An installation


I, too, am eager for the camp to begin, and seeking your insights for the project I will be presenting.

I will be using the video wall in the Showcase center to display a digital installation titled “Syncretism,” which will run for both days of the camp. The piece is an associative assemblage of still images that each depict instances of cultural syncretism; juxtaposed together, the images suggest associations and analogies, and this a larger theme, between differing instances of cultural syncretism (for example, images of “English-style Indian food” juxtaposed next to skyscrapers in Shanghai next to a rickshaw driver in Copenhagen.

I am seeking feedback both on the visual message of the installation itself, as well as thoughts on the idea of an installation as an example of scholarly performance in the humanities. Is there space in the humanities for a “humanities-based imagist?”

I don’t know if I should propose a separate session to discuss these themes, or whether I should informally speak with you all during the conference while the installation runs.

In any event, I am eager to hear your thoughts about the installations.

8 Responses to “An installation”

  1. Karin Dalziel Says:

    I’m curious as to why you would choose the term “humanities-based imagist” rather than “artist?” What you’re describing sound like an art installation, and I have seen several installations in museums using similar methods or themes. I remember two I saw at LACMA this summer- one as part of the “Phantom Sightings” exhibit and another on permanent collection.

    I am interested in talking about the connection of fine arts to the humanities, and the tension in melding the two.

  2. David Staley Says:

    I, too, am interested in the connections between the arts and humanities, and hope we can find time at the Camp to discuss this.

    The term “humanities-based imagist” comes from Barbara Maria Stafford, and I thought it best described the kind of work I do. I am reluctant to call myself an “artist” because I do not know how artists would feel about someone trained in history would feel using that label.

    I wrote a book once on “Computers, Visualization and History” and had always wanted to put that theory into practice. I have long been interested in different ways of knowing, especially in the humanities, which is deeply word-based. What might a visually oriented humanities look like? I ask.

    So, a long-winded response to you very thoughtful question 😉


  3. brooke Says:

    I very much want to talk about what a “visually oriented humanities” might look like.

    I proposed to talk about visual representation of spoken word in interview. The benefits are many, but I also have reason to believe the risks are also many.

    Here’s one post:

  4. Douglas Knox Says:

    A visual installation sounds like a great idea, and could generate some interesting discussion. Since you asked for feedback on the visual message of the installation as you described it, I find myself wondering what enables a visual image to carry a message of syncretism, whether all images of culture aren’t images of syncretism if you know how to tell the story. Could an image of a cup of tea be syncretic enough in itself?

  5. David Staley Says:

    Thanks Douglas. The images I have selected all reflect some sort of blending of cultures. In theory, I suppose, any such image of culture could fit the bill here, but I have tried to select images that draw attention to this syncretization of cultures. Moreover, I think it is the juxtaposition of images in the entire installation that help to contextualize each image as examples of syncretism. I am eager to hear of your impressions of the installtion once it is up and running!


  6. nm45 Says:

    As someone who’s been involved with teaching and researching visual culture for a long time, it’s great to see a wider movement towards a visually-oriented humanities–this is also mentioned in the UCLA Manifesto referred to elsewhere. I think one does not want to claim the name ‘artist’ for this work, which leads to galleries, dealers and claims of unique genius–or at least IP:) In my original proposal I talked about creating a visual culture that uses the new digital tools as a means of practice-based research and I would really like to learn from people already engaged in that work.

  7. THATCamp » Blog Archive Says:

    […] turned up much. There seems to be a split between fine art and digital humanities centers. David Staley’s post, for instance, talks about a visually oriented humanities project- but the work (and the title of […]

  8. THATCamp » Blog Archive Says:

    […] mentioned in his previous blog post, David Staley displayed a digital installation in the Showcase center during THATCamp. Here’s […]