NIRVCNottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

Mobile Spectators: Viewing on the Move

Call for Papers

Proposal deadline: 1 December 2013

Conference dates: Friday 4 to Saturday 5 July 2014, University of Nottingham, UK

In theories of looking at art, spectators are usually assumed to be static, having arrived at a correct viewing position before a given work of art. Yet in our experiences of art, vision and movement are inseparable. Travel is often a prerequisite to putting oneself in a position to be able to see something, or to see it properly; physical effort is required to address the object or image appropriately.

Works of art usually inhabit spaces which necessitate adjustment of the viewer’s position. Institutions of art require active engagements such as entering, scanning, exploring, traversing, perusing, surveying, and other forms of behaviour or gestures. When such contingencies of viewing are acknowledged, the question arises as to whether the idea of a static viewer engaged in motionless contemplation is a Modernist, ocularcentric paradigm that fails to take into account movements of the body as a precondition to sight. This conference wishes to explore the role(s) of physical movement in creating an art viewer, among other questions. Is there a difference between ‘viewer’ and ‘spectator’? Does one term imply a more active or passive role than the other? Does either term imply motion?

We welcome and encourage studies of all periods and locations. Suggested lines of inquiry include but are not limited to the following:

  • The language of looking
  • Correct positions: the ideology and practices of viewing positions
  • Anamorphosis: the image as at once coded and controlling
  • Narratives and itineraries of viewing art
  • Instances, objects, structures that demand a viewer’s movement in order to see
  • Sustained ways of seeing
  • First impressions: the moment of encounter
  • Glimpse versus gaze
  • Modes of scanning and surveying
  • Art History on the run: from biennales to pilgrimage
  • The traversal of surfaces
  • Mobility in digital terms
  • Stasis and mobility in panoramic vision

Please send proposals of up to 200 words and C.V. to: Ting Chang and Richard Wrigley by 1 December 2013

Posted on Wednesday 17th July 2013

Nottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3318
fax: +44 (0)115 846 7778