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

Norie Neumark norie5 at mac.com
Sat Nov 17 10:56:10 EST 2007

HI Mickey,
sorry i've been off line for a few days.
On 14/11/2007, at 2:25 PM, Madeleine Reich Casad wrote:

>> 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...
> Thanks, Norie.  You describe that energy beautifully here, and you  
> and Maria 'play' it beautifully in your work as well.
> And these energies are totally real; I don't mean to suggest  
> otherwise.  But I'm also interested in thinking about how such  
> energies open onto larger structures of power.... in the hope that  
> we might learn to dissuade them from doing so, I suppose.

i'm not sure what you mean by  "how such energies open onto larger  
structures of power". can you say more?
> You write that:
>> the invitation to enter is the invitation to document the moment  
>> which is about to happen.
> I'm reading this invitation to document as also an invitation to  
> become part of a document; I think it points to the uniqueness of  
> the moment and also the way that, when we're aware of the moment's  
> uniqueness we agree somehow to document it with our very selves, to  
> be irretrievably changed by it, in ways that may not be predictable  
> before the fact.  And accepting that unpredictability and the risk  
> it entails is probably an essential element of joining the energy  
> of the moment in the first place.
> Maybe it takes some shift of awareness to draw the "magic circle"  
> that differentiates (if only partially) the zone of play from that  
> of non-play, and the presence of a mediating or recording device  
> like a camera is enough to prompt that shift in awareness.
yes, good point... useful for us in thinking about how media are  
working in these encounters
> But I think it's also important to ask what forces we bring into  
> the circle (desire, ideology, expectation...?) and how they shape  
> the kinds of interaction that unfold within that zone.  (Eg, what  
> defines the field of possibility, what options are available to us  
> when we Play Together?  How do we know?)
> So that's one reason why I wanted to think about specific recording  
> devices as active 'players,' with characters, lives, and contexts  
> of their own, which they actualize in us and bring into our  
> interactions with each other.  The camera for example belongs to  
> certain (image) economies of valuation and exchange, and certain  
> cultural practices as well... The analog camera by its very nature  
> points to after-the-fact-ness, and on some level that influences  
> our interactions with it: our awareness of the after-the-fact, our  
> anticipation of what the after-the-fact image might be, what it  
> might look like, how it might relate to other photographs, how we  
> might *want* it to relate to other photographs, etc.  But cellphone  
> cameras, especially in your students' example, seem to do something  
> different.
> Which is how I ended up with all sorts of questions about the  
> scenarios you described.  Like:  What does one customarily do with  
> a cellphone camera, or how does one pose for a cellphone camera?   
> If after-the-fact is an option you can take or leave as you like,  
> what possibilities do you have for using or circulating the  
> potential after-the-fact images?  These are fairly new cultural  
> developments, but it seems like customs, practices, and economies  
> are emerging already....  So I wondered: if you're recording an  
> image in anticipation of one day performing nostalgia, do you use a  
> cellphone camera for that?  Or does that ritual of memorialization  
> demand a different instrument?
I agree with your points about 'after the factness' and how its  
different in analog and digital and how it makes the encounter feel  
different. it does seem like the cellphone camera is, or has been in  
a strange zone -- both enabling a certain sort of performative moment  
of sociability and connection that gets its energy from the fact that  
it might become part of an archive or nostalgia but not needing to  
actually do so to play that role.
> Take care,
> Mickey
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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