[SydPhil] Conference Announcement: "The Image in Question": AUG 1­3, 2014, Sydney College of the Arts, USYD

David Macarthur david.macarthur at sydney.edu.au
Sun Jul 13 16:56:02 AEST 2014

An International Interdisciplinary Conference At The University Of Sydney

The image-saturated world that we live in today will be under scrutiny at an international,

interdisciplinary conference and exhibition at Sydney College of the Arts from 1-3

August. International researchers led by the University of Sydney’s Contemporary Arts School and

Philosophy Department, together with the Australian Catholic University’s Institute of Social Justice,

will examine society’s position as consumers of images in film, photography, television, the internet

and contemporary art.

The conference theme, The Image in Question, is partly inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966

film Blow Up, which follows a fashion photographer’s quest for verifiable evidence of a murder he

has unwittingly captured on film. Underlying the film is a metaphor for the hidden truths revealed in

an image – an idea that will be explored at the Sydney conference. Dr John Di Stefano, Associate

Professor, Sydney College of the Arts and one of the conference conveners, said: “Images are

generated and disseminated at unheard of speed and volume now,more than ever. As consumers,

we have become somewhat desensitized by the deluge of images that we encounter through various

media daily.

“This conference will consider how the image can still be meaningful today, and what its currency

and role is in society. It will also raise philosophical questions about the future of our society and

human kind, in a world mediated through photo media,” he said.

Visiting Australia for the conference is international cultural theorist and video artist Dr Mieke Bal

from the University of Amsterdam. An author of more than 30 books, Bal also makes experimental

documentaries on migration and more recently has begun exploring fiction. She will deliver a

keynote address on ‘Temporal Turbulence’, which will examine how imaging and thinking politically

might go hand in hand.

Dr Stephen White, another international guest speaker and Philosophy Professor at Boston’s Tufts

University, will deliver the second keynote on scepticism and the camera as a metaphor for the


Accompanying The Image in Question is an exhibition, The Sceptical Image, which integrates

creative art research into the conference. The exhibition sees 11 contemporary artists, including

SCA lecturers Anne Ferran, Ryszard Dabek, John Di Stefano, Merilyn Fairskye, Stefan Popescu,

Cherine Fahd, Justin Trendall and Margaret Seymour, develop new works across photography,

video installation, digital art and film. In a unique forum, the conference will move into the SCA

Galleries to examine and interrogate images created by these contemporary artists in response to

the conference theme, providing a further avenue for critical debate and exchange during the


In conjunction with the conference, Mieke Bal also presents her latest video installation Madame B:

Explorations in Emotional Capitalism at the SCA Galleries. Her immersive exhibition is inspired by

Gustave Flaubert’s 1856 debut novel Madame Bovary, which tells an archetypal story of a doctor's

wife’s adulterous affairs and who lives beyond her means to escape the banalities and emptiness

of provincial life. The installation, comprising 19 video screen projections, follows a similar, modern

day tale of human madness and destruction. Made in collaboration with fellow video and

performance artist Michelle Williams Gamaker, the work is loyal to the cinema as an art form for

revealing images that have big screen political influence.

The Image in Question will draw experts from several other key universities internationally and in

NSW and the ACT, who will speak as part of this interdisciplinary conference. For the full program

and to register visit www.theimageinquestion.net

The Sceptical Image and Madame B Explorations in Emotional Capitalism exhibitions are showing

at the SCA Galleries until 30 August.

Event details

What: The Image in Question international conference

When: 1-3 August (exhibition opening: 1 Aug and conference: 2-3 Aug)

Where: Sydney College of the Arts, Callan Park, Lilyfield

Cost: $120 adult, $70 concession (Daily rate $70/$45)

Registration: www.theimageinquestion.net

Above image: Untitled. Image: Fairskye/Fahd 2014.

Media enquiries: Mandy Campbell 0481 012 742 or mandy.campbell at sydney.edu.au

Dr. David Macarthur | Senior Lecturer & UG Coordinator
Philosophy Department, SOPHI | FASS
NSW, 2006 | Australia
Ph: +61 2 9351 3193

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