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Call for Papers – Experiencing Visual Images: Interdisciplinary Approaches

Call for Papers
University College London, 11 November 2022 (provisional)

It is now widely recognised that the relentless (re)production of visuality, a distinct feature of our digital age, has increasingly problematised the status of the image and the gaze. This has prompted a growing need for research across the academy into the complex question of how we see and experience so much visual information and the impact this has on our ability to think with and through images.

In the field of neuroscience, the underlying neural mechanisms of visual perception are known to be complex and remain incompletely understood. From a philosophical point of view, scholarship in image studies has asked compelling questions on the demarcation between mere images and art images, demonstrating how the progressive reduction of the world to image has compromised our ability to conceptualise this point of difference. Meanwhile, historians of art, science and literature (to name only three historical sub-fields) stress the cultural specificity of visual perception, exploring how the gaze and the experience of seeing visual images was configured in past societies. Finally, contemporary visual artists have pioneered the creation of visual art through historically marginalised gazes. This sustained and wide-ranging interest in the visual, all of which points towards its profound richness and complexity, indicates the need for critical engagement and collaboration across disciplines, in order to develop new approaches to the image and to deepen our understanding of its shifting ontological status and the consequences this yields on the configurations of our gaze.

Contributions are therefore invited to a one-day conference that seeks to explore the possible intersections between scientific, philosophical, historical and artistic approaches to understanding the gaze and the image. We hope to foster constructive communication across traditionally drawn disciplinary boundaries in order to enrich our understanding of how the complex processes of experiencing visual images can be interpreted in a wide range of historical and cultural contexts.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

– The emotional gaze: psychological effects of seeing visual images
– Diversifying the gaze: neurodivergent visual perception
– The science of seeing: cognitive and neural mechanisms of visual perception (historical, cutting-edge
– Reconstructing historical gazes: past experiences of seeing
– Metaphysics of seeing: looking at, looking through visual images (philosophical, religious approaches)
– The disordered gaze: visual perception and illness (e.g., schizophrenia, stroke)
– Decolonising the gaze: non-Western experiences of seeing
– Queering the gaze: queer experiences of seeing
– Visual sociology
– Image and neuroaesthetics
– Image and ethics
– Moving Images

Short (10-minute) papers from PGR students and ECRs working in all disciplines (Arts and Humanities,
Social Sciences, Natural Sciences) are welcomed.

Please send abstracts of up to 250 words (as well as any enquiries) to experiencing.images@gmail.com by
Friday April 8th.

Conference organisers

Genevieve Caulfield – PhD candidate, UCL Department of History
Federica Mure – PhD candidate, Goldsmiths Department of English and Creative Writing

This conference is sponsored by the London Art and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)