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Looking across the borderlands of art, media and visual culture

Travelling images critically examines the migrations and transformations of images as they travel between different image communities. It consists of four case studies covering the period 1870–2010 and includes photocollages, window displays, fashion imagery and contemporary art projects. Through these four close-ups it seeks to reveal the mechanisms, nature and character of these migration processes, and the agents behind them, as well as the sites where they have taken place. The overall aim of this book is thus to understand the mechanisms of interfacing events in the borderlands of the art world. Two key arguments are developed in the book, reflected by its title Travelling images. First, the notion of travel and focus on movements and transformations signal an emphasis on the similarities between cultural artefacts and living beings. The book considers ‘the social biography’ and ‘ecology’ of images, but also, on a more profound level, the biography and ecology of the notion of art. In doing so, it merges perspectives from art history and image studies with media studies. Consequently, it combines a focus on the individual case, typical for art history and material culture studies with a focus on processes and systems, on continuities and ruptures, and alternate histories inspired by media archaeology and cultural historical media studies. Second, the central concept of image is in this book used to designate both visual conventions, patterns or contents and tangible visual images. Thus it simultaneously consider of content and materiality.

From Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry to British Romantic art

The challenge of the sublime argues that the unprecedented visual inventiveness of the Romantic period in Britain could be seen as a response to theories of the sublime, more specifically to Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). While it is widely accepted that the Enquiry contributed to shaping the thematics of terror that became fashionable in British art from the 1770s, this book contends that its influence was of even greater consequence, paradoxically because of Burke’s conviction that the visual arts were incapable of conveying the sublime. His argument that the sublime was beyond the reach of painting, because of the mimetic nature of visual representation, directly or indirectly incited visual artists to explore not just new themes, but also new compositional strategies and even new or undeveloped pictorial and graphic media, such as the panorama, book illustrations and capricci. More significantly, it began to call into question mimetic representational models, causing artists to reflect about the presentation of the unpresentable and the inadequacy of their endeavours, and thus drawing attention to the process of artistic production itself, rather than the finished artwork. By revisiting the links between eighteenth-century aesthetic theory and visual practices, The challenge of the sublime establishes new interdisciplinary connections which address researchers in the fields of art history, cultural studies and aesthetics.

early 1840s. Plate 14 illustrates the thinness of the glass Bell was using at this early stage: the exterior grid to the window can be clearly seen through the green background to the figure. The Rattery commission is a fine example of the emergence of archaeological reference, the continued preference for painterly figures and glass-painting techniques and material inherited from the eighteenth-century tradition. The result

in Stained Glass and the Victorian Gothic Revival
Re-rebuilding the Pompeian Court of the Crystal Palace

photograph by P. Delamotte. From Views of the Crystal Palace and Park, Sydenham. From drawings by eminent artists and photographs by P. Delamotte, 1854, pl. IX. © British Library Board. ‘a copy – or rather a translation’ 181 absorbed back into the archaeological record. Paradoxically, this absorption was made possible by its very high profile in the nineteenth century and the high regard placed on its apparent authenticity. Wyatt’s illustration of his own Court served as an exemplum of the Roman decorative arts in the Scottish Exhibition in Glasgow and Abbate, whose

in After 1851
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Labour, design and culture

contexts in Western capitalist nations; a transition that has been well documented in sociology and social histories of technology.2 The introduction of computerised and automated technologies profoundly transformed the labour conditions and industrial politics in factory and office workplaces. In some cases, automation and computerisation made tasks less dangerous or physically taxing, but in many others, new technologies made employees’ hard-won trade skills redundant.3 Computerisation often reduced the number of employees required and it often degraded the workers

in Hot metal
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Travelling images

expressions act as components in a historically situated system of distribution and circulation and, in consequence, also with intermedial relations. My emphasis on processes and systems, on continuities and ruptures and alternative histories is inspired by recent developments within media studies, such as media archaeology and cultural historical media studies.27 Such systems of distribution and circulation could be political, economical, technical, social or legal 13 14 Travelling images and the aim of this study is to analyse the relations between different kinds of

in Travelling images
Ruin paintings and architectural fantasies

203 7 u ‘Sublime dreams’: ruin paintings and architectural fantasies From the beginning of the eighteenth century, ruins, vestiges of the past and architectural fragments became an essential feature of the British cultural imaginary and a recurrent topos in the arts. For more than a century, the fascination they exerted was fuelled by archaeological discoveries, direct encounters with classical sites by British visitors on the Grand Tour and then social and political upheavals which forcefully drew attention to the transience of all things. Such an interest

in The challenge of the sublime

architects and landscape architects were driving innovation in designing for corporate clients in terms of volume and variety of designs, while in Britain differing economic and social conditions shaped some alternative strategies for designing office space. In the twenty-first century, led by the American technology sector, we are witnessing a refreshed approach to corporate landscaping, which, in some respects is closer ideologically to early twentieth-century factory landscapes than to post-war office landscapes. Providing gardens and physical exercise in the workplace

in The factory in a garden
A genteel life in trade

26 1 Building reputations: a genteel life in trade While the social and economic histories of the building artisan have long been established, specifically in terms of professional mobility through financial prosperity and the challenges faced by industrialization and systems of wage labour, there has been relatively little appreciation of the house builder as an agent of architectural taste. Now recognized as having possessed both technical and supervisory skills, as well as being a successful employer and businessman, the building mechanic’s grasp of design

in Building reputations

The reign of the ‘painterly real’ and the politics of crisis 5 The reign of the ‘painterly real’ and the politics of crisis, 1999–2004 This closing chapter offers a reading of the work of two artists of the 1990s and early 2000s – David Kareyan and Narek Avetisyan, both previously members of the group ACT – and discusses their works in the context of social, political, technological as well as cultural shifts in Armenia. The two artists’ works, I argue, epitomize the contradictions of turn-of-the-century Armenia. I define this context as a crisis of politics

in The political aesthetics of the Armenian avant-garde