Graduate Symposium

Art & Architectural History Graduate Symposium

Invisible Spectrum: Making and Viewing the Unseen

University of Virginia McIntire Department of Art
Friday, March 29, 2019

Keynote Address: Rachael Z. DeLue, Professor of Art History, Princeton University Author of George Inness and the Science of Landscape and At the Limit: Impossible Images and the Perils of Picturing (forthcoming)


Either because they are conceptually abstract or physically imperceptible, some things cannot be seen. The subjects of artistic expression, scientific inquiry, and religious devotion frequently exist outside the boundaries of the visible spectrum, posing a series of obstacles for their realization in material form, their reducibility to the conventions of image-making, or even their very conception. While new technologies, epistemologies, and artistic innovations have aided our endeavors to visualize the invisible, the mystery of the unseen endures.

The interdisciplinary symposium Invisible Spectrum asks how the invisible has been rendered in the history of visual culture. What is the relationship between the immaterial and material? How have artists expanded or transgressed the visible spectrum to picture the imperceptible, the unseen, the improbable, or the immaterial? What is the role of the viewer in conceiving such relationships? How have art, science, or other disciplines intersected or overlapped in attempts to realize the invisible? What are the stakes of such attempts? How do these attempts differ historically and culturally?

We welcome contributions from graduate students in the fields of art and architectural history, archaeology, visual and material culture studies, as well as from other disciplines. Abstracts from all historical periods, geographical areas, and cultural, theoretical, and methodological perspectives are encouraged. Submissions will be considered for 20-minute presentations.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• Objects and images that push the boundaries of visual knowledge
• The nature of vision
• Intersections of visuality, scientific inquiry, and technology
• Visualizing semblances of power, identities, and/or race
• Envisioning the spiritual, divine, mythological
• Materializing sensorial experience
• Visualizing trauma and emotional/physical violence
• Embodiment, performance, and/or ritual
• Shaping space or liminality
• Distinctions between the real and the imaginary

Graduate students are invited to submit a CV and an abstract (250 words) in a single PDF file to
uvaartandarch by December 15, 2018. Applicants will be notified of decisions by February 1, 2019.