[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 167, Issue 2

Elizabeth Wijaya ew388 at cornell.edu
Wed Nov 7 18:05:41 AEDT 2018

Thank you Tim for the introduction!

Today, my experience of time was:
seasonal—watching the snow fall with inward panic outside my Minneapolis
apartment window;
 political—compressed into the anxiety of election time unrolling according
to its official dates and schedules (8pm!8pm!);
cinematic/virtual—watching an online screener of a VR film "Only the
Mountains Remain" by Singapore/Taiwan director Chiang Wei Liang  using HTC

I work primarily with film-festival oriented narrative shorts and features
and lower-budget documentary films. I wonder if budget has to do with how
there are so many more films with apocalyptic imagination than of the *longue
durée *since those cinematic imaginations of earlier, earlier times often
take the form of re-enacments block busters. But of course, cinematic deep
time doesn't have to be the enactment of the very long ago but as with
Tim's example of  Smithson's "Earth Art" exhibition, it could be that the
salt is part of unequal institutional histories.

In  "Only the Mountains Remain," the mountains of Yilan County in
northeastern Taiwan become part of the attempt to escape state power and
unfair guest worker immigration schemes.
http://www.goldenhorse.org.tw/film/programme/films/detail/1989?r=en It
premieres later this month as part of an omnibus executive produced by Hou
Hsiao Hsien. Beginning with an ID check gone wrong, in a 30-minute long
take that goes from dusk to evening, an illegal and pregnant Thai domestic
worker, an Indonesian driver, and a water ghost drive up a misty mountain
road to escape a police chase.The spectator's point of view is placed
between the front and back seat of the car, so you can turn your head to
choose to watch the driver, the ghost, the woman or the passing mountains
outside the window—so in the words of Tim's exhibition, the film is about
the passage to survival. The mountains of  Taiwan have and still attract
"Runaway" or "Unaccounted for" migrant workers to hide and live in order to
escape the harsh conditions without returning to the country they came
from. On Kate's point on deep time and the danger of obscuring/forgetting
historical subjugation and social inequality,  maybe there is also such a
thing as mountain time that's inhabited and experienced differently by
people attracted to mountains for the sublime/universal time or as in
Chiang's film, for the duration of survival.

Looking forward to this month's discussion!


On Tue, Nov 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM <empyre-request at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>

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> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Today's Topics:
>    1. deep time and indigenous peoples (Timothy Conway Murray)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2018 14:36:07 +0000
> From: Timothy Conway Murray <tcm1 at cornell.edu>
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: [-empyre-] deep time and indigenous peoples
> Message-ID: <8C08D111-96FB-4413-96F2-DB0206C1C7C6 at cornell.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> kate.brettkelly at gmail.com> wrote: "But looking more critically at this
> artistic interest in deep time, I have
> wondered whether it risks the presumption of an absolute, universal frame
> of reference. Does it presuppose a primordial time that is rather
> conveniently indifferent to histories of social inequality and subjugation?
> More pointedly, when we celebrate the deep time of earth, do we actively
> overlook the durations and experiences of indigenous peoples?""
> Thank you Kate for opening up the month with this important warning.  We
> live down the road in Upstate New York from the GAYOGOH?:N? or the Cayuga
> Nation which has been fighting in the courts to retrieve part of its lands
> at the top of Cayuga Lake.  Cornell University is situated on Cayuga
> homelands.  Since the Cayuga's never signed a nineteenth-century "treaty"
> with the US giving them 'nationhood,'" their efforts to reclaim just a
> small section of their land for a formal territory has been rebuffed by the
> courts.    One of our guests this month, Jolene Rickard, will be discussing
> her work to articulate and preserve the cultural heritage of the Cayugas, a
> project which will culminate in the commission of a new Cayuga sculpture.
> Your post also reminds me of another work by Smithson, his salt sculptures
> created for the 1969 Cornell University "Earth Art" exhibition (
> http://78.media.tumblr.com/8c044a34d4c024796e1958f953b4e5bb/tumblr_mr4dtbfQ6N1r70t2xo1_1280.jpg).
> For this series of works, installed in the University art museum, Smithson
> dis-played salt retrieved from the mines running under Cayuga Lake, the
> home waters of the Cayuga.  A lot can be said about these underdiscussed
> works, but I've always appreciated them as countering, through an emphasis
> on artistic constructivism and deconstructionism, the kind of universalist
> approach to the environment that Smithson later describes Spiral Jetty to
> be.  Here the approach to this earthly material seems dependent,
> contingent, on its placement within the very institutional history -- a
> University art museum on Cayuga homelands -- of its artistic
> transformation.  But, as Kate cautions, even the 'deconstruction' of such
> universalisms depends on the very cen
>  trality of the universalisms themselves.  Indeed, it was not until last
> year that the President of Cornell University first openly acknowledged in
> formal settings the Cayuga homelands on which the University sits.
> It is in this complex regard that I'm hoping our discussions of 'duration'
> in contemporary art will dwell on the cultural persistence of passage and
> survival.
> Thanks for opening this window, Kate.
> Tim
> Timothy Murray
> Director, Cornell Council for the Arts and Curator, CCA Biennial
> http://cca.cornell.edu
> Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
> http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu <http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu/>
> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
> B-1 West Sibley Hall
> Cornell University
> Ithaca, New York 14853
> ?On 11/5/18, 3:22 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
> behalf of Kate Brettkelly" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
> behalf of kate.brettkelly at gmail.com> wrote:
>     ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
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> End of empyre Digest, Vol 167, Issue 2
> **************************************


Elizabeth Wijaya
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Comparative Literature
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
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