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Tuesday, March 03, 2020
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)

Visual Culture Program

The Reconstruction of Colour Worlds
Sven Dupré, Professor of History of Art, Science and Technology, Utrecht University,

Performative methods are playing an increasingly prominent role in research into the study of the arts and material culture. Such methods, which we refer to as Reconstruction, Re-enactment, Replication, Reproduction and Re-working (RRR), are used across fields in the humanities and social sciences, from history of science and technology to archaeology, conservation to musicology and anthropology, among other disciplines, to scrutinize historical production processes, materials, and bodily knowledge and sensory skills. In this talk I will look at how RRR methods have developed within these disciplines. With the exception of anthropology, RRR methods have long and venerable disciplinary histories. However, despite the growing interest in performative approaches across disciplines, so far, reflection upon these RRR methods has largely remained within the disciplines. I will argue that there is much to learn from interdisciplinary methodological reflection, and that we should design interdisciplinary RRR methods to fruitfully reconstruct early modern colour worlds. Illustrated with examples of rosichiero enamels (by re-working seventeenth-century glass recipes) and the re-creation of black-dyed textiles made fashionable at the Burgundian court, I will reflect on the importance of site – the ‘field' versus the laboratory – and the value of re-working with makers for the production of knowledge in RRR research on material culture and the arts.

About the Visual Culture Program
The Caltech-Huntington Program in Visual Culture, which is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and based in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), features new undergraduate course offerings, guest lecturers, and other programming to foster conversations between humanists and scientists. Its activities are organized by HSS and other Caltech faculty in collaboration with scholars at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

For more information, please contact Cecilia Lu by phone at 626-395-1724 or by email at