[-empyre-] Re: empyre Digest, Hsieh's year-long time piece

Cara Walz bumblepuppy at kc.rr.com
Fri Nov 16 11:05:38 EST 2007


Hello all,

Fascinating dialogue...
There are documents of performance (stills, video, film, written and 
verbal accounts) and generally these documents, regardless of the form 
they're in, don't come close to the actual event. Like memory, a 
document can only catch bits and pieces, context is lost, and the 
documenter becomes the author of a new product that may or may not 
relate to the original. This is not to say that these documents aren't 
valid, because sometimes beautiful new things are created and, what's 
more, legends are forged. Once archived, all performance becomes 
legend, and legend exists precisely because it is re-interpreted, given 
a new spin to suit the day, or transformed into parody.
(I am reminded of one of the many silly YouTube videos that circulated 
a while back, this one involving a squirrel or a groundhog mixed with 
some dramatic soundtrack that somehow fit his expression. My son loved 
it and watched it several times, and within a week, there were several 
more re-worked versions: the rodent might be wearing a silly outfit, or 
something else was occurring in the background, etc. Digital 
communication has simply sped up a process of sharing the buzz to the 
point where there is no discernible lag at all between event and 
archive, but the same strange transformations of the original still 
occur.)
Once a word leaves my mouth it has become abstract, just slightly 
removed from the original intent of my brain...
What strikes me about Hsieh's Time piece is the fact that it is 
decidedly different in video (or DVD) form than any of his other pieces 
and from many other documented pieces from that era, for that matter. I 
wouldn't care to watch him go about daily life tied to Linda Montano or 
sit in a jail cell on video or DVD. I would've probably rather have 
been there in those cases. But the Time piece, as a document, is 
beautiful to watch, a piece of art, a product of the performed action, 
different from the actual event but probably better, and I don't think 
I would need to know how he made it to enjoy looking at it. I say "I 
don't think" because I don't know, I heard the story about how he did 
it when I first watched the video.
So many thoughts run through my head when I watch it. A year's time 
compressed into 6 minutes, in and of itself, is fascinating. The time 
clock makes me think of working life, the monotony of it, the pull of 
the clock, forcing him to act every hour, even if that act involves 
only pressing a few buttons. The staccato movement of his body, the 
growth of his hair, the punched rows on the clock growing up, 
disappearing, beginning again. He animated himself like a claymation 
figurine.
In this particular case, the document transcended the act, I believe, 
and it looked forward to where we are now, where every inane act can be 
documented and is documented, not for some great purpose, but just to 
prove that we live and breathe somewhere beyond the technospheric veil.

Regards,
Cara Walz


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> Today's Topics:
>
>    1. Memory Errors (Madeleine Reich Casad)
>    2. Re: November 2007 on -empyre- : Memory Errors in
>       theTechnosphere: Art, Accident, Archive (Norie Neumark)
>    3. Re: Memory Errors (Norie Neumark)
>    4. Re: November 2007 on -empyre- : Memory Errors in
>       theTechnosphere: Art, Accident, Archive (Gabriela Vargas-Cetina)
>
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Message: 1
> Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 21:21:42 -0500
> From: Madeleine Reich Casad <mir9 at cornell.edu>
> Subject: [-empyre-] Memory Errors
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Message-ID: <4D344A13-D01F-45DA-8AE3-2F3A41C45F37 at cornell.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
>
> Hi all,
>
> Thanks again to Tim and Renate for inviting me to take part in this
> discussion of "Memory Errors in the Technosphere: Art, Accident,
> Archive."  Just a few rather abstract words about me and my work to
> start:  my academic project looks at the intersection of new media
> and literature around questions of narrative, identity, and "the
> virtual" as an endlessly fascinating construct that takes different
> names and shapes in different contexts but that (to me) points to
> imagination, embodiment, intersubjectivity, and the "lag" we've been
> talking about these past few days.
>
> In my dissertation, I look at narrative as one way that we perform
> virtual relationships to the archive (understood either as 'the
> archive,' writ large, eg something like 'discourse,' or as specific
> cultural or individual archives of memory), and thereby produce
> things like subjectivity and identity as emergent phenomena of these
> performances.  My readings focus on ways that new media and literary
> artworks stage interactions between the representational logic and
> deferred temporality of writing, on the one hand, and the
> instantaneity and emphemerality of digital media, on the other, and
> how these interactions circulate around questions of identity and 
> power.
>
> I'm also involved in the curatorial project of the Rose Goldsen
> Archive of New Media Art, where preserving digital memory is a
> practical as well as a theoretical concern.
>
> So, drawing on a few threads from the discussion last week,
> especially Maria's mention of Tehching Hsieh's yearlong performances
> early on, I wanted to reconsider the relationship between original
> 'analog' performance documents and their re-publication on dvd as one
> manifestation of "digital memory" and its vagaries...
>
> A couple of weeks ago, I saw a talk on performance, event and
> documentation by Sharon Hayes, during which she showed the 6-minute
> film of Sam Tehching Hsieh's Time piece, where he punched a time
> clock every hour on the hour every day for a year and exposed a
> single frame of film each time he punched the clock.
>
> For me the film recalled Lev Manovich's arguments that cinema is
> already somehow a digital art of sampling and simulation.  In this
> case the film creates an event archive as a database of information
> (time punches, still frames) that could be unspooled cinematically in
> time, or else reorganized according to other criteria.
>
> http://www.one-year-performance.com/no2.html
>
> The DVD includes a statistical analysis of the punches Tehching Hsieh
> missed (supposedly only 134 out of 8,760 punches) and the reasons why
> he missed them--a supplement to the film itself, as the missed
> punches would be invisible during a linear 24 fps runthrough.  All
> together, these various documents point to a kind of obsessive and
> exhaustive 'proof' that the yearlong event took place.
>
> Different structures of registering and saving information influence
> and feed off each other within the work:  the punch clock, the
> camera, and the parameters of the documentary project itself, which
> demanded that Tehching Hsieh arrange himself in the same place in the
> same posture 24 times each day for 365 days in order that the only
> trackable sign of the piece's duration--the growth of his hair--would
> be clearly readable.
>
> If we think of meaningful memory as requiring some kind of narrative
> context and narrative closure, then in a way the film performs the
> opposite of that: the punches amount to something more like a
> cumulative register with no sense of movement toward an end, no way
> to track progress toward the one-year limit, just the hand of the
> punch clock pulsing the identically mechanical hours of each day as
> the artist gets shaggier and more haggard-looking.  It was kind of
> horrible to watch in the way it set up this conflict between... I
> don't know: endurance and entropy?  All the while defying the idea of
> meaningful duration?
>
> So my question is about digitization and supplementarity, about how
> these dvd supplements might further complicate the relationship
> between event and documentation by opening up new spaces of
> supplementarity/lag/error?
>
> Take care,
> Mickey
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 10:09:04 +1100
> From: Norie Neumark <norie5 at mac.com>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] November 2007 on -empyre- : Memory Errors in
> 	theTechnosphere: Art, Accident, Archive
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Message-ID: <CB28E57F-AAB2-4560-8299-7CD3A013CC2C at mac.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
>
> 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...
>
> norie
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 3
> Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 10:18:31 +1100
> From: Norie Neumark <norie5 at mac.com>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Memory Errors
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Message-ID: <20C23603-4DDB-4443-AF32-8C343000BD94 at mac.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
>
> HI MIckey,
> On 13/11/2007, at 1:21 PM, Madeleine Reich Casad wrote:
>> .  My readings focus on ways that new media and literary artworks
>> stage interactions between the representational logic and deferred
>> temporality of writing, on the one hand, and the instantaneity and
>> emphemerality of digital media, on the other, and how these
>> interactions circulate around questions of identity and power.
> this sounds really fascinating. can you give us an example? also i'm
> curious about how you find this works differently with new media and
> with literary artworks?
> Norie
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 4
> Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 17:25:36 -0600
> From: Gabriela Vargas-Cetina <gabyvargasc at prodigy.net.mx>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] November 2007 on -empyre- : Memory Errors in
> 	theTechnosphere: Art, Accident, Archive
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Message-ID: <C35F8E90.72DD%gabyvargasc at prodigy.net.mx>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="US-ASCII"
>
> I think that a lot is lost when the 'recording' live events becomes
> 'documentation', an archival present perfect that appears disjointed 
> from
> the before and the after.  We cannot really understand written texts 
> from
> the past, because all the hidden meanings, which perhaps were the most
> important ones, become impenetrable to us.  It is the same with video, 
> which
> when raw is even difficult to watch and then when edited is very 
> obviously
> construed; or with music, where the feeling of the performance does 
> not get
> imprinted on the digital recording (maybe the analogue used to be a bit
> better at that, but not much).  We all perform but we live in the here 
> and
> now, and then when that is past the traces we leave behind are no more 
> than
> that: traces, even if they are big ones like books, videos, art pieces 
> and
> so on.
>
> This is something we have to deal with all the time in anthropology: 
> by the
> time a book or an article are published what we are describing has 
> changed,
> often quite dramatically.  Then, the 'natives' we so 'documented' make 
> use
> of these documents to re-create themselves in the present, taking those
> documents as 'true repositories' of their past.  First our 
> documentation and
> writing 'fixed' the 'real' and then it all gets entangled in weird 
> ways with
> the re-enactment of the 'real past'.  In anthropology we made the 
> mistake,
> for over a century, of thinking we could actually understand 'what is 
> going
> on' and distinguish 'the real' from the constructs.  Fortunately we are
> beginning to grow out of that arrogance; but as in art, it is 
> difficult to
> see where exactly we are now going.
>
> Gabriela Vargas-Cetina
>
>
> On 11/13/07 5:09 PM, "Norie Neumark" <norie5 at mac.com> wrote:
>
>> 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...
>>
>> norie
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> _______________________________________________
> empyre mailing list
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> End of empyre Digest, Vol 36, Issue 13
> **************************************
>



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