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Programme Visual devices


The term “visual devices” (“dispositifs plastiques”) relates to the notion of plastic, visual qualities and also to questions and themes inherent in many practices. It is a transdisciplinary idea of relevance to different artistic domains – literature, the visual arts, the applied arts, film, photography and new technologies – to theoretical fields including aesthetics, anthropology and the history of technology, to different media (from books to new media) and a variety of techniques (engraving, photography, video, digital imaging etc.).

While “plasticity” indicates a sensory approach to the formation of artworks and invites us to consider their substance as well as their functioning, the notion of “device” (dispositif) enables us to understand plasticity as not just a quality of some objects but also a product of their dynamic mode of organisation.

This programme is part of a broader approach to creation, of which plasticity is a vital part.

The first line of investigation considers general issues arising at the intersection of different disciplines (contact: Philippe Ortel and Mireille Raynal):
- Plasticity of supports (animated supports; coexisting supports, as in illustrated books; changing supports; the absence of supports), the plasticity of text and image (plasticity of writing, in its own variations and the relations between them).
- Plasticity as a produced form (print and counter-print, staging a process, metamorphoses).
- Construction and conversion of the gaze (the artwork is remade in the viewer’s gaze, in other words outside the strict economy of its space of emergence; the idea of the reception of artworks as a cognitive device thus links to the programme considering the receiver’s construction).

The second line of investigation focuses on particular visual practices. For example, illustrated books, where literature meets the visual arts, could be explored here as entities involving visual techniques (printing, engraving, photography, etc.) and also as fragile devices (historical variations; structural variations, as revealed by the study of illustration “outside the book”), rather than as fixed masterpieces of bibliophilic publication. This kind of visual dimension triggers the specific function of the reader or viewer as an instance of reception. (Contact: Benoît Tane) Current practices in the field of photography are going beyond the distinction between art and document to develop visual devices (staging, sequences, digital hybrids etc.) that paradoxically reflect aspects of our society and make the audience think. (Contact: Christine Buignet).

Lastly, the theme of the veil in art, architecture, social practices etc. considers visual devices as a signifying means of structuring space and / or as a “producer of the gaze”, an investigation that could be developed notably in the fields of philosophy, aesthetics and art history. (Contact: Dominique Clévenot).

Academic outcomes and planned publications

This programme is of particular interest to academics and Master’s and doctoral students in the visual arts, fine arts, French literature and comparative literature focusing on text and image.


- Dispositifs plastiques et intermédialité [PDF - 82 Ko] [Visual devices and intermediality] Seminar.
- Tuesday meetings with papers focusing on both theory and concrete approaches, reflecting current research by team members (academic staff, doctoral students and post-docs) and external speakers.
- Thursday meetings, a lecture cycle designed for research Master 2 and doctoral students in the visual and applied arts. (Contact: Dominique Clévenot)

Study days

- “Le Mou et ses limites”, 22 November 2013
- “Journées sentinelles n°2: Les écritures et inscriptions de l’art [PDF - 630 Ko]”, 14 and 15 February 2013
- “Reliquiae: envers, revers et travers des restes [PDF - 857 Ko]”, 7 February 2013
- “Images empruntées: l’artiste comme éditeur [PDF - 132 Ko]”, 24 January 2013
- “Image mise en trope(s) [PDF - 391 Ko]”, 9th doctoral student study day, 29 May 2012
- “Manger l’art. Le goût de la couleur [PDF - 504 Ko]”, 4 April 2012
- “Agrégation en scènes [PDF - 184 Ko]”, 10 February 2012
- “L'hybride à l'épreuve des regards croisés [PDF - 604 Ko]”, 8th doctoral student study day, 18 May 2011
- “Ilustrarte: Voyage à travers les littératures graphiques galiciennes contemporaines [PDF - 2 Mo]”, 13 April 2011
- “Ceux qui désignent: design d'expériences, expériences du design [PDF - 496 Ko]” 17 March 2011
- “Plasticités du texte et de l'image chez Alain Robbe-Grillet [PDF - 147 Ko]”, 25 February 2011


- Création, Intermédialité, Dispositif, 12-14 February 2014
- Design, art et narration à l’heure des expériences interconnectées, 10, 11 and 12 October 2013
- L'esthétique du voile [PDF - 389 Ko]: March 2012 (with two complementary exhibitions [PDF - 944 Ko])

Publications: study day and conference papers

Papers from the events listed above will published, adding to the list of current publications below:
- L’archaïque contemporain, Figures de l'art no. 19, D. Clévenot (ed.), Presses Universitaires de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, 2011.
- Architecture muséale, espace de l’art et lieu de l’œuvre, Figures de l'art no 21, I. Alzieu (ed.), Presses Universitaires de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, 2012.
- Entre code et corps: Tableau vivant et Photographie mise en scène - Figures de l'art no. 22, Christine Buignet and Arnaud Rykner eds., 2012.



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