Anthropology of the Image Lab
University of California, Davis
The Anthropology of the Image Lab (AIL) is a space for conversations between anthropologists and interlocutors in adjacent disciplines committed to fostering fieldwork-led modes of curation and inquiry through images. Its objective is to engage the challenges posed by the image to both anthropological thinking and art curatorial practice. AIL therefore invites anthropologists engaged with art practices in an expanded field: from media arts, photography, and cinema to urbanism, architecture, and design, from fashion to advertising. It is an invitation to seriously consider assemblages, images, and curation as sites and modes of inquiry on par with the subjects, the objects, and the comparative method routinely deployed in the social and human sciences. It is also an invitation for curators engaging “social” practices to cease equating anthropology with ethnography, ethnos, and cultural difference.
Building on the clinical and ethical registers of the term “curation”, this platform’s acronym (AIL) designates a symptomatology of the image indebted to both Aby Warburg’s pathological iconology and Gilles Deleuze’s critical and clinical studies. As a result, AIL’s “curatorial designs” aim to cultivate an empirical form of thinking with images anchored in care, cura, a cura di, curare, and the incurable. We try to practice this thinking by problematizing, counter-actualizing, and, when/if possible, reanimating a set of incurably broken figures, from the human to beauty to landscape. AIL is therefore attentive to experimental modes of life that create untimely futures and “restore belief in the world.” To this end, our Podcast series engages fellow travelers who design these futures via various media forms, including books, films, photographic essays, installations, lecture-performances, instruction manuals, and more.