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HomeThe variability, changes, and instability in contemporary creations

The variability, changes, and instability in contemporary creations

Variabilité, mutation, instabilité des créations contemporaines

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Published on Monday, October 29, 2018


L’objet de ce colloque sera de penser les différents paramètres pouvant conduire à envisager certaines créations contemporaines comme variables. Cette variabilité peut être engendrée par une forme d’instabilité des productions artistiques actuelles, à l’image d’un monde parcouru de flux, dans lequel le changement est permanent, et dont l’écosystème vacille sous l’effet de l’accélération des modes de circulations. La variabilité peut à son tour engendrer la mutation des formes, qui changeant de supports, d’espaces, de configurations, voient leurs statuts et parfois même leurs sens transformés.


International conference of the CIEREC (University Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne) in partnership with the LESA (University of Aix-Marseille)

Organised by Christine Buignet, Anne Favier and Carole Nosella.

Dates: 3rd- 4th June 2019


The aim of this conference will be to deliberate on the different parameters leading certain contemporary creations to be considered as variable.

This variability may be generated by a form of instability of current artistic productions, reflecting today’s world in constant flux - where change is permanent and the ecosystem wavers under the effects of accelerating means of circulation. Variability can in turn prompt mutation of forms, with the potential change of media, composition and space altering the work’s status and meaning. It is a question of considering the variability of a work as constituent part, i.e. incorporated within the process of artistic creation.

We can cite for example A journey that wasn’t by Pierre Huyghe. We could also refer to the recent project of Clément Cogitore, Braguino or the impossible community, which has been the subject of an exhibition, a documentary film and a book. These autonomous emanations can interact and enhance each other. We can then wonder how artists propose multiple occurrences of the same project, taking on different forms and temporalities, questioning any notion of completeness and determination. These works in the throes of formulation, taking shape with different media, can reflect transmedia practices of the cultural industry but also lead us to consider the work as part of its ecosystem.

Another way of considering the variability of works, their instability and transformation is to think of their supporting media and production sites. Today’s digital phenomenon influencing a large part of audio and/or visual production leads to a transformation of the nature of works. The digital image being an image matrix, is in essence variable, its visual manifestation is always the result of a calculation, according to the parameters defined by the environment which produces it (depending on the software program or the screen used, etc.). As Lev Manovich (The Language of New Media, 2001, p.112) points out “a neo-media object, rather than being the source of identical copies, gives rise to several different versions.” We are always confronted by an interpretation, a version of an object with an appearance which varies according to different parameters. In addition, problems of compatibility and obsolescence of technological media incite artists to multiply the formats of their productions, not only as a means of preservation but also as an exercise of aesthetic exploration. This variability of media generates a transformation of works which will require further investigation. 

In addition, this phenomenon of variability has an effect on the presentation and exhibition of works. Take the conceptual work Schéma, 1966-1970 by Dan Graham, which self-determined into new versions depending on the different spaces of publication. In another example, on the subject of “New Ghost Stories” by Georges Didi-Huberman and Arno Gisinger, Marie-Odile Lanctôt-David speaks about exhibitions in an era of technical reproduction. The recent exhibition by Neil Béloufa at the Palais de Tokyo further questions the variability in an installation, an exhibition and its effects on perception. The artist refers to “an exhibition which is constantly moving” and where the “meaning is mobile.” The spectator is subject to the instability and incompleteness of visual art and to its significance.

The question of the works’ variability opens a dialogue about their circulation through networks, their transit from one exhibition space to another, and their transformations that enhance and become multiform.

These interrogations, all the more relevant in the current digital context, appear in numerous visual art approaches through media, installation, performance or catalog. They can also concern design, music, or even literature.

This call for contributions is aimed therefore at researchers in visual arts, art sciences, art history, aesthetic, design and performing arts. It may also interest researchers in musicology, literature…

Propositions can be in the form of case studies, typological essays, theoretical questions, etc. The artistic orientation of the conference will lead to the consideration of various forms (such as conference-performance, theorised artistic practices, prepared interviews – for example between an artist and a theorist, – etc.)

Submission guidelines

Propositions (maximum 2500 characters and a title), together with a short biographical note, should be sent

before the 15th of November 2018

to the conference organisers. They will subsequently be examined by the Scientific Committee.

christine.buignet@univ-amu.fr; anne.favier@univ-st-etienne.fr; carole.nosella@univ-st-etienne.fr


  • Saint-Étienne, France (42)


  • Thursday, November 15, 2018


  • arts, variabilité, instabilité, mutation, contemporain,


  • Christine Buignet
    courriel : Christine [dot] buignet [at] univ-amu [dot] fr
  • Carole Nosella
    courriel : carole [dot] nosella [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr
  • Anne Favier
    courriel : anne [dot] favier [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr

Information source

  • Carole Nosella
    courriel : carole [dot] nosella [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The variability, changes, and instability in contemporary creations », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, October 29, 2018, https://calenda.org/492874

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