LOC Pool 7: Art & Index

From measuring rods to criteria and the question about the index.
Where there is smoke, is there really fire?

A, B, C

you, me, them
Face with tears of joy emoji, angry emoji, sad emoji (me)

If you close your eyes and think about a chair, what will likely pop up in front of your eyes is the image of a chair because automatically you think along its index.
Nummer und TypMFA-MFA-Po00.21F.007 / Moduldurchführung
VeranstalterDepartement Fine Arts
LeitungNina Kerschbaumer
Anzahl Teilnehmendemaximal 9
ECTS3 Credits
VoraussetzungenCourse language: English
LehrformSeminar, group and individual tutoring

Excursion to Vienna

!! Under reservation and subject to COVID19:
If traveling is not possible, this course will be held in a digital format.
ZielgruppenMA Fine Art students only

Not open for exchange students
Lernziele / KompetenzenThe seminar enables to analyze and confidently discuss art works, contextualises their place within a broader network, links it with other disciplines and reflects ones own artistic practice.
InhalteAn index or indexical sign is a sign pointing to its referee and generally appears in two modes: (i) a natural sign in terms of a cause and effect relationship, for example smoke indicating fire or (ii) an artificial sign relating to an object, status, etc., for example a face with tears of joy emoji indicating the person sending it is laughing out loud. Either way and this is crucial - an index must be understood as something different than its referee. The indexical sign and its object do only exist independently thus stand in an existential relation to each others.

Summing something up and the longing for an overview in order to making things easier approachable for others is per se an innocent act. But in a world full of signs describing something else and with a ladder of values seemingly naturally inherent, established so called canons, standards and benchmarks become beside depicting confining, so who do we expect walking out a toilet labelled for women? No question, we do need a certain set of commonly agreed vocabulary in order to communicate and connect but where there is smoke, is there really fire?

In this seminar we will address the relation between indexical signs, their objects and its interpreters, us. With a soft spot for aesthetic requirement, we will not only analyse models, replicas and dioramas but also and more importantly: their point of reference. We will critically question parameters set up by few and standing for many, distinguish the difference between a sign (index), a symbol (convention) and an icon (similarity), understand why a blowed up fotograph gets grainy, which detail we lose in a miniature cockfight installation and why this might be helpful because clearly - there lies potential for us artists to work with exactly that matter of ambiguity.

Departing from texts by Rosalind Krauss and Charles Sanders Pierce, we will take a closer look at Works by Charles Simonds, Dominique Gonzales-Foerster & Joi Bittle, Jakob Lena Knebl, Harun Farocki, Steve McQueen, Raphaela Vogel and others.

During a regular setting, the first days will be conducted in Zurich and the second part will be set in Vienna, visiting off spaces in the outskirts in order to frame bigger institutions in the city center more clearly. We will go see the collections and archives of various institutions. We will meet artists, curators and the students of the MA Critical Studies Programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (tbc).

Alternative program in Switzerland: Diorama Museum Einsiedeln, Natural History Museum Basel or Film Archive Lausanne.


A detailed program in case of the possibility to travel will be sent later.


About the lecturer:

Nina Kerschbaumer is a filmmaker and researcher and an assisting teacher at DFA. She is interested in fact and fiction narratives and the deconstruction of common storytelling methods. In her artistic work, she explores how the supposed distinction of private and public space and its visual representation affect concrete social and political decisions. Her research is directly linked to her practice as a Visual Artist, centered around mobile phone photography in social media, its production methods and implications.
Bibliographie / LiteraturWill be handed out before or during the course.
Leistungsnachweis / TestatanforderungMandatory attendance (minimum 100%); active participation
TermineTime: 10:00 - 18:00 o'clock

CW 22: 31 May, 01 / 02 / 03 / 04 June
BemerkungPlease note:
As per university rules for study trips ZHdK will pay for the accommodation in Vienna but travel costs are the responsibility of the participants.
Termine (6)