Keynote Speakers: Johanna Drucker, UCLA and Peter Galison, Harvard
As testimony, test, or proposal, models of all sorts record, revise, and reinvent the world. From toy miniatures to computer simulations, modeling is a primary means by which we make sense of and act upon our material lives, the lives of others and the culture at large. Everyone models: from artists and designers to prototype machinists and engineers to children. Models may be provisional or idealized—rehearsals of things yet to be or representations of those that already exist—professional or slapdash, sustained or ephemeral. In particular, models, whether prospective or mimetic, have long animated disciplines and discourses that center on knowledge formation and innovation. Models can represent existing conventions or visionary inventions; in both cases models are scalar constructions with the potential for affective, aesthetic, conceptual, and technological effects. Inspired by the Hagley Museum’s extensive collection of patent models—nearly 900 items made between 1809 and 1899—this interdisciplinary conference will highlight modeling as both a fundamental human activity and an inevitably material practice.
“Imagined Forms: Modeling and Material Culture” inaugurates a biennial conference series sponsored by the Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware. We look forward to presentations from a wide range of disciplines, including art and architecture, art history, digital humanities, English, history, history of science, and media studies, music, and women's studies—that critically investigate the function and form of models, the materials and methods of simulation and representation, questions of scale and perception, experiment and presentation, and the limits of modeling.