Project Description (English)


Transdisciplinary Studies on Materiality and Habituality of Visual Conventions

From the perspectives of three disciplines, we aim to understand how pictures and practices are related in specific contexts: Hanna Brinkmann (Art History) analyses how different ways of perceiving art evolve from Austrian and Japanese visual cultures. Rosa John (Film and Media Studies) focuses on the question how avantgarde filmartists make visual conventions visible by exploring their material. Maria Schreiber (Communication Studies) investigates how sociotechnical experiences constitute habitual ways of showing in personal photography.

All subprojects contribute to the common goal of gaining a deeper theoretical and methodological understanding of the complex entanglement of pictures and practices by combining concepts from picture theory  and praxeological approaches.



The Cultural Eye. An Empirical Study on the Cultural Variety of Art Perception

The act of viewing art is an essential aspect of art history. The question why individual reactions to the same piece of art are often very different has been discussed for over hundred years. Art historians have always focused on group-specific similarities especially those based on geographic, historical or social commonalities. There are many attempts to identify cultural beholding habits. These are based upon the analyses of artworks and written sources. Since the act of viewing cannot be grasped post hoc, it has to remain theoretical-speculative. The interdisciplinary research project “The Cultural Eye” ranges between art history, visual culture studies and psychology of perception and takes an empirical approach with eye tracking and questionnaires to complement the former studies on cultural variety in art perception.



Material Thinking. The Cinematographic Apparatus and Practices of the Avant-Garde

The PhD-project combines technical and artistic realms of cinematography by focussing on the domain of the material and the apparatus. Linking the analyses of mass-industrial devices and films of the avant-garde (both perceived as artefacts) I want to explore the „idiosyncrasy of things”. The available devices preset the ways of appropriating pictures and the experimental practices of the avant-garde reflect those presettings. Throughout the artistic operation the body experiences the medium and generates a specific kind of knowledge and thinking – an integration of which shall expand the filmtheoretical horizon. The project aims to exhibit materiality, functionality and potentials in the range of operations, and to bind back the history of avant-garde film to its technical means and industrially determined forms. Following an exploration of theory I will exemplify the case of the Bolex H16 camera in correspondence with selected films from the 1940s to present.



Digital Picture Practices – Dimensions of Networked Visual Communication

longer abstract on

Practices of personal photography seem to have changed radically through digitalisation, media convergence and social media platforms. The smartphone is the pivotal point of everyday visual communication, the circulation of snapshot is further accelerated trough mobility and networked cameras. Photography always had social functions like social bonding or shaping of identity, have those really changed? Based on an empirical, qualitative study, the social-scientific project investigates how practices of Showing and Sharing of photos on and with the smartphone is embedded in everyday lives of teenagers and seniors. The aim is to question and reconstruct how social (e.g. age-specific life challenges) and technical (e.g. specific app-interfaces) circumstances co-constitute varying cultures of showing and sharing.


The project is funded by the Austrian Academy Of Science and hosted by the University of Vienna (Project duration: July 2013 – 2017).


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