[-empyre-] July on empyre: Sceens (week 3) Anri Sala installation

Karen O'Rourke mapper at wanadoo.fr
Fri Jul 20 05:30:29 EST 2012

Hi Scott, hi everybody,

That's how I remember it (2X2+1) - it may have felt like more because of 
the outside window screening passers-by, as the press release suggests. 
With his time-coding and orchestration of viewer movements, Sala does 
give the impression that it is possible to piece together a somewhat 
complete experience. But it is no more complete than seeing a film once 
in the theater. Looking now at the material the Centre Pompidou has made 
available online makes me aware how many aspects I didn't fully explore 
when I was there! But I suppose that is also cruelly part of any museum 
experience today...

I'm not sure myself where my piece will end up. I originally planned to 
deal with psychogeography and the moving image, with the idea that I'd 
view some films on my computer screen (the format most compatible with 
my present whereabouts). But the more I write the more it seems 
necessary to unpack other kinds of mobile screen-based experiences, 
using of course that same computer screen.

Another interesting use of the screen was Simon Fujiwara's performance 
The Personal Effects of Theo Grünberg. Did anyone see that? Fujiwara sat 
at a desk, telling his story while manipulating objects that were filmed 
from above & projected onto a large screen  like an overhead projector 
in a classroom - show and tell.


Le 18/07/2012 06:42, Scott Mcquire a écrit :
> Hi Karen,
> Was the Sala show 5 screens?  It felt like more!  Shows how 
> reconstructing from memory can play tricks on you.
> I like your point about the interlaced mode of display 'preclud[ing] 
> viewers watching any one of them from beginning to end'.
> In the traditional museum experience viewers had a different kind of 
> autonomy over the time of viewing -- the object is fixed and stable, 
> the spectator mobile.  But time-based work like video alters this 
> situation. For some, this is a threat. As Jessica Morgan puts it, the 
> video projection 'makes us the victims of its timing'. Boris Groys 
> extends this to argue that the reception of the artwork is now marked 
> irrevocably by /incompleteness/.
> "In so-called real life, one is forever haunted by the feeling of 
> being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If during a museum visit, 
> we interrupt our contemplation of some video or film work in order to 
> return to it at a later point, we will inevitably be filled with that 
> very same feeling of having missed something crucial and will no 
> longer be sure what is really happening in the installation." (Stan 
> Douglas exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle Basel 2001)
> Like you, it seems to me Sala's 'symphony' was treating this condition 
> more affirmatively, less about loss or missing something, and more 
> about new articulations of images and of bodies.  And I agree that 
> part of the experience is actively composing and recomposing different 
> narrative trajectories as you move around.
> I'd like to know where you piece is going to end up...
> Best, scott
> On 17/07/12 8:37 PM, "Karen O'Rourke" <mapper at wanadoo.fr> wrote:
>      Hello Scott and Empyreans,
>      Your description of Anri Sala's installation has prompted me to
>     break my lurking silence, as I was in the process of writing about
>     it .
>            Forgive me if I go back over some obvious points with
>     relation to contemporary presentation tropes:
>      Traditionally moving pictures are projected to a seated audience
>     in the confined space of a theater, while still pictures are
>     viewed one after the other by visitors moving through an
>     exhibition space. Video art often assumes one of those stances
>     identifying either as tableau (Bill Viola's slowly moving figures
>     being an extreme instance of this) or as film unfolding in time.
>     Installations, it is true, can be somewhere between the two,
>     combining screen(s), environment and other objects, allowing
>     visitors to alternately move around the screens or flop down in
>     front of them. Anri Sala brings the two strains together in his
>     recent five screen, hour-long symphonic installation at the Centre
>     Pompidou (2012). Scenes from four different videos appeared on
>     different screens (moved from screen to screen) throughout the
>     exhibition space, viewers followed them from one section to
>     another, plunging into one, then the other, or glancing back and
>     forth at two playing simultaneously on neighboring screens. Each
>     video played out on several screens, alternating with the others
>     so as to preclude viewers watching any one of them from beginning
>     to end. In 1365 Days without Red, a reenactment of Sarajevo under
>     siege, people walking through the city would stop on corners, then
>     dash across the street (presumably to minimize exposure to sniper
>     fire). The audience too moved quickly, not to escape action but to
>     follow it (and grab a seat whenever possible), spurred on by the
>     roaming sound and moving pictures. Though Sala denies any
>     storytelling motives, a story of sorts could be pieced together
>     from this kind of juxtaposition (one easily imagines something
>     resembling Robert Altman's choral films).
>        The opposite tactic was adopted by Patrick Keiller in the
>     /Robinson Institute/ at Tate Britain (2012). It involved
>     displaying short sequences from his full-length film /Robinson in
>     Ruins/ on small screens throughout the exhibition next to framed
>     paintings, prints, diagrams and maps. They became moving landscape
>     paintings, something out of Harry Potter---as if to deny  the
>     film's narrative,  functioning instead as animated hyperlinks
>     within the exhibition.
>     Forgive this long description, but it does seem to bear out your
>     point about screens' shifting status as well as Martin's about the
>     screen being a "part of a larger system - a membrane between
>     content , landscape and the user".
>      Best,
>                  Karen
>      Le 17/07/2012 03:15, Scott Mcquire a écrit :
>          Re: [-empyre-] July on empyre: Sceens (week 3) Hola Sean,
>         empyricists
>          I like your formulation 'the screen is a relation that
>         appears as an object', but suspect, like a screen, it is
>         reversible: the screen is also an object that appears as a
>         relation.  Hence the uncanny oscillation of
>         material/immaterial, visible/invisible.
>          There is a strong logic of standardisation in current uses of
>         screen technologies --- their location and inscription in
>         specific socio-technical, architectural and cultural
>         configurations. We can see this with the production of
>         handhelds and personal screens in their 10s of millions (the
>         iPhone is more than 50% of apple's profits ).  It was also
>         what I was getting at in relation to cinema as a specific
>         screen architecture.
>          In fact, we notice it more today when screens are
>         non-standard --- for instance, when content cannot move from
>         one place to another because systems are not interoperable. We
>         had this experience trying to link up 2 large screens (one in
>         Melbourne, one in Seoul) for a live interactive art event.
>          Re-rendering the image in real time for different screen
>         sizes was tricky.
>          I wrote yesterday about the standardisation of screens in the
>         art gallery situation.  But I also wanted to mention one of
>         the most striking exhibitions I've seen recently ---  Anri
>         Sala at the Beaubourg in Paris
>         http://www.centrepompidou.fr/Pompidou/Manifs.nsf/AllExpositions/3DAA34E4B9D96668C125795F003AF5E2?OpenDocument&sessionM=2.2.1&L=2
>         <http://www.centrepompidou.fr/Pompidou/Manifs.nsf/AllExpositions/3DAA34E4B9D96668C125795F003AF5E2?OpenDocument&sessionM=2.2.1&L=2>
>          Unfortunately no images on the website, so I'll do my best to
>         describe.
>          There were about 8 separate screens built with individual
>         proscenium shells in large a singe space.  They were all about
>         6m X 3m, but were not situated against the walls.  Rather,
>         they were all angled within the space to form divisions and
>         passages so you could see  2 or 3 at a time.  They displayed a
>         number of separate video works and still images.   Sometimes
>         one screen was on, sometimes 2 or more.   So all the works
>         melded into one another --- quite deliberately exploring the
>         conjunctions, rather than trying to seal them off by building
>         separate black boxes to avoid sound/image bleed.  The screens
>         were also linked --- or delinked --  by a really complex use
>         of sound (a 24 track soundscape) with multiple speakers
>         throughout the space: the work is described in publicity as
>         'symphony'.
>           What was really interesting was the way the audience shifted
>         around the space to watch.  It wasn't the platform that moved
>         (like the old diorama with rotating floor) but the people who
>         would stand, sit, lie in one place then turn around or get up
>         and move elsewhere as another came on. The afternoon I saw it
>         there were about 60 people doing this together for over 30
>         minutes. This creates a really fascinating spatial ambiance,
>         where screens are simultaneoulsy material objects (blocking
>         passage, blocking view) and surfaces that open into
>         heterogeneous spaces.
>          At one stage, all the screens are just red, then pale with no
>         image, while the sound is dispersed throughout the entire
>         gallery.  Everyone kind of wandered around, not really looking
>         for or at anything, but enjoying a promenade among the screens
>         in each other's company.
>          Scott
>          On 17/07/12 12:32 AM, "Sean Cubitt"
>         <sean.cubitt at unimelb.edu.au> wrote:
>             Hi Scott, Ho Empyricists
>              Persistence in the fun and fury is a great description:
>             everything in flux, but there are objects in the flow that
>             crystallise, even for a short moment, the relationships we
>             have with each other, with technologies and with the world
>             -- in short with images. Gunter Kress a few years ago
>             wrote about 'Screen': Metaphors of Display, Partition,
>             Concealment and Defence (Visual Communications 9(2),
>             2004): responding to it in a very useful discussion of
>             screens in Cinema Journal 51(2) 2012 -- wh. also has a
>             great contribution from Erkki Huhtamo who joins us later
>             this month -  Charles Acland writes that there's virtue in
>             sticking with the 'simplest notion of a screen -- that a
>             screen is a surface for animation' . We would need to have
>             another discussion about what constitutes an image (in the
>             age of data visualisation) to describe the screen as
>             intermediary between observer/user and image/text/diagram
>             -- and a detailed account of how such different screens as
>             handhelds, electronic billboards, domestic, theatrical etc
>             screens of specific affordances, sizes, shapes etc act as
>             conduits and/or barriers and/or filters of content (which
>             as McLuhan told us is always another medium) - let alone
>             (as many of the contributors to this discussion are expert
>             in) the valences of animated text
>              The screen is a relation that appears as an object:
>             interestingly enough that is a close pass to one of Marx's
>             formulations about the commodity -- a real relation
>             between people that appears to them in the fantastical
>             guise of an object. Leading to a supposition -- that the
>             specificity of any individual screen design (and
>             associated experience?) is an expression of the specific
>             form taken by the commodity at a specific moment in the
>             evolution of capital. Taken at its largest scale: the
>             ubiquity of screens expresses the ubiquity of capital.
>             Taken at the microscale: the 960x640 iPhone 4S display is
>             designed (though disputed) to match the maximum resolution
>             at 12 inches of normal human eyesight. The demon is the
>             word 'normal': the standard observer (invented in 1931 for
>             purposes of calibrating colours) is a biopolitical
>             construct. The screen is intended to give the impression
>             of continuity in a device whose principle is discrete. It
>             is "good enough" technology, a principle of modern screen
>             design. It could be described as an attempt to articulate
>             device and physiology of the eye into a single seamless
>             continuum articulating the myth of instant personal and
>             biologically-integrated satisfaction at the heart of the
>             atomistic personalisation of neo-liberal consumerism.
>              This kind of analysis (okay, you might not like the
>             Marxism, but the articulation of design with socio-cutural
>             formations) is a kind of rock in the stream: an empirical
>             notch to anchor, even if only momentarily, and materialise
>             the complex of relations between us and what we view -- to
>             make the immaterial and invisible screen material and
>             visible -- which is what I think Simon was kicking us off
>             towards?
>              The more transparent (AR) and weightless (wearable) the
>             screen, the more important it is to notice that, however
>             briefly and intermedially it exists, it exists.
>              Sean
>             *From: *Scott McQuire <mcquire at unimelb.edu.au>
>             *Reply-To: *soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
>             *Date: *Monday, 16 July 2012 07:14
>             *To: *soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
>             *Subject: *Re: [-empyre-] July on empyre: Screens (week 3)
>              Re: [-empyre-] July on empyre: Screens (week 3)
>              Hi everyone
>              I haven't had a chance to participate in the discussion
>             so far but now that I'm back in Melbourne I figure that
>             I'm ahead of you all (in time zone terms at least!).   So,
>             after an enjoyable read of most of the posts so far, let
>             me launch into week 3.
>              One of the things that many people seem to agree on is
>             that there is a new screen paradigm emerging defined by
>             ubiquity, interactivity and so on. I agree with this
>             analysis in part, but
>              I am also struck by the persistence of certain
>             configurations. In his introduction, Simon suggested that
>             older screen modalities such as cinema and television were
>             disappearing. I think this is far from the case. Cinema
>             numbers in fact grew rapidly in the 1990s and early 2000s
>             (especially in Asia) and today there are probably more
>             cinema screens in the world than ever before.   This is
>             not to say that cinema in 2012 is the same thing as it was
>             in 1990 or 1950 (half those cinema screens are now digital
>             --- a term which covers a plethora of different projectors
>             and operating systems, not to mention social and cultural
>             affiliations).
>              What I want to underline here is the incredible stability
>             of screen architecture over the century-plus history of
>             cinema.  Understanding why change to screen architecture
>             is slow is partly a way of attending to the specificity
>             that those such as Sean Cubitt and Ian Bogost have been
>             insisting on throughout this discussion. It's also a way
>             of resituating debates over the current emergence of new
>             screen locations and modalities.
>              I would argue that there has only ever been one major
>             change to the cinema screen in over one hundred years ---
>             the change from the academy ratio format that was
>             standardized in the 1920s to the widescreen formats that
>             took over the from the mid-50s. This stability reflects a
>             number of factors such as the need for standardized
>             formats to enable the industrial mode of content
>             production that characterizes cinema from the 1920s, and
>             the fact that changing screen image ratio demands changing
>             the most expensive aspect of exhibition --- the real
>             estate.  In other words, to have a taller or wider screen
>             often demands a different building.
>              Widescreen could have been introduced much earlier ---
>             all the technical capabilities were there in the 1920s
>             when filmmakers such as Abel Gance experimented with
>             multi-screen formats. But, as John Belton points out,
>             unlike the introduction of sound in the 1920s, there were
>             no influential corporations such as AT&T, RCA,
>             Westinghouse and Western Electric/,/ which all held sound
>             recording patents, and thus had a vested interest in
>             expanding the market for sound equipment. So it wasn't
>             until the 1950s that widescreen was introduced as a
>             necessary response to the crisis caused by plummeting
>             audiences who were all turning on to television.
>              I'd add two partial exceptions to this argument.  One is
>             IMAX.  This is definitely a different screen format and
>             one worth discussing more. But it really only survived
>             thanks to the long-term support of Canadian tax-payers,
>             who sustained it for several decades and allowed the
>             format to overcome the perennial chicken and egg problem
>             of content and venues (why make large format films if
>             there's nowhere to screen them?  Why build venues if
>             there's no content?)
>              The other, of course, is the digital threshold which is
>             now significantly impacting cinema exhibition after a
>             decade or so of slow take-up. I agree this a major change
>             to the cinema apparatus, assuming this term extends beyond
>             technology and equipment to embrace new forms content
>             (live events) and relations to audiences (3D, interactivity).
>              However, in many respects the basic arrangement of the
>             exhibition space, in which the spectator sits immobilized,
>             silent, and in darkness facing a magnified luminous image,
>             has been there for a century.  Arguably the experience of
>             sound in cinema that has changed far more radically in the
>             last 20 years than has the screen--- I think Johannes
>             Birringer mentions this ---but agree that's a different
>             issue.
>              This is a long way round of saying that cinema is not
>             disappearing, but is now complemented by a range of other
>             screens, both mobile and embedded. If we understand cinema
>             as a specific viewing situation, we can see how it
>             continues in some respects elsewhere: for instance, with
>             the growing standardization of video art displayed in
>             galleries where the model of single-channel projection
>             onto a wall has become a de facto standard exhibition
>             format.  The key variation here is the (potential)
>             mobility of the spectator, and the variety of points at
>             which they enter/exit the screening (Boris Groys etc).  We
>             can also appreciate the way that some of the newer
>             modalities, such as large screens situated in public
>             space, are capable of recreating something like the
>             collective experience of film watching that was a key
>             aspect of its political valence for theorists like Walter
>             Benjamin.
>              I did want to keep this post short -- something I haven't
>             managed to do! -- so I'm not going to
>              broach the changes introduced by the personal screen of
>             the handheld device.  But I do want to want to make a case
>             for recognizing continuity and persistent elements midst
>             the fun and fury of paradigm change.
>              Warm regards, Scott
>             ___________________________________________________________
>              Dr. Scott McQuire,
>              Associate Professor and Reader, School of Culture and
>             Communication,
>              University of Melbourne, VIC 3010.
>              Office: Rm 124 John Medley (Building 191, enter at gate 10)
>              T: +61 (0)3 8344 8194 F: +61 (0)3 8344 5494 E:
>             mcquire at unimelb.edu.au
>             http://www.culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/study/mediacomm/staff/scott-mcquire
>              www.spatialaesthetics.unimelb.edu.au/
>             <http://www.spatialaesthetics.unimelb.edu.au/>
>              _________________________________
>              On 16/07/12 8:02 AM, "Simon Biggs"
>             <simon at littlepig.org.uk> wrote:
>                 Welcome to week three of the empyre discussion on the
>                 topic of screens. We would like to thank this past
>                 week's invited discussants Simone Arcangi and Charlie
>                 Gere, as well as all the empyre members who have
>                 contributed to the discussion.
>                  After the, at times, intense debate of the first
>                 week, considering what defines a screen as a screen
>                 and the scope of our topic, the second week has
>                 focused more on the inter-agency of the apparatus of
>                 (or around) the screen and its viewers/users. That the
>                 screen has shifted from being primarily an object of
>                 visual contemplation to something we employ in our
>                 interactions with other things has been noted.
>                 However, the  screen has its histories and theoretical
>                 baggage and it remains a challenge for us to consider
>                 it anew - and perhaps it would be erroneous to
>                 dispatch that historical baggage.
>                  This weeks invited discussants have been key in the
>                 theorisation and historicisation of the screen. They
>                 are recognised for their panoramic overview of the
>                 subject and having contributed at critical moments to
>                 debates around both old and new media. They are:
>                  Sean Cubitt, University of Southampton, UK.
>                  Sean is currently Professor at Winchester School of
>                 Art but starts at Goldsmiths, University of London, in
>                 August, previously working  at Melbourne and Waikato
>                 (New Zealand) Universities. He edits the Leonardo Book
>                 Series for MIT Press. Forthcoming publications include
>                 anthologies on ecocinema, media art history, the
>                 history of British video art and transitions from
>                 analog to digital imaging. He is working on a new book
>                 on environmentalism, globalisation and political
>                 aesthetics. His recent work includes a history of
>                 screens, tracing the form of LCD and plasma displays,
>                 as well as cinema and data projection, from printing
>                 technologies of the 19th century onwards. With luck, a
>                 book tracing this history, alongside histories of
>                 colour and other visual technologies, will be
>                 published in 2013. Its central theme is that Western
>                 media have moved from a semantic and hierarchical
>                 model of vision to a democratic but arithmetic one
>                 which shares its formal properties with the demands of
>                 bio-politics and the commodity form of the 21st century
>                  Scott McQuire, University of Melbourne, Australia.
>                  Scott McQuire has a strong interest in the social and
>                 cultural transformations surrounding the deployment of
>                 new media technologies. In 2004 he co-founded the
>                 Spatial Aesthetics program for interdisciplinary
>                 research linking media, art, social theory and
>                 urbanism. Scott is author or co-editor of 7 books
>                 including The Media City: Media, Architecture and
>                 Urban Space (2008) and the Urban Screens Reader
>                 (2009). His work in the emerging field of urban
>                 communication has pioneered new ways of understanding
>                 the social impact of large video screens situated in
>                 public space. He teaches in the School of Culture and
>                 Communication at the University of Melbourne.
>                 Simon Biggs
>                 simon at littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/
>                 <http://www.littlepig.org.uk/>  @SimonBiggsUK skype:
>                 simonbiggsuk
>                 s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University
>                 of Edinburgh
>                 http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/ http://www.elmcip.net/
>                 http://www.movingtargets.co.uk/
>                  MSc by Research in Interdisciplinary Creative Practices
>                 http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees?id=656&cw_xml=details.php
>                 <http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees?id=656&cw_xml=details.php>
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