[-empyre-] November 2007 on -empyre- : Memory Errors in theTechnosphere: Art, Accident, Archive

Norie Neumark norie5 at mac.com
Wed Nov 14 10:09:04 EST 2007

Hi Mickey,

On 12/11/2007, at 4:46 PM, Madeleine Reich Casad wrote:
> Desire for constructive interference doesn't necessarily mean  
> elimination of difference, but it may nonetheless lead us to  
> valorize certain kinds of mediation.  I'm wondering how this  
> relates to Norie's remarks about memory and the transforming  
> presence of cameras?  It's interesting that both of the examples  
> you mentioned, Norie, have to do with small groups performing some  
> kind of cohesion:
>> I remember the moment when difficult family holidays suddenly  
>> turned into fun family holidays when I finally learned to  
>> "perform" fun family holiday by "documenting" it with my camera.  
>> In those analogue days,none of us ever looked at the family photo  
>> archive much (except to perform nostalgia).
> and
>> something my students told me about -- one way they use their  
>> mobile phones socially is to take photos of each other, look at   
>> them, but not necessarily send them. seems to be something about  
>> taking the photo and making the memory.
> Performing mythos in real time... and inspired more by the fact of  
> documentation than by the document itself?  I guess it's open for  
> argument how the increasing ubiquity of the observing lens shapes  
> our behavior.  The presence of a camera at a family holiday might  
> create a frame of reference that connects the collective family  
> experience to a particular kind of visual archive.  Or it could act  
> like a superego, making sure that everyone is on record as enjoying  
> themselves.  Not that these are the only possibilities, of course,  
> but I wonder if these two functions are even separable, or to what  
> extent?  At any rate, I think the (analog) 'camera-ready' events  
> and memories created for a family holiday differ greatly from  
> ephemeral (but potentially retainable) cellphone shots at a party  
> or bar.  In the latter case, taking and viewing a photo marks the  
> event's passage into the interpretive framework of dominant visual  
> culture, but whether or not to 1) circulate an image beyond the  
> immediate gathering or 2) save it as a 'document' would depend on  
> other considerations....Maybe primarily social ones?  What else is  
> going on in the cellphone camera case?
I think it's not so much the "fact of documentation" as the *act* of  
documenting... which is what Maria discussed in relation to  
peformativity. Which is why i was interested in bringing these  
examples up in the context of John's energy discussion -- because  
there is a palpable energy in those mediated performative encounters.  
That is, in the family photo instance, and in my performative  
encounters works with Maria, there is something like an energy shift  
at the moment when the relationships, with family or strangers, are  
mediated. It doesn't feel like a framing or superego thing, but like  
entering a zone *together*... we experience it as a zone of play...  
it's like there is an energy created together when we all enter that  
zone, and the invitation to enter is the invitation to document the  
moment which is about to happen. I suspect a similar thing is  
happening with the cellphone cameras events...


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