Sarah B.H. Hamill F'17, F'13
ACLS Fellowship Program 2017
Surface Matters: Contemporary Photography and the Metaphor of Sculpture
How has the circulation of digital images shaped the experience of sculptural matter, time, and space? Since the 1980s, numerous artists have explored answers to this question in hybrid works that move between photography, sculpture, and video. Their projects are diverse, but they each use mass media to signal sculpture virtually, by metaphorizing touch, texture, time, or surface. These are not images of objectivity or empiricism; these photographs instead comment on and analogize the experience of materiality in the internet age. Charting a broad range of diverse projects that depart from conceptualism, this project shows how artists have used photography to thematize materiality and haptic modes of beholding. The first scholarly study of its kind, it offers new vocabularies for understanding sculpture, media, spectacle, digital reproduction, and the post-medium condition in contemporary art.
ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships 2013
(with Megan Luke, University of Southern California)
Sculpture and Photography: The Art Object in Reproduction
Although scholars across the humanities rely on photographs of art and archaeological objects to construct historical and aesthetic meaning, there remains little consensus today regarding the uses and values of these images for the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. This collaboration addresses a pressing need for a history and theory of the imaging technologies that scholars use to contemplate and interpret objects. Focusing on the spatial and tactile medium of sculpture, long associated as a medium of embodiment, the collaborators explore how photographic reproductions direct our access to material things and shape our experience of space. Not unbiased copies, these images rather supply the objects they record with a particular setting and a point of view. This project will result in a co-authored book, surveying theories of facsimiles, reproductive technologies, and the limits of perception developed in Europe and America from 1800 to the present, based on research in photographic archives, photo-study collections, and collections of pre-photographic reproductive techniques such as plaster casts and bronzes. Underscoring photography as vital to the global exchange of art objects and cultural artifacts, the collaborators aim to shed new light on its centrality for the writing of art history. This book builds on work the collaborators have completed individually on modern sculptors’ photographs. In recent years, the authors have also collaborated by co-organizing a symposium jointly sponsored by the Clark Art Institute and the Getty Research Institute that brings together leading international scholars across disciplines to address the photographic mediation of sculpture. This symposium and now this co-authored book are conceived at a moment when knowledge circulates through digital images and the Internet to an unprecedented degree. The collaborators look to the interrelated histories of art, mass media, and visual culture to demonstrate how various methods of image production and transmission condition pedagogy and research in ways that vitally direct the future of humanistic inquiry. Award period: July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2015