25.04. – 26.04.

Workshop: Seeing Danger: Risk, Security and the Visual

Organisation: Tom Allen, Jakob Schnetz

ZOOM & Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), Room 106, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

Risk is everywhere. From attempts to model the future of the climate that become irrelevant almost as quickly as they are developed, to algorithms which determine who is allowed to pass through a border checkpoint, granted a loan or subjected to police attention, actuarial calculation determines and demarcates an increasing  proportion of contemporary life. These purportedly objective calculations take place within a broader social context whereby security for some and profit for others means varying degrees of precarity for everyone else. While the precise trajectory of this future is not fixed, it is highly likely that migration, climate breakdown, and an increasingly precarious labour market across much of the world will mean that narratives and technologies of risk continue to grow, both in terms of their sophistication and in terms of their presence within the fabric of life.

Our symposium will encourage analysis, conversation and critique focused on the convergence of risk, visual imagination and concrete reality. We begin from the observation that the purported objectivity of risk involves a necessary act of speculative imagining, and that the content of this imagining, together with the narratives it promulgates, is crucial to understanding the broader social contradictions within which technologies of risk and security operate. By bringing an international group of scholars from a range of disciplines including Art History, Literature, Media and Film to the KWI, we hope to gain a better understanding of our present conjuncture and the future towards which it is tending.

 Public Keynote on 25 April 2024