Kolloquium // This is what a chameleon looks like. Imagination, Illusion, Immersion.

31.01.2008 to 02.02.2008

FU Berlin, Institut für Theaterwissenschaft

Eine interkollegiale Arbeitstagung des Internationalen Graduiertenkollegs InterArt (FU Berlin), des Graduiertenkollegs Bild-Körper-Medium. Eine anthropologische Perspektive (HfG Karlsruhe) und des Centre for Cultural Studies (Goldsmiths University London).

„this is what a chameleon looks like - if we were to overdo it, we would see it like this - but since one ought not to overdo, we see it like this." (Tomas Schmit, 1986)

Do chameleons require an imagination of green to become green? 
Do chameleons actually change their colour or do they merely dupe our perception? 
Does the chameleon possess a critical conception of green?

The chameleon belonging to the fauna of Fluxus-artist Tomas Schmit, who used it since the 1960s in word games and puzzle pictures in a quest for a dynamic model of perception, serves as a the metaphorical starting point for a quest that is now prevailing again in art and cultural studies. 
The colloquium „illusion - imagination - immersion" invites PhD-Students, Post-Docs and Professors from the Centre for Cultural Studies (Goldsmiths College / University of London), the research training groups „Bild - Körper - Medium. Eine anthropologische Perspektive" (New Media School / Karlsruhe) and „InterArt" (Freie Universität / Berlin) to reflect on how issues of perception influence their theoretical and / or empirical work.
Illusion allows us to partake in game-play ("in-lusio"); while cognitively permeable games are likely to be named aesthetic illusions, we speak of cognitively non-transparent games as „objective illusions". In the arts as well as in everyday culture the borders between aesthetic and objective illusions are blurring. When the aesthetic frame morphs into a door letting us walk into another world, physiologists and psychologists as well as communication scientists allude to immersion.
Immersion transfers the percipient into media or aesthetic realities and suspends her or his (bodily, emotional, cognitively critical) distance at least temporarily. Not only the well-known works of New Media and Media Art, but also the arts of theatre, music, film and literature have developed immersive practices. By interactivity they exceed the transparent immersion in a movie theatre, on the TV-couch, the theatre or the stereophonic music hall.
What happens if the fiction contaminates us? If viral marketing, video games, films or theatre plays dare us to interaction? During the imagination of (aesthetic) reality, it is not only the performative capacity of our perception apparatus, which are in use, but also our emotionality, our locomotive system and our psychological competence. The perceiver plays an active role in structuring and framing the referred reality. But is the archive we are invoking our imagination with not also paralyzing us? Does the imperative to act make us passive? Can imaginations capture us in a subjective and visual mode of experience? What is a shared, social imagination?
Disregarding the representative functions of art and culture, this colloquium will be focussing on the (psychological, somatic, affective, cognitive) acts of perception. Presentations from the fields of art, media, communication, social and cultural studies are welcome.
At our initial meeting in Berlin we want to explore the problem of perception in art studies and cultural studies by means of the concepts of immersion, illusion and imagination, with a view to opening up alternative approaches to cultural and artistic productions.
The colloquium aims to establish an ongoing dialogue between the PhD students of the three research groups. Therefore presentations closely related to the PhD-projects are especially welcome, as a continuing exchange between the graduate students and further parts of this colloquium are planned. We are also planning a publication depending on funding.
Presentations should preferably not exceed 30 minutes.
Furthermore Transmediale Media Festival is taking place in Berlin during the colloquium (end of January 2008), so allow extra time in your travel plans if you intend to visit.
Please send an email to Kiwi Menrath (kiwimen@gmx.de) until Nov 21st 2007 with the prospective title of your presentation or for any inquiries. We will then ask you for a short abstract with the beginning of the next year.


Andrew J. Ardizzoia
Tom Bunyard
Andy Christodoulou
Erika Fischer-Lichte (Director “InterArt Studies”, FU Berlin)
Rania Gaafar
Jeff Heydon
Yuk Hui
John Hutnyk (CCS Goldsmiths College, London)
Brigitte Kaltenbacher
Jeff Kinkle
Asko Lehmuskallio
Stefanie Manthey
Sonia Matos
Stefanie Kiwi Menrath
Carla Müller-Schulzke
Nanako Nakajima
Bettina Papenburg
Rico Reyes
Nicolas Salazar
Jörg Scheller
Alexander Schwinghammer
Jen Spiegel
Madoka Takashiro
Daisy Tam
Michael Taussig (Columbia University, NY)
Christian Tedjasukmana
Mirjam Wittman
Julie Woletz