Postdoctoral Fellow

Randy Innes 2011-12



B.A. Hons. (Trent), M.A. (Western Ontario), M.A. (Rochester), Ph.D. (Rochester)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Graduate Program in Cultural Studies


Randy Innes is a visual and cultural theorist with special interests in the artwork and representational modernity, technological reproducibility and modes of visual production, museum theory and public memory, and contemporary aesthetic and cultural theory. Innes’ recent work has focused on the role the ruin plays in the formation of visual and symbolic fields, and on theories of totality and fragmentation in modernity.

The title of Innes’ research program for the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies at Trent University is “The Rhythm of the Image: Time, the Artwork and Visual Culture”. This project initiates a new study of questions of time as they are raised through artworks, our encounters with artworks and visual culture, and visual and cultural theory. Photography is among the most ‘modern’ of visual objects: it has negotiated the fields of high art, popular culture, economy, technology, and science since its public presentation. This research begins by asking how photography introduced a distinct sense of time into visual and aesthetic theory, and how this has in turn informed the modern condition. Roland Barthes observes that the same century invented both photography – “a clock for seeing” – and history. This project will in part be concerned with elucidating photography’s part in modernity’s archival, archaeological, and aesthetic dimensions.

More broadly this project asks how this encounter with time introduced the visual field as a temporally limited aesthetic cliché whose significance is constantly in question, and that is fated to pass into history. While the photographic image testifies to the presence of the past, it seems to resist this passage by establishing a spectral bond between past and present, and by transforming the past into traces of the real that persist before a vision that is still to come. Beyond its contributions to an archaeological impulse, this research asks how the photograph, produced through an exposure to time, has modified our experiences with and understanding of time. While this research will begin by focusing on photography, it will also look towards painting, cinema and digital media.

The second dimension of this research will involve a survey of critical writings on time and temporality, and their place in aesthetic and visual theory. “The Rhythm of the Image” investigates the unique temporal dimensions that are suggested in the articulations (Saussure), dehiscence (Merleau-Ponty), emanations (Nancy), and syncopations (Marin) that are effected by the artwork and by visual culture. The objective of this research will be to consider how a theory of the image as rhythmizing might mediate between a memorial-archaeological approach to the visual field, and the situated temporalities of the singular encounter with visual culture.

Innes has published in TOPIA, Religion and the Arts, and 19thc-artworldwide.org. He contributed the lead essay for a Carleton University Art Gallery Catalogue, and has prepared numerous curatorial documents. He is currently editing a manuscript called On the Limits of the Work of Art: The Fragment in the Visual and Critical Discourse of Modernity. This work addresses the nature of the relationship between the symbolic appearance of the ruin across artworks, and aesthetic theories of fragmentation and totality. In preparation is an article called “The Legitimacy of the Ruin”, which proposes a broad assessment of the foundational role of the ruin in modernity. A second article in preparation is a reflection on the co-incidence of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake with a lecture he delivered on the metaphorical function of terms like “tremors” and “shaking” in Kant’s “Analytic of the Sublime”, and Wanda Koop’s series of paintings, Reactor Suite, during a seminar he taught on The Sublime and Visual Culture.

Innes’ extensive teaching experience has included graduate and undergraduate courses on museum theory, the sublime, the history and theory of photography, modern art and art theory, and modes of visual analysis. In addition to teaching public school in Japan and designing and teaching a two-year curriculum at the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa, Innes has taught in the Cultural Studies program at Trent University, and in both the Art History and Communications Departments at Carleton University. As Research Fellow at the National Gallery of Canada, Innes studied the history and theory of photography with special attention on the relationship between the photographic image, modernity’s archaeological aesthetic, and notions of place.

Volunteering, school and travel have taken Innes to Africa, Spain, and Asia. Innes is an active musician who has appeared on several recordings and has played at a variety of festivals and other venues.

September 2011