Image Economies: Promissory Notes of Architecture at The Warburg Institute

Ruzina Choudhury's picture
March 13, 2019
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Economic History / Studies, Humanities

Image Economies: Promissory Notes of Architecture 

Presented by Professor Claire Zimmerman, University of Michigan

13 Mar 2019, 17:30 to 18:30, followed by a drinks reception until 19:30. 

The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0AB

Free and open to all. View more information and book your place:


Until the emergence of digital processes, the image of architecture (built or unbuilt) functioned like a promissory note for architecture yet to come. The image offered an experience that did not yet exist—even in the case of professionally photographed works that made an art of selective editing. In this schema, the image promised an incipient reality, and it inspired subsequent producers to emulate the process of imaging that which they wanted to build “on the ground.” Since the advent of digital imaging, many have pointed to the disappearance of this intermediate stage, along with the image itself. If architectural representation once supplied the promissory notes of architectural futures, its capacity to do so was linked to that which could be shown in an image—a drawing, a photograph, a montage, a model, an ekphrastic description. More recently, such concepts of future promise—whether as investment or utopia—seem to be breaking down. Architects supplying prototypes know the threat of incipient obsolescence; digital designers occupied with code speak of a “post-image” condition. Increasingly today, architectural production is preoccupied with dynamic operations, processes through which buildings may come to exist. Partly to illuminate our present condition, this talk considers the promissory futures of architectural production in relation to alternative models from twentieth-century practice to which we may need to return today. 

Image Economies:
'As money fades into apparent immateriality, the visual aspect of economics becomes more important if we are to avoid overlooking the obscure forces that rule our lives. These lectures re-examine the connections between images and capital, investigating how the former represent, mould and are moulded by economic forces, and how they function like currency themselves, as promissory notes, media of exchange and stores of value.

This lecture is part of a series organised by Tom Wilkinson, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow.

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