International conference Visual Semantics-Visualizing Global Networks, Circulations, and Patterns


International conference

Visual Semantics – Visualizing Global Networks, Circulations, and Patterns

Paris, École Normale Supérieure
Amphithéâtre Rataud

13 and 14 June 2019


Chairs :
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Paula Barreiro López, Catherine Dossin.

In his groundbreaking project, the Atlas Mnemosyne, Aby Warburg suggested that some shapes travel, passing times and cultures. On their way, accompanied by processes of mixture, borrowings, transfers and resemanticizations that contribute to their impact, they become acting symbols. Building on this idea, Herbert Read proposed in The origin of forms in art (1965) that artistic forms can be formalized and reduced to certain shapes that carry “lines of beauty” and thus symbolic meaning. Such ideas, we believe, could serve as a starting point for cross-disciplinary research that would bring together art historians, historians, linguists, and computer and cognitive scientists with the aim to discover the basic units of a generalizable “visual semantics” of artistic creation.

More and more art historical sources are available online worldwide. This should not only excite us to reconstruct the global circulation of images and artifacts, but also use these tools to (re-) consider the mobility of images, patterns, and styles. Indeed, one of the greatest limitations of the digital approach so far is that it has not been confronted with the circulation of images (shapes, colours, layouts) in a massive way.

This international conference aims to assess the potential of digital technology in renewing our study and understanding of artistic circulations and in the collective and progressive deployment of alternative narratives which are more de-centered and more inclusive.


Thursday 13 JuneFriday 14 June

9:30–9:45 > Tea and Coffee

10:00–10:15 > Introduction 

10:15–11:00 > Image Contagions. Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, École normale supérieure-PSL

11:15–11:45 > Active Diagrams: Reconsidering Visual Representations of Networks in Avant-Garde Magazines of the 1920s. Gábor Dobó and Merse Pál Szeredi, Petőfi Literary Museum–Kassák Museum

11:45–12:15 > Regional Cohesion and the Centrality of the ArtsMaximilian Schich, UT Dallas

14:00–14:30 > Patterns of Transregional and Transnational Circulations in American Women Artists’ Professional Networks. Catherine Dossin, Purdue University

14:30–15:00 > Paths of (French) Glory. The Visual and Physical Circulation of Matsukata’s Confiscated Collection (1944-1959). Léa Saint-Raymond, Collège de France, and Maxime Georges Métraux, Sorbonne Univ. / Galerie Hubert Duchemin.

15:15–15:45 > Raphael All Over: Mapping and Qualifying Originals and Copies. Marco Jalla, Université de Genève

15:45–16:15 > New York, Latin America, Barcelona. On Geolocating a Portapak as Means to Historicize Relational Networks. Pablo Santa Olalla, Univ. de Barcelona, MoDe(s)

16:30–17:00 > Images of Political Leaders in Circulation in Africa. A Digital Cognitive Approach. Sophie Bodénès-Cohen, ENS, CogMaster

17:00-17:30 > A Formal Ontology for the description and contextualization of iconographical représentations. Nicola Carboni, University of Zurich

17:30–18:00 > Side by Side: Al Freeman’s Art History. Taylor Walsh, Museum of Modern Art, New York

9:30-9:45 > Tea and Coffee

10:00–11:00 > Keynote Address: Time Machine Europe. Frédéric Kaplan, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

Replica: Looking for Patterns in Big Digital Artwork Databases. Isabella di Leonardo & Benoît Seguin, ÉPFL

11:15 – 11:45 > Tracking Venus Through the Ages. Deep Learning and the Study of Long-Term Iconological Circulations. Mathieu Aubry, École des Ponts ParisTech, Xi Shen, École des Ponts ParisTech, Oumayma Bounou, École nationale des Chartes, K. Bender, Independent Researcher, and Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, ENS-PSL

11:45 – 12:15 > Reddit “Place”. A Warburgian Case Study in Image Circulation and Affective Afterlife in Collective Online ArtPhilipp Wüschner, Freie Universität Berlin

14:00 – 14:30 > Beyond Text. Retracing Artistic Shapes Through Computer Vision. Tino Mager, Delft Univ. of Technology

14:30 – 15:00 > Visual Style in Two Network Era Sitcoms. Taylor Arnold and Lauren Tilton, Univ. of Richmond

15:15 – 15:45 > EUROPEANA: Looking at a screen on cultural heritage, art, and remembrance. Idalina Conde, ISCTE-IUL University Institute of Lisbon

15:45 – 16:15 > Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas as Art Historical Method. Allison Leigh, Univ. of Louisiana, Lafayette

16:15 – 16:45 > Dangerous Dematerialization: Countering Techno-Utopianism with Material Specificity. Alexander M. Strecker, Duke University, Durham, NC

17:00- 18:00 > Closing Discussion. Moderation: Paula Barreiro López, Université Grenoble-Alpes, Laboratoire LARHRA

18:00 – 19:30 > Artl@s’ 10th Anniversary Celebration. Patio

See the Call for Papers

Image : Image Contagion – A collaboration between Artl@s, EnHerit (, and K. Bender (

A Conference organized by Artl@s, with the support of the Laboratoire d’excellence TransferS (programme Investissements d’avenir ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL and ANR-10-LABX-0099), the Département d’histoire et Théorie des Arts, ENS and the Institut d’Histoire moderne et contemporaine (ENS/CNRS), and the Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA), in collaboration with the project MoDe(s)2 – Modernidad(es) Descentralizada(s): arte, política y contracultura en el eje transatlántico durante la Guerra Fría HAR2017-82755-P.