CALL FOR PAPERS: THEMED DOSSIER "The Overflowing Object. Immersive Spaces and Multi-Sensorial Strategies in Art" (2021)


The Overflowing Object.
Immersive Spaces and Multi-Sensorial Strategies in Art

Guest Editors: Eduard Cairol & Tomas Macsotay (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

There is nothing particularly novel about the claim that contemporary art has been characterised, since the time of the avant-garde, by its tendency to go beyond the limits between artistic media, but that it has also —perhaps as an outcome of, among other factors, its experimental vocation— been led by desire to integrate, in a single and unique experience, different sensorial stimuli. Nor is it outlandish to affirm that, precisely in this latter respect, avant-garde art follows a course that first emerges in the mid-nineteenth century, if not during early Romanticism. After modernism, the rise of immersive and multisensorial strategies in late and post-avant-garde forms continues, as has been the case since the 1960s with installations, performance, abject art and, in more recent years, virtual reality and environmental devices.

What may seem more remarkable is to observe how such a desire to provoke an experience that integrates various senses, or that works to involve the spectator as a physical, mobile and active presence before the work, or indeed within it, has deep historical roots. From the sumptuous palaces with their hanging gardens, fountains and artificial jets, scented by exotic plant species, to the Luna-Parks or amusement parks from the end of the nineteenth century in all the great capitals of Europe and America —passing through the proverbial richness and complexity of the liturgy in Orthodox Christianity and then in Roman Catholicism—, the inventory of these experiences constitutes a true history of the total work of art. The great Hollywood productions, the Cinemascope and 3-D, King Ludwig II’s artificial caves in Bavaria, the festivals with fireworks and hydraulic machines organised by the Sun King in Versailles, the naval battles reconstructed on the Baroque stages, the burials in effigy of great personalities celebrated with all their pomp in public space, or the multitudinous rock music festivals of the 20th century —all this and much more is called upon to form part of this thematic Dossier.

The collection of articles from the current call for papers, The Overflowing Object, will be a cross-over space between aesthetics, history of art and cultural studies, contemplating the historical evolution of artistic forms with an account of the technologies of the festive spectacle since the sixteenth century, the evolution of mass culture since the nineteenth century and finally in the twentieth-century the politization of immersive media in, for example, the Nazi rallies by Albert Speer, with their priestly and Wagnerian imprint. In this sense, this project has a marked transversal or interdisciplinary approach, as it is susceptible to admitting different methodologies of study, and to involving such diverse artistic fields as, for example, gardening, architecture, musicology, gastronomy, the history of dance, theology, the history and theory of theatre and cinema —as well as, of course, the histories of art and aesthetics. In addition, The Overflowing Object joins in a debate on the longue durée of the total work of art at a historical moment marked by the proliferation of simulated reality and immersive devices in the audiovisual field, and in its train contemporary art.

We welcome proposals for original articles dealing with overflowing artistic phenomena from a broad chronological spectrum. The dossier will deal with two possible non-exclusive approaches: one theoretical, where aspects relating to the total or multisensorial work of art will be dealt with from a critical perspective, that is, from the point of view of a history of art that takes a look at aesthetic or cultural-anthropological concepts, or that contextualises historiography in its intellectual or ideological contexts in order to open up new pathways for the study of multisensorial and immersive works. A second approach will focus on historical aspects, such as a detailed study of some examples from a diachronic point of view and as a first contribution to a future inventory or reconstruction of the history of the ambition from which these total works of art have been conceived.

Authors interested in contributing may send their articles before March 30, 2021 through the ETFVII website, upon registration.

Languages: Contributions will preferably be written in Spanish or English, although the inclusion of other languages could be discussed upon justified request.

Dates of interest:

  • March 30, 2021: submission of articles
  • October 2021: issue released

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