Curated by: W. J. T. Mitchell

Opening: 17: 00 -18:00September 9, 2018

Duration:September 9 - December 31, 2018

Organized by:OCAT Institute

Support:Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Co., Ltd.

Media SupportVART, CAFA Art Info

Address: OCAT Institute, Jinchanxilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing (100 meters North from Subway Line 7 Happy Valley Scenic Area Station


The OCAT Institute is pleased to announce that our 2018 Annual Exhibition Metapictures will open on September 9th, 2018, with a reception from 5 p.m.. This is the first exhibition curated by Professor W. J. T. Mitchell. Metapictures outlines the trajectory and profile of Mitchell’s research; it is an exhibition that shows the way visual images reflect on themselves, and on the very process of seeing itself.


The exhibition is divided into multiple sets of images and texts that have been critical to the understanding of pictorial representation in philosophy, art history, and media theory.  Reflecting on the role of images from Plato to Deleuze, on media from Aristotle to McLuhan, on exhibition practices from Warburg to Malraux, Metapictures might be seen as a game that leads the spectator into a labyrinth of concepts from numerous fields of knowledge that have attempted to understand the role of images in human affairs. Included Walter Benjamins dialectical images; cognitive psychologys multistable imagesthat expose the doubleness and duplicity of pictures; biopicturesthat exemplify the uncanny lifelikenessand viralcharacter of images; talking picturesthat expose the relation of images to language; and image atlasesthat aim to provide totalizing overviews in art history, forensic science, natural history and world pictures.


Metapictures employs four different strategies of display: 1) the wall atlasthat provides a simultaneous array of images and texts, a method pioneered in the famous Mnemosyne Bilderatlas of art historian Aby Warburg, and the use of evidence wallsin criminology; 2) the suspended, hanging display of images, a method pioneered in Andre Malrauxs Musée Imaginaire to convey the floating, disembodied character of images as an experiential data cloud; 3) the images scattered randomly on the floor (again, in imitation of Malraux) to exemplify the materiality of images, and the agency of the spectator in trying to assemble them in some orderly pattern; 4) an interactive screen display that allows the spectator to navigate the clouds of images, zooming in to concentrate on particular examples, and moving laterally to trace connections between them.


This exhibition provides an incomplete, open set of images and texts, mainly drawn from Western art and science. Space has been set aside in the exhibition for visitors to mount and arrange images in new patterns,  that might extend and complicate the concept of the metapicture.