymoron'. Consequently, the question "What is film?" seems to shed its skin into ambiguous speculation between ontology and epistemology. When a film is projected, light passes through it, bringing the etched image forth until the screen intercepts and unveils it. In recent decades, the debate over the 'death of film' induced by digitalisation has frequently been articulated as the loss of both the medium's materiality and the indexability that films represent; while over a century ago, avant-garde artists began using film to reflect the bearing of moving image.

The 1920s were a historic moment marked by fervent optimism regarding the potential for new horizons unlocked by film. These affirmative discussions perceived cinema as a material distinct from 'tangible' and 'physical' objects, viewing moving image as an emerging medium and aesthetic language possessing immense potential. The hope was that it would not succumb to commercial rhetoric in the form of dematerialisation. Many avant-garde artists of the time employed projection as a medium and methodology to accentuate the immateriality of cinema and to envision a utopian future for film. In the 1960s, filmmakers and video artists embraced radical ideas within a theoretical framework, cultivating nascent genres such as 'Structural Film' and 'Structural/Materialist Film' to critique capitalism's rational aesthetic. Concurrently, 'material matters', encompassing architecture and installation, were increasingly incorporated into avant-garde film and video art, underscoring cinema’s materiality and mediation. The theoretical pivot from dematerialisation to re-materialisation has evolved into a more direct critique of the collusion between capitalism and cinema. This shift probes the structural interplay linking film and patriarchal production mechanisms, where cinema represents one of the leading industries in consumer society.

In light of this context, the theme of this session is 'Cinema, Video, and the De- or Re- Materialisation of Moving Image'. This session endeavours to interrogate the manner in which the relationship between moving image – primarily embodied by cinema and video art – and materiality, can be re-conceptualised, re-envisioned, re-constructed, and re-fractured. Furthermore, it aims to elucidate the transformative implications of the de/re-materialisation of moving image within the domains of art, culture, and society.

Keywords: moving image, (im)materiality, avant-garde, pre-cinema, post-cinema

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

Le discours moderne sur le cinéma confronte des crises conceptuelles de "matérialité" et de "médium" dans l'ère post-cinématographique. Les films, projetés et stockés, présentent des qualités matérielles divergentes, voire inconciliables. Avec le passage de la pellicule aux médias numériques, l'"immatérialité" du cinéma, qui fait référence aux dimensions sacrées ou spirituelles dans la tradition occidentale, devient de plus en plus prononcée. Ainsi, le terme "film", dérivé de "pellis", un mot latin qui désigne une "peau fine", peut être considéré comme un "oxymore". Par conséquent, la question "Qu'est-ce que le film?" semble se transformer en une spéculation ambiguë entre l'ontologie et l'épistémologie. L'image se révèle lorsque la lumière traverse le film, soulevant le débat sur la "mort du film" due à la numérisation et la perte de sa matérialité. Mais il y a plus d'un siècle, les artistes d'avant-garde ont commencé à utiliser le film pour refléter l'importance de l'image en mouvement.

Les années 1920, marquées par un optimisme fervent pour le potentiel du cinéma, envisageaient ce dernier comme distinct des objets « tangibles », l'image en mouvement étant perçue comme un médium émergent au potentiel énorme. Le cinéma ne succomberait pas à la dématérialisation commerciale, c'était l'espoir. Des artistes d'avant-garde ont alors accentué son immatérialité, préfigurant un futur utopique pour le film. Les années 1960 ont vu des cinéastes et vidéastes adopter des idées radicales, cultivant des genres tels que le « film structurel » pour critiquer l'esthétique capitaliste. Les « matières matérielles », comme l'architecture, se sont intégrées dans le cinéma d'avant-garde, mettant en avant sa matérialité. Un virage théorique de la dématérialisation à la rematérialisation a permis une critique plus directe de la collusion entre le capitalisme et le cinéma. Ce changement explore l'interaction entre le cinéma et les mécanismes de production patriarcaux, le cinéma étant une industrie majeure de la société de consommation.

Dans ce contexte, le thème de cette session est 'Le cinéma, la vidéo et la dé- ou re- matérialisation de l'image en mouvement'. Cette session s'efforce d'interroger la manière dont la relation entre l'image en mouvement – incarnée principalement par le film et la vidéo – et la matérialité, peut être re-conceptualisée, re-imaginée, re-structurée et re-fracturée. De plus, elle vise à élucider les implications transformatrices de la dé/re-matérialisation de l'image en mouvement dans les domaines de l'art, de la culture et de la société.

Mots-clés: image en mouvement, (im)matérialité, avant-garde, pré-cinéma, post-cinéma

Anticipating Memory. What Remains of the War in Ukraine?

Mateusz Kapustka 1 , Dominique Poulot 2

1University Of Zurich - Zurich (Switzerland), 2Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The session addresses the future of remembrance of the present Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2024 and beyond. Whereas the ongoing destruction of lives, infrastructure, and cultural heritage of Ukraine is currently the most visible tragic effect of the war, its memory is being shaped simultaneously. Memory works with imagination, fragmentation, repression, and oblivion. As such, it already determines the inner dynamics of the event: The course of the war thus appears as an extended event in terms of both unexpectedness and recurrence that reinforce its narrative ineffability.

In these terms, the session virtually pre-reflects the war in Ukraine as an already to-be- terminated course of military action. It anticipates its visual and material aftermath as a realm of grave social remembrance and new historical identity to come. Beginning with the moment of the present CIHA Call for Papers, the session is thus planned as self-reflexive: It seeks to consider the potentially rapid and unexpected development of its own subject area throughout 2023-2024. Accordingly, having that particular dimension of the ‘future anterior’ of the war in mind, we seek to put the deliberately anachronistic-diagnostical questions:

  • What are/will potentially have been the most significant material and visual carriers of the memory of this war?
  • What images of war will be retrospectively in charge of picturing/mapping its past scenario?
  • How do visual icons of war originate and coincide with the material dimensions of remembrance of destruction, suffering, and heroism?
  • What is the material future of the present topography of battlefields; what will be their new potential as sites of memory?
  • What is the intersection of digital imagery and ruined topography, and how does it match the new cultural archive based on indexical data?
  • Does our historical perception of the war’s course depend on the short-lived, topically circulating sensitive visual content material, or does it relate to its long-term consequences, reverberations, and endless processing?
  • How do images help us in the long run to both preserve and forget the course of the tragic events of the war?
  • How possibly wrong were we in estimating the future scenarios of the conflict upon visual information?

In this way, by anticipating the course of collective memory, we intend to report on continuities and discontinuities in comprehending the horrors of warfare as changing in time and being challenged by acceleration. The session, conceived as a dialogue platform for scholars from Ukraine and beyond, thus also elaborates on how the distinction between the direct involvement in war and its indirect perception contributes to the understanding of the common historical heritage, both material and intangible, its present and future.

Materialising Loss: Absence and Remaking in Art History

Francesca Borgo 1, Felicity Bodenstein 2

Bibliotheca Hertziana - Rome (Italy), 2Sorbonne Université - Paris (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The material turn in art history has reinstated a sensibility for the “thingness” of things (Brown 2001), the properties of their constitutive materials (Ingold 2007), and the activity of their matter (Miller & Poh 2022; Latour 1991; Gell 1998; Bennett 2010). More recently still, interest has extended beyond making and materials: processes of unmaking, deterioration, care, and preservation have become subjects of investigation, accompanied by growing critical engagement with conservation (Fowler & Nagel 2023) and increasing attention to the behaviour of matter across the deep time of geological history (Borgo & Venturi, CIHA 2019).

But what happens when, despite all our best efforts to conserve, protect, and make last, things disappear? Taking this question as its starting point, we invite papers that reconsider matter and materiality from an unusual point of view: the object’s loss or inaccessibility, and the practices undertaken to compensate for its absence, via physical replicas or virtual reconstructions. In centering itself on what has long been considered an epistemological endpoint in art historical studies – the disappearance of the original object – the session proposes a critical assessment of material and virtual remaking as site of art- historical knowledge. It asks how we might integrate that knowledge into the analytical methods of art history.

Looking at materiality from the seemingly paradoxical standpoint of absence reveals how much material studies takes for granted in terms of the object’s presence, permanence, and accessibility. Loss forcefully confronts us with the enabling operations and grounding conditions that go into writing material art history. It permeates everything we do, and yet it is distinctively undertheorized (Fricke & Kumler 2022). What are the stakes of absence and reclamation? How do art historians deal with missing evidence, and how does its resurfacing or remaking change the canon and the narrative? Whose loss is worth talking about and why? The threats of war, climate change and mass tourism give these questions a pressing relevance today, amplified by debates over sustainability, inclusion, and property rights. But art history seems sceptical of efforts to work against these risks: despite recent calls for ‘militant reproductions’ (Bredekamp 2016), campaigns to widen the notion of originality (Lowe & Latour 2010) and emphasize the seriality of the Classic (Settis & Anguissola 2015), and appeals to the greater inclusivity of digital heritage (Terras 2022), much of the discipline remains ambivalent about the remade, regarding it as ludic and nostalgic.

We live in a world in which heritage is constantly de- and re-materialized, formed and reformed in an unprecedented interplay between the material, immaterial, and neomaterial. And although the implications for objects and their histories are manifold, they remain largely unexplored. This session aims at remedying that imbalance, reflecting on the impact of physical loss on material art history and examining the value of remaking as historical method.

Virtual/Material: What Matters for Art History?

Elizabeth Mansfield 1, Emily Pugh 2, Hélène Dubois 3

Penn State University - University Park, Pa (United States), 2Getty Research Institute - Los Angeles, Ca (United States), 3Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage - Brussels (Belgium)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

This session aims to promote conversation and collaboration between art historians working in Technical Art History and Digital Art History by focusing on questions related to the dematerialization and rematerialization of artworks as well as art historical information.

The need to bring Technical Art History and Digital Art History into closer conversation is prompted by the widespread assumption that these are not just separate but antithetical endeavors. This perception is understandable. After all, Technical Art History, along with related fields such as materiality studies, valorizes material specificity, labor, and workshop practices while Digital Art History accepts that artworks and artists alike are also forms of data that may or may not take tangible form. Each of these approaches is represented by its own specialist journals, its own scholarly conferences, its own growing graduate programs and curricula. Yet, these distinct practices share fundamental methodological concerns and an intertwined historiography. For instance, both ground their methods in empiricism and, to varying degrees, expect their research outcomes to be reproducible. In this way, both may be seen as reactions against the so-called “Theoretical Turn,” which provided methodological grounds for strongly subjective interpretations of works of art with little or no expectation of reproducibility.

From these shared methodological premises and common historiographic impulses emerge similar concerns. Both Technical Art History and Digital Art History demand of researchers that they continually revisit the fundamental terms of the discipline. Whether approaching works of art as data or as the actualization of specific materials and processes, Digital Art History and Technical Art History expose the discipline’s ongoing need to negotiate the objects of its study. Both Technical Art History and Digital Art History ask scholars of visual culture to decide how—even whether—to distinguish the real from the ersatz, the complete from the partial. As a result, questions related to materiality become particularly relevant: how are objects represented as data? How are attributes like color, texture, or composition analyzed and represented using digital technologies? What are the consequences of artworks’ dematerializations and rematerializations via digital technologies? And what of the materiality of data itself? As the management of data, on laptops, cameras, and servers, becomes an increasing central aspect of contemporary research for repositories as well as individual scholars, what implications might this have for research and scholarship? Such questions are particularly relevant given scholars’ increasing reliance on remote access and digitized sources, the trend towards digital publication formats, and the growing diversity with regard to the types (and formats) of sources art historians consult, particularly as scholars seek to write more global and inclusive histories of art.

Materials in the afterlife of artworks

Rocío Robles Tardío 1, Gabriel Cabello Padial 2, Thierry Dufrêne 3

Universidad Complutense De Madrid - Madrid (Spain), 2Universidad De Granada - Granada (Spain), 3Université Paris-Nanterre (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

In recent decades, the afterlife of works of art has been consolidating into an object, or even a framework, for critical studies in art history. The approaches have been very diverse. If Francis Haskell (1980) addressed changes in taste in relation to the history of collecting, Hubert Damisch (1987, 1992) interrogated how works of art reactivate/revive problems previously exposed by others, with which they form a "transformation group". Over time, the study of the survival of works of art, and of their actualizations and displacements, seems to have converged with the "iconic turn", as evidenced by the recovery of Aby Warburg's iconology and his notion of Nachleben in terms of anthropology of the image, which has been accomplished by Hans Belting (2001) or Georges Didi-Huberman (2010), among others.

However, confronting the afterlife of artworks from the point of view of materiality generates a series of new questions. The purpose of this session is to address these questions by attending to the nature, scope and concreteness in the processes of survival and displacement. The articulation of work, material and image and of materiality and digital patrimonialization, as well as to the relations between individual and collective, Western and non-Western practices that the use of specific materials conveys, emerge then to the foreground. What aspects does the initial materiality of the work induce as receptive potentialities in its posthumous life? What is the initial materiality conducive to? Or, posing the question the other way round, what is it that is preserved of the initial work after its restoration or transposition? How is the work of art "augmented" by digitization, making it acquire a new "persona" with which we interact and cohabit differently, in the sense in which Lévy-Bruhl (1927) and Denis Vidal (2012) have given to this expression when studying the effects of presence in different cultures? Plus, extending the notion of materiality to life beyond works of art: in the case of re-enactments that pivot on material survivals or transformations, how does the work metamorphose by involving materials and practices that convey different cultural codes? In what way, finally, does the restored work of art become an integral part of the "person" of the original work?

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

Au cours des dernières décennies, la “vie d´après” (Afterlife) des œuvres d´art est devenue un sujet à part entière en histoire de l´art, constituant même un cadre de réflexion méthodologique, et les approches en ont été très diverses. Par exemple, Francis Haskell (1980) abordait les évolutions du goût par rapport au collectionnisme, Hubert Damisch (1987 et 1992) se demandait comment les œuvres d´art réactivent/revivent des problèmes précédemment exposés par d´autres, avec lesquelles elles forment un « groupe de transformation ». Au fil du temps, l´étude de la survivance des œuvres, de leurs mises à jour et déplacements, semble avoir convergé avec le « tournant iconique », comme en témoigne la récupération de l´iconologie d´Aby Warburg et de sa notion de Nachleben en termes d´anthropologie de l´image, réalisée, entre autres, par Hans Belting (2001) ou Georges Didi-Huberman (2010).

Cependant, aborder le sujet de la “vie d´après” (Afterlife) des œuvres d´art du point de vue de la matérialité incite à poser de nouvelles questions. Tel est l´objectif de cette session où l’on tiendra compte de la nature, de la portée et de la spécificité des processus de survie et de déplacement. Les articulations œuvre/matière/image et matérialité/patrimonialisation numérique, ainsi que les rapports entre pratiques individuelles et collectives, occidentales et non occidentales, que véhicule l´utilisation de matériaux spécifiques, en constituent les interrogations fondamentales. Dans cette perspective, quels aspects la matérialité initiale de l´œuvre induit-elle comme potentialités réceptives dans sa vie posthume ? De quoi la matérialité initiale est-elle porteuse? Ou, à l´inverse, qu´est-ce qui est conservé de l´œuvre initiale après sa restauration ou sa transposition ? Plus largement, comment l´œuvre d´art est-elle « augmentée » par la numérisation, lui permettant d’acquérir une nouvelle « persona» avec laquelle nous interagissons et cohabitons autrement, au sens que Lévy-Bruhl (1927) et Denis Vidal (2012) ont donné à cette expression lorsqu´on étudie les effets de la présence dans différentes cultures ? Et, si l’on étend la notion de matérialité à l´afterlife des œuvres d'art : comment, dans le cas des re-enactments fondés sur des survivances ou des transformations matérielles, l´œuvre se métamorphose-t-elle au moyen de matériaux et de pratiques véhiculant des codes culturels différents ? Comment l´œuvre d´art restaurée devient-elle partie intégrante de la « persona » de l´œuvre originale ?