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CFP: The Circulation of Images (Paris, 15-16 Jun 2020)

If the discipline of art history has been studying the circulations of artists and artworks for many years, studying the circulation of images raises more difficulties. Understood in the broad sense as “representations or reproductions of an object or a figure” (, images can be material, artificial, mental, digital, and perceptual. It is perhaps the variety of these supports that makes the study of their circulation so difficult.

How to go from a mental image to a printed image, passing through a painted image that might have been inspired by a photographic image? Does the circulation of images necessarily need material supports? Aren’t digital images material, insofar as they must, to be perceived, be displayed in one way or another? Furthermore, do we know how quickly images circulate, in different eras, cultures, modes of transportation? And, does an image that circulates eventually run out, as artist Hito Streyel claims, speaking for “Poor images,”— the digital files being damaged from having circulated too much, like the paintings that went through too many hands and end up falling apart? ( defense-of-the-poor-image /)

If the question of the circulation of images seems to call mostly for descriptive approaches to determine what circulates, how it circulates, where it circulates, and what the material consequences of a circulation of images are, to tackle such a study immediately leads us to enter the fields of cultural, political and geopolitical studies. Because the circulation of images has always gone hand in hand with globalization—it has probably even contributed to these visual encounters, confrontations, and interbreeding that thirty years of global studies have failed to clarify. Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s 2007 remark that images were the real challenge in global studies is still valid and likely to remain true for a long time.

This conference will nonetheless try to take stock of what circulations do to images, and what images do when they circulate. We are inviting artists, art historians, and historians, as well as specialists of artificial vision and cognitive studies, to submit proposals. We are particularly interested in projects that cross or at least bring together different methodologies from monographic and formal analysis to digital approach (quantitative, cartographic, visual), and address, among others, the following issues:

- Which images did circulate and do circulate today the most and the best? How do we spot them? What are the reasons of their success, and with which audience?
- How can we measure the circulation of images and the different speeds of diffusion, in different periods, in different technical processes of reproduction, and different territories?
- How do images circulate, according to which vectors and through which actors and prescribers?
- What does circulation do to an image? What images do to circulations?

The conference will take place at the École normale supérieure on June 15, 2020, and at the Beaux Arts of Paris on June 16, 2020. It is organized with the support of the Jean Monnet IMAGO Center of Excellence (www.imago.ens. fr), in partnership with the Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Geneva (, Purdue University, and the Beaux Arts of Paris.

Organizing committee : Marie-José Burki (ENSBA, Paris), Grégory Chatonsky (, Catherine Dossin (Purdue University, USA), Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel (University of Geneva, Switzerland) and Léa Saint-Raymond (École normale supérieure, Paris).

The propositions (500 words) should be sent by March 25, along with a short bio-biography to
Participants will receive a response before April 15, 2020.

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