Ambivalences of Visibility (Revised)

GCSC Keynote Lectures

Johanna Schaffer (Kunsthochschule Kassel) & Isabel Paehr (Berlin)

The book ‘Ambivalences of Visibility’, that Johanna published in 2008, was above all a plea to engage with the forms of specific representations, and not with questions of quantity (‘more visibility for…’). For, as Peggy Phelan has argued, if there were a causal connection between visual representability and political power, then in the liberal democracies of the West, young, scantily-clad heteronormative female performing persons would necessarily have quite a bit of power. In our changed media realities we need to rethink the analytical/political usefulness of the concept ‘visibility,’ for in digital media realities visibility (= views = monetization) almost entirely loses its oppositional connotations. If ‘visibility’ is a concept that belongs to historically specific media realities and their critical languages, what can be learned from them for our current examinations? We also would like to suggest some other terms along the lines of ‘distributed agency’ and ‘infrastructure’ in order to discuss crucial interventions in the field of digital visuality and data rich environments.

12.11.2019, 18-20, room 001, MFR