Image as Location Conference


When man-made images constitute the evidence of our environment and even our existence, how is our perception of the world manipulated and shaped? The Berkeley Center for New Media partnered with Books in Browsers, the Cultural Services of the French Consulate, the Goethe-Institut San Francisco, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, and swissnex San Francisco to produce a day of lightning talks on how images define our locations by allowing us to access the inaccessible.

Image as Location Media & Revisited

IMG as LOCATION Videos Now Available

We’re thrilled to share the videos of the amazing lectures from IMAGE as LOCATION: the conference.

You can read about some of the highlights from the day from the excellent summary BCNM Director Greg Niemeyer wrote earlier this year.

From the cellular level to the macro scale of planetary depictions, experts considered and innovated on the notion of images providing a sense of place, inspiring the audience to reflect on our relationship to the pictures that surround our lives. The conference proved the vital importance of critically analyzing the nature of images in our world.

Video of Steven Johnson at Image as Location
We now have available the video of Steven Johnson’s talk on “How We Got to Now” from the Image as Location conference. Check back soon for videos of our other amazing speakers, photos, as well as a recap of the great conversations that arose throughout the day!

John Scott’s “Moferguson” at the Virtual Relocation Exhibit

Congratualtions to BCNM DE John Scott for having his work, “Moferguson”, be selected for the Virtual Relocation exhibition sponsored by New Hive at the Goethe-Institut in San Francisco as part of Image as Location. “Moferguson” is a ‘giftych’ of images compiled from the St. Louis Dispatch’s coverage of the ongoing controversy and protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
The exhibition will run until October 24th and has an opening reception this Thursday, October 17th where you can see John Scott’s work in person along with the other remixed and digitized pieces on display. BCNM is also participating in the Image as Location festival, with a conference October 22nd at Sutarja Dai Hall exploring the relationship between images and how they shape our understanding and conceptualization of the world around us.

Xavier Lucchesi “Glance Inside the Body”

Xavier Lucchesi’s art takes the traditions of the nude, the portrait, and the still life into the digital age, taking MRIs and other scans of his subjects, which range from humans to dolphins to a regular coffee machine and enhances what lies beneath the surface. On invitation from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Lucchesi will be exhibiting his work as part of Image as Location at the Gray Area Foundation Gallery in San Francisco October 17th through October 26th.

Check out his review by the Creators Project.

And a sample of his work here:

IMAGE as LOCATION Revisited: The Conference

From BCNM Director, Greg Niemeyer:

Peter Brantley marked the image as a location of a story, and Emmanuel Alloa showed how the image is at the threshold of location. Xavier Lucchesi revealed inner landscapes of the body, striking a tense chord between intimacy and disembodiment. Kristen Lucas and Joe McKay celebrated embodiment through the joy of ilinx (dizziness) with their resolutely physical and freely rolling Tablet Tumbler.

The construction photos of Pelican Bay that Monica Lam used to open her talk on journalism in inaccessible locations reminded me of Donald Judd sculptures from Alloa’s talk, and her closing comment about a Supermax prison inmate who has not seen the moon in 16 years reminded me what a profound joy it is to be able to see and access the world freely, if we chose to look.

Steven Johnson followed with a bright account of successful innovations, and left me wondering if “blitzlicht” really did eradicate poverty and if air conditioning was overall a great idea or an invention that exacerbates the very issue it was supposed to relieve by way of power, coal and global warming.

Michael Naimark followed Johnson’s elegant presentation with a complex and thoughtful approach to visual innovation from his magical and radical “Dislocations” to the immersive isolation of the Oculus Rift. The question of image as document or escape, liberator or oppressor was whimsically picked up by Regula Bochsler‘s trip to the surreal world of Apple Maps in flyover mode, and the deeper point she left us with is that those who control maps control the way we find our way. Never disoriented, Jérôme Delormas presented us with a stunning account of “Gaîté Lyrique” where he reappropriates the corporate digital imaginary for civic purposes.

Kristen Whissel illuminated the film “Gravity” with a rich analysis of the orbital disaster as a metaphor for unmoored consumers fighting for more grounded selves. Her images of space and capsule brought back to mind the images of prison and the invisible moon over Pelican Bay from Monica’s talk.

Drawing on his profound experience in New Media scholarship and archives, Oliver Grau urged museums to preserve new media art, because new media art provides a cultural context for the profound shifts that information technologies trigger in many communities.

Elizabeth Kessler heroically gave the last lecture of what turned out to be a great day. She discussed two types of images, the ones we sent to places we can never reach in person with Voyager 1 and 2, and the ones we pry from the sky with the Hubble telescope and its image correction pipeline. Extending both the political momentum of Whissel’s talk and Alloa’s philosophical claim of the “atopic nature of the image” at the beginning of the day with her juxtaposition of the “Pillars of Creation” Nebula and the Manifest Destiny paintings of Thomas Moran, Kessler completed the question of “Image as Location” with the notion that the atopic power of an image can help us claim a space we are not in.

In this way, the many suppositions, delusions and cover ups of our image-warped worlds become a matter of taste, thought and choice, rather than options in the effects menu, and a liberation. BCNM thanks both the speakers and conference participants for enriching us with vital new thoughts about the state of the image as a screen, revealing some things and obscuring others, masking presence with abstraction, and claiming spaces we never can reach. The [day] illuminated the vital importance of discerning image and location.

Check out the photos below:

When man-made images constitute the evidence of our environment and even our existence, how is our perception of the world manipulated and shaped?

Our planet is wrapped in images. From stratospheric satellite stills to disembodied medical x-rays, we use pictures to describe our environment with unprecedented frequency. Images have become the common language that allows us to not only understand our present landscape, but also access the inaccessible.

Yet, as Emmanuel Alloa wrote, images are “re-articulations of a past that has never been [truly] present.” We must ask ourselves then: what dangers and what possibilities arise from defining our location through image?

State mandated degradation of pixelation on surveillance footage ensures that we are unable to perceive the evidence of drone strikes, altering our perception of foreign policy. Meanwhile, sublime hubble telescope imagery invokes the American West and our manifest destiny, furthering space exploration. As ubiquitous street view technology allows us to encounter the fringes of a city — its dumps and mortuaries and scrap yards — forcing us to reckon with our urban landscape, mapping interiors peels back the shadow of the real to reveal the traces of present time within the grand scale of oblivion.

At Image as Location, a Bay Area festival that explores the relationship between people, pictures, and places, an international group of experts discuss and visualize how images define locations. Through exhibitions, conferences and workshops, artists, theorists, and technologists from Europe and the Americas will question how we are shaped by the images of our world.

Conference Schedule

Brought to you by Books in Browsers, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Goethe-Institut San Francisco, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, swissnex San Francisco, and the UC Berkeley Center for New Media; media sponsorship provided by KQED and