Talking Eyes

The lecture, discussion and film series ‘Talking Eyes’ wants to encourage the use of Irit Rogoff’s ‘curious’ eyes (2002) by providing a platform to foreground marginalised discourses. The series will open up theoretical and practical interventions for subversion from various angles: Five events shall weave a net around the figure ‘Talking Eyes’, opening a space to engage more closely with affective dimensions of images and their production. ‘Talking Eyes’ enter the visual realm, zooming in on the subject that is presented. With ‘Talking Eyes’, subjects and relations are perceived by way of an embodied gaze, introducing questions of sexualised, racialised and gendered subjectivities; pornotropic, forensic, clinical and military detection; surveillance and control of disease; as well as crime and war. ‘Talking eyes’ evoke a desire to unite image and language. Discussions on the strategies and limitations of representational practices and interventions will be synchronised and positioned next to technological aspects of image production.

Microscopic imaging technologies, experimental designs, and pictorial strategies construct  visual materialities that always depend on the gendered and ‘racialised’ iconographies within the specificity of their historical moment. The visual data of the fixed gaze of surveillance cameras, for example, generate images of disciplined pedestrians, as well as of femininity devoid of affects. Graphic images of electro-cardiograms or microscopic depictions of viruses can simultaneously offer abstract perspectives on diseases as well as work on the ‘cleansing’ of individual and collective body/ies. Documentary footage can serve to capture and render visible aspects of social and political activism or may be manipulated to interrogate the borders between fiction and documentary, if not to distort popular perception of historical persons and events. The figure of the ‘Talking Eyes’ can also be found in the invasive gaze of pornography as well as military interrogations, which follows the phantasm of ‘complete/total visibility’, or in the subject formation enabled via engaging with queer erotic photography.

The research group “Visual Culture” of the interdisciplinary graduate research program "Gender as a Category of Knowledge" at Humboldt-University in Berlin has invited an exciting group of speakers – at once artists, activists and academics – who will engage with these various topics. Thus, the ‘Talking Eyes’ lecture, discussion and film series in renowned cultural and intellectual institutions intends to intrude and break up, and thereby re-animate old and new debates in visual culture, and inspire critical research across academic disciplines.