With the explosion of new reproductive technologies starting in the fifteenth century, antiquities were among the most sought-after subjects for copies, reproductions, impressions, seals, casts and moulds. Although there has been extensive research on antiquarian prints and other types of representations of antiquities, less has been written about the techniques and processes of contact with antiquities and the meaning assigned to these processes. Was physical contact with ruins and remains prioritised? What methods were employed in reproducing antiquities? What are the broader technical and intellectual implications of copying, measuring, and rescaling antique objects?
These questions are among those explored by the research group Logiques du négatif. The network aims to explore imprinting—defined as a contact between two surfaces or two bodies—as an act rooted in the history of technique as well as in the artistic imagination. It considers rubbings, prints, impressions, casts and other forms of imprinting in a broad historical and transcultural context. Practices of imprinting, in different civilisations, evoke Issues of presence and absence, reproduction and imitation, identity and difference.
The group draws inspiration from Georges Didi-Huberman’s groundbreaking exhibition L’empreinte (1997) and book La ressemblance par contact (2008), which charted attitudes and meanings that imprints have mobilized throughout Western (art) history. Logiques du négatif builds on this work and explores new areas left on the margins of Didi-Huberman’s project, for example, techniques such as seal-making and printmaking in non-Western practice, in particular Chinese contexts. Its emphasis is on the multi-layered metaphorical and transcultural dimensions of imprint.
Logiques du négatif met for a first workshop on 23 March, 2023 in Louvain-la-Neuve.
The next meeting will be held in Berlin on 30 and 31 May, 2023, with an international conference sponsored by the Thyssen Foundation:
Contact: Transcultural Techniques and Metaphors of Imprinting
30 May, CARMAH, Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage — Institut für Europäische Ethnologie
31 May, Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum, Conference Room
Speakers will include:
Further details and the complete conference program are posted here.