The Center for Visual Studies is an association of scientists and professionals established with the aim of studying the body of science- and theory-related problems which the Anglo-Saxon academic terminology most commonly describes as "visual studies". This is a relatively new discipline whose basic object is the research of the entire field of visuality in the contemporary civilization, reaching from high art and pop culture to transcultural interactions with non-European practices in the visual arts and models of picturization in the global spectacle society.
The Center departs from the assumption that traditional art history – which is attempting to reconcile the diachronic study of the art object with its a priori determination in narrower terms – does not display enough methodological vitality necessary for dealing with the latest visual phenomena and contemporary art practice. The Center wishes to develop new, non-orthodox approaches to phenomena such as the picture as an transiconic fact or start a discussion on the status of the gaze upon art objects as well as upon "non-art" objects.
Field of Interest
The Center's primary field of interest are medialized visual expressions, be it interpretations of a latest piece of art, an advertising campaign, of TV shows, the aesthetics of the current fashion trend or the trivial culture. Through our projects we wish to point out that the most heterogeneous forms of today's visuality are inevitably interdependent and that the area of their interference brings about new, exciting interpretations and establishes connections between phenomena that seem to be formally incompatible, but are closely related with regard to their meaning. The Center also wishes to deal with the phenomenology of visuality in traditionally non-pictorial media, such as literature, philosophy, medicine or social sciences. Especially interesting and potentially challenging for us are the areas where the picture as a final product is merely a consequence of "representational necessity", such as in cartography or medical body scanning, which are increasingly destabilizing and broadening the established art production procedures.
In the framework of its educational program, the Center advocates establishing and conducting an optional course entitled Introduction to Visual Studies. Such a course would give the students a basic insight into a very modern scientific discipline – the visual studies – whose importance has been steadily growing in recent years at universities worldwide. This relatively new scientific discipline is taught as an independent field of study, which has contributed to its scientific relevance and proven its practical justification in the framework of dealing with contemporary artistic and visual phenomena. The Introduction to Visual Studies is conceived as an interdisciplinary course comprising the field of present-day visuality in the broadest sense of the word: from art history, popular culture, film, television and the advertising industry to applied arts, such as visual communications design, photography, multimedia and new media practices. The course aims at demonstrating that in today's world of images the divisions into high and low, pure and applied art are no longer possible – instead, the key to understanding all visual statements lies in their appropriate interpretation and their placement into a corresponding civilizational context. The course has the purpose to demonstrate to students the interaction between the mentioned visual fields, to facilitate their value judgement and prepare them for an independent creative expression in their respective fields of specialization. The course will be held in accordance to a previously adopted, detailed program, adhering to an allocated number of lecturing hours.
The publishing program is on the one hand conceived as a logical complement to the optional Visual Studies course, and on the other hand it is an autonomous activity aiming at facilitating the students' easier and faster access to relevant literature on the history and theory of modern art. Within the framework of this program we propose to establish several series of publications, each serving the purposes of individual fields of study or specialized courses. The publishing program must not be an end in itself, but must respond directly to the students' educational needs and to those theory-related parts of the studies which the lecturers will deem particularly important to conducting their programs. Since Croatian translations of literature dedicated to visual arts are still scarce, the Center will a) propose in its program concrete titles to be translated into Croatian; b) edit its own compilations of theoretical essays by foreign and domestic authors and c) propose the publishing of original, previously unpublished scientific and professional works by Croatian authors. The publishing program will be elaborated in consultation with interested lecturers, relying on the Center's professional, editorial and technical support.