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Kunsthistorisches Institut

Digital Art Histories: Collecting for a Digital Future?

Panel at the Second Swiss Conference of Art History

University of Lausanne

August 22, 2013


“The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world.” (Marshall McLuhan 1967)

Collecting, storing, and cataloguing aesthetic objects and their reproductions are fundamental practices of art history since its very beginnings. As part of a collection, as a “semiophore”, the work of art bears a plurality of relational meanings which transcend the singularity of the artifact. Concurrently, the digital reproduction of works of art, the storage of images in databases, and their ubiquitous availability, count amongst the global media megatrends of the last decades. Under the impact of new technologies, the continuous de- and re-contextualisation of the digital image might change the practices of art historical perception and thinking, and challenge the notion of collecting, of the museum and the archive, and not least of objecthood itself. However, art history depends on media technologies in teaching and research. The round table of international experts aims at discussing the impact of digital media onto art history as a discipline and the notion of collecting, and at exploring the technological, institutional, and intellectual challenges for the future of our field.

Invited Speakers

Murtha Baca, The Getty Research Institute

Maximilian Benker, Freie Universität Berlin

Andreas Beyer, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris

Christian Bracht, Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

Michael Schmid, Swiss Institute for Art Research, Zurich


Thomas Hänsli (ETH Zurich)

Andreas Tönnesmann (ETH Zurich)

Tristan Weddigen (UZH)

Weiterführende Informationen


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