Immersivity and interactivity in virtual environments have enabled the production of pictures that elicit in the user an intense feeling of being incorporated into a quasi-real environment. These pictures aim to attain immediateness (concealing an extreme technological mediateness), unframedness (bypassing the traditional separateness between image and reality and between images and spectators), and presentness (simulating a lack of referentiality). In doing so, they paradoxically challenge their status as images-of, that is, as icons: they are veritable ‘an-icons’.
The lecture presents some of the main issues addressed by the ERC project ‘AN-ICON’ (2019–2024), exploring ‘an-iconology’ as a new paradigm able to address the challenging landscape of contemporary image production and consumption. Subjects relating to an-icons are no longer visual observers in front of images isolated from the real world: they become experiencers living in a quasi-world that offers multisensory stimuli and allows sensorimotor affordances and interactions. These new forms of image experience require a new understanding, as they are bound to radically change human relations to images.
Andrea Pinotti is professor of aesthetics at the Department of Philosophy of Università degli Studi di Milano. He recently was EURIAS Senior Fellow at the Paris Institute for Advanced Study (2017–2018) and received the Wissenschaftspreis of the Aby-Warburg-Stiftung (2018). His main research interests include aesthetics, art theory, art history, the morphological tradition, image theories, and visual culture studies, memory studies, and theories regarding empathy. He is currently in charge of the ERC-funded project ‘AN-ICON — An-iconology: History, Theory, and Practices of Environmental Images’.
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image credit © Giuseppe Boccassini