The OCAT Institute is pleased to announce its 2018 Annual Exhibition Metapictures will open on September 9th, 2018, with a reception from 5 p.m.. This is the first exhibition curated by Professor W. J. T. Mitchell. Metapictures outlines the trajectory and profile of Mitchell’s research; it is an exhibition that shows the way visual images reflect on themselves, and on the very process of seeing itself.
The exhibition is divided into multiple sets of images and texts that have been critical to the understanding of pictorial representation in philosophy, art history, and media theory. Reflecting on the role of images from Plato to Deleuze, on media from Aristotle to McLuhan, on exhibition practices from Warburg to Malraux, “Metapictures” might be seen as a game that leads the spectator into a labyrinth of concepts from numerous fields of knowledge that have attempted to understand the role of images in human affairs. Included Walter Benjamin’s “dialectical images” ; cognitive psychology’s “multistable images” that expose the doubleness and duplicity of pictures; “biopictures” that exemplify the uncanny “lifelikeness” and “viral” character of images; “talking pictures” that expose the relation of images to language; and “image atlases” that aim to provide totalizing overviews in art history, forensic science, natural history and world pictures.
Metapictures employs four different strategies of display: 1) the “wall atlas” that provides a simultaneous array of images and texts, a method pioneered in the famous Mnemosyne Bilderatlas of art historian Aby Warburg, and the use of “evidence walls” in criminology; 2) the suspended, hanging display of images, a method pioneered in Andre Malraux’s Musée Imaginaire to convey the floating, disembodied character of images as an experiential data cloud; 3) the images scattered randomly on the floor (again, in imitation of Malraux) to exemplify the materiality of images, and the agency of the spectator in trying to assemble them in some orderly pattern; 4) an interactive screen display that allows the spectator to navigate the clouds of images, zooming in to concentrate on particular examples, and moving laterally to trace connections between them.
This exhibition provides an incomplete, open set of images and texts, mainly drawn from Western art and science. Space has been set aside in the exhibition for visitors to mount and arrange images in new patterns, that might extend and complicate the concept of the metapicture.
About the exhibition
Opening: 17: 00 -18:00, September 9, 2018
Duration: September 9 – December 31, 2018
Organized by: OCAT Institute
Support: Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Co., Ltd.
Media Support: VART, CAFA ART INFO
Address: OCAT Institute, Jinchanxilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing (100 meters North from Subway Line 7 Happy Valley Scenic Area Station
Metapictures: Images and the Discourse of Theory
Lecturer: W. J. T. Mitchell
Lecture 1: Iconology 3.0: Image Theory in Our Time
14:00-17:00 September 6th
Lecture 2: About Face
14:00-17:00 September 7th
Lecture 3: Sculpting Infinity
14:00-17:00 September 8th
Venue: The University of Chicago Center in Beijing, 20th floor, Culture Plaza, No. 59A Zhong Guan Cun Street, Haidian District, Beijing
Organizer: OCAT Institute
Co-organizer: The University of Chicago Center in Beijing
Support: Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Co., Ltd.
Registration: The events are free, please sign up via the official wechat account “ocatinstitute” by providing the date of event (0906/0907/0908)+name+Email+ workplace/school.
Abstracts of 2018 OCAT Institute Annual Lecture
Lecture 1 Iconology 3.0: Image Theory in Our Time
This lecture will be directly connected to the current OCAT Institute Exhibition, “Metapictures.” It will survey “pictures about pictures” that have served as central examples in theoretical reflection on images, media, and visual culture in the last half century. Topics addressed will include the relation of images to language, perception, and thought, the role of images as historical markers and political agents, and the effects of new technologies, especially in the sciences of life and information, on the circulation and effects of images.
Lecture 2 About Face
This lecture will explore the semiotics and phenomenology of the human face, taking up its role as the central and primal object of image cognition and recognition, its status as both a figure of sovereignty and abject vulnerability, and its curious ambiguity (in the English language) as both an object and an action. Topics addressed will include the effect of new technologies such as facial recognition software, the evolution of the face from the portrait to the selfie, the power of caricature, and the face as a metaphor for both honor and shame.
Lecture 3 Sculpting Infinity
This lecture explores the way that sculpture, the medium most deeply enmeshed in finitude and materiality, sometimes attempt to free itself from the limits of its medium to take on experiences of the infinite. Employing the Hegelian and Blakean distinction between the “false” and the “authentic” infinite as the difference between mere endlessness or extension and the concept of the “infinite particular,” the lecture will explore sculptor Antony Gormley’s notion of the mindful object, as exemplified in his recent work, Infinite Cube.
About W. J. T. Mitchell
W. J. T. Mitchell received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He taught in the English Department of Ohio State University from 1968-77 and has been teaching in the Department of English and Art History at the University of Chicago since 1977, now named as a Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor. He has served as a Professor at the School of Criticism and Theory three times (Northwestern University, 1983; Dartmouth, 1990, Cornell University, 2016). In 2017, he was selected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
As scholar and theorist, Mitchell works particularly on the history and theories of media, visual art, and literature, from the eighteenth century to the present. His work explores the relations of visual and verbal representations in the culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). In his article The Pictorial Turn published in Artforum in 1992, Mitchell affirmed the significance of the “linguistic turn” that proposed by Richard Rorty, and prospectively suggested that a similar “pictorial turn” is needed. Mitchell may be considered as one of the earliest scholars in the Western academic circles who promoted the study of humanities from an image-oriented perspective. In later published Picture Theory (1994), he then expanded this concept in depth, and it was also in this book that Mitchell proposed his acclaimed “Metapicture” theory. Along with his Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (1986) and What Do Pictures Want?The Lives and Loves of Images (2005), these three books collectively construct a theoretical framework of Mitchell’s image theory and visual culture study. Mitchell’s other publications covering various disciplines and topics such as literature, media aesthetics, popular culture, and visual images in socio-politics.
About OCAT Institute Annual Lecture Series
As an open initiative dedicated to research in art history, the OCAT Institute Annual Lecture Series intends to delineate the contour of contemporary thought, reexamine potential histories of contemporary art, and create a platform of exchange and dialogue between the academic community in China and abroad. As one of the essential components of OCAT Institute’s public educational programs, it promotes an approach to research that draws from a wide range of disciplines in the humanities.
The general theme of the 2018 public project is art theory and visual culture research. In 2018, OCAT Institute invites Professor W. J. T. Mitchell (University of Chicago) as its 2018 Annual Lecturer. The Annual Lecture entitled “Metapicture: Images and the Discourse Theory” which is going to be held between September 6 and 8, 2018, at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing. Throughout the entire annual cycle, the subsequent W.J.T Mitchell Seminar Series, which constitutes the central component of the program, unfolds in two installments. The first and second seminars“ Images and Words” and “ Media, Technology & Memory” took place in April and June this year respectively, the speakers were invited to our event who have backgrounds in various academic disciplines, including art theory, visual media, Chinese painting, English literature. The exhibition Metapictures will be initiated by the OCAT Institute, and open to the public on September 9th .
Courtesy of The OCAT Institute.