University of Montreal – CALL FOR PROPOSALS


Public Art, Sites, and Digital Cultures:
Image Streams and the Lives of Artworks
29-31 May 2019
University of Montreal, Canada

Starting from the observation of the absolute interdependence between artworks and photography in the digital era, this conference will delve into the phenomenon by questioning whether and how the circulating image has become a significant element of the visibility, life, survival, and notoriety of artworks, by analyzing the capacity of activating correspondences between urban space and cyberspace. We seek to assess whether that reciprocity (which traces, for artworks, an unprecedented geography) indicates a democratization or a unique form of reconciliation between legitimate art and unspecialized public. Likewise, we invite a rethink of the spatio-temporal regime of artworks, considering the importance of the propagation of their images. It is also relevant to question the practices of internet users-amateurs-photographers communities, to see if they allow or facilitate the emergence of a certain artistic activism.

The photographic reproduction of works of art is not a new phenomenon and its action has been studied since Benjamin, and even before by 19th century commentators. However, the acceleration brought about by the participative web initiates new discussion. This conference explores this conversation from three convergent perspectives, that of: the “public” – different types of public and what is public – the site, and the (photographic) image. Artworks are responsible for producing extensive activity on the web, particularly those which take place in (are anchored or remain in), are passing by, or are presented in (urban) public space.

Interactions between different versions of public space – physical and located places, cyberspace… – are now abundant and unavoidable; so much so that these spaces must be understood as an extension of each other, as communicating parts of the same reality. Following this pattern of connection and circulation, the relations between art and photographic images are plentiful and crucial. Thanks to connections formed by the combined action of digital technologies (such as images and every device that ensures their circulation) and the work of human agents, any artwork (even the most trivial) can lead to cascades of images, by which the object (the first, the original) retains its individuality but is at the same time constantly defined and redefined by its multiple relationships,1 which are likely to ensure its notoriety. In fact, images lead to and follow each other in continuous and constantly renewed flows. It is through them that the world is assembled, in the “thick entangled connection that each image has with all the others that have been produced, the complex relation of kidnapping, allusion, destruction, distance, quotation, parody, and struggle”.2 Thus, connections are formed, through images, between artworks and actors, sites and status of artworks, urban public space and cyberspace; all of which constitute paths which should be studied: “asking oneself what a thing is means asking oneself what road it has traveled outside of itself”.3

The connections, running through the image, between urban public space and cybernetworks are at the base of a game of public-artist exchanges that remains to be described. Therefore, this conference will aim to interrogate various artistic phenomena, connecting works of art, the image in its broadest sense (image of cities, image of institutions, etc.), photography in the strictest sense, and public space in all its diversity. The conference themes will be shaped around these core issues.


  • Public art and image(s) of the city
  • #publicart, #artpublic: public works of art and their digital lives
  • Place/displacement: furtive practices, micro-interventions and their compulsory photographic documentation
  • Amateurs: the importance of photographic practice in the formation of art audiences today
  • Public domain(s) and object(s): the interplay of artists/amateurs and artists’ uses of amateur photography

Researchers, academics, PhD students and artists, public art and landscape design professionals are invited to submit a proposal. Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes and may be given either in French or in English.

Proposal Submission Guidelines

  • Proposals should include the following: an abstract of 300 words, a short bibliography, along with a biography not exceeding 150 words. Please indicate under which theme the proposal should be considered.
  • Deadline for submission of proposals: February 15, 2019
  • Proposals, written in French or in English, should be sent to
  • The selection committee will send the notifications of acceptance by mid-March.

Scientific Committee :
Ruth Fazakerley, University of South Australia; Pauline Guinard, École Normale Supérieure, Paris; Suzanne Paquet, Université de Montréal; Josianne Poirier, Université de Montréal; Laurent Vernet, chargé de projet, collections, Lune Rouge.


1 Pierre-Michel Menger (2013). «Une analytique de l’action en horizon incertain. Une lecture de la sociologie
pragmatique et interactionniste » dans Pierre-Jean Benghozi & Thomas Paris (dir.), Howard Becker et les
mondes de l’art, Paris : Les éditions de l’École polytechnique, p. 154.

2 Bruno Latour (2001), «What is Iconoclash? or Is there a world beyond the image wars?», Peter Weibel and
Bruno Latour (ed.) Iconoclash, Beyond the image-wars in science, religion and art, ZKM and MIT Press,
p. 35-36.
3 Alessandro Baricco (2014) The barbarians an essay on the mutation of culture, New York: Rizzoli Ex Libris,
p. 73-74.