Keynote Spotlight: Dr. Jeffrey Kirkwood

Kirkwood4Saturday, 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.

Open to the Public.  All are Welcome.


Keynote Spotlight: Dr. Edward Eigen

Ed-EigenFriday, March 16th, 5:15pm in the Binghamton University Art Museum in the Fine Arts Building

Dr. Edward Eigen, Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Harvard University School of Design, will present his keynote address:

On Accident: Episodes in Architecture and Landscape

Taking inspiration from fellow astronomer Pierre-Simon de Laplace, who once imagined a preternatural “Intelligence” that could determine the past and future course of things from their present configuration, Camille Flammarion applied a “calculus of probabilities” to the hiatus between what is observable and what is explainable. And just as science is, in Laplace’s well-advised words, “so far from knowing all the agencies in nature,” so too the historian makes do with fractured knowledge: anecdotes, traces, fragile impressions, acts of partial witness. The best she can do is to arrange narratives into an understandable plot, since the probable is a characteristic of plot itself. Should we be troubled, then, by the chancy nature—the caprices—of such forms of fractured knowledge? Or is it their threatening allure that breathes desire into the present project of history, rather than a melancholic or nostalgic fixation on the past? This talk will take up the charge of incomplete knowledge; “the fault . . . is not in our stars.”

Based on themes and issues from his new book, On Accident: Episodes in Architecture and Landscape.

Open to the Public.  All are Welcome.

Crossing the Boundaries 2018 Graduate Student Conference

Binghamton University
Art History Graduate Student Union
Call for Papers

26th Annual Crossing the Boundaries Conference:

[pl.]: Exploring the Multiple

Friday, March 16 – Saturday, March 17, 2018

In his dystopian novel Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami describes two parallel worlds—one similar to our contemporary capitalist society, the other a counterfactual world where people have no names but rather distinguish each other by their professions. One particular occupation, “Dreamreader,” is assigned to read old, distant, and unremembered dreams through the touch of self-illuminating unicorns’ skulls. Situated in what seems to be the only conceivable reality, we oftentimes limit ourselves to one conventional discourse or frame of thought, and forget alternative possibilities; we forget to cross the very thin line connecting one universe to another, where the potential to read and to be illuminated by multiple dreams is promised.

Binghamton University’s Art History Graduate Student Union seeks Dreamreaders and others, from multiple disciplinary backgrounds, for the 26th annual Crossing the Boundaries conference, which will engage the concept of [pl.]: Exploring the Multiple. The recent return to issues of the real and unreal, stimulated by discourses around art objects, techno-culture, and systems theory, prompts continued searching for multiple, unstable, even incoherent statuses and possibilities, and their relocation within an ocean of networks. The making of such alternative constellations is the aim of this gathering.

Today, when dreamlands seem to be so far out of reach, we wish to invite scholars and researchers from different fields to join this exploration of the multiple: to cross discursive boundaries, to add an “-s” to every term we engage, and to once more hold close our seemingly remote dreams.

The 2018 Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference Crossing the Boundaries XXVI invites proposals for academic papers / creative practices from MA and PhD students, independent scholars, and artists. Potential topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Accidents and the accidental
  • Architectural free-spaces
  • Archived and unarchived histories
  • Corporeality/-ies and materiality/-ies
  • Counterfactuality
  • Cultural techniques
  • Dispositifs: cinematic, exhibitionary, photographic, or theatrical apparatuses
  • Ecological humanities
  • Heterotopias
  • Observation vs. ontology: working against speaking on images in ontological terms
  • Humanism and post-humanism
  • Soft architectures

Those interested in participating in the conference should send a one-page abstract (no more than 250 words), CV, and cover page with institutional affiliation, if relevant, and contact information (phone number and email address) to:

Submissions due by Friday, February 9, 2018

#CTB14: Conference Abstracts

A ‘Cabaret of Curiosities’: The Landscape Aesthetics of “Mondo Utah” and the Mormon Panorama
Amanda Beardsley

More than just the aestheticization of natural phenomena, the panorama has functioned as both optical surrogate for nature, simulator, and generator of affect—an apparatus for teaching people how to survey and perceive the world while also situating them in it. Such characteristics of panoramic vision have carried over into current museological practices in an effort to unveil and reconcile socio-cultural landscapes, while also encouraging tourism. This was seen specifically in the 2013 Utah biennial, “Mondo Utah,” whose title referenced the controversial genre of Mondo cinema. The biennial attempted to decipher a visual language of contemporary art specific to the region. Pavilions surveyed objects ranging from the marginal (golden life-masks and mummiforms of the Summum group), to the aggregate (work from the collective holdings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

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Undergraduate Panel: Abstracts and Bios

We are delighted to launch our 22nd annual conference with a panel presented and moderated by the undergraduates of the Art History Department.

The panel will be held on April 4 in the Lower Galleries of the Binghamton University Art Museum (1-2:15pm).

Here is more information about the presenters and their talks:


Mikey Kosowski is a sophomore who is majoring in art history and Russian studies. Mikey sees art history as a way in which he can develop a deeper and older passion, British history and visual culture, and is now beginning to explore his interests in Eastern Europe. His current research interests range from the interiors of Victorian Anglo-Catholic churches to the modern restoration of synagogue murals in Poland.

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#CTB13: Abstracts


For abstracts from the Undergraduate Panel, click here.
For the full schedule, click here.

12:30 – 1:45   Performance & Performative Spaces

Moderator: Josh Franco

Persepolis 2530: Viewing the Modern Ruins at Persepolis

Maria Salva, Binghamton University
This paper will explore the place of Persepolis as a modern preserved ruin, itself created as an ancient site within the context of broad modernization, and its displacement in a contemporary art installation by British artist Michael Stevenson at the 2007 Basel Art Fair.

In order to get at some of the problems that Stevenson’s project suggests, I am looking at some of the recent writing on ruins and the idea of ruins in the context of modernity, especially two edited volumes on the topic, by Julia Hell and Brian Dillon, respectively. Ruins embody a set of paradoxes about time and power, that can have political implications. Ruins represent a society or power group that is gone, but by definition, the ruin survives, a presence to remind us of an absence. Ruins show the collapse of a past, but also point forward: like a vanitas image, ruins tell of the ephemerality of power, and suggest that current powers, too, will find themselves in ruination.

Under the Pahlavis in Iran, much of this paradox was overlooked as Persepolis was utilized as a performance space, suggesting a past glory whose revival was already manifest. Following Talinn Grigor, I interpret this unique situation as following from the process by which Persepolis was, itself, created in its modern form, and for its modern uses, by modern excavation, restoration, and building.

Stevenson’s project, Persepolis 2530, consists of an installation at the 2007 Basel Art Fair, and a book, “Celebration at Persepolis,” which documents the ruins of the tents built at Persepolis by the Pahlavis, and the installation of a replica of one of the tents at the Basel Art Fair, and recounts the 1971 celebration at Persepolis for which the tents were built. I will investigate what it means for these ruins to be replicated (and preserved) in photography, replicated and recontextualized in a contemporary arts setting, recreated as more fragile, more temporary, and in effect, more invisible than the original.
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#CTB13: Undergraduate Panel

Our annual graduate conference is proud to host an undergraduate panel, launching the 21st edition of Crossing the Boundaries.

Read about our past conferences and find information about the 2012 Undergraduate Panel right here.

Please join us in hearing the work of three of Binghamton University’s own Art History undergraduate majors and members of the Undergraduate Art History Association. This year, the panel will be held in the art museum. The panel members will each present 10-15 minute papers followed by a question and answer session.

11:00 – 12:00
Moderator: Katerina Acuna

The Naturally Lit Cube: Dia:Beacon’s Natural Light and Perceptual Experience
Alex Feim
The Dia:Beacon is a museum unlike most others, in that it uses almost entirely natural light when displaying its collection. The work within this museum environment is supposedly one without frames, pedestals, or wall texts. However, despite this, the museum still contextually frames the art. Looking to three case studies within the museum, I examine how the art exists not at a distance from the visitor, but rather in the same space. Dan Flavin’s untitled red and blue light sculpture is situated in front of a large window, which creates a fascinating juxtaposition of artificial and natural light.
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