Uncertain Spaces. Virtual Configurations in Contemporary Art and Museums

In Open Calls / July 14, 2014


31 October | 1 November 2014 
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon



Gathering the contributions of researchers, artists and curators, this conference aims to examine the different ways by which contemporary art and museums are reconfigured in virtual environments.

From museums to academia, the development of digital technologies has strongly impacted cultural practices, agents and institutions, in an unprecedented manner. In a mediatized and globalized world, concerns about the nature of these technological changes are increasingly spreading, and research in this field has been rapidly expanding.

Over the past decades, and especially since the generalization of the Internet, artists have been actively exploring the potentialities of new media languages and communities, often blurring artistic categories. Movements like Digital Art or Internet Art clearly demonstrate how these technological means came to shape challenging new territories for contemporary art, not only in terms of creation, reception and participation, but also regarding its preservation, collection, curatorship or exhibition. At the same time, funding for the arts has been strategically promoting digital on line tools involving museums, galleries, art fairs and biennials.

Yet, interestingly enough, while many of these virtual projects successfully embrace immateriality as a prolific category, many others fail to propose utterly innovative environments, as they merely seek to reproduce conventional museum models: uncritically digitizing existing collections, following the same classification and display criteria or duplicating, online, real exhibition spaces.

To what extent is the permanence of the ‘physical’ determining the shape of virtual art works and environments? What are the differences between digital representations of an existing museum building and a purely virtual, web-based exhibition space? How are we to study, classify, preserve and exhibit Internet art works and collections? How is the emergence of the ‘intangible’ affecting heritage, exhibitions design, art practices and public participation? Is ‘intangible museography’ a new field of specialization for scholars, museum professionals and independent curators?

In this conference, organized within the framework of the unplace project, we aim to critically examine the different ways by which museums, artists, curators, conservators and academics are dealing with these questions.

We welcome 20-minute presentations, in English, (followed by 10-minute discussion) from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives related to contemporary art. Encouraged topics and case studies may include, but are not limited to:

Digital and Internet Art
, Virtual Exhibitions
, Online Collections, Archives and Data Bases, Collaborative Contemporary Art Projects, Digital Preservation / Media Obsolescence, Communities and Social Participation, 
Art and Piracy
, Romanticism, Empathy and Affect,
Politics and Activism, 
Virtual Museums as Utopian Architecture, Intangible Museography

The conference will include plenary lectures by keynote speakers and thematic sessions for registered delegates, as well as debates with artists and curators.


Please send 300-word abstracts, in English, no later than 18th July 2014 to info@unplace.org. Submissions should also include the following details (in English): Full title of your paper;
 Your name and institutional affiliation; E-mail and postal address;
 Short biographical note (100-150 words). Submitted proposals will be peer-reviewed. Selected papers will be eligible for publication.

Important dates: Deadline for abstract submission: July 18, 2014 Notification of acceptance: August 1, 2014
 Deadline for Early Bird Registration: September 7, 2014 Deadline for Normal Registration: September 30, 2014 Submission of Full Papers: December 15, 2014



For delegates presenting a paper: Early Bird Registration (until Sept 7): 80 Euros Regular Registration (Sept 8 – Sept 30): 100 Euros Reduced Early Bird Registration*: 60 Euros Reduced Regular Registration*: 80 Euros Other Participants: Without paper but entitled to conference materials and certificate. Registration Fee: 60 Euros Reduced Registration Fee*: 40 Euros
* Students and ICOM members. Evidence of concession will be required.

Questions and Queries to: info@unplace.org



Alexandra Bounia University of the Aegean, Grécia, Helena Barranha IST, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, Joaquim Jorge INESC-ID, IST, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, Susana S. Martins FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, António Pinto Ribeiro Next Future Programme, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal, János Tari AVICOM, ICOM International Committee for Audiovisual and New Technologies of Image and Sound, Juan Martín Prada Universidad de Cádiz, Espanha



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