Appel à communication : « Repetition » (University of California, 18 mai 2013)

Repetition, as both logic and device, has played a significant role in the history of art. As logic, repetition underlies the very possibility  of artworks as meaningful objects, as it is through repeated acquaintance with an object or form that it gains meaning in a prescribed context. And as stylistic device, the use of repetition has transcended historical periods and visual cultures. From prehistory to the present, the repetition of forms and objects has been used by practically all cultures as a way to define common identities, establish order, and inscribe sense and meaning into the world. The use of repeated forms stands at the center of, for instance, practices and objects as distinct as Inca tunic design, Buddhist and Hindu mandalas, Outsider art and 1960s Minimalism. Yet repetition was also part of painterly strategies in the Renaissance and Baroque periods and pervades the concepts of Early Modern print culture as well as sculptural practices. These various examples serve to highlight our expanded approach to the idea of repetition as an integral aspect of a series of diverse practices, including pattern design, seriality, doubling, mirroring, symmetry, recursion, copying and reproducibility.

Moreover, the significance of repetition extends to the present moment as the concept has occupied an important place in the theorizing of modern existence—as commodity or behavior, for instance. More specifically within the visual arts, the advent of photography in the mid-19th century has led thinkers to theorize the effects of the repeated and repeatable image in modern life, often with inconclusive or contradictory results. While Benjamin argued in 1936 that, “the technology of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition,” making a case for the revolutionary potential of the technology of photography, Adorno and Horkheimer contended some years later that in contemporary existence, “what is new is that the irreconcilable elements of culture, art and distraction are subordinated to one end and subsumed under one false formula: the totality of the culture industry. It consists of repetition.”

We invite abstracts of no more than 300 words for papers dealing with the intersection of art and repetition in any of its forms. Topics from all art historical periods and geographical regions are encouraged, in particular those dealing with the significance of repetition as an artistic and critical strategy in early modern, modern and contemporary art.

Please e-mail abstracts to by March 15.
The conference will be held at the California Museum of Photography in Downtown Riverside on May 18, 2013.

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