Interstices 13 (Under Construction)

Technics, Memory and the Architecture of History

May 8, 2011

Call for Papers

University of Tasmania
25-27 November

Key Speakers:
Prof Alessandra Ponte, Université de Montréal, Canada
Prof William Taylor, University of Western Australia
Dr Peg Rawes, Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
Dr Karen Burns, Monash University
Prof Jeff Malpas, University of Tasmania

Albrecht Duerer 1514 Melancholia I. Image: Wikimedia

In the light of massive catastrophes – the earthquakes near Sendai and Christchurch, the tsunamis of Acheh and Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans – the question of urban and architectural reconstruction invokes the question of remembering. What is this ‘past’ that we remember and on which we base our future reconstructions? What images of the past do we call upon in our decisions to build or not to build – and how do they negotiate the terrain between memory and history, nature and culture, technology and sustainability, planning and responding, tradition and innovation, foundations and interstices?

To Bernard Stiegler, the image that we recall in / as history is not an “image in general.” Rather it is an image with an irreducible materiality, inscribed in a technical history. That is to say, the image-object of history is given to us; we inherit it and make it our own. History has therefore a technicity and its own historicity: the architecture of its images contains technical traces of their construction.

The task of the historian becomes more complex in the light of such mnemotechnics. In recalling the past, no transcendental signified or image precedes the image-object. The event of memory calls for an imagination that does not separate mental images from image-objects and their associated technics of construction and dissemination.

As Lebbeus Woods says, the inventions and radical reconstructions that make survival possible under extreme, catastrophic conditions provide new ways of living in a paradoxical state of perpetual destruction and construction. Here, the image-object of the past maintains a dynamics of simultaneous political, technological, epistemological and personal change. The practices of architecture, design and art – when treated as images with technicities that produce an artificial already-there of the past that is not lived but imposed – become useful strata to identify and render problematic civic values and democratic processes.

What are some of the key image-objects that architecturalise historiography, particularly the historiographies of architecture, design and art? What are the ontological conditions surrounding these historical image-objects, their construction and dissemination? What alternative topologies of memorialising the past are imaginable: narratival, conversational, oral and gestural? What images are inherited by the historian, and how does the interior (psychic) condition of the historian assimilate (or not) the otherness of the image-objects that arrive from the outside?

Taking seriously the metaphor of the cinematic, the temporalisation of the image-object and its absorption into the sphere of production, and the indeterminacy of images that carry the technics of interhuman relations, the symposium invokes the theatre of the historian’s individuation alongside history’s mnemotechnics that organize the images which appear whenever memory is invoked.

We invite you to contribute to the examination of these and other related issues at the 2011 Interstices Under Construction Symposium. We welcome academics, practitioners and postgraduate students, and to present their investigations in 20 minute papers. The symposium also encourages alternative modes of presentations including cinematic and filmic presentations, installations and drawings. There will be an associated exhibition and film screening as part of the symposium.

Please send a 500 word abstract of your presentation (scholarly paper, drawings, installations, and/or film) to Stephen Loo (stephen.loo@utas.edu.au) by 31 July 2011. The conference brochure with an abbreviated abstract will be published on this blog.

The symposium will be held on 25-27 November 2011, in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia at the School of Architecture & Design, University of Tasmania. Closer to the time, the programme and updates will be available here. The Interstices Under Construction symposium this year will run in conjunction with the Cinema, Theatre, Publics: The future place of social imaginings Colloquium, organized by the School of Visual and Performing Arts, University of Tasmania’s Cinema in Transition Experiment (CITE) on 24-25 November 2011.

The Interstices Under Construction symposium will be followed immediately by a Call for Papers with the same theme, to be published in Issue 13 of Interstices: A Journal of Architecture and Related Arts in 2012.

We look forward to your contribution!