Professor Stephennie Mulder
Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture
London, 2 May 2018, 5:30 pm
London WC1H 0AB
Admission free; please register for this event through the Events section of the School of Advanced Study (SAS).
If Aby Warburg’s goal was to establish the autonomy of the image, that goal has certainly reached its apotheosis with the rise of digital media. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, images reign, and they have become powerful tools of manipulation and persuasion.
The rise and fall of the Viking “Allah” story, which captured headlines around the world for its seductive claims about the discovery of a Viking textile with Arabic writing, was propagated and argued largely by means of a highly manipulated image, but it was also a sequence of images that allowed me to deconstruct false claims about the textile, when I wrote a 60-tweet Twitter thread debunking the story in October of last year. In this image-rich environment, the work of art historians, cultural historians, and media scholars has never been more urgent, as university administrators work to deconstruct and defund the arts, humanities, and traditional paper libraries, thereby restricting our access to the analog history of images, consigning us to the endless matrix of digital duplication. How can the prescience of Warburg’s vision be put to use in the world of social media image construction and circulation, where “truthiness” reigns over “truth”? How does Bilderfahrzeuge work in the tangled networks of the digital age?