Jeffrey Kirkwood in the ZMK (Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung)

“The Technological Fact of Counterfactuals

Abstract: Optical media were instrumental in transforming the conception of facts, objectivity, and the “real.” This paper considers their role in structuring understandings of counterfactuals and states that could not be real. By returning to Ernst Mach’s photographic ballistics experiments, writing on thought experiments (a term he coined), and his dispute with Max Planck about the nature of the Weltbild, the article shows that, despite his legacy as a positivist, Mach’s epistemology of mechanical images opened a legitimate space of indeterminacy, contingency, and counterfactuality.


Marcia Focht presents at EVA 2018 Florence

Marcia Focht, Curator of Visual Resources, contributed the paper “Maximizing Metadata; Embedded Metadata Tools” at EVA (Electronic Imaging and the Visual Arts) in Florence, Italy, May 9-10.

The EVA Florence conference brought together about 100 speakers and participants to exchange ideas, spotlight initiatives, and share experiences on current trends in international arts computing and cultural heritage sector developments. Sponsored by an impressive array of Italian government, industry, foundation, and university entities–from the Associazione Beni Italiani Patrimonio Mondiale Unesco to Fratelli Alinari Idea to the Universita di Firenze–scholars and professionals came from as far afield as Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Japan, the UK, and USA, with strong representation from the various regions of Italy.  The proceedings are published in an open-access PDF.

Lavinia Ciuffa, Marcia Focht, and Spyros Koulouris

Following the conference, Marcia and another EVA presenter from the USA, Maureen Burns from Archivision, connected with Visual Resources Association International Chapter members–Lavinia Ciuffa from the American Academy in Rome and Spyros Koulouris of I Tatti in Florence–to visit the extensive and historic archives, libraries, and grounds of Bernard Berenson’s Tuscan villa (now a Harvard Research Center) and Palazzo Grifoni to see the Photothek des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz–Max Planck Institut hosted by Dr. Ute Dercks.

I Tatti

display at Photothek des Kunsthistorischen Instituts


Nancy Um participates in the CUNY Digital Humanities Research Institute

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

Post content: In June 2018, Nancy Um will join 15 other participants in the CUNY Digital Humanities Research Institute, a ten-day residential workshop supported by the NEH and focused on expanding communities of digital humanities practice. More information on the CUNY DHRI can be found here:

Tom McDonough speaks at “1968: Aesthetics and Anti-aesthetics” conference at NYU-Berlin

Associate Professor Tom McDonough contributed a paper on “Cinema at a Standstill or, why didn’t Guy Debord film during May ’68” at the “1968: Aesthetic and Anti-aesthetics” conference hosted by NYU-Berlin May 25-26.
His talk examined the profound visual discretion exercised by Guy Debord and the Situationist International more generally during the crisis of May and June 1968, asking why Debord refused to produce any filmic documentation of the events, even as many others on the Left willingly did so. A careful reading of the text-based posters produced by the group at that time, however, opens the possibility for seeing their activity as a form of imageless cinema.

Graduate Activities: Pei-Chun Viola Hsieh

image from Journal of TFAM (Taipei Fine Art Museum)

Attached is the link to the full journal, including: “Hsieh Pei-chun, A Nomad in Nowhereland: Hsieh Tehching, One Year Performance (Outdoor Piece) 1981-2.”

Andrew Walkling Revives Manual Collation at the Folger Shakespeare Library

Associate Professor Andrew Walkling recently reported on an ongoing project involving the collation of typographical variants in a late-seventeenth-century English book. His report, published in The Collation, the research blog of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, describes his work refurbishing and using the library’s Hinman Collator, a fascinating relic of mid-20th-century pre-digital technology. The project grew out of an issue first raised in his forthcoming book, English Dramatick Opera, 1661–1706, to be published by Routledge in 2019.

You can read his post at


Roundtable published on Scalar with Lauren Cesiro as Digital Content Manager



Screenshot from Itinera, modified by Nancy Um on Adobe Illustrator.

Lauren Cesiro served as the Digital Content Manager for “Itinera’s Displacements: A Roundtable,” published on Scalar and written by Christopher Drew Armstrong, Lily Brewer, Jennifer Donnelly, Alison Langmead, Vee McGyver, and Meredith North. This roundtable appeared in “Coordinates: Digital Mapping and Eighteenth-Century Visual, Material and Built Cultures,” a special issue of Journal18: a journal of eighteenth-century art and culture, co-edited by Carrie Anderson and Nancy Um.
Visit the project here: