Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University
"Horizons & Horizontality"
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Keynote address: Jennifer Roberts, Professor, History of Art & Architecture, Harvard University
“Contemplation of the sky is the grace and curse of humanity." -Aby Warburg
If a horizon is "the boundary-line of that part of the earth's surface visible from a given point of view; the line at which the earth and sky appear to meet" (OED), then it is by definition at once inherently visual and inherently positional: the horizon depends on the viewer's perspective. And just as the horizon demarcates the limits of what we can see, so the term has come to describe the limits of what we can know.
Erwin Panofsky implied a direct relationship between visual and epistemological horizons when he linked the Renaissance invention of linear perspective to the era’s awareness of its historical distance from classical antiquity. While Freud associated the human's evolution to a vertical posture with the primacy of the visual faculty, Georges Bataille described sight as parallel to the “horizontal axis” of animal life. From the horizontal composition of processions in Greek and Roman sculpture to Albrecht Dürer’s depiction of a draftsman rendering a reclining nude through a perspective grid to Jackson Pollock dripping paint onto a horizontal canvas, artistic practice has concerned itself with the connection between vision, distance, and the subject's relation to the horizontal plane.
This conference seeks to explore the roles played by horizons and horizontality—both literal and figurative—in the visual arts and the writing of their histories. Submissions are invited to interpret the terms “horizons” and “horizontality” concretely or broadly. Papers might consider:
assembly lines; arenas; chronology and duration; distance; entropy; exploration, territory, and frontiers; earth and cosmos; exchange; false (or real) horizons; flatness; floors, friezes and lintels; the gendering of horizontality; les grandes horizontales; gravity; horizontal architecture; horizontal scrolls; horizon lines; the informe; lateral social relations; limits of perception; leveling and destruction; panorama; parallax; peripheries; perspective; the politics of horizontality; processions; sarcophagi; strata and excavation; symmetry; syntax; skyline; the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial; urban or suburban sprawl; vanishing points.
We welcome submissions from graduate students in all areas of art history, archaeology, architecture and related disciplines. Email abstract and CV to Tessa Paneth-Pollak and Frances Jacobus-Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, January 11, 2010. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words and final papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length. Selected speakers will be notified by February 1, 2010.
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