WHAT DO PICTURES DO?
“REMEDIATING IMAGES/ L’IMAGE REMÉDIATISÉE”
June 1 and 2, 2017
Université de Bordeaux Montaigne
Mathilde Arrivé (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)
Nicolas Labarre (CLIMAS, Université Bordeaux Montaigne)
Héléna Lamouliatte-Schmitt (CLIMAS, Université de Bordeaux)
Richard Phelan (LERMA, Université Aix-Marseille)
Jan Baetens (Professor of Cultural Studies/Literary Studies, University of Leuven – Editor, Image & Narrative), “Le cineromanzo: un film sur papier”
W.J.T. Mitchell (Professor of English and Art History, University of Chicago – Editor, Critical Inquiry) [to be confirmed]
The term “remediation” was first introduced in 1999 by Jay David Bolter and David Grusin in their now classic Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT Press). They adopted the term in order to describe the way new media refashion visual content initially created within “traditional” media such as photography, painting, film and television, a content which often itself turned out to have been a product of successive repurposings or “remediations”. According to the authors, central to Western art history and to the very circulation of cultural objects is the project of offering a rival illusion of the real by playing against the differential opacity intrinsic to media:
“What is a medium? We offer this simple definition: a medium is that which remediates. It is that which appropriates the techniques, forms, and social significance of other media and attempts to rival or refashion them in the name of the real. A medium in our culture can never operate in isolation, because it must enter into relationships of respect and rivalry with other media.” (Bolter and Grusin 65)
Enabling a rethinking of the essentialist Greenbergian legacy of the medium’s “purity” and “autonomy” or the technological determinism of Marshall McLuhan, the concept of remediation today pervades a number of debates on the image. Bolter and Grusin’s work has also, however, been the object of some criticism — notably with respect to the imprecise definition of the notion itself, to the lack of contextualisation and to the depoliticized nature of the authors’ analysis, to their teleological vision of media or to an approach which is excessively technical or exclusively concentrated on new digital media.
Hence this proposal, some 20 years after the book’s publication, to relaunch the debate on remediation so as to clarify the contours of the notion, to examine in detail all that is at stake, and perhaps to redefine the issue in terms other than the tension identified by the authors between hypermediacy and immediacy. Already largely autonomous from the book which produced it, the notion can thus be sounded anew for productivity, pertinence and potential limits through confrontation with various corpi, in particular those from the English-speaking world. The aim is to open new avenues of research by inviting questioning in the categories below and along the following lines:
1. Definition of the concept
– What is the intellectual genealogy of the notion of remediation?
– What is the specificity of the notion of remediation with respect to related notions such as adaptation, intermediality, transmediality, interartiality (as defined by Walter Moser), intersemioticity, and mediamorphosis, etc.?
– In the term “remediation”, what is the effect of the semantic interplay of “remedy” which means both to replace and to resolve or improve?
– Is the dialogical link between immediacy and hypermediacy, which charts the oscillation between the transparency and the opacity inherent to mediation, still operative in current approaches to the esthetic theory of representation?
2. Theory and disciplinary fields
– What theoretical space can remediation occupy or create? What is its place within the field of existing disciplines (in France in particular)?
– How does remediation renew art’s master narratives of originality and novelty and certain basic categories of image discourse such as those of imitation, authenticity, the copy and the counterfeit?
– How does the notion of remediation consolidate, complicate, redefine or invalidate the labels “new” and “old” (“emerging” and “residual”) media?
– Does remediation necessarily imply that we think in terms of media rather than in terms of images?
3. Empirical observation
– How does one medium redeploy itself within another? What are the modalities of transfer and embodiment?
– Can a medium be both remediated and remediating?
– When the teleology of novelty is set aside with its one-way approach from “old” to “new” media, what can be observed about the way traditional media operate on “new” media, about what each does to the other?
4. Anthropological issues
– What sort of transactions takes place between remediation and cultural memory?
– What role do phenomena of remediation play in “image wars” (Latour)?
– How are phenomena of remediation linked to visual behaviors such as iconoclasm, iconophilia and iconophagia?
– Of what transformations and cultural operations are procedures of remediation the trace, the sign, the product, the architect, the shifter or the catalyst? What is at stake symbolically, culturally and politically in such visual and media changes?
– What is the role of institutions and of communities of viewers in the processes of remediation? Who are the participants of remediation, what are its loci and modalities of production and reception?
– In terms of reception, what attitude or posture does remediation induce?
– How can we theorize the immersive approaches that are based on the idea of virtual reality seeking to reduce awareness of the medium and foreground the viewer’s desire?
This symposium will pursue the research on visual dialogues and the circulation of pictures inaugurated in Montpellier (during the day sessions devoted to intericonicity in May 2013 and 2014), in Bordeaux (“L’image indicible” in April 2014, “L’image déplacée” in June 2015), and in the visual arts seminar at Aix-en-Provence.
Without being restricted to new digital imagery but without excluding the latter, papers may deal with any form of visual art or medium: painting, sculpture, photography, comic strips and graphic novels, film, television series, prints, video, video games, etc.
Papers should be 20 minutes in duration and can be in French or English. They may cover any area of the English-speaking world.
Submissions (of about 300 words) should be sent by June 15, 2016 to the members of the organizing committee: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please enclose a brief bio-bibliographical note.