‘The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled’
John Berger, Ways of Seeing (1972)
Greenwich has long been a site intimately connected with processes of looking. From court pageantry to astronomical observation, perfection of a maritime art genre to the training of boys for naval duties, its buildings have developed around concerns for presentation and representation, seeing and being seen.
For the 2015 Queen’s House conference, we take our current contemporary art exhibition as inspiration to think about processes of looking and recording. Unseen: The Lives of Looking by Dryden Goodwin considers seven modern and historic lives that have had a particular relationship with looking: an eye surgeon, planetary explorer, human rights lawyer, contemporary artist, astronomer royal, marine draughtsman, and astronomy assistant. Their lives emerge through Dryden Goodwin’s intense drawn and filmed portraits, the tools and papers of their trades, and objects from the museum’s collection.
Together these lives make us think about how we look in the modern world, what we do and do not choose to see, and what the histories and legacies of these processes might be. The different uses of eye and hand to observe and record, combined with increasingly complex technologies, highlight the ever-changing relationships between what we see and what we know, and the centrality of representation to that relationship.
09.00: Registration, coffee and viewing Unseen: The Lives of Looking
10.00: Welcome and introduction – Katy Barrett, Royal Museums Greenwich
10.10: Keynote Lecture – Dryden Goodwin
11.00: Coffee and tea
11.30: Session 1 – Seeing from afar
- A Glimpse of Mars through fractured illusion: The Materiality of the stereo image – Luci Eldridge, Royal College of Art, London
- Seeing Empire in J.F.W. des Barre’s Atlantic Neptune – Emily Casey, University of Delaware
- Learning to see from above: Eye-witnessing, disorientation, and the aerial view – William Nelson, University of Toronto
13.00: Lunch and free time to visit exhibition
14.00: Session 2 – Seeing with the body
- Cut and Connect: Some parallels between anatomical section, image montage and the theatre of memory Angela Breidbach, Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg
- Cubist Ways of Seeing – Maria Hayes, visual artist
- Are sketches good visual representations of the world? – Quoc Vuong, Gabriele Jordan, Michael Cox and Yoav Tadmore, Newcastle University
15.30: Coffee and tea
16.00: Session 3 – Seeing at the surface
- ‘The Body which throbs’: Photography and graphic intervention – Sarah Chapman, University of Plymouth
- ‘Eluding the All-Seeing Eye’ – Dr Rahma Khazam, art critic and independent scholar
- The Contact Sheet in Close up – Jacqui Knight, University of Plymouth
17.30: Wrap up and discussion – led by Damian Smith, RMIT University, Melbourne
18.00: Drinks reception
Abstracts of the 2015 Queen’s House conference are available.
National Maritime Museum
London SE10 9NF
Tel: +44 020 8312 6716
Cost: £35 | Concessions: £25 (Students and people over 60)