Submission deadline:

June 15, 2023

Thresholds 52: Disappearance

Edited by Samuel Dubois and Susan Williams

Some disappearances are pointedly more conspicuous than others. In 1983, magician David Copperfield ominously dropped a curtain revealing an empty black sky, having just made the Statue of Liberty vanish from sight. As Lady Liberty’s disappearance was watched with amazement by television viewers, Copperfield cautioned his audience: “Sometimes we don’t realize how important something is until it is gone.” Constructing illusions, playing tricks and deceiving audiences, magicians challenge what is real, imagined or just an illusion of the eye. But even a playful disappearance in a magic trick can reveal deeper implications.

Thresholds 52: Disappearance will explore the ways art and architecture negotiate the elusive topic of disappearance. The editors seek contributions that aim to discover how disappearances are spatially manifested (human/non-human, living/non-living, material/symbolic) and how the appearances of certain things have led to the disappearances of others. The editors are interested in scholarly articles and other artistic and intellectual contributions that engage the notion of disappearance by clarifying, complicating and challenging our collective understandings of architecture, art history, and other related disciplines and practices. Submissions can address any time period or geographic setting.

Disappearance is an ambiguous term—an occurrence, a process or an outcome. While a disappearance can stay within the binary state of visibility to invisibility, it can also make something become less common through a slow process towards non-existence. If disappearance itself is a fascinating subject, what enables something to survive after its raison d’être disappears may be just as intriguing. Scientific determinism tells us that, materially speaking, nothing actually disappears. The law of mass conservation establishes that while matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it can be rearranged in space. But this scientific truth becomes convoluted when the lived spatial and visual experiences of humans are accounted for. How can these two opposing views exist—or not exist—within the same world?

Disappearances can be manifested in various ways, scales and contexts:
–stolen art and historical artifacts
–start and end of various artistic movements or media
–visualization and spatial design as strategies of tracking disappearance
–untraceable actions of internet culture
–phantasmagoric vanishing experiences in haunted spaces
–dematerialization of analog skills in architectural design and practice
–concealed or implied structural systems over real structures
–construction sites intrinsically being replaced with actual buildings
–disappearance of materials and techniques when better ones emerge
–sinking of coastal cities
–evaporating biodiversity
–or just anything or anyone hidden in plain sight

Extended Submission Deadline: June 15, 2023

More information can be found here.

Share this post

News from the field

Drawing Attention to the Periphery

October 25-27, 2023 Panel session for AHRA conference on Situated Ecologies of Care Portsmouth School of Architecture, UK. Submission deadline for abstracts: June 12, 2023 This paper session asks: How is the periphery reconfigured against collective life, culture,...

Research Assistant in the Field of Architecture and Landscape

Leibniz University Hanover The Faculty of Architecture and Landscape, Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, Department of Architectural Theory (Prof. Dr. Nathalie Bredella), invites applications for the position of a Research Assistant (m/f/d) in the...

Materia Arquitectura N°25: Out of Place Matter

MATERIA ARQUITECTURA is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes original research, which can be exploratory and speculative. It is also open to visual and imaginative proposals. Its aim is to contribute to the development and questioning of the discipline and...

German Colonial Building Cultures in 100 Primary Sources

Exhibition at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte Munich, Germany, 20 April – 30 June 2023 From about 1880 to 1920, the German Empire was one of the European colonial powers. Its possessions included territories on three continents: in Africa (German South-West...