Brandon LaBelle

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The Invisible Seminar

The seminar seeks to investigate the operations of visibility by highlighting the unseen, the camouflaged, the immaterial and the erased as particular aesthetic strategies. If the visual arts historically have relied upon the seeing subject as its partner, functioning to give representation to the imagination or world events, what forms of critique, protest and poetics have been developed by occupying the space of the invisible? How has media culture, and what Camiel van Winkel terms the "regime of visibility", contributed to the contemporary imperative to visualize and expose? Can notions of the invisible be used to deepen perspectives on the power dynamics of the gaze and image production? And importantly, how might invisibility contribute to rethinking modes of collectivity and politics?

First edition

Second edition

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Fourth edition

Fifth edition

Sixth edition

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Second edition: Bergen Academy, Norway
October 16– 18, 2012

For this edition, taught by Brandon LaBelle with Rodrigo Tisi (Santiago de Chile) and Rori Knudtson (US), the Seminar will focus specifically on questions of space and methods of spatial practice. Space is often understood as the rooms we move through and inhabit. In thinking about space we imagine particular forms and envision concrete materiality. Yet space may also be understood as a volume of air hovering within and between rooms – as the immaterial and intangible matter that takes shape through architectural structure, and through daily use. Space can also be understood as a place for encounter often defined by unseen energies.

It is the aim of the Seminar to further this alternative perspective by examining the issue of invisibility and how it might be seen (if we can say) to contribute to understandings of space. Legacies of spatial practice and spatial thinking sets the scene for probing such perspectives and experiences, appreciating these less material of architectural features: aspects of sound, light, texture, atmosphere and ambience are presented as no less important elements defining experiences of space, as well as contributing to strategies for spatial intervention and expanded artistic practices. In addition, space will be considered as marked by invisible ideologies that influence form and how we occupy space. In this sense, modes of occupying space result from what space allows, and also what we may perceive and perform upon it.

The Seminar is designed as an intensive three-day study and will take place in the old Bergen prison. Participants final work focused on the construction of a negative space: how to draw out invisibility spatially without apprehending its power of negativity?