Folkwang Photo Talk mit Olivier Lugon


We look forward to welcoming Olivier Lugon from the Université de Lausanne, one of the most renowned photo historians from the French-speaking research community. With his Folkwang Photo Talk, taking place on July 12, 2023, Olivier Lugon will open the 16th research colloquium for the theory and history of photography. His talk will relate to his current research project.

Everybody interested inside and outside the university is cordially invited. No registration is required. The lecture will also be streamed on the internet. Please ask for a link via email.

From »Books of Light« to the »Total Image«: The Rise of »Immersive Exhibitions« in the 1960s and 70s

In recent years, a new way of presenting classic modern painting has proved highly popular: the so-called »immersive exhibitions« made up of giant montages of fragmented, animated digital reproductions with a soundtrack. While these shows seem inseparable from digital technologies, their history dates back to the 1960s-1970s and points to the then-booming art of the analog slideshow and the »multivision.«

In the case of the biggest global player in the field today, the French »Atelier des Lumières,« the history of its origins, the »Cathédrale d’images« launched in 1977, reveals the central role played by actors coming from the illustrated press, the publishing industry and the graphic arts in the emergence of such shows. Indeed, the »Cathédrale d’images« epitomized a broader and then widely discussed »audiovisual turn« in the graphic arts of the 1960s and 70s, at the convergence of several trends. The early shift of book and press publishing from paper to screen through »filmstrips,« »books of light,« and »projected journals.« The search for more spectacular, collective, and participatory forms of consumption of graphic design; the conception of the screen as an essential and signifying surface, able to give even the presentation of reproductions the aura of a singular event.

These developments were supposed to lead the graphic arts not only into the age of the »audiovisual,« but into that of the »total image,« in the words of Albert Plécy, director of the association »Gens d’images« since 1954 and founder of the »Cathédrale d’images.« The talk will discuss the history, implications, limits, and rapid marginalization of some of these ideas, despite the contemporary ubiquity of such shows.