Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
What is the place of materiality - the expression or condition of a physical substance - in our visual age of rapidly changing materials and media? How is it fashioned in the arts or manifested in technology? In Surface, cultural critic and theorist Giuliana Bruno deftly explores these questions, seeking to understand materiality in the contemporary world. Arguing that materiality is not a question of the materials themselves but rather the substance of material relations, Bruno investigates the space of those relations, examining how they appear on the surface of different media - for example, on movie, television, or computer screens or on the skin of buildings and people. The object of visual studies, she insists, goes well beyond the image, and she contends that the contact between people and objects occurs on the surface. Through this tangible contact, we apprehend the art object and space of art. As such, Bruno threads through the surfaces of images, emphasizing the actual fabrics of the visual - the surface condition, the textural manifestation, the support of a work, and the way in which it is sited, whether on a canvas, a wall, or a screen. In performing these critical operations on the surface, she articulates it as a site in which different forms of mediation and transformation can take place. Surveying object relations across art, architecture, fashion, design, film, and new media, Surface is a magisterial account of contemporary visual culture.