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Date & Time

Wednesday, December 1, 2021
4:30 PM


Crerar Library




Logan Center


Metapictures at The University of Chicago is a new public art exhibition that shows the way visual images reflect on themselves, and on the very process of seeing itself.

Comprised of over 100 posters, videos, and an interactive display, the exhibition is divided into eleven topical “clouds” of images and texts that have been critical to the understanding of pictorial representation in philosophy, art history, and media theory. Reflecting on the role of images from Plato to Deleuze, on media from Aristotle to McLuhan, on exhibition practices from Cabinets of Curiosity to Aby Warburg to Andre Malraux, Metapictures might be seen as a game that leads the spectator into a labyrinth of concepts from numerous fields of knowledge that have attempted to understand the role of images in human affairs.

Included are Walter Benjamin’s “Dialectical Images” (capturing “history at a standstill”); cognitive psychology’s “Multistable images” that expose the doubleness and duplicity of pictures; “Biopictures” that exemplify the uncanny “lifelikeness” and “viral” character of images; “Talking Pictures” that reveal the relation of images to language; screens and templates that capture the intersubjective encounter between the seer and the seen, what Lacan calls “The Eye and the Gaze”; and “Image Atlases” that aim to provide totalizing overviews in art history, forensic science, natural history, and world pictures.

The exhibition is anchored by W. J. T. Mitchell’s fall seminar, “Metapictures,” cross-listed between English, Cinema Studies, Art History, and the Department of Visual Arts. Space has been set aside in the exhibition for students and visitors to mount and arrange images in new patterns, and to propose additional images, texts, and categories.

Curated by W.J.T. Mitchell, the exhibition is sponsored by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry at the Smart Museum of Art and UChicago Public Art. With thanks to David Wolf, Senior Director of Arts Technologies at UChicago’s Logan Center for the Arts.

Open to public, advance reservation encouraged