The Lives of Images Symposium Series

Join Aperture and the International Center of Photography for a two-part online symposium exploring some key issues addressed in the first two volumes of The Lives of Images: An Aperture Reader Series, edited by artist and critic Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa. 

The Lives of Images explores the roles, histories, and contemporary uses of reproducible images in relation to specific grounding themes. To speak of the reproducible image in this moment is to address not only photographs, film, and videos, but screen prints and billboards; GIFs, memes, and emojis—a wide array of technically mediated scripto-visual forms that together constitute and remake both our visual landscape and image economies. The Lives of Images aims to gather together recent and contemporary scholarship that helps to animate and inform a rich dialogue on the role of the image in contemporary culture. 

Hosted by ICP in partnership with Aperture, the symposium will take place over two weeks, (late August/September and November 2021) as a series of public group discussions via Zoom. Each symposium will explore a specific set of contributions and themes arising from one of the first three volumes of the series: Repetition, Reproduction, and Circulation (Vol. 1, September 2021); Analogy, Attunement, and Attention (Vol. 2, November 2021); and Archives, Histories, and Memory (Vol. 3, Spring 2022). Both the series and the symposium will engage theorists, scholars, and artists whose practices move fluidly between a focus on still and moving images. Symposium discussions will range across an array of uses of reproducible images that include, but regularly extend beyond, traditional fine art. 

In each session, Wolukau-Wanambwa and David Campany, managing director of programs at ICP, will serve as interlocutors for two invited guests whose work is either published or discussed in the series. The talks aim to delve in greater depth into these thinkers’ and artists’ contributions, and to provide a space for discussion as to their resonances in artistic practice and social life more broadly.

Purchase The Lives of Images: An Aperture Reader Series, Vol. 1: Repetition, Reproduction, and Circulation and pre-order The Lives of Images: An Aperture Reader Series, Vol. 2: Analogy, Attunement, and Attention (November 2021) through ICP’s shop. All online book purchases made before August 30, 2021 will receive access to both symposiums.

Schedule for Vol. 1: Repetition, Reproduction, and Circulation

Session 1: Tuesday, August 31, 1:00–2:30 PM ET
Paul Pfeiffer and Jodi Dean on Image Circulation, Capital, and Racial Difference



Session 2: Wednesday, September 1, 1:00–2:30 PM ET
Erika Balsom and Aria Dean on Reproducibility, Copyright, and Appropriation




Session 3: Thursday, September 2, 1:00–2:30 PM ET
Lucas Blalock and Vivian Sobchack on Medium, Materiality, and Attention




Please note that schedule and speakers are subject to change. Dates and registration for The Lives of Images: Vol. 2: Analogy, Attunement, and Attention to be announced.


Admission to this online symposium series is free with a suggested donation—help keep public programs accessible to all by donating today. Tickets include access to all three conversations. We make every effort to record each session and make available to participants up to 14 days after the series, however recordings are not guaranteed.

About the Program Format

This program will take place on Zoom. Those who register to attend will receive a confirmation email with a link located at the bottom of the email under ‘Important Information’ to join all three sessions through a computer or mobile device. 

We recommend participants download the Zoom app on their device prior to the program. Learn how to download the latest version of Zoom to your computer or mobile device.
If you do not receive the link by 11 AM on the day of the lecture or if you have questions about the virtual program, please contact:

Speaker Bios

Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa is a photographer, writer, and graduate director of the photography MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design. His book of selected essays, Dark Mirrors, will be published by MACK Books in 2021 and his most recent monograph, Hiding in Plain Sight, coauthored with fellow artist Ben Alper, was published by the Harun Farocki Institute in 2020. He is editing the inaugural Aperture Reader Series, titled The Lives of Images, which will launch in summer 2021.

David Campany is a curator, writer, and managing director of programs at the International Center of Photography, New York. His books include On Photographs (2020), A Handful of Dust (2015), Art and Photography (2003), Jeff Wall: Picture for Women (2011), Walker Evans: the Magazine Work (2014), and The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip (2014).

Jodi Dean is Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She has been Erasmus Professor of the Humanities in the Faculty of Philosophy at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and on the faculty of the London Critical Theory Summer School at Birkbeck, University of London. She has given numerous invited lectures in art, activist, and academic venues all over the world and her writing on politics, communism, and communicative capitalism is widely translated. She is the author or editor of thirteen books including Blog Theory, Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies, The Communist Horizon, Crowds and Party, and Comrade.

Paul Pfeiffer, a multimedia artist working in video, photography, sculpture, and sound, attended the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program. In 2003, the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago organized a traveling survey exhibition of his work and the accompanying publication, Paul Pfeiffer. He was the first recipient of the Bucksbaum Award at the Whitney Biennial in 2000; in 2011, he was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Aria Dean is an artist and writer based in New York. Her writing has been published in Artforum, Art in America, e- ux, the New Inquiry, Real Life, X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly, and other periodicals.

Erika Balsom is a Reader in Film Studies at King’s College London. She is the author of four books, including TEN SKIES (2021), about James Benning’s 2004 film of the same name, and After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation (2017), which looks at the intersecting histories of experimental film and artists’ moving image through the prism of image circulation. In addition to her academic work, her criticism appears regularly in publications such as 4Columns, Artforum, and Cinema Scope. In 2017, she was awarded a Leverhulme Prize and the Katharine Singer Kovacs essay prize from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

Lucas Blalock is an artist and writer who, over the last fifteen years, has exhibited and published widely. He has had recent solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (2019), the Museum Kurhaus in Kleve, Germany (2019), the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts in Birmingham, AL (2021), and Galerie Eva Presenhuber in New York (2021). Blalock also makes books, three more of which are due out by the end of 2021: an artist book titled Figures (Zolo Press); Oar Or Ore, an expansive survey of the artist’s work since 2013 through the lens of recent exhibitions (Museum Kurhaus); and a volume of writing (Objectiv Books).

Vivian Sobchack is Professor Emerita in UCLA's Department of Film, Television and Digital Media. Her books include Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film; The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience; Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture; and two edited volumes, The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the Modern Event and Meta-Morphing: Visual Transformation in the Culture of Quick Change. Her essays have appeared in Film Comment, Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Art Forum, Representations, History and Theory, and Body and Society. She has also been honored with the Society for Cinema and Media Studies' Distinguished Career Achievement Award for the impact her wide-ranging work has had not only in film and media studies but also across the humanities and arts.

This program is free with a suggested donation of $5. 

The Lives of Images symposum series has been made possible through the generous support of Marina and Andrew Lewin.