ERC Advanced Grant
An-Iconology: History, Theory, and Practices of Environmental Images
Seminar Cycle 2022-2023
One of the issues that mostly challenge the iconic character of environmental images delivered by virtual, augmented, and mixed reality is characterized by multisensoriality. Indeed, the cultural tradition which conceives the image under the domain of vision is undermined by immersive media experiences that involve the entire sensorium, going so far as to embrace even senses traditionally considered inferior such as taste and smell (an example is Cosmos within Us, Tupac Martir 2019). Multisensoriality refers to the simultaneity with which different senses grasp everyday experience. In this direction, multisensoriality has been distinguished from intersensoriality, or “the interrelation and/or transumation of the senses, which may take many forms” (Ong, 1991), of which it constitutes only one of the possible declinations. Multisensory experiences are also related to the complex tradition of synaesthesia, a concept which emerged in the arts in the 19th century from the rediscovery of non-Western and pre-modern sensory cultures (Howes 2011; Marks, 2014). Indeed, the “sensory-specificity” that has imposed, since Aristotle, both the taxonomy of the five senses and the correspondence of sensory experiences with singular organic channels, is to be seen as historically and culturally determined and destined to be changed by the advent of new technologies and devices. The same number of the senses involved in perception has been constantly rethought (from a minimum of ten to a maximum of thirty-three), especially through the multiplication of experiences related to touch (temperature, pain, proprioception, balance) (Howes, 2009; Hemshaw, 2012). The cultural character of the senses is the focus of sensory studies, a set of anthropological and historiographical approaches aimed at interrogating the cultural character of the senses (Howes 2022). In this field, the perspective of sensory history appears to be prevalent, since this latter not only analyzes various historical events and contexts from the primary role that the senses play in them, but also considers the sensorium as the main vehicle for implementing strategies of reenactment and actualization of the past (Smith, 2015; Classen, 2014). These are extremely interesting approaches to understand nowadays codes and strategies by which an-icons, intended as immersive environments, propose multisensory, intersensory and synaesthetic experiences. Accordingly, this seminar intends to investigate the disposition of the sensorium in the new digital and immersive mediascape following the interdisciplinary intersection between three main approaches: 1) Aesthetics: an approach able to interrogate the historicity of aisthesis by taking into consideration both the advent of new wearable and prosthetic technologies of the sensorium and the confrontation with a theoretical debate that from Benjamin and MacLuhan reaches the most recent approaches of sensory studies, investigating the reciprocal relations by which the senses shape our experience 2) Media archaeology: an approach which aims at interrogating in an archaeological sense the history of multi- and intersensory media, especially in relation to sensory experiences different from the traditional audio-visual blend 3) Art and performance theory: an approach which considers how the contribution of new techniques and technologies in art and performance are reorganizing the sensory experience by questioning the meaning of our ideas of both body and image.
27 October 2022
How Images Appear – Ontological and Epistemological Concerns
Other dates TBA