Guest Lecture – Ingrid Hoelzl: Postimage: Or what we do together (November 22, 2017)

Ingrid Hoelzl, PhD, (City University of Hong Kong, School of Creative New Media and currently based at the Central University Budapest as a Visiting Scholar in Residence), media theorist and specialised in the theory of the (digital) image, will present her current research project, titled Postimage at CDS, exploring the relation of image, data, algorithms, and vision in the post-human episteme.

The project builds on the hypothesis that we are entering a post-humanist episteme (Hoelzl and Marie, 2016) where the relation to the world as an object, determined by the perspectival image, is giving way to a new “eco-relation” of humans, animals, machines, and the entire ecosystem. Methodologically, the project draws on a set of recent approaches within the broader field of cultural studies; namely, post-humanism (Braidotti, 2013; Colebrook, 2014), new materialism (Barad, 2007; Coole and Frost, 2009), environmental humanities (Alaimo, 2016; Cohen, 2015), and ecophenomenology (Abram, 2010; 1996). The common agenda of these approaches is the blurring of lines between the biological and the technical, the human and the non-human, the animate and the inanimate, and so on. In all these attempts to rethink the status of humans within the world, the question of agency and its distribution among human and non-human agents (or actants) is central (Coole and Frost, 2009). The hypothesis is that leveraging these alternative approaches to anthropocentric (and androcentric) humanism that emerged in the late 1990s will allow us to assess the fundamental changes in images and imaging that we are witnessing. In a second step, the project will confront the notion of the postimage with contemporary art and feminist science fiction where new forms of “collaborative living” (Haraway, 2016) are being experimented with, such as in the Theatergarden Bestiarium developed for MoMA PS1 in 1989, Pierre Huyghe’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in 2013, the group show Le rêve des formes (The Dream of Forms) at Palais de Tokyo in 2017, or Donna Haraway’s Camille Stories (2016).


Ingrid Hoelzl received her PhD from Humboldt University Berlin and has held lecturer, research, and faculty positions at the Academy of Fine Arts, McGill University, the University of Oslo, and the City University of Hong Kong. She is the author of Der Autoporträtistische Pakt, a pioneering study on the theory of the photographic self-portrait (Fink, 2008), co-editor (with Friedrich Tietjen) of Images in Motion (LUCA 2012), and guest editor of the History of Photography special issue Photography and Movement (2011). Her articles on the status of the image in the digital environment, in particular its invisible algorithmic operativity (Hoelzl and Marie 2016), have appeared in journals such as Photographies, History of Photography, Leonardo, Visual Studies and Visual Communication. Her cluster The Operative Image (2014) has been included in the open-access textbook Photomediations: A Reader (2016).

Her last book, Softimage: Towards a New Theory of the Digital Image (Intellect, 2015), endorsed by Jeffrey Shaw and Christine Ross, investigates digital animation, postproduction, screening, compression, navigation, and wireless access as affordances of a new kind of “operative image”, culminating in the thesis of the “softimage”, as not only intrinsically merged with software but as a program in itself. It has won enthusiastic reviews in Visual Studies, Journal of Visual Culture, Social Media + Society, and Leonardo. She is currently working on a new book, titled Postimage, exploring the relation of image, data, algorithms, and vision in the post-human episteme. A draft was published in Leonardo 50:1 (February 2017). She contributed an entry, “postimage”, to the The Posthuman Glossary, edited by Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova (forthcoming November 2017), and a closing chapter on the future (Marsian) evolution of the image (forthcoming November 2017) to the Routledge volume The Evolution of the Image: Political Action and the Digital Self.

The Guest Lecture Series of Professor Ingeborg Reichle’s lecture

The World in Change: Introduction to Societal Transformation Processes opens up a comprehensive and wide-ranging perspective on global challenges our societies are facing today: In our rapidly changing world we are currently challenged by unprecedented dynamic processes on a global scale such as climate change, demographic change, mass migration, dwindling resources, violation of human rights, social inequality and poverty, mass unemployment and the redefinition of human work in the era of digitalization, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The lecture series is an informative and stimulating opportunity for students to hear from leading academics and experts in the fields of image theory, climate change, and cancer research/personalized medicine and will help our students build their network of contacts. Our guest lectures are open to all.

Public Lecture
22.11.2017, 13:45–17:00 Uhr
Abteilung Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
Hintere Zollamtsstraße 17
1030 Wien
Seminarraum, 4. Stock