We plan to finish the discussion phase of the seminar a month before it closes to then indulge in a collective experiment that uses Aby Warburg’s magnificent Bilderatlas as example. Like many unfinished works, Warburg’s Atlas leaves much to the imagination and has evoked a continuous stream of interpretations since it was interrupted with his death in 1929.

Now restored, the Atlas consists of more than sixty panels, conceived in the proportions of book pages, that contain images from art history, cosmology, alchemy, as well as contemporary newspapers and magazines. Though mostly structured in the form of clusters with a large variety of proportions and sizes, some panels take the shape of more regular geometries, such as rows and grids. Our question becomes how to combine images. Does that happen only through the mediation of text? Certainly not, because the power of the Bilderatlas lies clearly in what happens purely between the images. It is a structure of similarity as well as its opposite. It is as if Warburg invented search engines and data links seventy years before it took on digital form. What this still teaches us, is that technical links are always of a conceptual nature.

With new tools that transcend the panel-sized book format of Warburg’s world, we might be able to construct an even larger universe of interlinked imagery based on the five postural figures of standing, jumping, hanging, floating and falling. We start with the notion that grace, which in itself cannot be depicted, might become visible via these figures that embody specific aspects of grace. Would it be possible to think of such an Atlas as a closed entity, as a planet? Would there then be countries of images, cities and rivers of images? Could there be mountains of stacked images that might be mined?