Images today, digitized and disseminated online, are essentially mobile and transitory. They exist in order to be shared and sent. It is often thought that this circulatory nature of images is a recent phenomenon. But already a century ago, German art historian and cultural theorist Aby Warburg, in the introduction to his Mnemosyne Atlas, coined the term “image vehicles” and suggested that the “migrations of images” are woven into the very existence of images themselves.
The notion of image vehicles calls for a dialogue between, on the one hand, art history, iconology, or image theory and, on the other, infrastructure studies. There would be no image vehicles without what allows for their mobility: wires, cables, satellites, shipping routes, and other components of transportation.
This symposium addressed the significance of image vehicles and the infrastructures that make them possible, as well as the ways in which we can visualize these infrastructures in the form of images that can themselves be disseminated.
The event was convened by Peter Szendy as part of the Cogut Institute’s Economies of Aesthetics initiative and in partnership with the Department of French and Francophone Studies.
Image: “Cargo Cult” (from “Body Beautiful, Or Beauty Knows No Pain”) by Martha Rosler, c. 1966-1972, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College