Saturday, March 17th, 4:30pm in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center (C4)
Dr. Jeffrey Kirkwood, Assistant Professor in Art History and Cinema Departments at Binghamton University, will present his keynote address:
The Future was Bright:
A History of Optical Counterfactuals
Optical technologies have long been credited with defining a terrain of factuality according to what they make visible. However, they have also historically structured limit cases for imagining the legitimacy of invisible, counterfactual states according to specific operations—from geometric projection and Mercator projection, to Galileo’s depictions of celestial objects. In the case of Galileo’s treatise, Sidereus Nuncius, Paul Virilio has argued that the telescopic view of the cosmos “projected an image of a world beyond our reach.” The paradoxical outcome was what Hans Blumenberg referred to as a critical “backwardness of visibility in relation to reality.” With the eruption of optical instrumentation, the end of the nineteenth century came to be defined by this “backwardness of visibility.” Where optical technologies developed by scientific figures like Ernst Mach have traditionally been celebrated for establishing a new, image-based universe of facts, this talk will explore the ways in which such images were more powerful for in opening a space of counterfactuality.