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Prof. Emmanuel Alloa (Université de Fribourg): 'The Container-Image. Warburg in the Age of Cargomobility'

The Bilderfahrzeuge Lecture series 2022/23 - "Border Regimes"

With his concept of “Bilderfahrzeug”, Aby Warburg reminds us that the problem of the logic of images is inseparable from a problem logistics of images. The life of forms (their survival, passage and migration) must be combined with a reflection on the infrastructures that allow their movement, on their “migratory routes” (Wanderwege) across border regimes. In his own way, Warburg anticipated a reflection on the visual economy in the age of globalisation. Taking Allan Sekula’s Fish Story project as a starting point, we will reflect on the strange parallels between the development of cargomobilities in the exchange of goods and the new formats of standardised visibilities. What reserves, what latent powers does the image hold in store? If Warburg’s metaphor of the image as an energy conserve (Energiekonserve) is to mean anything, we must reflect its political as well as ecological implications for the present. Beyond logics of depletion and exhaustion, how to think a dynamis of the image that insists on its unexplored potentials of inactuality? Between border regimes of containment and the real-time delivery promise made by a global mediascape, how to unbox the promises of alternate ways of seeing and doing the image contains?


Image: Allan Sekula, Noel Burch, The Forgotten Space (still frame), film essay (NL/AT, 2010).