CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Schedule of Session 18.pdf


Schedule of Session 18.jpg


Perspective for the Session

Introduction by Eugene Wang

The question of medium or media has emerged as one of the dynamic frontiers in recent art theory and practice. The outgrowth of medium-specificity, the exaltation of—or ambivalence about—the “postmedium condition” in the wake of conceptual art practice and dematerialization, the rage of the new media led by technological advances, and the radical revisionism of the old media in light of the new media, all converge on this question of medium. While medium is commonly understood to be an elusive crossover between material /technical support on the one hand and social practice and cultural conventions on the other, weighing on either side of the equation results in different medium talks. Recent surging interest in automatism, projective technology, new materialism, and object-oriented ontology further fuel the debate:  Is medium primarily matter or mind, or both? Convergence of old and new media also raise questions about the agency driving the change in visuality: is it technological or cognitive, material-derived or human-based, or both? How does image as the media currency inflect or constitute our worldview? How do we reconcile the palpable presence of image-driven “mediascape” with the immaterial “non-site” of medium (i.e., medium is at once everywhere and nowhere)? How is this paradox played out in globalization? The panel invites papers that address these media-related issues, either as defined above or beyond.


Introduction by Rick Asher

For the session on Media and Visuality, we ask not only how the globality of the present information age impacts the formation of cultural identities but also to what extent it actually does so.  The world, we argue, has long been connected, but generally in ways that preserve the cultural identity of individual groups, for example, the merchants who established trade depots, as Philip Curtin called them, far from home.  But they were not isolated, and aspects of their culture, including visual imagery, were often shared distant from home, for example, Buddhist and Hindu merchants from India settled along coastal Southeast Asia and China, whose religion, and the visual imagery that accompanies it, came to be adopted by host cultures. 


The Questions and Issues

How, we ask, is that different from the present age in which instantaneous communication, including sharing of visual imagery, makes possible a more homogeneous world culture.  Or does it?  Do present-day artists in Southeast Asia or China, for example, areas impacted by Buddhism and Hinduism of Indian trade diasporas, now lose cultural identity, or do there remain distinctive features to the contemporary art of these regions. Do we need to assume a dominant artistic culture, i.e. the Euro-American artistic practice and forms that modern media spreads, and is universally adopted?  Or might there be examples of the reverse, that is, like the Japanese Ukiyo-e impact on French artists late in the 19thcentury, Euro-American artists who find stimulus from the visual cultural production elsewhere in the world?  Above all, given the importance of media, we ask about the role of diverse media in shaping global arts, creating an environment of both sharing and resistance, of national or regional artistic dialects, and an audience that might respond favorably or antagonistically to the visual production.


The Papers We Envision

We seek papers that not so much celebrate the globalized visual culture made possible by the Internet and related means of sharing but rather ones that critique the notion of a commonly shared visual world.  As we think of literature, for example, we note the highly distinctive forms that are culturally unique developed by Latin American authors such as Gabriel GarcíaMárquez and Roberto Bolaño, whose prose would never be imagined as global except in terms of the audience for it.  Can the same be said of the visual arts?  Or do we look at Ai Wei Wei and AnishKapoor as artists but not regionally specific ones?  What, then, are the impacts of “common time” and the breakdown of spatially distinctive entities?


Draft Call for Papers

Since time and space – faster movement of time and fuzzier definitions of space – have changed the ways in which people interact in the present day, we seek papers that will explore case studies, e.g. artists or movements that are impacted by the more intimately connected world.  We could imagine, for example, papers on performance art in Asia or Latin America but asking, at the same time, about the ways in which performance is significantly different from premodern practice.  We could imagine papers that focus on audience, as much as practice, and the ways in which reception of new artistic forms is shaped by communication in a present not impeded by constraints of slow communication.  And finally, though not exclusively, we seek papers that examine popular participation, recognizing that even patronage for artistic production is no longer entirely the province of the politically and financially elite.  Do art historians, for example, shape taste?  Is there truly today a pop audience for the visual arts as there is for music, one that not only consumes but also shapes the production of visual art?