Outsider Theories of the Visual.

Special Session of Visual Culture Caucus, College Art Association Conference=

Call deadline: August 15, 2011

Conference date & location: February 22-25, 2012; Los Angeles

Visual culture has long been a loose field of study at conflict with its own identity. But one of its strengths is that during that time it has always been a working project rather than a discipline. As such, it can help associated disciplinary systems reevaluate entrenched theories. By introducing lesser known thinkers and topics of study, this academic practice can destabilize disciplinary assumptions around the visual.

In that spirit, this special session of the Visual Culture Caucus at CAA addresses the subject of “outsider theories of the visual.” Not necessarily residing outside of theory altogether, outsider theory nonetheless introduces new blood, or offers new ways of applying seemingly unrelated theories to the visual. Serving as a critique of trends, outsider theory may respond to the tendency in studies of the visual to allow the legislature, rather than the populace, to define what “politics” means; or perhaps it responds to anthropocentrism, or other forms of exceptionalism. It may emerge from non-academic circles, overlooked archives, or fields outside the humanities, but regardless of its provenance, it has the ability to shed new light. In its constructively disruptive role, visual culture makes clear that the prevalence of the visual in daily life requires a diversity of theoretical approaches that has perhaps been lacking in the humanities.

This call invites panelists from any area of study that can offer scholars new ways to approach their labor in and on the visual. This session does not seek answers, only new vantage points that will help to question the stability of our present conversations about art, design, media, and vision.

Potential points of discussion:

  • computer vision and other technologies of vision
  • the cultural status of vision
  • reconsiderations of aesthetics
  • documentation and observation in science studies
  • the senses and human understanding
  • political optics
  • spatial planning and the flow of resources
  • history of philosophy
  • the biology or neurology of seeing
  • information design
  • vision in non-human environments

Send abstracts of 150 words to Scott Selberg selberg@nyu.edu and Kate Brideau kcb265@nyu.edu by August 15.


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