E-Journal für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte

CFP: Image Politics: Pictur(e)ing Climate (Potsdam/Berlin, 19-20 Jan 12)

Visualizations, Imaginations, Documentations

University of Potsdam, Institute for Arts and Media, Am Neuen Palais 10, D-14469 Potsdam

Organizer: Dr. Birgit Schneider, Dilthey Fellow at University of Potsdam in conjunction with the Graduate School “Visualization and Visuality”


One of the key roles of scientific images involves the potential to visualize scientific objects; when considered in these terms, visualization is nothing less than a method for making the invisible visible. The status of climate visualization is particularly crucial, as they make entities visible which otherwise, as statistical items, could not become evident. This applies to images visualizing climate zones, temperatures, CO2-concentrations, climate history or future scenarios derived from climate models. Climate as an epistemic object is not something which is simply given; it has to be constructed and mediated. Hence pictur(e)ing climate and climate change is a fundamental step in knowledge production and an extraordinary cultural achievement.


However climate science is facing considerable pressure from different expectations: when expert graphics produced by climatologists started to gain currency in the field of policy (as it became a key issue within risk society) they encountered different values and expectations. Scientific research on climate change induced a plethora of image production; images picturing climate range from colourful expert graphics, model visualizations, photographs of extreme weather events like floods, droughts or melting ice, symbols like polar bears, to moving and interactive visualizations; since the 1980s climate graphics have not only increased knowledge about the subject, they have also begun to influence popular awareness of weather events and the instability of landscape.


This workshop seeks to combine a wide interdisciplinary spectrum of perspectives and questions in order to discuss the very different strategies and imaginations that lie behind pictures on climate. In doing so, the visual part of the climate discourse can be critically analysed vis-a-vis politics, technology, science, media and society.


Please submit abstracts of less than 250 words by October 1, 2011 to birgit.schneider@uni-potsdam.de