“Metapictures: Images and the Discourse of Theory”

“Metapictures: Images and the Discourse of Theory”

OCAT Institute

W. J. T. Mitchell. Courtesy OCAT Institute. 

August 31, 2018
“Metapictures: Images and the Discourse of Theory”
September 6–8, 2018, 2pm
University of Chicago Center in Beijing
20th floor, Culture Plaza No. 59A Zhong Guan Cun Street Haidian District

September 6, 2–5pm 
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.  

September 7, 2–5pm
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.

September 8, 2–5pm   
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.

Organizer: OCAT Institute
Co-organizer: The University of Chicago Center in Beijing
Support: Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Co., Ltd.
Inquiry: info [​at​] ocatinstitute.org.cn

The events are free, please sign up via the email info [​at​] ocatinstitute.org.cn by providing the date of event (0906/0907/0908), your name, your email, workplace/school. 

About W.J.T. Mitchell
W. J. T. Mitchell received his MA and PhD 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.


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August 31, 2018

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