[UPDATE] CFP The Tangible, McGill University Art History and Communication Studies Graduate Student Conference

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McGill University Art History and Communication Studies Graduate Student Association
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The Tangible

McGill University

Department of Art History and Communication Studies

4th Annual Graduate Student Symposium

April 26th, 2013

"We must habituate ourselves to think that every visible is cut out of the tangible, every tactile being in some manner promised to visibility, and that there is encroachment, infringement, not only between the touched and the touching, but also between the tangible and the visible,"
- Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible

The graduate students of McGill's Department of Art History and Communication Studies invite you to consider the implications of the tangible in a one-day interdisciplinary graduate student conference.

As suggested by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the tangibility of objects is concomitant with their visibility. Both the visual and tangible properties of objects profoundly influence their cultural circulation, meaning, and value. Similarly, while visual phenomena are typically understood as immaterial, they invariably have tangible connotations and effects. To attend to the tangible, then, is to create the conditions for an interdisciplinary encounter between varied modes of perception and understanding.

Such an investigation might begin in an examination of the complex accounts of materiality. While the value placed in the tangibility of objects has never been a static constant, trends in digitization and thing theory present shifts to our stakes in the material. How do the various tangibilities of objects, art, media, and theory influence embodied and scholarly negotiations of representation and ontological meaning? In moments of uncertain materiality, do we find an over-abundance of the tangible, or its privation?

Secondly, the tangible is also an important dimension of affect and sensory studies. A wide range of present and historical images, technologies, and practices mediate and induce the tangible in all its sensorial dimensions. Across history, how have sensory experience and other tangible affects operated in the reception and circulation of art objects, technologies, and other forms of media? How might these objects and discourses be called upon to represent and induce sensation, and in what ways might this communication threaten become a form of affective labour?

Finally, the interrelated history of tangibility and visuality suggest new ways of accounting for contemporary and historical concepts of virtuality and perception. How does a focus on tangibility complicate or influence what we understand as the virtual, the immaterial, or the absent? What tangible techniques and interfaces might support a sense of presence, acts of remembrance, or empathetic exchange? Under what circumstances is this tangibility desirable?

Keynote Speaker: Constance Classen.


- The anthropology of images

- Digitization, archiving, and the changing technologies of academic research

- Thing theory, Object Oriented Ontology

- Affect theory, sensory experience, studies of perception and phenomenology

- Tangibility in museum display and exhibition culture

- Memory studies, trauma theory

- Pilgrimages, patrimony, inheritance, spirituality

- Virtual media, communication, and the perceived "loss" of the tangible

- Immersive installations, tactile art production

- Intersections between tangibility and intangibility, absence and presence

- Media ecologies, new materialisms

- Sound studies

The key aim of this graduate conference is to consider the influence of tangibility and its various permutations within our engagements with art, objects, media, and technologies. We invite speakers from a broad range of academic disciplines to submit to the conference. Given the unique interdisciplinary nature of McGill's Department of Art History and Communication Studies, we most especially welcome papers from a wide range of historical and contemporary periods that can resonate across art history, visual studies, and communications studies.

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We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations on academic and creative research projects. Please send your submission in the form of a 300-word abstract and brief curriculum vitae to ahcsconference@gmail.com.

Deadline for submissions: February 15, 2013.

For more information, please refer to the conference website (http://ahcsconference.wordpress.com) or contact ahcsconference@gmail.com

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