In these times of rapid changes, information appears in such an invasive fashion that it is not always permitted or simply possible to distinguish between what is real and what is fake. Images, which used to vouch for reality, become suspect. A step back is needed: how can truth– admitting that it objectively exists – be discerned?
In this sense, to doubt means temporarily interrupting the flow of content, questioning knowledge, or scrutinizing discourses that may appear self-evident but are, in essence, thoroughly ideological. If doubt can in this age lay claim to be an increasingly indispensable act of resistance, it is also because both bodies and identities are part of gender assignments with normative powers that are just as overwhelming as they are questionable. As we face these realities, it is important to postulate the intentionally undefined as a field of exploration (somatic, scenic, audiovisual...), that is, as a place where everything remains to be invested, nuanced and subjected to doubt and questioning. As queer culture demonstrates, this is tantamount to refusing fixed definitions, to invest the “in betweens,” reverse angles, and blind spots of dominant ideologies. Doubting means restoring the complexity and richness of narratives and lives lived. It is up to us to embrace and go beyond these fleeting moments of irresoluteness.
Doubt also intervenes in art and media practices, as it disrupts the suspension of disbelief and renders visible the patterns and structures that permit images to hold sway over our lives. Experience of this new heightened awareness may occur during when encountering a work of art, or during immersive experiences involving virtual reality or video games. Furthermore, these technologies blur established conceptions of authenticity. It stimulates the perception of the potential collapses of pre-constructed discourses related to utopia, dystopia and anticipation regarding, for instance, technological, socio-political or environmental issues. The multiple manifestations of doubt thus contribute to emergence of a new type of critical thinking straying from Cartesianism and the ideals of the philosophical modernity of the 17 th century, which aimed to remove uncertainty in favour of a metaphysics of the subject and a clear and distinct subjectivity.
This approach further seems to apply to our relationship with technologies making use of computer-generated images that keep distorting, transforming and shaping our conception of reality, thus making it impossible to determine whether it constitutes progress or, on the contrary, a disruption of our connection to the world. Therefore, doubt does not only relate to spontaneous intuitions, profound disagreements, uprisings, or a philosophical movement traditionally associated with skepticism: it also constitutes an endless matter, a mode of becoming visual, which encourages an emancipating act of creation countering preconceived notions. Many artists have kept this in mind while embracing experiments where the unfinished, the perfectible and the hypothesis take precedence over categorical judgment and certainty.
Finally, memory is the virtual space where doubt may manifest itself in its most fragile, intimate and vulnerable forms. Whether personal or collective, faithful to past and present events or tinged with inaccuracies, filled with involuntary gaps and deliberate omissions or conveying a sort of wholeness, the act of remembrance is constantly riddled with doubt. In this respect, art plays a crucial role in the constitution of memories, and thus in their eventual integration in a not always indisputable collective history, as well as in their vast potential for rehabilitation.
Following this, images must assert their multiple functions, between artifice and testimony. They deserve to be mobilized as heuristic tools that will open our eyes, revive our thinking, and, in the process, teach us to doubt better.
The following are some of the issues that we would like to see addressed during this conference convening researchers working in the fields of art history, moving images, video games, and the performing arts. Proposals investigating practices and phenomena outside of these categories, but engaging with the wider issues covered by the conference are also welcome.
(queer culture, (de)materialized bodies, digital matter, glitch, experimental art, intermedial performances...).
- Alternative narratives
(reassessment of dominant discourses through the voices of indigenous people, minorities, artistic activism...).
(virtual reality devices, subliminal and suggested images, imaginary museum, media technologies, immersive artworks and games...).
- True/ False
(uncertainty, skepticism, paranoia, special effects, authenticity, original/copy...).
We invite graduate students as well as professors, researchers and museums professionals, of all disciplinary horizons, to submit a proposal for a communication (about 300 words) before July 3rd 2019.
Research-creation proposals are also welcome. In order to submit your proposal, you must complete the form provided and send it to artsmedias.udem[a]gmail.com
Please note that some communications may be selected for publication by the committee. For any questions regarding the symposium, you can write to us at the same address.