Counterfactualism in the Fine Arts
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Counterfactual thinking has become an established method to evaluate decisions in a range of disciplines, including history, psychology and literature. Elke Reinhuber argues it also has valuable applications in the fine arts and popular media.
A fascination with the path not taken is a logical consequence of a world saturated with choices. Art which provokes and explores these tendencies can help to recognise and contextualise the impulse to avoid or endlessly revisit individual or collective decisions. Reinhuber describes the term in broad strokes through the disciplines to show how counterfactualism finds shape in contemporary art forms, especially in photography, film, and immersive and interactive media art (such as 360° content, virtual reality and augmented reality). She analyses the different stages of counterfactuals with examples where artists experience counterfactual thoughts in the process of art production, explore these thoughts in their artwork, and where the artwork itself evokes counterfactual thoughts in the audience.
A fascinating exploration for scholars and students of art, media and the humanities, and anybody else with an interest in choices, the art of decisionmaking and counterfactualism.
Table of Contents
1. Counterfactualism in the Fine Arts 2. Pluriverse and the Best of All Possible Worlds 3. Wind Back the Film of Life 4. Step 1: Choice - A Starting Point for the Moral Dilemma 5. Step 2: Decisions - A User Manual 6. Step 3: Counterfactual Thoughts 7. The Manifesto for Counterfactualism 8. If Only I Had… (Concepts for Counterfactual Artworks) 9. All Possible Futures
Defying traditionally defined departmental categorisation, Elke Reinhuber connects anthropology and environmental studies with visual art, performance and immersive media. After studying at Universitat der Kunste Berlin, Chelsea College London and Accademia di Belle Arti Bologna, she completed her PhD in media art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She began her teaching career at the Braunschweig University of Art, moved to the German University in Cairo, and in 2014 joined the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, before becoming Associate Professor for Expanded Photography at the School of Creative Media at City University, Hong Kong.
Throughout her work, Reinhuber explores the transitory spaces where nature and civilisation intermingle, at the intersection of arts and technology. Her investigations into the intertwined triad of choice, deliberation and subsequent decision-making have resulted in internationally presented award-winning artwork, short and immersive films, and a number of journal articles and presentations.
Currently, she explores the utopian and dystopian potential of public architecture while continuing her research on imagery beyond our visual spectrum.