Walking on Images

Michael Tymkiw, University of Essex

For millennia, floors have served as an important site for displaying imagery, as evidenced by mosaic pavements, tomb slabs, rugs, and, more recently, floor-based works of fine art. In many cases, human beings have been encouraged to walk on such imagery – a mode of viewing that not only results in direct physical contact with images but also means that a spectator cannot view ground-based images without simultaneously seeing parts of his or her own body. In this respect, a spectator’s body at once completes and interrupts the imagery being viewed.

This session seeks to explore a range of issues broadly related to the theme of walking on images, including the dialogue between a spectator’s moving body and images underfoot; the motivations for making and/or commissioning examples of ‘walkable’ imagery; the interrelationship between figuration and abstraction; and the conceptual and theoretical implications of floor-based imagery for how we write histories of art and visual culture.


Landscapes, Cities and the Viewer: Stepping on stones in late antiquity
Irene Gilodi (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz)

‘Tread another Tomb’: Ruskin at Santa Croce
Jeremy Melius (Tufts University)

Rococo Underfoot: Michael Thonet’s parquetry floors for the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein in Vienna
Peter Fox (Independent Scholar)

Boris Anrep’s Mosaics for the Bank of England
Jennifer Adam (Bank of England Museum)

Mirror Mirror on the Floor: Infinity rooms and gravity
Michael Tymkiw (University of Essex)

Aerial Views vs Floor-based Work: Containment and inaccessibility of 21st century horizontal images in the work of Sterling Ruby
Christian Mieves (Newcastle University)




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