Blog Post – Anna McSweeney July 2016
Among the members of the Bilderfahrzeuge group, we have been thinking recently about ‚immutable mobiles‘ and the object-oriented theories of Bruno Latour in relation to our work on image vehicles, the movement of images. In his essay ‚Visualisation and Cognition‘, Latour casts inscriptions as the explanatory principle of modern scientific culture. He uses the term ‚immutable mobiles‘ to describe objects which are characterized by the properties of mobility, immutability, presentability, readibility and combinability with each other. He claims that the history of these objects is the history of scholarship in visualisation and cognition.
It seemed to me that paper moulds are a good example of an immutable mobile. Using layers of wet paper to make a negative impression of a building or object, from which a positive could be cast in plaster, paper moulds were used by archaeologists and antiquarians in the mid-nineteenth century to copy the façades of monuments that were far away, at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Palenque in Mexico or the Alhambra in Spain, for example. Described as ‚facsimiles‘ by the inventor of the technique, Lottin de Laval (1810-1903), paper moulds allowed explorers to transport a version of a building or sculpture with all its details back to the museum in the age before both digital reproduction and cheap and reliable photography. Weiterlesen