Seeing Degree Zero: Barthes/Burgin and Political Aesthetics 9781474431439

Examines the critical concept ‘zero degree’ through the work of Roland Barthes and Victor Burgin In the fields of liter

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Seeing Degree Zero: Barthes/Burgin and Political Aesthetics
 9781474431439

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Seeing Degree Zero

Seeing Degree Zero Barthes / Burgin and Political Aesthetics

Edited by Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani With contributions from Christine Berthin, Victor Burgin, Sean Cubitt, Gordon Hon, Kristen Kreider, James O’Leary, and Domietta Torlasco

Edinburgh University Press is one of the leading university presses in the UK. We publish academic books and journals in our selected subject areas across the humanities and social sciences, combining cutting-edge scholarship with high editorial and production values to produce academic works of lasting importance. For more information visit our website: edinburghuniversitypress.com © editorial matter and organisation Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani, 2019 © the chapters their several authors, 2019 Edinburgh University Press Ltd The Tun — Holyrood Road, 12(2f) Jackson’s Entry, Edinburgh EH8 8PJ Typeset in Foundry Sans and Foundry Old Style by Studio 3015, and printed and bound in Great Britain. A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 1 4744 3141 5 (hardback) ISBN 978 1 4744 3143 9 (webready PDF) ISBN 978 1 4744 3144 6 (epub) The right of Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani to be identified as the editors of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, and the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 (SI No. 2498).

Contents List of Illustrations  

vii

Acknowledgements  

ix

Response/Abilities of Seeing  

1

Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani

Reading Barthes, Again  

17

Victor Burgin and Sunil Manghani

Belledonne  

43

Victor Burgin

Part I: Degrees and Variations Neutral Seeing: Saenredam, Barthes, Burgin

109

Sunil Manghani

I was Sitting in a Room: Cybernetic Aesthetics   and Victor Burgin’s Projection Loops

137

Ryan Bishop

The Situation of Practice  

159

Victor Burgin

Part II: Image Degree Zero Painting, Photography, Projection  

189

Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani

The End of the Frame   Victor Burgin

235

Camera as Object and Process  

257

Ryan Bishop, Sean Cubitt and Victor Burgin

Prairie  

273

Victor Burgin

Part III: Writerly Readings Pre-occupations: Calling Up Ghosts   in A Place to Read and Belledonne

333

Christine Berthin

Prairie (Argo)  

355

Kristen Kreider and James O’Leary

Photography as Rhythm: On Prairie  

393

Domietta Torlasco

The Work of Death in Burgin’s Belledonne  

413

Gordon Hon

Notes on Contributors  

427

Index  

429

List of Illustrations Installation of Roland Barthes’ drawings for Barthes/Burgin. Courtesy of the John Hansard Gallery

x

Installation of Victor Burgin’s Belledonne (2016) for Barthes/Burgin. Courtesy of the John Hansard Gallery

xi

L. Moholy-Nagy, Malerei Fotografie Film (Bauhaus Bücher, 1969). Courtesy of the Moholy-Nagy Foundation.

189

Burgin, Parzival (2013). Courtesy of Victor Burgin.

189

Dürer, Man Drawing a Lute (1523). Public Domain (Source: Wikiart)

202

Dawson, MJ Unstable RTI (2016). Courtesy of Ian Dawson.

203

Hoogstraten, The Shadow Dance (1678). Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

212

Sargent, El Jaleo (1882). Public Domain (Source: Wikiart)

218

Suvee, Invention of the Art of Drawing (1791). Public Domain (Source: Wikiart)

219

Buñuel and Dali, Un chien andalou (1929) [film still].

221

Ernst, Une semaine de bonté (1934) © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018.



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Bayer, The Lonely Metropolitan (1932). Christie's Images, London/Scala, Florence

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Bayer, Diagram of 360 Degrees Field of Vision (1935) 360 Degree Vision (Herbert Bayer, 1935), Visual Communication, Architecture, Painting, New York, Reinhold publishing corporation, 1967

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Moholy-Nagy, Shooting Gallery (1925). Courtesy of the Moholy-Nagy Foundation.

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Ophüls (dir.), Letter from an Unknown Woman, 1948 [film still].

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Left: Diagram, courtesy of Kristen Kreider and James O’Leary. Right: Museum of Modern Art, New York/SCALA, Florence

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Left: Diagram, courtesy of Kristen Kreider and James O’Leary. Right: Photograph by Charles Stewart Jr., Courtesy the Chicago Historical Society.

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Left: Diagram, courtesy of Kristen Kreider and James O’Leary. Right: Projection still, courtesy of Victor Burgin.

383

Acknowledgements This book comes after the exhibition Barthes/Burgin which we curated at the John Hansard Gallery in 2016. The exhibition brought together drawings by Roland Barthes (from the 1970s) and three projection works by Victor Burgin, A Place to Read (2010), Prairie (2015) and the specially commissioned work Belledonne (2016). As before, we remain indebted to all at the John Hansard Gallery for helping us stage the exhibition, with particular thanks to Stephen Foster and Ros Carter, as well as The Henry Moore Foundation for supporting the project. Continued thanks go to our colleagues at Winchester School of Art,especially our design team at Studio 3015; we are extremely grateful to Katie Evans for her care and attention to the layout design. Thanks also to Edinburgh University Press, notably our editor Carol MacDonald. Finally, we extend our deepest thanks to Victor Burgin, who, as ever, has worked patiently and diligently with us in producing this book.

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Installation of Roland Barthes’ drawings for Barthes/Burgin, curated by Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani, at John Hansard Gallery, 13 February to 16 April 2016.

Installation of Victor Burgin’s Belledonne (2016) for Barthes/Burgin, curated by Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani, at John Hansard Gallery, 13 February to 16 April 2016.

Response/Abilities of Seeing Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghani This book builds upon the publication Barthes/Burgin: Notes Towards An Exhibition (Bishop and Manghani, 2016) that accompanied the exhibition Barthes/Burgin at the John Hansard Gallery in 2016. The exhibition brought together drawings by Roland Barthes (from the 1970s) and three projections works by Victor Burgin, A Place to Read (2010), Prairie (2015) and Belledonne (2016) (the latter two works are represented in this book; Belledonne was commissioned for exhibition, and specifically focuses on the figure of Roland Barthes). It was the first time Barthes’ drawings, and these particular works by Burgin, had been shown in the UK. The original book and exhibition prompted a good deal of interest and led to this volume, which builds on the editors’ working relationship with Victor Burgin to offer further contributions to scholarship concerned with his work, and particularly his dialogue with the writings of Roland Barthes. The editors consider both this current volume, Seeing Degree Zero, and its precursor, Barthes/Burgin, as complementary; as a set of notes towards and beyond an exhibition. A review by Peter Suchin in Art Monthly at the time of the exhibition gives a useful summary of its underpinning concerns: Much of Burgin’s early writings draw on Barthes’ pioneering semiological studies, in contradistinction to the British analytic philosophy used by the other UK conceptualists such as Art & Language, and his debt to Barthes, as well as Burgin’s influential explicatory essays on Barthes’ Gallic compatriots, is a key reason behind Burgin and Barthes being brought together here. To stage the comparison, Bishop and Manghani have commandeered the structuring feature of the textual slash or barre oblique. Barthes’ most noteworthy use of this device was in S/Z, 1970, a tour de force of literary critical analysis in which a complex, recursive novella by Honoré de Balzac is sliced into 561 fragments and examined through the application of a quintet of semiotic codes. The very title of Barthes’ book is a type of mirror or fence, on either side of which can be stacked a series of defining conditions or forms. At John Hansard the viewer is invited to address, according to the show’s curators, ‘Barthes/Burgin, theory/practice, writing/making and criticality/visuality’. The positioning of Barthes’ 15 paintings, together in a single small room at the

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centre of the neat, dark labyrinth of which the show is composed, is itself intended to be regarded as the barre oblique or ‘critical interstice’ of the display. […] Barthes is then somehow both one side of the comparison, and, simultaneously, the pivot of the divide, the point at which all terms merge and yet act in opposition. (Suchin 2016: 394) The idea that Barthes falls on one side of the equation and yet equally is a pivot point for the whole endeavour is apt. Throughout the process of working with Victor Burgin it has been important always to consider how and why we were bringing these two individuals together. In one of the interviews presented in our book accompanying the exhibition, Burgin takes a deliberate moment to remind the reader of the ‘act of collage’ we had undertaken as editors and curators. ‘Your juxtaposition of my own work with that of Barthes’, he says, ‘is an act of collage I have accepted as your creation of “an object to think with” – otherwise, as the English expression goes, “there’s no comparison”’ (Burgin in Bishop and Manghani 2016: 81). Given the muchrevered status of Roland Barthes (undoubtedly in France, but internationally too), it is understandable for Burgin to put in this disclaimer. As curators we would equally uphold the importance of Burgin’s work, both his artistic output and his writings, which have been of tremendous value across disciplines. Bringing the two together has been extremely fruitful. Burgin is a very acute reader of Barthes, having engaged with his writings over a sustained period, and of course offers his own very distinctive practice that has a deep engagement with both psychoanalysis and semiotics alongside it. Nonetheless, the barre oblique we evoked as a conceit for the exhibition and its ensuing book, i.e. the manner in which we sought to bring together Barthes and Burgin, undoubtedly bears a delicate responsibility. It is a responsibility we hold forth for this volume. But, indeed, there is no comparison. Our endeavour has never been to compare these two figures, or simply set them alongside one another. Rather it is the movement between them that has allowed us to engage certain critical ideas and debates. It is this movement then that becomes our ‘object to think with’: a means of enquiry. The exhibition itself enabled a working relationship with Victor Burgin, which genuinely provided a forum for research. Crucially, the exhibition was never intended as a terminus for that research, but rather as part of an unfolding examination. This book represents what we always intended beyond the exhibition. In effect – with both Barthes/Burgin and this volume – we have been able to look in two directions, to the past and to our present conjuncture.

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An unfolding line of enquiry has been the revisiting of Barthes’ term ‘zero degree’, which dates back to the very beginning of his career, but which arguably feeds across all of his writing, and is certainly again invoked, if refigured, at the end of his life in The Neutral (2005). The exhibition was an attempt to bring Burgin’s signature aesthetic of un/real physical and psychical spaces together with Barthes’ interest in the Neutral and zero degree. In showing Barthes’ drawings (borne of a sustained practice over a decade), the exhibition emphasised aesthetic practices of thinking as well as prompting an examination of key theoretical concerns. It is worth noting, in the late lecture courses, Barthes is more explicit about his reading of philosophical sources, notably pre-Socratic thought, scepticism and East Asian philosophies. Thus, in addition to the obvious connections between Barthes and Burgin regarding structuralism and psychoanalysis, Barthes’ later writings also helped draw out further underlying philosophical concerns over aesthetics/ethics and the image. Crucially, for this volume, and while not always explicitly referenced, we argue the critical concept of ‘zero degree’ presents a common, underlying interest threaded through the work of both Roland Barthes and Victor Burgin. With respect to literature and the visual arts, it specifies a ‘neutral’ aesthetic situated in response to and outside of the dominant cultural order. As such, we take ‘zero degree’ to offer a key device to re-examine critical debates around the political aesthetic, and even an ethics of aesthetics, and so raise questions about the ‘response-abilities’ of not only the artist but also the audience. There is a way in which we borrow this reference to ‘response-ability’ second-hand, for it is Burgin (2008: 42) who reminds us of John Cage’s rewriting of responsibilities as ‘response-abilities’ in which ‘the ethics of accountability’ are replaced by ‘an aesthetics of attention’. The political aesthetics we wish to ascribe to this term extends to not only the work or its specific context but to the capacity of response as constrained by medium and site of engagement: the frames of seeing. There has been some debate in putting this book together as to whether our topic is one of ‘seeing’ or the ‘image’. We would argue for both. Part II is titled ‘Image Degree Zero’ and attends to the phenomena of Image (which we deliberately write with a capital ‘I’). Our concern here is the deep-level complexity or problematic that underlines all debates held with respect to visual culture, the visual arts and forms of ‘thinking’ that we might characterise as imagistic (as opposed to linguistic). In ‘Painting, Photography, Projection’, a lengthy contribution to that section, we offer seven propositions of Image. In its form, the essay is based upon Roland Barthes’ widely discussed article ‘From Work to Text’, in which he argues for the concept of the Text. At its close, Barthes puts forward the notion of a ‘social space’ in which all writing must be understood

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(and whereby research into writing then becomes necessarily the practice of writing itself). Barthes’ contribution is an eloquent example of (and contribution to) what has been termed ‘the linguistic turn’, whereby – in the course of the twentieth century – all of social and cultural life came to be critically examined in terms of ‘texts’ and ‘textuality’. Our own interest here in Image can be said to respond to what W. J. T. Mitchell (1994: 16) has characterised more recently as the ‘pictorial turn’, marked by a ‘postlinguistic, postsemiotic rediscovery of the picture’. 
 However, while ‘image’ remains a deep-level quandary (the ‘quark’ to the ‘spacetime’ of humanities-based research), we equally wish to evoke the term ‘seeing’, as found in the title of this book. We have sought to echo something of Barthes’ well-known title Writing Degree Zero, precisely to hold to the sense of the active dimensions of writing. Based on common use, there are various difficulties in using the word ‘imaging’ rather than ‘seeing’. Imaging tends to bring to mind specific imaging technologies (notably optical devices and processes), rather than suggest of a more overarching notion of ‘forming image’. Some of this difficulty is raised directly in ‘Painting, Photography, Projection’, but equally, the final ‘proposition’ presented in the text brings us back to questions of our response to artworks, and so our response-abilities. If we configure the ‘zero degree’ as some kind of anterior image or visual experience, we still eventually must accept an ability to spectate, even if at that point (as with colourless writing) we likely have to accept the failure or the subsuming of Image into a more coded, empirically normative regime. For Barthes, ‘writing’ is both the means of and potential escape from Literature (or at least ‘writing’ is what allows Literature to re-invent itself). We cannot rid ourselves of the constraints of language or style, he argues, but our practice of writing is where we can enable ‘differences’, and even, if fleetingly, impossibilities such as zero degree writing. Similarly, we take the practice of ‘seeing’ as to uphold new potential differences within visual regimes. Of course, much of what has been written about the ‘gaze’ has been about territorialising regimes of seeing, but what if we equate such regimes more as ‘object’, much as we do with Literature, so leaving ‘seeing’ itself open as a means of ‘writing’? In other words, what if seeing harbours a neutral component, out of which we can make new contributions, new configurations? This is the ‘political aesthetic’ that underlines much of what is considered in this book. So, while we can consider how we (at)tend to, are in attendance with, and give attention to visual objects and conditions (all of which can be placed within the ‘economy’ of Image), we need equally remind ourselves of how we come to see, or to write the image.

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In part, by evoking Barthes’ ‘degree zero’, we revert to a historical case, but we use that to look at our contemporary condition. Importantly, we have sought to explore the ‘zero degree’ explicitly in terms of the image, as is apposite in thinking through and with Burgin’s visual practice and critical writings. In particular, we focus on Burgin’s later works, which we generally refer to in this book as ‘projections’. This perhaps needs some explanation. Beginning with a commission for the Istanbul Biennale in 2010, for which he sought to work with a building that no longer existed (and which he then virtually rendered in what became A Place to Read), Burgin has taught himself to use digital 3D-imaging software. He has since produced his recent works using a variety of CGI computer programs, most recently ‘game engines’ (programs designed for the production of video games). These works, while produced within virtually limitless three-dimensional environments, are presented or ‘projected’ upon flat screens within gallery and museum spaces. What we need to emphasise in the making of these works is that Burgin is no longer engaging in photography or video but rather he is conjuring, or projecting environments. As with all ‘projects’, they are speculative. At the same time, they are tethered to history and politics, especially of space, through their manufacture, installation and content. Zero degree seeing relates to these works through the impossible perspective that CGI environments allow, as algorithmically constructed, turning about in a panoramic virtual space from an incorporeal position. The projection of disembodied perception into virtual environments continues the long history of the technological alteration and constitution of perspective, a history that Burgin has theoretically engaged with throughout his entire career. So while the temporal frame of the artworks discussed in the book is generally specific to the more recent ‘projections’, they operate in relation to his written corpus on visual culture. The book thus runs the historical gamut of his thinking. Also, as something of an addendum, given Burgin’s long-time engagement with psychoanalytic discourse, we should hardly ignore the technical meaning of the word ‘projection’ referring to the process whereby an individual externalises thoughts, desires and emotions by attributing them to someone else. This ‘throwing out’ has an etymological connection to the ‘throw’ of a projector when casting its light. In practical terms, for the curator, the physical handling of the throw of a projector is of course crucial when installing work. Burgin uses the term ‘projection’ explicitly for his works, as in the title of Five Pieces for Projection (2014), a volume that brings together five works spanning 2010 to 2014. However, keeping with Burgin’s psychoanalytical language, it is worth noting the works here are actually referred to as ‘pieces’ (pieces which can be projected, as if

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operated). When we look across a number of Burgin’s writings, notably in Some Cities (1996), In/Different Spaces (1996) and The Remembered Film (2004), his way of referring to the image is never as a discrete entity, but as being in pieces, layers and fragments. We might come to think of the projection as a ‘net’ through which these elements come together. It is both a form of production and reception. In In/Different Spaces, he turns attention upon the little used word ‘subjectile’ (which appears sparingly, for example, in the writings of Antonin Artaud). Formally, the word is used to define a ‘surface serving as support (wall, panel, canvas) for a painting’ (Burgin 1996: 153). Yet, for Artaud, the word is used to describe that which lies ‘between the surfaces of the subject and the object’, whereby we may trace ‘the trajectories of the objective, the subjective, the projectile, of the introjection, the interjection, the objection, of dejection and abjection, etc.’ (Derrida in Burgin 1996: 153). Burgin goes on to relate these layered terms (which Derrida further conjures through reference to a graphic work by Artaud made of burnt perforations) to the repetitive experience of a television news image that never fails to ‘pierce’ him. Burgin is clear, this is not the same as Barthes’ ‘punctum’. It is rather something accumulative, porous and multiple. ‘In the mediatic encounter’, he writes, ‘there is permeability between “layers”, such that interior and exterior, here and there, are simultaneously affirmed and confused’ (1996: 154). When referring in this book to Burgin’s later work, his ‘projections’, we have in mind a similarly layered set of meanings. We are interested in these works because of their particular digital construction, because of the way in which their virtual domain allows him to render on screen what previously might only have been conceptual propositions (such as acomposition and sequence-image), and for the manner in which we come to view the works, the way in which, for example, we can enter the looping materials at any time. Bound up, then, in this single term ‘projection’ are a series of interlaced considerations of production, object and reception. We can think of Burgin’s works forming what Barthes terms ‘image-systems’, which he describes in terms of ‘staging’, as in we ‘arrange the flats one in front of the other, to distribute roles, to establish levels, and, at the limit: to make the footlights a kind of uncertain barrier’ (Barthes 1977: 105). And, it is a system, he suggests, to which we must attend according to ‘degrees’, albeit of a numberless, sliding scale. Herein lies the ‘difficulty’ Barthes writes, with again the hint of the specific term of a zero degree. In Writing Degree Zero (1953) Barthes was of course concerned specifically with questions of literature and writing. Notably, however, in a preface to the first English edition, Susan Sontag points out the wider ramifications. She writes:

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it isn’t Barthes who made ‘literature’ into a myth. He found it in that condition, along with the other arts in our time. Someday perhaps a demystification of the myth of ‘art’ (as an absolute activity) will be possible and will take place, but it seems far from that moment now. At this stage, only new myths can subdue … the old myths which move convulsively about us. (Sontag in Barthes, 1968: xxi) The zero degree for Barthes, Burgin and the contributors to this book is always and has always been an aesthetic and political project. The expansion of zero degree to aesthetic and critical pursuits other than writing is not simply an exercise in myth destruction or creation, though demystification is almost always an honourable pursuit. Rather it is to reconsider the material, immaterial and ontological status of the image and the technics of perception that reinforce perspectival regimes that could be, and might soon become, otherwise.

Zero Degrees ‘Where are all these corpses from?’ Beckett’s tramp, Vladimir, asks in Waiting for Godot. The answer comes winging back ‘A charnel-house! A charnel-house!’ Europe as charnel house was reflected materially in the decimated urban landscapes across the continent, in the rubble of cathedrals and opera houses, in the burnt plain and the sudden horizons opened up by aerial bombing. Europe as charnel house haunted the imaginary and psychic realities as much as the built (and now unbuilt) environment. Zeros proliferated: the moral, epistemological, existential and metaphysical clock and calendar reset to zero. The most famous media image of a body from Hiroshima is one of no body: the white shadow of a person vaporised by the explosion and permanently embossed in a stone bridge, a zero body whose flesh is now forever fused with stone. To be in these sites and experience the erasure of the old world and its order was to understand the responsibility of being able to have a response when so many no longer did: the question of a response-ability becomes all too palpable, i.e. how and to whom can one hold the ability to make a response and be responsible. The CGI generated camera in Burgin’s Parzival searches the ruins of the open city of Berlin, searching like the tracking camera of Resnais and Marker’s Nuit et brouillard, and is juxtaposed with a clip from Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero. These views, from Beckett to Hiroshima to Resnais and Marker to Burgin to Rossellini, are all from the angle of zero degree.

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The ‘fundamental project of technology’, as US poet Galway Kinnell called the bomb, led to an extended post-war moment dominated by wreckage and nuclear realities. The fallout from this situation was literally fallout, along with the noetic imprint it made on the intellectual and aesthetic fields of vision. So when Barthes emerged from the sanatorium into the post-war capital and its intellectual milieu, the title of his first book iterated a moment in which zero had currency and purchase. Signifying nothing, as Shakespeare put it, had become the intellectual coin of the realm. There is a broad, historical discourse that picks up on critical notions of ‘zero’, ‘zero degree’ and the ‘neutral’ – evident, for example, with writers such as Blanchot, Barthes, Baudrillard, Lyotard and Virilio. Also numerous artists make reference to such terms. Paul Klee wrote of a grey point, ‘a non-dimensional point, a point between dimensions’; the German Zero movement wished to decentre the human artist and concentrate on the materials of the work (especially post-war technologically produced materials); Daniel Buren referred to his radical Conceptual Art as a ‘degree zero of painting’, which concerned both the support and the medium of art in its paradoxical move toward the annihilation of painting through ‘the renewed vitality of the institutions that guarantee its history’ (Basualdo 2000: 22); while Minimalism’s spare formalism provides another provocative take on ‘zero degree’ as an aesthetic term concerned with structure and form. ‘Zero degree’ builds upon the compelling abstract mathematical concept of zero, in which nothing conveys something. There is always the conundrum as to whether or not zero is part of the number system, or as that which must stand outside out it (Rotman 1987). Zero also, of course, constitutes an intellectual shift in the West that results in the basic 0/1 binary division for computer code. The mathematics of zero is unavoidably implicated in Burgin’s engagement with the software used to produce the virtual image. Not only is this technology only possible due to binary code (which has meant we can copy, simulate and translate between media and formats), it is a technology that allows him to realise spaces and points of view that formerly were only theoretical propositions. However, the literal, technical manipulation of the ‘zero degree’ is of course a means to an end, not the end itself. It might even be the condition in which an end becomes thinkable. For both Barthes and Burgin, the zero degree operates as a distinct question over technologies of perception and representation (visual or literary) that have traditionally been used to formulate subjects and subject positions, and which, through their operation render the subject null and void. In part, they perform a certain ‘alienation technique’ (as we take from

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Brecht), whereby they provide critical distance as a means to challenge the doxa. But, equally, there is ever a deconstructive move being made. Like the ‘number’ zero, there is a suggestion of a position both within and outside of a system of meaning, but which in being revealed must always fold back into (or always have been in) the said system in the first place. Thus, the zero degree, as a provocation since the early 50s, has been a compelling trope in writing and the visual arts to navigate how subjects are formulated and destroyed by the same processes. For Barthes, the term ‘zero degree’ is employed specifically to shift from Sartre’s question ‘What is literature’ (and his upholding of ‘committed’ writing as clear communication) to the more underlying question of ‘what is writing’ (which in turn holds out for an avant-garde position that writing is ‘still to come’, or defined outside of the norm). As Samoyault explains: In Barthes’s view, the true writer is the one who escapes from literature, a writer without literature, producing a blank writing, a ‘degree zero’ – he uses the formula of Viggo Brøndal … and also takes up the latter’s term ‘neutral’ – before becoming a metaphor that can be aptly used to express several different things (there are a good fifty or so occurrences in his work as a whole). For example, the young are the ‘zero degree of social class’, the Eiffel Tower is the ‘degree zero of the monument’, Racine is the ‘degree zero of the critical object’, or the École pratique des hautes etudes, described in an unpublished fragment of Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes as the ‘degree zero of any teaching institution’. The formula ‘degree zero’ has enjoyed a considerable degree of success and can be used by anyone. And yet this degree zero of writing was viewed by Barthes as a tragic sign, since it led to a dead end. (Samoyault 2017: 181) The point is made further by a quote directly from Barthes: However hard [the writer] tries to create a free language, it comes back to him fabricated, for luxury is never innocent: and it is this stale language, closed by the immense pressure of all the men who do not speak it, which he must continue to use. Writing therefore is a blind alley, and it is because society itself is a blind alley. The writers of today feel this; for them, the search for a non-style or an oral style, for a zero level or a spoken level of writing is, all things considered, the anticipation of a homogeneous social state; most of them understand that there

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can be no universal language outside a concrete, and no longer a mystical or merely nominal, universality of society. (Barthes 1968: 87) Samoyault alerts us to the ease with which the ‘zero degree’ can be used. In the fiftyodd uses by Barthes that she suggests, a number could be seen as merely rhetorical or metaphorical. In this book, too, we cannot claim for a watertight reading of the term. This is the ‘luxury’ that Barthes alludes to; the ambiguous status of the ‘zero’ is difficult, if not impossible, to contain in the writing that follows. The point, however, is not to seek and find the ‘zero degree’ (which of course is a ‘blind alley’). The point of maintaining this concept is rather what it enables us to reveal about all of the other ‘numbers’ that make up social constructs, that underpin our political aesthetic. It is, then, a critical concept to put to work, to unseat dominant myths, to dispel the desires of the universal and a prevailing homogeneous state. This, for example, is how we can relate to Burgin’s long-term interest in and adoption of the panorama: Composition is the corollary of framing, but the panoramic scanning of a still image produces a frame that is ‘acompositional’ (much as one speaks of the ‘atonal’ in music) […] This is an incorporeal form of vision, the view of a disembodied eye turning upon a mathematical point of zero dimensions. […] This is a theoretical vision. (Burgin 2008: 92) Victor Burgin’s description of a ‘theoretical vision’, which today can be rendered in numerous practical ways using new imaging technologies, is equally suggestive of a utopic (and political) vision. The acomposition and inhuman vision of ‘zero degree seeing’ is equally reminiscent of an early essay by Roland Barthes, from 1953, on seventeenth-century Dutch painting (this avenue of enquiry is taken up further in Manghani’s chapter in Part I of this volume). Barthes (2000: 62) describes Saenredam as ‘a painter of the absurd
[…] To paint so lovingly these meaningless surfaces, and to paint nothing else – that is already a “modern” aesthetic of silence’. By the end of the essay we learn that the aesthetic is of the gaze itself. Barthes ends with the enigmatic line: ‘Depth is born only at the moment that spectacle itself slowly turns its shadow toward man and begins to look at him’ (73). It is this very ‘moment’, when the image begins to look upon us, and in conjunction with Burgin’s reference to a ‘theoretical vision’, that we sense a lively problematic, even if it is hard to place, to enunciate. It is this site of examination, present in both these thinkers, which leads

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us to renewed ethico-political considerations of the image (see particularly Parts I and II of this volume). Seeing zero degree, as the theoretical underpinning for this book, is always concerned with political aesthetics, spatial/temporal ethics, the generative capacities of visualisation technologies, and contemporary spectatorship, particularly in relation to contemporary art. Seeing zero degree allows for these issues to be held as inextricably intertwined and mutually influential, and of necessity, to be engaged as such.

Overview of the Book The book is comprised of four main parts. Along with this Introduction, we open with a set of contextualising materials. An extensive interview with Burgin, ‘Reading Barthes, Again’, helps establish a number of historical and critical interests, and recounts how Burgin’s sustained reading of Barthes began in the 1960s long before many in the art world were familiar with the name. Following this, Burgin’s projection work, Belledonne (2016), which poignantly evokes the sanatorium in which Barthes lived for a number of years in his youth due to tuberculosis, is rendered in print. The impossible panoramic views of this work along with the numerous inter-titles evoke a poetic imagining of life in the asylum where Barthes spent the war: carnage both within and without. Scattered throughout the projection piece are allusions to Barthes’ entire body of work while evoking the work being done to his body. The rendering of Belledonne offers a vivid visual preface to the ‘zero degree’ that pervades the book, and which beckons the exploration of a political aesthetic of ‘zero degree seeing’. Again taking our cue from Cage’s re-phrasing of ‘responsibility’ as ‘responseability’, to foreground political engagement as requiring aesthetic capabilities and sensibilities and vice versa, alongside Victor Burgin’s consideration of the specificities of both making and viewing the artwork, these introductory materials establish the key operative themes and terms. In Part I, ‘Degrees and Variations’, the editors and Burgin each offer individual essays that provide explorations of and variations on the zero degree as political aesthetic, with its attendant response-abilities. The variations can be generalised as follows: Manghani’s is historical, Bishop’s aesthetic, and Burgin’s practitioner-situated. Like all generalisations, this papers over the deep theoretical interconnections of these chapters as they pertain to the political aesthetics that the zero degree demands and generates.

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Manghani’s essay leads off the section, providing a historical overview to Barthes’ Writing Degree Zero. It goes on to explore a visual aesthetic of the zero degree, which takes its starting point from Barthes’ early essay on seventeenth-century Dutch painting, notably his commentary on Saenredam, whose complex, interlaced rendering of space and augmented perspective sets up a way of picturing that is echoed in the modernist writing of Robbe-Grillet, and Burgin’s practice of a ‘theoretical vision’. The chapter by Bishop considers the loops that structure Burgin’s projection pieces in relation to works by US composer Alvin Lucier to suggest that a form of cybernetic and postdigital aesthetics is operative in each, resulting in similar ethical and political agendas regarding agency, space and attentiveness. Burgin closes the section with an essay that takes zero degree as a starting point for considering the situation (as in taking a position) and apparatus (in both the technological and institutional senses of the term) of his practice (writing and visual work), and with reference to art more generally. Part II, ‘Image Degree Zero’, builds on the opening themes of the book through a series of pieces that critically examine ideas around medium specificity and the structural ‘plasticity’ of the sign incumbent upon any engagement with a political aesthetic. Bishop and Manghani lead off with an image-text offering a series of propositions that theorise perspective and Image through the technologies that create the mediums of painting, photography and projection. Burgin follows with an essay adapted from a talk he gave at Féminisme, énigmes, cinéphilie (Paris, April 2018) on cinema theory, panoramic perception, narration, memory and time. The section closes with a dialogue between Bishop, media theorist Sean Cubitt and Burgin (a revised version of an article that appeared in Theory Culture & Society). It is a conversation in which a number of Burgin’s site-specific installations frame a consideration of the status and future of the camera from photography to moving image to computer-generated virtual works. In the process Burgin modifies Bazin’s question ‘What is cinema?’ to ask ‘What is a camera?’. The CGI projection works extend and develop Burgin’s long-standing interest in the relationship of aesthetics and politics as rendered through visualisation technologies, especially as it pertains to space. Burgin’s account constructs a genealogy of seeing, visualising and image-making as technologically determined and crafted. In brief, he explains that ‘the history of the camera is inseparable from the history of perspective’ – a line of thought that brings us back to the broader explorations of perspective in ‘Painting, Photography, Projection’. A translation for the printed page of the projection work Prairie serves as a transition between the second section and the concluding one. The work is site specific in that

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it takes the ground of Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall in Chicago as the starting point for the projection. For the Institute of Design to be built, the famous Mecca apartment complex (which was an integral part of the African American community in the city as well as a key entry point for those in the Great Migration during the imposition of Jim Crow laws) was razed. And of course, for the city to emerge, the prairie itself needed to be destroyed and built over, with the steel plough proving integral to reshaping the ground. The deep time palimpsest of the politics of the built environment, once again, is central to Burgin’s piece. Along with Belldonne, this projection constituted an integral part of the Barthes/Burgin exhibition. Part III, ‘Writerly Readings’, presents essays that enact post-structuralist ideas of readership to offer writerly accounts of the artwork and our associated subjectivity. The section is comprised of four commissioned essays that offer readings of Barthes and Burgin that examine the latter’s artworks in terms of the conditions of viewing and the specificity of forms. The catalyst for these essays was the Hansard exhibition Barthes/Burgin, as well as the accompanying book, which anchor the authors’ readings and writings. The opening essay by Christine Berthin considers pieces by Burgin, both in the exhibition and prior to it, that stage and foreground the acts of reading and writing to explore the recursive and self-reflexive elements of making found in Burgin’s projection pieces. A reimagining of Prairie and its political aesthetic by Kristen Kreider and James O’Leary follows next. Using the specificity of Chicago as site and staging ground, Kreider and O’Leary take the conceit of the ship Argo in which ‘the system prevails over the very being of objects’ (Barthes 1977: 47) to build their own version of the projection while exploring explicitly many of the themes and issues implicit in Burgin’s piece. The next chapter by Domietta Torlasco also focuses on Prairie but with an exploration of rhythm and the aesthetic conditions for constituting politically viable engagements with the image. But the essay does so by positing, in zero degree fashion, rhythm as something simultaneously organising the relationship between the political and the aesthetic and as a principle that can undo that organisation. The section and the book conclude with Gordon Hon’s largely psychoanalytic reading of Belledonne that relates the panoramic form to the nearly mechanical operations of Freud’s death drive and the unheimlich encounters with non-human agency that pertain in the projection. For Hon, the gaze in the artwork, the gaze of the zero degree CGI camera, does not seek satisfaction but instead repetition, excess and destruction.

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Exemption from Meaning The vast majority of the critical literature on Barthes and visual culture centres on Camera Lucida. That is not our approach here. Rather we take ‘zero degree’ from the first book by Barthes, as well as the elaborations on the concept in his late lectures, and work through the concerns he had with writing and literature to think through image and art. ‘Zero degree seeing’ is evoked in earlier writings by Barthes but arguably never fully developed. Partly this is due to Barthes’ intentionally vague, and perhaps inherently impossible delineations of desires for literature and writing in relation to the concept. Even in books devoted to the concept of ‘zero degree’ little concretisation of the concept, or performance of it in practice, actually occurs. In the autobiography presented as biography, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, Barthes returns to the dream of a world ‘exempt from meaning’, a dream he first articulates in Writing Zero Degree when he imagines ‘the absence of every sign’ (1977: 87). He then lists various examples that gesture toward that dream, ‘a thousand affirmations incidental to this dream (apropos of the avant-garde text, of Japan, of music, of the alexandrine, etc.)’ (87). The impossibility and fundamental openness of such an extreme zero degree is the seemingly true allure for Barthes. As treated by doxa and the concrete, meaning bears the brunt of a kind of double erasure, which nonetheless does not accomplish Barthes’ dream of being exempt from the certainty and tyranny of meaning. Desiring neither ‘a pre-meaning’ nor some position ‘anterior to meaning’ he yearns ‘to imagine a post-meaning’ that one arrives at by embracing ‘the whole meaning’ before being able ‘to exempt it’ (87). The moves are tricky but traceable for it is not nihilistic rejection or destruction but a powerfully ambivalent relationship to meaning: necessary in its use against doxa, ‘meaning is a product of History’, and in resisting Science, ‘one must maintain the utopia of suppressed meaning’ (87). The dream that constitutes the exemption of meaning in all of its historical, social, political, aesthetic and epistemological ambivalence and complexity is the dream of ‘zero degree’ explored in this book.

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References Barthes, Roland (1968) Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1977) Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, trans. Richard Howard. London: The MacMillan Press.

Samoyault, Tiphanie (2017) Barthes: A Biography, trans. Andrew Brown. Cambridge: Polity. Suchin, Peter (2016) ‘Barthes/Burgin’ [review], Art Monthly, April 2016, No. 395, pp. 17–18.

Barthes, Roland (2000) A Barthes Reader, ed. Susan Sontag. London: Vintage. Barthes, Roland (2005) The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France (1977–1978), trans. Rosalind E. Krauss and Denis Hollier. New York: Columbia University Press. Basualdo, Carlos (2000) ‘A Writing without Literature (or Painting as a Construction Site)’ in Painting Zero Degree. New York: Independent Curators International. Bishop, Ryan and Sunil Manghani (eds) (2016) Barthes/Burgin: Notes Toward an Exhibition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Burgin, Victor (1996) In/Different Spaces. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Burgin, Victor (2008) Components of a Practice. Milan: Skira. Burgin, Victor (2014) Five Pieces for Projection. Berlin: Sternberg Press. Mitchell, W. J. T. (1994) Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Rotman, Brian (1987) Signifying Nothing: The Semiotics of Zero. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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Reading Barthes, Again Victor Burgin and Sunil Manghani A text on pleasure cannot be anything but short (as we say: is that all? It’s a bit short); since pleasure can only be spoken through the indirection of a demand … we cannot get beyond an abridged, two-tense dialectics: the tense of doxa, opinion, and the tense of paradoxa, dispute. A third term is missing, besides pleasure and its censure. (Barthes 1975: 18)

The following correspondence between Victor Burgin and Sunil Manghani builds upon a previous exchange, ‘Reading Barthes’, as presented in the volume Barthes/ Burgin (Bishop and Manghani 2016: 73–89). A number of questions prepared for the previous correspondence remained unanswered. It was always then the intention to return to these, as such, the following dialogue provides a new iteration. The beginning of the exchange, while edited, is taken from the original version, but gradually new material is added, indeed a number of new questions and answers have been added. The text is premised upon reading Barthes again, as in reflecting on what it has meant to engage with his work. A number of points are raised pertinent to this volume as a whole, opening up questions around the zero degree, specificities, responsibilities of form, and the political. The text is also of course a version of ‘Reading Barthes’, so returning us to that text again. While starting at the very same place, we are led to an alternative conversation. Thus, taken together, the two versions of ‘Reading Barthes’ provide an occasion for the two authors to pluralise their thoughts and reflections. As Barthes puts it (to which we might supplement ‘Barthes’ for ‘pleasure’, or at least the pleasure in reading him): ‘every text on pleasure will be nothing but dilatory’. * Sunil Manghani: In the first couple of pages of your introduction to Components of a Practice, Barthes’ resonance can be heard, both as a constant and a shifting presence. You note, for example, how your work has been ‘fundamentally concerned with relations between words and images, with hybrid “scripto-visual” forms in which neither picture nor text predominate’ (Burgin 2008: 11). This same fundamental relationship lies at the heart of Barthes’ oeuvre. And indeed a similar rubric is presented in his

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Empire of Signs: ‘The text does not “gloss” the images, which do not “illustrate” the text. For me, each has been no more than the onset of a kind of visual uncertainty […] Text and image, interlacing, seek to ensure the circulation and exchange of these signifiers: body, face, writing …’ (Barthes 1982: np). However, there is equally an interesting shift or oscillation noted in your introduction to Components of a Practice. In referencing your early photographic work, which itself might be framed with regards to the impact of the semiotic research and engagement with socio-political ‘texts’ found in Barthes’ early writings (along with other semioticians of the time), you make reference to the term ‘zero degree’ (suggesting a ‘return to a semi-autonomous “zero degree” of photography in the panorama of my recent videos …’ (Burgin 2008: 11)). This phrase ‘zero degree’, of course, is strongly associated with Barthes’ first book, Writing Degree Zero, from 1953, and relates to a movement within post-war literature. That book makes an important argument for ‘writing’ as distinct from language and style (or body) – which perhaps might also suggest of a certain ‘constant’ in your work: A search for a form of ‘writing’. Yet, equally, in the very next line, you refer to the idea of the ‘grain’ of the voice in your video work, which, of course, is again a reference associated with (a later) Barthes. He writes: ‘The “grain” is the body in the singing voice, in the writing hand, in the performing limb’ (1985: 276). This appears to take us back to questions of style, but through the lens of pleasure, or an attempt to enquire at a glance, over one’s shoulder; within the realms of a third, or obtuse meaning, and the punctum. Given these connections and associations with Barthes early and late, let’s start first with the rudimentary question: When did you first come to read Barthes, and/or when did you first come to acknowledge you were engaged in a reading of Barthes? Victor Burgin: It would have been somewhere around 1971, I no longer remember exactly when. I was in my first job, teaching at Nottingham School of Art, and had become friendly with someone with a background in anthropology. I believe we had bonded over Georges Charbonnier’s Conversations with Claude Levi-Strauss, which I had read in English translation in this small Jonathan Cape edition. I would guess it was this that led my colleague to recommend that I read Elements of Semiology, which had also been translated for Cape. It was a ‘Saul on the road to Damascus’ moment in my intellectual history. After that first reading – of course it’s a book I continued to re-read – I went looking for other books by Barthes and found only Writing Degree Zero, in the same Cape series. There were no other English translations of Barthes available at that time. So I went to Paris and came back with a bag full of assorted

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texts, not only by Barthes but also by the writers he draws on in Elements. I bought myself a large French-English dictionary and sat down to work my way through them. An irony lost on me at the time was that S/Z had just appeared in France, signalling Barthes’ post-structuralist turn. Barthes later spoke of the way his investment in intellectual projects was a desiring one; they would endure for whatever periods of time they endured, like amorous investments, and then be overtaken by other passions. The affair with linguistic theory that gave birth to Elements, however, was arguably the longest and most intense.

SM: In Components of a Practice, you note your encounter with A. J. Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic, which you read at art school in the 1950s. Even now, in general conversation, I sense this book remains an important touchstone. As you explain: In this book Ayer argues that a sentence can be meaningful only if it is ‘analytic’ (tautological, like mathematics), or empirically verifiable. If a sentence is neither, it is literally nonsensical. Ayer applies this ‘verification principle’ to ethical, theological and aesthetic propositions. All fail the test and are condemned as meaningless. This chance introduction to Ayer’s book came at the right moment for me. I was having difficulty making much sense of what painting tutors and art critics were saying. It came as a relief to learn they were talking nonsense. This was the beginning of my search for an appropriate critical language for thinking through my art practice. (Burgin 2008: 15) Barthes represents a very different ‘proposition’! He writes, for example, how in a novel such as Robinson Crusoe ‘there is a historical knowledge, a geographical, a social (colonial), a technological, a botanical, an anthropological knowledge (Robinson proceeds from Nature to culture)’ (Barthes 2000b: 463); and that if we had to make a choice between all disciplines, we should save literature, since it contains everything else. ‘Literature’, Barthes suggests ‘works in the interstices of science. It is always behind or ahead of science … The knowledge it marshals is, on the other hand, never complete or final. Literature does not say that it knows something, but that it knows of something …’ (Barthes 2000b: 463). Presumably you came to read Barthes later than when first reading A. J. Ayer. As with his criticisms of Derrida, Ayer would no doubt consider Barthes a rhetorician. However, what was your reading of Barthes and what was going on at this time for you with regards your practice?

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VB: My encounter with Ayer, and with logical positivism in general, was almost as important to me as my encounter with Barthes some fifteen years later. One can hardly think of two more different thinkers, but they nevertheless performed complementary functions for me. Ayer allowed me to clear the ground of the kind of impressionistic and opinionated writing that was rife in so-called ‘art criticism’. Barthes allowed me to construct an alternative critical apparatus once that ground was cleared. At that time, in the 1970s, I didn’t know anyone else who was reading Barthes. The conceptualists I tended to be associated with then, mainly the Art Language group, trod the British ‘natural language’ philosophy line of hostility to what they called the ‘French disease’. The people who were reading Barthes were the film theorists around Screen magazine. I later became friendly with some of them, mainly with Peter Wollen and Laura Mulvey, but in the early 1970s I was pretty much intellectually isolated. The Barthes I was reading in the 1970s was of course the Barthes of the rigorous quest for a ‘scientific criticism’. It was only later that I learned that, just as there is great intellectual rigour in Barthes, there is also a great permissiveness. You might say the one is nourished by the other because the permissiveness often takes the form of an attention to detail. I forget where it is that he talks about the different ways in which one can read, but he includes such things as skipping through a book taking in passages at random. We all do that, but I remember that at the time I first read that it was something I felt guilty about. Barthes also speaks of knowing books ‘by osmosis’ – he hasn’t actually read them but has heard enough talk about them to be familiar with them. Of course you need to contextualise remarks like that; French print and broadcast media provide a quantity and level of intellectual discussion unimaginable in Britain and the US. For all Barthes speaks of his ‘undecided’ relation to psychoanalysis I always find his relation to the world scrupulously analytic if only in the sense that nothing in his experience is considered, a priori, insignificant, in the sense of unworthy of attention. Jonathan Culler tells a great story about the time he was a graduate student at Oxford. Barthes had been invited to the university and Culler was given the task of showing him around the colleges and gardens. He says that Barthes quickly and obviously became bored, so he asked him if there was anything in particular he would like to see. Barthes said he’d heard that the British had electrical plugs very different from those in France, and could they go somewhere where he could see them. So they spend a happy forty-five minutes at Woolworths, looking at ‘insignificant’ objects of everyday British life.

SM: I see something of the ‘neutral’ in this scene at Woolworths. We know from Mythologies that Barthes was always working with proximity and intimacy, particularly with the things he chose to critique; his method being of an ‘amorous distance’ (to which we’ll return). To look carefully at something as banal as a plug suggests

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of a kind of ‘flatness’ to the world, that everything is equal, either equally interesting or equally dull! It reminds me of Barthes’ essay from 1953 on seventeenth-century Dutch painting, which he describes as having replaced religion with ‘man and his empire of things’. ‘The concern of the Dutch painters’, he writes, ‘is not to rid the object of its qualities in order to liberate its essence but, quite the contrary, to accumulate the secondary vibrations of appearance, for what must be incorporated into human space are layers of air, surfaces, and not forms or ideas’ (2000a: 65). This essay, as I touch on in my chapter in this book, written around the same time as Writing Degree Zero, leans towards a ‘zero degree’ or neutral rendering of the visual (Caygill 2002). The same concerns over form, styles and objects resonant with Culler’s vignette. Let’s turn now, however, to the period of the late 1970s and early 1980s, a time when there appears to be an important shift taking place in your own work. In 1973 you leave a fine art department to take up a post in a department of film and photography (in the School of Communications at the then Polytechnic of Central London). This must have been a big decision at the time. What attracted you was the engagement there in social documentary, and you published your book Thinking Photography in 1982, which remains a key document from this period. However, you also note how your attention shifts from issues of gender to sexuality. You write: It seemed that the complex of unconscious forces at play in the working out of sexual difference might be the matrix within which all subsequent forms of pathological love and hatred, idealization and abjection, were formed – including those driving such phenomena as homophobia and racism. […] After years of subordinating the image to the kind of ‘semioclasm’ recommended by the Roland Barthes of Mythologies, I began to allow the image its power of fascination. (Burgin 2008: 52) I appreciate there are many other reference points and influences at this time, but I am interested how your reading of Barthes might have altered: both, the texts you were drawn to and how you were interpreting them. There appear to be some parallels in your thinking. For example, you draw here on psychoanalytical terms and ideas, and similarly Lacanian terms begin to show up in Barthes’ later writings. It is also interesting you refer to ‘semioclasm’. This appears in Barthes’ reflection on Mythologies, written in 1971, in the article for Espirit, ‘Change the Object Itself’ [‘Changer l’objet lui-même’] (Barthes 1977: 165–9). Barthes actually uses the term to articulate the need of a new approach, to overcome the ‘mythology doxa’ that has been created (not least in part

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by his own contribution to semiotics) – which I’d suggest tallies with your interest ‘to allow the image its power of fascination’. Barthes writes: In an initial moment, the aim was the destruction of the (ideological) signified; in a second, it is that of the destruction of the sign: ‘mythoclasm’ is succeeded by a ‘semioclasm’ which is much more far-reaching and pitched at a different level. […] Thus, rather than myths, it is sociolects which must today be distinguished and described; which means that mythologies would be succeeded by an idiolectology – more formal and thereby, I believe, more penetrating – whose operational concepts would no longer be sign, signifier, signified and connotation but citation, reference, stereotype. […] This is no more than a programme, perhaps only an ‘inclination’. I believe, however, that even if the new semiology … had not applied itself further to the myths of our time since the last of the texts in Mythologies where I sketched out an initial semiotic approach to social language, it is at least conscious of its task: no longer simply to upend (or right) the mythical message, to stand it back on its feet, with denotation at the bottom and connotation at the top, nature on the surface and class interest deep down, but rather to change the object itself, to produce a new object, point of departure for a new science, to move – with all due allowance for difference in importance (obviously) and according to Althusser’s scheme – from Feuerbach to Marx, from the young Marx to the mature Marx. (Barthes 1977: 167–9) I’m interested if this material is already circulating within your thinking (published in French in 1971, translated around 1977), or if your engagement is through a wider discourse at the time. I’ve also found this article by Barthes – as a historical document – extremely illuminating and provocative. However, it is elliptical. What does it really mean to ‘change the object’, or more to the point to change the ‘sign’? The line ‘it is at least conscious of its task’ is most suggestive. What is he attributing consciousness to? Is it the semiologist? The system of signs itself? The field of practitioners within semiology? Or even the readers of signs themselves? It strikes me that as an artist, and with the shift you are making to the image as fascination, it is a particularly fertile time for making a difference, and to be able to move into a new intellectual space that the theorist has marked out, but is not seemingly able to complete.

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VB: Barthes rarely defines his terms; he rather leaves it to the reader to ‘catch his drift’. My own understanding of what it means to change the object is in good part Foucauldian in inspiration: objects do not so much sit in the world waiting to be described, they are more fundamentally constituted within the descriptions. A table is a different thing to a structural engineer from what it is to an antique dealer. All objects in this sense are discursive objects, you ‘change the object’ if you change the discourse. My intention when I put together Thinking Photography, which came out of my teaching at the Polytechnic of Central London, was to change the object ‘photography’ as it was then constituted within the hegemonic discourses of the time – for example in such British photo magazines as Amateur Photographer, Zoom and Creative Camera, the last of these of course in turn grounded in the institutional-discursive authority of John Szarkowski, the then director of the New York MOMA, who could create ‘great photographers’ by naming them. The taking into account of the fascination that photographs may exert emerged as an internal necessity within my teaching. A semiotics that takes its analytical categories from structural linguistics is enormously effective in parsing the public meanings of images, but is hard pressed to account for the fact that when we look at one image we may find ourselves thinking of another, and has nothing at all to say about the affective power of photography. It was here that I found psychoanalysis had the most to contribute to filling in these lacunae in the maps of photographic meaning. Beyond this anecdotal reply I should perhaps say more about the broader implications of moving beyond a semiology – based on such Saussurean concepts as the oppositions ‘langue/ parole’, ‘signifier/signified’, and so on – to an ‘ideolectology’ for which the operational concepts would be such things as ‘citation, reference and stereotype’. Semiotics implicitly presupposes equivalent subjects of exchange of linguistic, or quasi-linguistic, messages. Semiotics alone cannot follow the production of meaning into the field of individual unconscious processes; nor can it account for the particular historical and political determinations of meaning production. ‘Discourse analysis’ – first formulated in terms of theoretical linguistics by Michel Pêcheux and Catherine Fuchs, and in less technical terms by Michel Foucault – moves from structural linguistic accounts of language to describe specific formations of language-in-use in a particular society at a particular conjuncture. The word ‘discourse’ here refers to a complex of utterances produced under definite social and historical conditions. Foucault asks the question: ‘Why have these discourses been produced and not others?’ The answer inevitably entails tracing the determinations of political power, but is not in any way to be reduced to such considerations, as even a singular social institution – for our purposes here ‘art’, ‘the university’ – is the site of multiple and contradictory discourses. Barthes’ essay ‘Change the Object Itself’ was published in the same year, 1971, as ‘From Work to Text’. The two really need to be read together. Text,

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as conceived of by Barthes (with the prompting of Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva) is seen not as an ‘object’ – in the sense of a physical art object, or published work of literature – but rather as a ‘space’ between the object and the reader/viewer, a space made up of endlessly proliferating meanings which have no stable point of origin or closure. In the concept of ‘text’ the boundaries which enclosed the ‘work’ are dissolved; the text opens continuously onto other texts, the space of intertextuality. An example I used to give my students at PCL is of a drink advertisement which shows a glass slipper containing ice cubes and a measure of vermouth. Consciously or not, I am referred to: ‘Cinderella’ (rags to riches; romantic love); ‘drinking from a slipper’ (fin-de-siècle playboys and chorus girls; physical sexuality); ‘American-ness’ (‘on the rocks’ – for example, scenes in B-movies of drinks ‘on the rocks’ in piano-bars); ‘failure’ (as when an unsuccessful marriage is conventionally referred to as ‘on the rocks’); and so on. All of this, and more, belongs to the fields of what Barthes calls the déjà-lu: the ‘already read’, to which we may add the déjà-vu of the ‘already seen’ – everything we already know and which the text may therefore call upon, or unconsciously evoke. This is what is meant by the field of ‘citation, reference and stereotype’. These intertextual fields are themselves in constant process of change. There is never any possibility of assigning a sum of signification: the parts will not add up to a non-contradictory whole – hence the recourse to language, captions and the ‘back story’, to attempt to control the uncontrollable proliferation of meanings (Derrida’s dissemination) by means of an ‘anchoring’ text (as Barthes describes in ‘Rhetoric of the Image’). Admittedly, the associations I gave in respect of the drink advertisement take the trajectory of a fantasy – romantic attraction; sexual possession; post-coital disillusion – which is the pattern of a vast number of actual narratives (in books, films, and so on) and as such is subject to narrative closure; but it is not the only fantasy projection possible, and if it were to be told then the telling would itself open out onto other, mutually contradictory, texts, which in turn, … and so on. I began with the idea that an object (a table, a truth) does not sit outside discourse, waiting to be ‘expressed’ by it, but is rather constructed within discourse. We might object that we are now at a moment in history when it is no longer necessary to argue that truths are constructed – everyone knows about ‘fake news’. But the idea of ‘fake news’ nevertheless implies we can have unproblematically ‘real news’. Such a juridical notion of truth and falsity is not the issue here. There is little historically new in the current universal production of mendacity – apart from the scale of it. I’m just thankful for the whistle-blowers and investigative journalists. What is to my mind much more insidious than fake news and propaganda is the unprecedented extent of the abduction and murder of language itself. The French philosopher Marie-José Mondzain (2017) has made this the subject of a recent book in which, for example, she speaks at length of the processes by which the word ‘radical’ has been assimilated to ‘terrorist’ – allowing politicians

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to speak of the urgent need to ‘deradicalise’ the young. To the contrary, she says, we have to defend the legitimacy and urgency of creatively radical critique and action if we are to imagine, and allow the emergence of, a ‘radically’ different world from that proposed by neo-liberalism. I myself remember the first emergence of the words ‘revolution’ and ‘liberation’ in advertising in the 1960s, and Helmut Newton’s photograph, in Vogue, of a woman in a fur coat and diamonds giving the Black Power salute. In the 1970s the number of visual artists and film-makers producing art that might be considered ‘political’ was relatively small. Today ‘political art’ is as ubiquitous and academic a genre as once was landscape, still life or the nude. As of 2017, the Royal College of Art, London, created the post of ‘Professor of Political Art’, which it bestowed on the artist Peter Kennard. The British art school of the 1960s was steadfastly anti-intellectual. Today, even the most conservatively conformist programmes are likely to publish promotional materials, or even journals, replete with jargon confiscated from ‘radical’ critical theory. I first had occasion to remark on this process of looting in 1986, when I spoke of otherwise reactionary writings that were now ‘… peppered with such terms as “signifier”, “desire”, “drive”, “deconstruction”, and so on – a roll call of the arrested, terminological prisoners given meaningless labour in intellectual deserts’ (Burgin 1986: 163). The same cake was being served, but the decorations had changed. To switch metaphors, Barthes worried about the ‘Jivaro heads’ to which his teaching was reduced by critics and students alike. These shrunken heads are now worn as trophies on belts in the neo-liberal university. Together with the reductio-ad-tropaeum of critical theory, there is the reduction of language tout court. Analogous to the reduction of public services, or the closure of certain academic departments, we now face the closing down of entire departments of language. The French philosopher Frederic Worms has noted that epochs in which fascism has threatened have always begun with the corruption of language. For example, the slogan of the French extreme right National Front party is ‘In the name of the people’ (Au nom du peuple). In National Front discourse – their members’ speeches and publications – the words ‘people’ (le peuple) and ‘Republic’ (la République) are used interchangeably. Worms notes that, to the contrary, the meanings of the two terms are radically opposed: whereas ‘the people’ implies a homogeneous entity, ‘the Republic’ refers to a political and legal framework constructed to contain, and guarantee the rights of potentially discordant groups and individuals. Here, a collapse of the distinction between meanings of words serves a refusal to admit social difference and contradiction into the realm of representation. The equivalent in the educational field is the increasing monolinguism of the university, in which all departments alike – from anthropology to zoology – must speak in a chorus directed by the School of Business Studies. As Wittgenstein famously observed: ‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world’. The world of education is being shrunk to proportions that most economically accommodate Jivaro

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heads. Deleuze said that if you’re caught in the dream of the other you’re fucked. I may hope to wake from a dream, but if you’re caught in the other’s language there’s nowhere left to go.

SM: The End of Art Theory, which you cite from, was originally published in 1986. And, as noted in the subtitle, it faced head on the emerging debates of postmodernism. It includes two essays directly concerned with Barthes’ writing. The first of these is ‘Re-Reading Camera Lucida’. As we know, Camera Lucida was the last book Barthes completed in his lifetime and, alongside Mythologies, it is perhaps the most cited of his books (Batchen, 2009; Elkins, 2011). We have already spoken on this text, in the previous volume, Barthes/Burgin (in Bishop and Manghani 2016: 84–6), and we have both expressed a degree of scepticism, at least in how Camera Lucida has been taken up as ‘theory’. I want to turn instead to the other key text in The End of Art Theory, your essay ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’. The title is of course a play on Barthes’ 1973 essay ‘Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein’, which tracks the concept of the tableau across painting, theatre and film (resonating with aspects of the chapter in this volume ‘Painting, Photography, Projection’), and suggestive of both a fetishistic and critical device. The dialogue you have with this essay is formative, eventually leading to your thesis of the ‘sequence-image’ in The Remembered Film (2008b). ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’ asserts a ‘psycho-analytically-informed semiotics’, which you combine with a reading of Barthes’ Camera Lucida. Most commentaries on this book attempt to understand concepts such as the punctum by mining the text. The book is phenomenologically seductive, but we end up in a hermeneutic circle. You, however, develop your account through the application of psychoanalytic theory. Importantly, you note his account is not a case study (as a psychoanalyst would consider it). Subsequently, you extrapolate from the text and in doing so you both extend and challenge Barthes in a way that is not really achieved elsewhere (cf. Elkins, 2011). You characterise your account at the start as follows: Psycho-analytic theory does not construct a realm of the ‘subjective’ apart from social life, it is a theory of the internalization of the social as ‘subjective’ – and, as such, has profound implications for any theory of ideology. What follows is intended as a sketch account of one aspect of the workings of a putative ‘trans-individual unconscious’. Characteristically manifested in the form of fleetingly inconsequential subjective affects, but which nevertheless underpins the meanings of images. My point of departure is from some observations by Barthes, observations he

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leaves untheorised, but which I suggest should be seen as indicating a necessity for a ‘psychopathology of everyday representations’. Most particularly, my discussion concerns a type of relation between ‘movie’ and still images. (Burgin 1986: 113). In your essay you actually combine a critical reading of Barthes’ ‘The Third Meaning’ (which is crucial in identifying the importance of a ‘fragment’ of film) with both ‘Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein’ (significant for thinking across mediums) and Camera Lucida. It is the latter which appears to give the key to your interest in the ‘remembered film’. Barthes offers an initial account of a photograph by James Van de Zee, but comes to adjust his account later when, away from the image, he re-remembers a portion of it. It is your account, however, that properly develops the significance of remembering the image, rather than seeing it. You also argue that Barthes conflates key terms, such as ‘hieroglyph’, ‘peripateia’ and ‘tableau’. Perhaps this takes us back to Barthes’ disinterest in properly developing his theories, but certainly your re-writing of the Diderot essay is important both as a critique of Barthes and as an initial theoretical statement for the newly emerging trajectory of your practice – and which gathers pace as you turn to digital rendering (and your publications of The Remembered Film and In/Different Spaces). In turn, this leads me to your essay ‘Barthes’ Discretion’ (which we can pick up below), but staying in the moment of ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’, the turn to psychoanalysis is important (and of course not just for yourself). Psychoanalysis proves highly fertile, engendering at this time for a new critical/political discourse. Yet, I’m intrigued as to how far this holds today. Can you envisage being able to write ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’ in our present context? I’d imagine there would be a need to temper the psychoanalytic language, even to move into other territories, such as neurobiology, which has led to different ways of understanding how we divide and frame our experience of the everyday (leading us perhaps away from the punctum to the body and ‘grain’ of the voice/vision?). VB: At the time I wrote ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’ I was confronting two closely related questions: first, how may we come to invest such a materially poor thing as a photograph with such rich meanings, which moreover may have no apparent relation to the literal subject matter of the image; second, how is it that the same photograph may move one person almost to tears and leave another person cold? I can’t imagine (re)writing ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’ today for the simple reason that, in writing it in 1984, I answered these questions to my own satisfaction by applying psychoanalytic theory to them. Freud, we may recall, first made a name for himself

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as a neurologist. When he presented himself to Charcot, at the Salpêtrière in Paris in 1885, he showed Charcot nerve-tissue slides prepared using a silver-staining technique he had invented which had earned him great praise back in Vienna. He was crestfallen when Charcot showed not the slightest interest in them. In one of his letters back to his future wife Freud says ‘Charcot is wrecking all my aims and opinions’. If Freud had never gone to Paris to see Charcot working with hysterical patients it is very possible, if not likely, that he would never have invented psychoanalysis, and that today Freud would be revered as a founding father of modern neurobiology, rather than derided as a charlatan whose ideas belong in the trash can of scientific history. Freud himself never lost his discomfort at the fact that the consequences of his own findings had led him so dramatically outside the realm of the empirically verifiable. He never lost his belief that, one day, biology would provide answers that eluded him. I don’t recall him ever claiming that neurobiology, or biology tout court, would verify his own findings – but that is precisely what has happened now, at least in the most fundamental sense. When I first heard the word ‘neuroscience’ it was being flourished as the antonym of ‘psychoanalysis’, but in subsequent years the idea of the unconscious, the founding concept of psychoanalysis, has been fully accepted in neuroscience. Now we’re even starting to hear the word ‘neuropsychoanalysis’. This is not however to say that neuroscience and psychoanalysis will ever converge, to become the ‘same thing’, as they not only have different aims but assume radically distinct ontologies. Neuroscience, like most other sciences, proceeds by what Graham Harman calls ‘undermining’, it reduces objects to some supposedly irreducible fundamental constituents, in this case neuronal mechanisms that may be computer modelled. One of many jokes repeated by Slavoj Žižek comes from Ernst Lubitsche’s film Ninotchka: A man goes into a café and asks for coffee without cream, the waiter replies ‘I’m sorry Sir, we have no cream, we only have milk. I can’t give you coffee without cream, but I can give you coffee without milk’. Žižek uses this to make the point – and object oriented ontologists like Harman and Tristan Garcia would agree with him – that a negative attribute is part of the object. To these philosophers, as for psychoanalysis, there are three kinds of coffee in the joke : black coffee, coffee without cream, and coffee without milk. Freud of course wrote a book about jokes, psychoanalysis takes them very seriously. Would a machine get the joke, or would it ‘see’ only one coffee? What I personally find most interesting in neuroscience is the technology of brain/computer interfacing, with all that this promises and threatens: from enhanced quality of life for the physically handicapped, to the creation of barely imaginable killing machines. I can’t for a moment see myself using concepts from neuroscience in my own critical work, just as I can’t imagine myself doing this work without the insights of psychoanalytic theory. I see the relation between psychoanalysis and neuroscience as a relation between a poetics and a mechanics. One does not invalidate the other, we need

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both. I see the widespread enthusiasm for neuroscience over psychoanalysis as consistent with what I’ll call ‘MIST’ – the Managerial-Instrumentalist-Scientistic-Technocratic mindset of neo-liberal culture, with its definition of knowledge as something arrived at by ticking boxes in quantifiable standardised tests. One of the questions I pondered in ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’ was how we may come to invest a still image with a narrative. I found one answer, albeit not the only answer, in the recognition of the mise en scène of an unconscious fantasy. It was this answer that allowed me to offer an explanation for how Barthes’ punctum may operate. What I might reasonably expect from neuroscience is a ‘circuit diagram’ of the neural pathways and processes by which a detail in a photograph, in this case the James Van Der Zee image, may gather and transmit affect from a family history (in this case, that of Barthes). If neuroscience were to do this, it would offer a level of description of psychical processes that psychoanalysis itself has no way of providing; it might provide the basis for more effective surgical and/or chemical interventions in these processes – for all that the history of such initiatives is a horror story. I doubt very much, though, that it would add or subtract anything at all from the psychoanalytic descriptions of the poetic and affective processes that are the domain not only of psychoanalytic therapies but also of literature and art. Neuroscience might one day provide the kind of mental time-travel technology imagined by Chris Marker in La Jetée, but in so doing it would not alter our identificatory experience and understanding of the tragic destiny of his protagonists.

SM: I hear you invoking the idea of ‘specificity’, as an attention to that which distinguishes one enterprise from another. In the first instance, specificity evokes debates of medium specificity – which typically refers both to debates around preserving and undoing the discursive boundaries we associate with different mediums. In ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’, you argue we have been too restricted in the ‘framing of notions of the “specificity” of objects of study (“painting”, “photography”, “film”)’ (Burgin 1986: 139). You argue for a ‘ecological’ framing of the ‘total environment of the “society of the spectacle”’ (139) – which for me connects to my own interests in an ‘ecology of the image’ (Manghani, 2013) – and which, importantly, you argue for precisely because of differences, of specificities, i.e. ‘not in the interests of some spurious argument that the objects of these categories – paintings, photographs, films – are somehow “the same”, but rather in order that we may begin to construe their differences differently’ (Burgin 1986: 139). Specificity need not be about purity as such. In Parzival, for example, you combine a number of seemingly disparate elements and media. You have the music of Richard Wagner, the film fragment from Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero, a passage from a novel by Milan Kundera, around 2,000 words on wall panels,

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and of course your use of 3-D digital rendering. Thus, rather than a consideration of the specificities of a medium, I understand your ‘specific’ handling of these different materials to be in search of a new specificity, an appropriate response to the condition you refer to as ‘psychical realism’: The uncinematic is an aspect of the specificity of my video practice. Conceptual Art emerged out of a rejection of Greenbergian modernism. The idea of ‘specificity’ however, that which distinguishes one practice from another, is one I have retained from Greenberg’s programme for modernist art. […] one condition specific to the practice of projecting images under gallery conditions is the form of the ‘loop’ – which is to say, the form of repetition. (Burgin 2008: 93) I know you reference Nietzsche and Deleuze in respect of ‘repetition’, but you also make the more direct reference to music (and the da capo form): the reprise does not produce the identical. With respect to Barthes’ interest in music (and the grain of the voice), perhaps the loop is a fitting response to the obtuse meaning, which copies nothing? Specificity, in this respect, is also a way of relating to your interest in ‘cinematic heterotopia’, or other places/spaces of displaced encounters of media. In this case, it is the specificity to a particular relationship of inside/outside, public/private – which you draw out with reference to a snatched memory recounted by Barthes of a marketplace in Tangiers: That too spoke within me, and this so-called ‘interior’ speech was very much like the noise of the square [marketplace], like that amassing of minor voices coming to me from outside: I myself was a public square, a sook; through me passed words, tiny syntagms, bits of formulae, and no sentence formed, as though that the law of language. (Barthes 1975: 49) How we move into and out of the loop (or the sounds of a marketplace) is important. How do we allow ourselves to start and finish? You have referred to the ‘uncinematic’ nature of your works in direct reference to their place of reception – the dark, empty spaces of a gallery, without seating or other furnishings. In talks you’ve given I have heard you pose the counter-intuitive question: ‘How long is a painting?’ – which is to ask how long we afford ourselves their viewing. And it is the same conditions of spectatorship we hold to the painting that you associate with your projections,

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‘where the relation to the work is one of repetition, or more accurately reprise, and where the ideal viewer is one who accumulates her or his knowledge of the work, as it were, in “layers” – much as a painting is created’ (Burgin 2008: 90–1). In The Remembered Film you also refer to how André Breton and Jacques Vaché would spend afternoons dropping in and out of a series of cinemas at random. I wonder to what extent this is also related to how you compose your projection loops. VB: As you say, my use of the idea of ‘specificity’ comes most directly out of my response to Greenbergian aesthetics, where what is at issue is the particularity of the medium. I then tend to project the idea back in history, arguing that it emerges first in Lessing, and then bring it  forward again, into a modern political context, by invoking Althusser. If the idea of ‘specificity’ can so easily be transferred from aesthetics to politics it is probably because, in its origins, it is a fundamental philosophical trope, one that’s found in the Aristotelian theory of genre. For example, in the Poetics Aristotle distinguishes between types of poetry by reference to the prerogatives peculiar to each. Analogously, whenever I invoke the idea I’m arguing for a kind of division of labour, so I use the word ‘specificity’ in a variety of contexts, but not really in a variety of ways. For example, I’ve consistently criticised the massive turn to ‘documentary’ in art over the last quarter-century or more on the grounds that we already have documentary photographers and film-makers and journalists of all kinds. We have TV channels devoted more or less exclusively to documentaries. Some of the products of the documentary industries may, intentionally or not, provide an aesthetic experience, but we don’t require this from them as that is not their job. Nor is it the job of artists to do the job of journalists, it’s just not their prerogative. I found myself at dinner recently opposite an Art History professor – a specialist in modern and contemporary art – and her partner, a former director of a museum of modern and contemporary art. At one point in the conversation I was left with no way out of confessing that I had more or less stopped looking at contemporary art. I said that what I looked for in art was an engagement with the real, and that I very rarely found that in the art of recent decades. This was met with incredulity, with the protestation that young artists today, indeed artists in general for some time now, were overwhelmingly interested in the real. I replied that what they were calling ‘the real’, here, was rather what I would call reality, a reality moreover preformatted by the media. I find myself having to make this distinction on so many occasions. Barthes, in his inaugural address at the Collège de France, makes the representation of the real the defining concern of art, and in the same breath says this can never be achieved. Lacan, of course, is behind this statement. The real (the Real) is by definition ‘that which stands outside representations’. I was on a panel at the ICA, many years ago, with the late Elizabeth Wright.

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In the Q&A period an audience member asked if someone on the panel could explain what was meant by ‘the real’. Elizabeth said: ‘The real is what you bump into when you fall downstairs.’ Representation always comes too late, it can never be equivalent to the real, coextensive or isomorphic with it. Representations, however, may be equivalent to reality as reality is itself already an assembly of representations. I might have been less critical of ‘documentary art’ if it had provided the formal, poetical, affective experiences I look for in art, the experiences which define art for me, as that which is the prerogative of art, but I found myself asked to excuse the lack of such provision on the grounds that what the work was telling me was more urgent and compelling than such mere aestheticism allowed – to which I replied that what they were telling me I had already heard from news media, which is where most of the ‘artists’ themselves had learned of it in the first place. I found that what was being served up to me were recycled media contents in more or less familiar media forms, but with a flourish of value-added gallery-friendly artiness. My criticism of such ‘political art’ derives from a notion of specificity I take from Althusser – that of the specificity of forms of political practice. Most self-styled ‘political artists’ assume political art to be art with a political content, but the politics specific to art is a politics of form, of representations, of language. I feel I have to keep insisting on language as the possibility and site of resistance. I find art today stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand there is ‘art’ as the more or less delayed and attenuated echo of the media; on the other hand there is ‘art’ as the running dog of universal commodification. If it’s true ‘we get the art we deserve’ then it may be that these two together have the field covered when it comes to ‘holding up a mirror to society’. We can enter into critical debate with the former, but the latter is as impervious to intellectual engagement as corrupt bankers and politicians have proved immune to being held to juridical account, and for the same reasons: money has the last word, or rather ‘money’ is the last word. Marx famously remarked that what history plays the first time around as tragedy it repeats as farce. The twentieth-century avant-garde played first as tragedy. The various ‘movements’ failed in their emancipatory political programmes, failed to liberate everyday life from spiritual and material servitude (there’s nothing like aiming high!). They succeeded greatly in their programmes for the creation of new aesthetic concepts and forms. Someone defined Rome as a city that lives off the corpse of its grandmother. In the long-running farce now being played as ‘contemporary art’ artists rob the corpses of the historic avant-garde to make recycled mashups for bank vaults and corporate headquarters and, wherever they can, to colonise public space with their narcissistic and hysterical posturing. I’m speaking of course of a certain contemporary art, that which is supported and promoted by the power of financial accumulation. This is also the most conspicuously visible art, that which effects a seamless transition between power and the people through crowd-stupefying forms of kitsch gigantism and spectacle. The

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philosopher Annie Le Brun, on French radio the other day, remarked on the parallel between the way public space in major cities throughout the world now bears identical imprints of the same luxury brands (the Place de la Concorde this summer is dominated by a colossal advert for a mobile phone) and the way their museums and galleries promote the same brands of luxury art – the art she calls ‘globalist realism’, by analogy with Soviet era ‘socialist realism’. Le Brun is a Sade scholar, once close to the Surrealists, who I imagine is little known in the anglophone world. She was being interviewed about her recent book Ce qui n’a pas de prix (That which has no price) about the assimilation of the art world to the world of money. At one point in the programme the interviewer asks her to respond to a sound clip of Anish Kapoor explaining what it is that artists do, and what they are. Kapoor says artists search for something they don’t already know, and that the artist is ‘a kind of fool’. In response, Le Brun notes that everything Kapoor searches for seems invariably to lead him to very large sums of money. She remarked on the historically unprecedented action of an artist in purchasing exclusive ownership of a colour (‘absolute black’ – not insignificantly first developed for military use) and the continuity of this gesture with the monopoly seeking, competition destroying instincts of corporate capitalism. The implausible claim to be a totally disinterested seeker – someone with no preconception of where their quest may lead – is disarmingly wrapped in a disingenuous claim to ‘foolishness’. This is just another example of the complacent indifference to truth-testing in language we perhaps today associate most readily with the Trump administration, but we have very short memories if we are not reminded of the ‘Teflon president’ Ronald Reagan – back when ‘globalist realism’ was born with the deregulation of financial markets. In discursive terms, ‘globalist realism’ comes Teflon coated. Resistance to the assimilation of critical language to the neo-liberal cultural doxa is intrinsic to the various work of interstice creation, between the rock and the hard place, I see as the form of politics specific to art.

SM: Underlying your interest in specificity and interstices is I think a question of ‘attention’. Barthes’ sense of a ‘spacing of little voices’ is about being receptive to individual sounds from the overall ambient noise. It is both temporal and spatial: to register timing between sounds – to make them discrete units. And spacing of oneself ‘accordingly’ to auditory and visual dynamics. In selecting the drawings by Barthes for the exhibition I wanted to make a determined effort to think beyond Barthes’ reading of time (that we get all too readily from reading and citing Camera Lucida). The late lecture courses held at the Collège de France in the late 1970s offer a specific ethics not only of time, but also space. So, for example, a figure repeated in both Comment vivre ensemble (1976–7) and Le Neutre (1977–8) is of a shoal of fish,

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as a pattern of fluidity preserving ‘tactful’ spaces between. As I wanted to develop with the exhibition Barthes/Burgin, a relationship might be suggested with the formal properties of Barthes’ drawings, being made up of what I called a ‘democracy of lines’ (in Bishop and Manghani 2016: 25). I sought to consider this in relation to your video projections, which allow for a tactful spacing of components (not least the relationship between text and image). On numerous occasions you have noted how Barthes once complained that in the cinema ‘you are not permitted to close your eyes’, which in turn prompts you to place silences in your videos. As you explain, these spaces within your video works are ‘where “nothing happens”, where you may close your eyes, … spaces where viewers may inscribe their own associations’. In your essay ‘Barthes’ Discretion’ you pick up on a number of references to sleep, lassitude, inertia and torpor, which can be set against ideas of the image as spectacle and ‘lure’. A key text is Barthes’ note on ‘Leaving the Movie Theater’ (1989: 345–9), which he opens with the line: ‘There is something to confess: your speaker likes to leave a movie theater’ (345). His account (and your contextualising of it in relation to Barthes’ diary notes, Soirées de Paris (1992: 49–73)) relates to ideas of remembering film and film posters etc., but also concerns the body in relation to the screen – linking, for example, to Hans Belting’s reminder that the body is an image medium; ‘It is our own bodily experience that allows us to identify the dualism inherent in visual media. We know that we all have or that we all own images, that they live in our bodies or in our dreams and wait to be summoned by our bodies to show up’ (Belting 2005: 305–6). For Barthes, of course, it is about the need for a critique, but again, as with his reflections on Mythologies, he tires of the doxical approach, of ‘ideological vigilance’. As he notes, ‘contrary to classical hysteria the image-repertoire vanishes once one observes that it exits’. Instead he suggests another (third) way of attending the movies: by letting oneself be fascinated twice over, by the image and but its surroundings – as if I had two bodies at the same time: a narcissistic body which gazes, lost, into the engulfing mirror, and a perverse body, ready to fetishize not the image but precisely what exceeds it: the texture of the sound, the hall, the darkness, the obscure mass of the other bodies, the rays of life, entering the theater, leaving the hall; in short, in order to distance, in order to ‘take off’, I complicate a ‘relation’ by a ‘situation’. What I use to distance myself from the image – that, ultimately, is what fascinates me: I am hypnotized by a distance; and this distance is not critical (intellectual); it is, one might say, an amorous distance: would there be, in the

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cinema itself (and taking the words at its etymological suggestion) a possible bliss of discretion? (Barthes 1989: 349) He ends on a question – a very suggestive question, and based upon the idea of ‘amorous distance’. You, similarly, close your essay, ‘Barthes’ Discretion’, with a sense of openness, a sense of hope even. You extend the parameters to be concerned not with the single, local movie theatre, but global cinema – cinematic society: In this cinema, also, the image is a lure. Flickering on the hook is the alternative the mirror relation presents: narcissistic identification or aggressive rivalry. Here also, Barthes seems to suggest, we may defer taking the bait – but not in order to calculate a fine scale of ‘correct distances’ between fusion and abjection. The distance that hypnotizes him, Barthes says, is not intellectual but ‘amorous’. The territory of this distance is claimed in the name of Lassitude. Exercising a somnolent discretion, from within a state of great porosity to the strangeness of the world, Barthes embraces that daughter of acedia whom we can only name – in the full sense of the word – Dissipation. (Burgin 2008b: 43) Obviously you frame your commentary as a reading of Barthes, but I wonder to what extend you subscribe to this view. The theme of lassitude is developed in Barthes’ lecture course on the neutral, along with other similar themes. Figures of the neutral introduced across the course include ‘silence’, ‘tact’, ‘retreat’, ‘Wou-wei’, ‘to give leave’ etc. Among them is also ‘weariness’. The way in which he takes these as being neutral is that they fall out of codification. They drift. On ‘weariness’, for example, Barthes suggests: [It] does not constitute an empirical time, a crisis, an organic event, a muscular episode – but a quasi-metaphysical dimension, a sort of bodily (and not conceptual) idea, a mental kinesthesia: the tactile experience, the very touch of endlessness: I use its infiniteness as an accompaniment of my work. Here one grasps this: fatigue: in one sense, the opposite of death, since death – the unthinkable definitive ≠ fatigue, the infinitude but livable in the body.’ (Barthes 2005: 20) When I think of your works such as The Fifth Promenade (2008) (which had a working title of ‘Reveries of the Solitary Walker…’) or A Place to Read (2010), I read them

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as being ‘without measure’ – and in doing so they remind of the inability to find such moments (moments without measure, without aggression) within the frantic pace of global, liberal economics. A Place to Read, for example, is about the loss of a free space, erased by regeneration of new economics. As a work it is a series of slow, empty spaces, which rendered through digital 3-D modelling, give rise to a form of pristine fatigue. I read them as neutral works. They are structural devices within an ‘enormous Text’ (Barthes 1985: 236). However, this leads me to a quandary. Is the neutral an individual sensibility, even a mood? Perhaps you share with Barthes a certain disposition. Is this what allows you to make the works that I identify as neutral, or is there a genuine technique? What this comes down to is a question about what we really mean by an ‘amorous distance’, or a ‘fine scale of “correct distances”’, which arguably leads us back to a utopian imagination. VB: The easiest response to questions about Barthes’ idea of the ‘neutral’ is to say, again, that he rarely offers definitions but relies on his meaning(s) to emerge from his use of the term in context. We can then only return to Barthes’ texts, to come to an understanding of what he meant in any particular case, at any particular time: from the ‘neutral writing’ he talks about in Writing Degree Zero to his late course at the Collège de France. Beyond this, though, there remains the question of how we may understand the idea for ourselves, in the variety of contexts in which we may find ourselves. This then leads, again, to an attempt to arrive at, if not a definition, at least a kind of ‘bottom line’. In an interview (Enthoven 2010), Barthes’ friend and editor Éric Marty confirms my own feeling when he says that the neutral is in essence subjective, in that it always implies a choice in relation to some state of affairs. Barthes’ use of the term ‘neutral’ has much in common with the way he uses the word ‘interstitial’ and, for me at least, with the way the philosopher Isabelle Stengers speaks of the interstice as a refusal of the choice between the elements of a binary opposition, particularly a political opposition (see the chapter ‘The Situation of Practice’ in this volume). The search for the neutral, the interstitial, results from a refusal to ‘play the game’, to ‘make one’s move’ on a pre-given chess board of black and white options. The neutral, the interstice, is also at issue in the question of how to live together. Schopenhauer tells the story of the porcupines in winter: they are freezing as individuals and so they huddle together for warmth, but then they prick each other and so withdraw from each other. The solution, in this parable, is to be found in the interstice of correct distance, in the achievement of individuation in mutual consideration. Schopenhauer, Rousseau (in his view of society as something that requires him to be other than himself), Barthes (I think here of his essay ‘Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers’ (Barthes 1989: 309–31)) … all are seeking that unattainable juste milieu between ‘solitude and vulgarity’. Marty (2010) says that the neutral is a kind of taste,

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at once an aesthetic and an ethic, and we find this again at issue in Barthes’ inability to reconcile the fragmentary observation of a simple state of the world – represented by the haiku – with ‘literature’, the demands of the novel that the isolated encounter with the real be hierarchically penned in a corral of conventions. In, albeit paradoxically, ‘opposing oppositions’ the neutral is never quiescent, it is tirelessly active. We’re increasingly a society, and the contemporary university exemplifies this, in which institutional order is imposed through multiple-choice questionnaires. I give the example of the university because I find myself recalling the occasion when I got into trouble for opposing a proposal to issue students, at the end of a course, with a multiple-choice ‘feedback’ form. ‘Were the readings too many or too few?’, ‘Did you find the teaching clarified the readings or not?’, ‘Would you recommend this class to others?’ … that kind of thing. I was accused by the colleague who had put forward the proposal, and drafted the questionnaire, of refusing to allow the students their voice. Their voice! I made the counterproposal that they be given a blank A4 sheet of paper and invited to write what they pleased, or nothing. The blank sheet, considered on its own, might be the very image of the neutral as quiescent and disengaged, whereas – like all instances of the neutral as I understand the idea in Barthes – it is active in context.

SM: Finally, I want to turn to the theme of utopia in Barthes’ work. His writings often evoke an ‘as if …’ – as if things might be different, or as if something might be the case. ‘I have a utopian imagination’, Barthes writes, ‘and very often when I write, even if I’m not referring to a utopia, if, for example, I’m analyzing particular notions in a critical way, I always do this through the inner image of a utopia: a social utopia or an affective utopia’ (cited in Knight 1997: 1). Michael Wood (2015) takes this further, making the point that Barthes’ relationship is necessarily about escape. ‘[E]ven the most brilliant remark’, he notes, ‘will be a prison if it arises only from the language of others, that there is no use of language that does not stand in need of subversion’ (Wood 2015: 11). Thus, ‘[w]hen Barthes thinks of literature he thinks precisely of an escape from the language of others’ (10) – as if it might be somehow different. The trope of ‘as if’ is explicit in Barthes’ lecture on Proust, ‘Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure …’ (Barthes 1989: 277–90), in which he posits the possibility of writing a novel (a virtual project that is taken up in earnest in his final lecture course, Preparation for the Novel ): ‘It is important for me to act as if I were to write this utopian novel. And here I regain, to conclude, a method. I put myself in the position of the subject who makes something, and no longer of the subject who speaks about something’ (Barthes 1989: 289).

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In viewing your work, particularly your projection pieces such as A Place to Read (2010) and Parzival (2013), I sense something akin to Barthes’ ‘as if …’. And in fact, your essay ‘Geometry and Abjection’, from 1987, closes with a rather Barthesian line: ‘It cannot, of course, be what it was at the time of Courbet, or even of Brecht. Attention to psychical reality calls for a psychical realism – impossible, but nevertheless …’ (Burgin 2009: 197) – the three dots of the ellipsis being the very end of the essay, As if … Is it fair to characterise your work in this way? We could perhaps take it further with reference to your use of the panoramic viewpoint. In Components of a Practice you suggest that in retrospect you realise much of your work has deployed a panoramic framing of one kind or another. More significantly, you suggest panoramic photography has been a means by which you seek a form of ‘photography degree zero’ – where you refer to ideas of a- and de-composition (Burgin 2008: 92). Barthes includes a short entry on ‘panorama’ in The Neutral (2005). His account is far less technical, but nonetheless echoes with your interest in the ‘degree zero’ – indeed Barthes considers the panorama as being ‘on the side of the Neutral’. He offers a useful contrast with the panopticon: Panopticon: endoscopic device: presupposes the existence of an interior to be discovered, of an envelope (the walls) to be pierced: vital metaphor = the shell that needs to be cracked in order to access the core ≠ panorama: opens onto a world without interior: says that the world is nothing but surfaces, volumes, planes, and not depth: nothing but an extension, an epiphany (épiphaneia = surface) (Barthes 2005: 163) This again suggests to me an ‘as if …’, a hypothesis, or even an image (or seeing) of a utopia. And, the panaroma as ‘circular’ is significant as a critical response to the predominance of the (rectangular) frame that intercuts both the physical and psychical spaces we inhabit. Barthes writes in his lecture course, How to Live Together (2013): Look at the spaces we live in: the majority of angles are at 90 and 180 degrees = houses, apartment buildings, doors, windows, roofs, lifts. […] Since we now associate city, living space, humanity, and pollution, there’s a pollution effected by the rectangle. […] Rectangle: as the basic shape of power (Barthes 2013: 114)

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To this, Barthes reminds us: ‘The circle [is] something that’s difficult to make […] Robinson Crusoe makes all he needs in terms of furniture. He has no trouble making rectangles (tables, chairs, cupboards), but can’t make a wheelbarrow, a barrel’ (Barthes 2013: 115). Indeed, perhaps we might think of the panorama as an island, à la Thomas More! VB: The ‘as if’ is a powerful and flexible logical operator. In itself it implies no particular value. We might see the psychological mechanism Freud called ‘disavowal’ – which takes the form, ‘I know very well, but nevertheless’ – as a kind of ‘as if’ operation. For example, ‘I know very well I’m not superstitious, but nevertheless I avoid walking under this ladder.’ I decide to act ‘as if’ I were superstitious – and if we bring a Sartrean analysis to this then we have to admit there is no substantive difference between a superstitious person and the person who behaves ‘as if’ they were superstitious. If we think of the current so-called ‘immigration crisis’ we have almost daily examples of politicians who know very well they are not racists but nevertheless behave ‘as if’ they are. On the positive side we might see Gramsci’s ‘Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will’ as an ‘as if’ form of thought – one that is of course essential if there is to be any political action for change whatsoever. You are right to see the ‘as if’ at work in what I had to say about ‘psychical realism’ – an idea again bound up with the idea of the relation to the real, and the notions of ‘zero degree’ and ‘neutral’. I know very well that the real stands outside representations, nevertheless I decide to proceed ‘as if’ it may be represented. I wish to avoid recourse to the preformatted (to the extent of my abilities, this can only ever be a partial achievement). I am left trying to give form to a state of apprehension of something that is neither conventional reality nor the impossible real, something between, something interstitial – neither the real nor reality, but a psychical reality. Such psychical states of course can only be externalised through technic – writing and other technologies. My use of the panorama in my projection works represents a use of a technology to subvert the preformatted. The technique I used, stitching together stills, severely limited my range of choices – I could choose where to place the tripod with the panoramic head and camera, but I couldn’t, for example, choose any more or less picturesque angles; and there would have been no point in my framing the image, because the frame eventually dissolves in the continuous progression of the moving panorama. The most recent such panorama I made was for my work Belledonne, and in this case the choice of the panorama was overdetermined by thoughts of Barthes’ beginnings. Barthes begins for us, his readers, in 1934, with the diagnosis of his tuberculosis. For some fifteen years after, while he’s preparing the intellectual foundation of his work, he is largely separated from the world. For most of World War II he was outside history, being treated with the means

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of the time, treatments that had not changed since the nineteenth century – silence, rest, clean air, sunshine, isolation punctuated by exchanges with fellow patients and the intrusions of doctors. During his three years in the student sanatorium at Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet he had a panoramic point of view upon the mountains and as a tubercular patient he was also under constant surveillance – so he was a subject both of the panorama and the panopticon. Probably the closest we can come now to the world he inhabited during that time is the one described in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. During Barthes’ time in Saint-Hilaire the death rate in the sanatorium averaged three per day. The sense of a common human condition must have been no less acute for those in the sanatorium than it was for those under the occupation outside – as was, albeit very differently, the question of how to live together. Barthes’ seminars at the Collège de France on the preparation of the novel, and on the question of how to live together, seem inescapably to reformulate questions that preoccupied him during those years of illness. Barthes’ later interest in utopias must have more than a little to do with his early experience of hermetically enclosed monastic communities, but a monasticism founded upon devotion to the text and moreover one that required neither asceticism nor celibacy. In respect of my own relation to utopias, I’ve come to accept utopianism, the ‘as if …’, as an inevitable precondition for my work. For example, I make artworks as if commodification and spectacle, the sound bite and the one-liner, were not the ruling principles of the society into which they are produced, and the ruling principles of the ‘artworld’ produced by that society.

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References Ayer, A. J. (2001) Language, Truth and Logic. London: Penguin. Barthes, Roland (1967a) Elements of Semiology, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. London: Jonathan Cape. Barthes, Roland (1967b) Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. London: Jonathan Cape. Barthes, Roland (1974) S/Z, trans. Richard Miller. London: Blackwell. Barthes, Roland (1975) The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1977) Image Music Text, trans. Stephen Heath. London: Fontana. Barthes, Roland (1982) Empire of Signs, trans. Richard Howard. London: Jonathan Cape. Barthes, Roland (1985) The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1989) The Rustle of Language, trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley: University of California Press. Barthes, Roland (1992) Incidents, trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley: University of California Press. Barthes, Roland (2000a) A Barthes Reader, ed. Susan Sontag. London: Vintage. Barthes, Roland (2000b) ‘Inaugural Lecture, Collège de France’ in Susan Sontag (ed.) A Barthes Reader. London: Vintage, pp. 457–78.

Barthes, Roland (2005) The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France (1977–1978), trans. Rosalind E. Krauss and Denis Hollier. New York: Columbia University Press. Barthes, Roland (2013) How to Live Together: novelistic simulations of some everyday spaces,trans. Kate Briggs. New York: Columbia University Press. Batchen, Geoffrey (ed.) (2009) Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Belting, Hans (2005) ‘Image, Medium, Body: A New Approach to Iconology’, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 31, pp. 302–19. Bishop, Ryan and Sunil Manghani (eds) (2016) Barthes/Burgin: Notes Toward an Exhibition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Burgin, Victor (ed.) (1982) Thinking Photography. London: Macmillan. Burgin, Victor (1986) The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity. London: Palgrave. Burgin, Victor (2004) The Remembered Film. London: Reaktion Books. Burgin, Victor (2008) Components of a Practice. Milan: Skira. Burgin, Victor (2009) Situational Aesthetics, ed. Alexander Streitberger. Leuven: Leuven University Press. Caygill, Howard (2002) ‘Barthes and the Lesson of Saenredam’, Diacritics, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 38–48.

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Elkins, James (2011) What Photography Is. New York: Routledge. Enthoven, Raphaël (ed.) (2010) Barthes. Paris: Fayard. Knight, Diana (1997) Barthes and Utopia: Space, Travel, Writing. Oxford: Clarendon. Marty, Éric (2010) ‘Fragments d’un discours amoureux’, in Raphaël Enthoven (ed.), Barthes. Paris: Fayard, pp. 127–57. Manghani, Sunil (2013) Image Studies: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge. Mondzain, Marie-José (2017) Confiscation: Des mots, des images et du temps. Paris: Les liens qui libèrent. Wood, Michael (2015) ‘French Lessons’, Barthes Studies, Vol. 1, pp. 6–16. Available online: (last accessed 13 August 2018).

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Neutral Seeing: Saenredam, Barthes, Burgin Sunil Manghani Let us imagine that an affinity of sight and of history has linked mathematics and politics since the ancient Greeks; yet, let us equally imagine this ‘characteristically Pythagorean Space’, as Roland Barthes (1985: 89) describes it, remains enigmatic. In actual fact, it not so difficult to consider such an affinity (though its enigma remains). As Martin Jay (1993) has shown, among others, the ‘ubiquity of visual metaphors’ and the ‘the complex mirroring of perception and language’ (1) has a lineage that stems from the Ancient Greeks through to the Enlightenment and on into recent times. The enduring dilemma of vision remains as to whether or not there is a purity of vision, or whether our ability to see must always concur with the means to look, to believe, to know, to possess (Davis 2011). The perfection of idealized visible form in the Greeks’ art accorded well with their love of theatrical performance. The word theater, as has often been remarked, shares the same root as the word theory, theoria, which meant to look at attentively, to behold. So too does theorem, which has allowed some commentators to emphasize the privileging of vision in Greek mathematics, with its geometric emphasis. The importance of optics in Greek science has also been adduced to illustrate its partiality for sight. Even the Greek idealization of the nude body, in contrast with the Hebrew stress on clothing, has seemed consonant with a bias for visual clarity and transparency. (Jay 1993: 23–4) The opening line of this chapter (to imagine an affinity) deliberately echoes the opening line of Roland Barthes’ essay ‘Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein’ (1985: 89–97), which similarly draws a line linking vision, geometry and theatre: theater is that practice which calculates the observed place of things: if I put the spectacle here, the spectator will see this; if I put it elsewhere, he won’t see it and I can take advantage of that concealment to profit by the illusion: the stage is just that line which intersects the optic beam, tracing its end point and, in a sense, the inception of its development: here would be instituted, against music (against the text), representation. (Barthes 1985: 89)

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Representation is not merely a matter of imitation or mimesis. It is the line of sight, the lines of inscription and projection. It is the very instrument of thought, or ‘The Organon of Representation’ as Barthes puts it. Wherever there is a subject who directs their gaze towards a horizon, he explains, there is a projection from ‘the base of a triangle of which his eye (or his mind) would be the apex’. Representation is always made up of a double logic of ‘the sovereignty of … projection and the unity of the subject doing the projecting’ (90). Yet, despite his essay focusing on the ‘dioptric arts’ (theatre, painting, cinema and literature), an underlying interest or lament is that of music, or what we might call an acoustics of the Text (the ‘theatre’ of meaning). Barthes’ opening line actually asks us to imagine an affinity between mathematics and acoustics; an affinity that he suggests is more taxing to discern, since it has been set in opposition to, and overridden by the ‘link connecting geometry and theater … that line which intersects the optic beam’ (89) – and this is the case whether referring to visual media or conceptual and verbal forms, including literature. ‘The scene, the picture, the shot or frame, the projected rectangle’, writes Barthes, ‘is the condition which enables us to conceive the theater, painting, the cinema, literature, i.e., all the “arts” other than music and which we might call dioptric arts’ (90). The focus here likewise remains upon the dioptric arts, with a specific enquiry into a ‘neutral’ kind of seeing or picturing (intended as a way of reading on from Barthes’ thesis of Writing Degree Zero). In echoing the aforementioned essay on Diderot, Brecht and Eisenstein, the chapter references the work of three artists: Saenredam, Robbe-Grillet and Victor Burgin. Each represents a different medium and a different time period; yet each can be seen to work upon a similar set of concerns traced here through the concept of ‘zero degree’. Barthes’ reference to music should be taken seriously. It is well known he was an accomplished musician and took great pleasure (and no doubt solace) in playing music just for himself, often till quite late at night (Robbe-Grillet 2011: 76). He presents music as the ‘counter-proof’ to the representationalism of the dioptric arts: ‘nothing permits us to locate any picture whatever in the musical text, unless we subject it to the dramatic genres; nothing permits us to project any fetish in it, unless we bastardize it by the use of refrains, tunes-as-motifs’ (Barthes 1985: 90). Music is not simply rogue among the other arts, and is not to be found only in music per se. Music operates as a metaphor or a key to Barthes’ desires for the Text. It ‘represents’ the openness of the Text, understood as both formalist and political (or ethical). It is the ‘zero degree’ or at least the ‘space’ (an acoustics) through which all degrees

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of representation must frequent. In his lengthy essay, ‘Réquichot and His Body’ (1985: 207–36), Barthes concludes with the suggestion that ‘[t]o recognize Réquichot’s signature … is to possess an additional sign in the chaos of the enormous Text which is written without interruptions, without origin, and without end’ (236). Regardless of his specific evaluation of Réquichot, the description betrays Barthes’ continued search for the Text that has no beginning or ending; the Text shorn of its frames of reference, open to its acoustics. There are resonances with Victor Burgin’s (2008: 92–3) ‘theoretical vision’ which he describes in musical terms (with the da capo, the reiteration of the same), which, in this chapter, is traced through a consideration of the unbounded frame of Dutch painting, and then temporalised (and internalised) in the work of Robbe-Grillet. We can remind ourselves of Barthes’ indebtedness to Julia Kristeva’s account of semiotics, which gave him ‘personally and principally the new concepts of paragrammatism and intertextuality’ (Barthes 1994: 6); he also notes the importance of Derrida’s work in ‘postulating the retreat of signifieds, the decentering of structures’ (6). Both thinkers allow us to understand the aforementioned ‘enormous Text’ as one which has no outside or inside, no traditional sense of origins.1 The impact of Kristeva’s work is clearly acknowledged by Barthes, leading to a step-change in the purview and articulation of semiotics. Nonetheless, even in his first book, Writing Degree Zero, originally published in French in 1953, Barthes provides an early, if less sustained account that later resonates with Kristeva’s Revolution in Poetic Language (1984). Barthes’ book opens with reference to a journalist writing in Le Père Duchêne (a radical newspaper of the French Revolution). The journalist, he notes, would always begin his articles with a series of obscenities. ‘These improprieties had no real meaning’, Barthes explains, ‘but they had significance.’ They embodied a revolutionary situation through ‘a mode of writing whose function is no longer only communication or expression, but the imposition of something beyond language, which is both History and the stand we take in it’ (Barthes 1968: 1). To give a more contemporary example, we might think of how the singer Rihanna delivers the lines of her song ‘Work’ (2016) – the repetition of certain words (work, dirt, learn, tired) perform a critique of the repetitiveness of work, which is further pronounced by her slurring of the words (‘When you a gon’ nah nah nah nah nah nah’), bending it into something indeterminate. (We might sense a spatial reading – somehow the words have a malleability or dimensionality, allowing a re-figuring with ‘work’ melding to ‘nah nah …’). This is no revolution of course, but it makes for an imposition, or at least resilience towards the situation of work in Late

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Capitalism ( James, 2015). In both these cases, there is ‘something beyond’ language, a certain responsibility to form, which Barthes calls ‘writing’ [ecriture]; a movement of both form and content that equates with music, or acoustics more generally. Keeping in mind the reference here to an acoustics, if only as a metaphor, this chapter explores the ‘zero degree’ as being inside a picture or mode of seeing. Rather than an ethics of aesthetics, it is more an aesthetic of ethics. Each time we approach it we find the zero degree remains out of reach. As Barthes writes at the close of his essay ‘Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein’ (1985: 89–97): ‘in a society which has not yet found peace, how could art cease being metaphysical, i.e., signifying, readable, representative? Fetishist? How long till the music, the Text?’ (Barthes 1985: 97). As a term, the zero degree is itself an ‘acoustics’ for thinking about questions of form. As an absence, a neutral position, it is easy to lose sight of the zero degree as political aesthetic, but this was the level at which Barthes was concerned. It is a visual version that is traced here, which requires we break with the ‘theatre’ of representation defined by a unified, externalised point of view. After charting a historical account of Barthes’ Writing Degree Zero (and applying its narrative of the fall of Literature to the fall of Art), the chapter turns attention then to a visual aesthetics of the zero degree (which takes its cue from seventeenth-century Dutch painting). Finally, coming back to the mathematics and ‘acoustics’ of representation, the zero degree, understood in both spatial and temporal terms, can be identified as a particular form (and responsibility) of writing or making.

Zero Degree Art In taking our bearings from Barthes’ Writing Degree Zero it is important to recall its historical context. The book was written in the period after World War II. The ideological factions of wartime persisted and in many respects deepened with the ensuing Cold War. It is no great surprise that Barthes would famously remark that all language (or specifically ‘the performance of a language system’) is fascist (Barthes 2000: 461). It is a remark that still bears the critical concerns of Writing Degree Zero to question how we might claim for an emancipatory language. Equally, during the post-war period, the implications of a growing mass-consumer culture become ever more apparent, as critiqued by the Frankfurt School (and of course by Barthes himself in his feted Mythologies, published in 1956). Two key critical influences can be noted during this time: Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertolt Brecht. Serge Daney, a journalist with

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Libération, notes how ‘after the war in France, in the fifties, when everything was more or less destroyed, almost all the important intellectuals, and especially young people like Barthes, were very much influenced by Brecht’. The lesson they took from his work, Daney explains, is that ‘everything is culture, that what man makes can be unmade, or at least can be understood, analysed, cut into pieces, and maybe rebuilt in other ways’.2 Similarly, Sartre was a hugely important figure, likewise representing a political will for change. Throughout Barthes’ life Sartre remains a significant influence, and pays homage to him in Camera Lucida, the last book he publishes before his death in 1980 (though Barthes rarely references Sartre directly). Both were politically committed, but in different ways. Sartre’s account of literature is specific to an ethics of clear prose. Samoyault (2017: 180) describes this as an ‘ethics of ends, a functional view of literature’. Sartre writes: ‘I reveal the situation by my very intention of changing it; I reveal it to myself and to others in order to change it. […] with every word I utter, I involve myself a little more in the world, and by the same token I emerge from it a little more’ (Sartre 2001: 13–14). By contrast, Barthes ‘prefers an ethics of form that opens up literature’ (Samoyault 2017: 180). Given the experiences of occupation and resistance, it is understandable Sartre believed in progressive political reform and as a writer felt committed, even obliged, to address the social issues of the day. His idea of the committed writer was a dominant and evocative account for intellectuals of the Left in the immediate post-war period. Underlying his existential philosophy is the idea that existence precedes essence. We are not defined by something prior to ourselves; we legislate ourselves and as such freedom is inherent to the human condition. To ‘commit’ is to be fully accountable to one’s situation, whereby we make choices and act. Sartre’s What is Literature? (2001) offers his key statement on the social role of the writer. Referring specifically to prose literature (and in contrast with the rest of the arts), the argument is that literature is composed of language: the medium of meaning and communication. His analysis works upon two terms, ‘language’ and ‘style’. Language is a given. It is second nature for the writer; we are naturalised by our own language. Style, however, for Sartre, is the application of language and a matter of self-determination. Barthes adapts Sartre’s account, yet crucially he defines both language and style as prior constructs (the former a social construct, the latter of an individual history), against which an author cannot choose. Instead he introduces a third term ‘writing’ [ecriture] as a site of choice, relating to the practice of writing as the negotiation of codes and conventions an author shares with a community.

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An example of this was given at the start of this chapter, in reference to Hébert’s use of obscenities – a means of creating significance, through form not content. In this case, the use of obscenities is not a matter of style, it is not his personal way of writing. On the contrary, ‘Hébert’s opening expletives signify something beyond himself, they link him to an available (revolutionary) attitude towards society, towards history, towards language itself’ (Allen 2003: 16). There is ‘no Literature without an Ethics of language’ Barthes argues, which taken to its logical conclusions leads to his interest in ‘zero degree’ or neutral writing: ‘as if Literature … could no longer find purity anywhere but in the absence of all signs, finally proposing the realization of this Orphean dream: a writer without Literature’; and here he cites the names of Camus, Blanchot and Cayrol (Barthes 1968: 5–6). Marshall Berman (1983: 29–30) characterises Barthes’ interest in neutral writing as being symptomatic of a ‘withdrawal’ from modern life. He puts Barthes’ account alongside Clement Greenberg’s account of the visual arts, so reading him in purely formalist terms, as concerned only with the pure, self-referential art object, absent to social life. He suggests Barthes puts ‘this absence in a positive, even heroic light’, quoting him as saying the modern writer ‘turns his back on society and confronts the world of objects without going through any of the forms of History or social life’ (Barthes 1968: 52). However, this is misleading. Neutral writing can in fact be said to cut to the quick, to attend ever more directly to the world and its objects. To turn away from ‘History’ is not a retreat into Literature, but rather to assert a ‘new situation of the writer’ (Barthes 1968: 78). Neutral writing is a challenge to what has gone before, to the way in which History (of language and styles) has always already encoded writing. ‘Whenever the writer assembles a network of words’, Barthes explains, ‘it is the existence of Literature itself which is called into question; what modernity allows us to read in the plurality of modes of writing, is the blind alley which is its own History’ (61). To understand Barthes’ position – placing writing somewhere between form and content – it is useful to turn to his reflections on Brecht (a figure who influences his early move to a formalist, semiological approach). In an essay written in 1956, ‘The Tasks of Brechtian Criticism’ (1964: 71–6), Barthes argues for the importance of Brecht’s work, as confronting not only the ‘desert’ of contemporary theatre at the time, but also the ‘desert of revolutionary art’ (Barthes 1964: 71). The emerging Cold War condition bears directly upon art production, underscored by the Zhdanovian doctrine (the prompt for government control of art and an extreme anti-Western

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bias). Brecht is criticised on both the Right and Left. ‘By the extreme right, Brecht’s work is totally discredited because of its political commitment: Brecht’s theatre is mediocre because it is communist’ (72). With those sympathetic to this views, he is all too often ‘humanized’, whereby his theoretical contributions are cast aside; ‘the plays are great despite Brecht’s systematic views on epic theater’ (72). And on the far Left, among the communists, suspicions are held towards ‘Brecht’s opposition to the positive hero, his epic conception of theater, and the “formalist” orientation of this dramaturgy’ (73) (we can see how later Barthes’ anti-hero of The Pleasure of the Text (1975), takes its bearings from Brecht). The Brechtian technique, for Barthes, presents a specifically semiological problem: ‘For what Brechtian dramaturgy postulates is that … the responsibility of a dramatic art is not so much to express reality as to signify it. […] All Brechtian art protests against the Zhdanovian confusion between ideology and semiology, which has led to such an esthetic impasse’ (Barthes 1964: 74–5). More importantly, then, while Brecht’s is a moral theatre, his ‘pedagogical power’ is not to define or issue morals, but to devise ways of asking after them; ‘… his morality has nothing catechistic about it, being for the most part strictly interrogative’ (76). However, there is seemingly a contradiction at stake in turning to the zero degree in semiotic terms and as somehow something ‘objective’ (just what it is). We know Barthes aligns with the Left and that his account of neutral writing is meant somehow as a progressive force. But both Right and Left critiques can soon take root. There is a need (that we see in Brecht) to reconcile the difference between both signifying and presenting. Seventeenth-century Dutch painting, which we will turn to shortly, can be seen in Barthes’ account of Saenredam to equate to the Neutral, yet equally this broader tradition of painting visibly upholds a patrician, mercantile ideology. The argument is that Saenredam offers the antithesis of the antithesis – he works with the same form, the same aesthetic noted of Dutch painting at the time, but arguably offers a different ‘point of view’ (or rather an aggregate of views). This again, but in visual terms, is a ‘responsibility of forms’ suggestive of Barthes’ use of the term ‘writing’ (as against language and style). However, before turning to the case of Dutch painting, it is worth outlining a particular problem in thinking through the ‘zero degree’ in term of the visual arts. Echoing Barthes’ account of the fall of literature, Basualdo offers a narrative of modernist visual art stemming from the middle of the nineteenth century, which passes through the same stages given for literature, from ‘first the object of a gaze, then of creative action, finally of murder’ (Barthes 1968: 5). In the case of painting, taking

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on a position similar to that of Mallarmé, we can consider the significance of Marcel Duchamp, who delivers the coup de grâce. It was Duchamp ‘who proved, through the invention of the readymade, that what allows us to consider an object as “art” is the position it occupies in a certain signifying chain, which in this case may be called “art history”. The readymade bears witness to the fact that “art” is everything that at a given moment is institutionally accepted as such’ (Basualdo 2000: 15–16). The argument here is specific to the positioning of painting vis-à-vis the broader category of art. At the time of Duchamp’s intervention, there are still those who question the status of cubist works as ‘paintings’, yet there is also a way in which painting as a category works metonymically for all ‘Art’. As such, the very exclusion of painting in Duchamp’s intervention (which claims the industrial object equally as art) makes his ‘murder’ of painting ‘irremediably incomplete’ (16). In other words, following the logic of Barthes’ semiological account, ‘the Duchampian readymade would then imply not the murder of painting but the indefinite deferment of its overthrow’. It is certainly the case that the ‘end of painting’ is a much-repeated trope. And, as per Barthes’ account, this is what happens with Mallarmé with respect to the narrative of the fall of Literature, which constantly redeems itself through a selfreferential writing; it does not end literature but perpetuates its ‘ending’. With respect to the field of painting, the same process is apparent. We can consider, for example, the work of Daniel Buren and Niele Toroni who further Duchamp’s relational operation by attempting to overthrow the ‘institution’ of art itself. It is in the works of Buren and Toroni that we first see the fulfilment of the plastic equivalent of Mallarmé’s Orphic dream – the destruction of painting, with the pictorial act transformed into its own empty shell. […] The zero degree of painting implies, then, as was the case with writing, the unfolding of a colourless, standardized style, as close as possible to anonymity. Buren’s stripes and Toroni’s brushstrokes represent the faithful adoption of a minimum plastic element that nevertheless appears charged with the history of the medium that it attempts to overcome. (Basualdo 2000: 18) However, there is significant slippage in Basualdo’s analysis. He equates the work of Buren and Toroni with both Mallarmé and the authors of colourless writing. These artists, along with others, he argues, ‘chose to make the elimination of all

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mannerism, the suppression of all plastic effect, the substance of their art’ (18). As will be discussed further below, Barthes relates neutral writing to the primary condition of classical art, which he terms ‘instrumentality’ (1968: 78). The corollary of which is that ‘[a]s painting approaches its zero degree, it is possible to think that this instrumental condition also rises anew, as works of art stop looking like works of art but assimilate themselves to objects of the world’ (Basualdo 2000: 19). This raises a significant problem for the category of art, that in reaching its ‘neutral’ condition – as mere object – it may necessarily evaporate as art. The issue, however, is at what level we seek to situate ‘form’. A particular problem in comparing the sphere of art production to literature is a greater foregrounding in the former of the institutional or disciplinary framing of art. When a reader comes to Mallarmé it is certainly an option to evoke critical questions about the status of literature. Yet, equally, there remains an experience of reading that is still a form of literature. However, with artists such as Buren, and indeed the rise of conceptualism more generally, there is a way in which art needs less to be experienced than it is understood. When Buren took to creating artworks using industrially produced awning fabric, with its regular, vertical bands, he considered it a means of stripping painting down to its core, to what he referred to as its ‘degree zero’. Yet, he came to see this reduced state as bearing no intrinsic value, hence his move to using the works as visual ‘tools’, which he operationalised in non-art settings. The work questions personal artistic ‘style’, which, in Barthes’ terms, can be seen as a way of breaking with the conditions of art-making. Nevertheless, it is really the conceptual operationalising of the works that makes his work significant. In this regard, the claim for an equivalent to colourless writing is tenuous. Instead, such works – and conceptualism more broadly – can be taken as the ‘indefinite deferment’ of art’s overthrow (as suggested above); as being overly signifying. A question remains as to how we might understand the zero degree in more immediate, aesthetic terms.

Ut picture, ita visio: Neutral Seeing The Orphean account of Mallarmé, of saving what one loves by renouncing it, is countered, albeit briefly, by Barthes’ turn to ‘colourless writing’. Somewhere between the subjunctive and the imperative moods, is the amodal form of the indicative, ‘a neutral term or zero element’.

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The new neutral writing takes its place in the midst of all those ejaculations and judgements, without becoming involved in any of them; it consists precisely in their absence. But this absence is complete, it implies no refuge, no secret; one cannot therefore say that it is an impassive mode of writing; rather, that it is innocent. (Barthes 1968: 77) Given the ‘indicative’, or we might say ‘indexical’ nature of the neutral, it is surely not such a step to suppose of a neutral seeing, or picturing. Here we can now turn to seventeenth-century Dutch painting, and notably Saenredam. Initially, this might seem at odds with the modernist debates of the zero degree, but there are two reasons to look back. Firstly, Barthes’ essay of 1953 on Dutch painting, ‘The World As Object’ (2000: 62–73), is written in the same period in which he is working on the first drafts of Writing Degree Zero, with definite connections evident. Secondly, Barthes explicitly describes Saenredam as offering a modern aesthetic. Barthes visited Holland in 1952 and embarked upon ‘a real tourist trip that took him from Amsterdam to The Hague, from Rijksmuseum to the Mauritshuis, where he fell in love with Dutch painting: this inspired him with the idea of a form of art-criticism based on subject-matter and not on painters or schools’ (Samoyault 2017: 168). While Saenredam is mentioned only briefly at the start of Barthes’ essay, he operates as a key pivot for the overall account. He is the antithesis of an antithesis: ‘Saenredam is a paradox’, writes Barthes, ‘he articulates by antithesis the nature of classical Dutch painting, which has washed away religion only to replace it with man and his empire of things’ (Barthes 2000: 62). Saenredam painted neither faces nor objects, but chiefly vacant church interiors, reduced to the beige and innocuous unction of butterscotch ice cream. […] Never has nothingness been so confident. Saenredam’s sugary, stubborn surfaces calmly reject the Italian overpopulation of statues, as well as the horror vacui professed by other Dutch painters. Saenredam is in effect a painter of the absurd; he has achieved a privative state of the subject, more insidious than the dislocations of our contemporaries. To paint so lovingly these meaningless surfaces, and to paint nothing else – that is already a ‘modern’ aesthetic of silence. (Barthes 2000: 62) Barthes’ description is almost flippant (reminiscent of Bataille writing on Manet). The ‘beige and innocuous unction of butterscotch ice cream’ and the ‘sugary, stubborn surfaces’ could be lines from Mythologies, such as we expect of his account of the

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Citroen car or soap powder. Yet here he is not colluding with the myth in order to unseat it, rather he is on the side of these paintings, which he sees as a confrontation. Caygill (2002: 38–9) describes Saenredam’s work as an ‘obverse artistic practice’, as the ‘evocation of the idea of truth through reduction and negation – that continued through the contemporary avant-garde. Saenredam’s art is inaugural in its refusal to participate in the mythology of what would later be identified as a capitalist society and culture’ (39). It is Saenredam’s ‘stubbornness’ and his lack of a fear of emptiness that leads us closer to Barthes’ (2005) later formulations of the Neutral. A definition is given of the Neutral that ‘remains structural’, whereby ‘the Neutral doesn’t refer to “impressions” of grayness, or “neutrality”, of indifference. The Neutral … can refer to intense, strong, unprecedented states. “To outplay the paradigm” is an ardent, burning activity’ (Barthes, 2005: 7). While this statement is written at the very end of his career, this same ardent state is how we can read Barthes’ account of Saenredam, which, importantly, is a state that is specifically visual – here to evoke Didi-Huberman’s (2005: 11–17) term of a purely material, physical response, as opposed to legible and visible conditioning, or ways of reading. The overarching connection in these different writings of Barthes, early and late, is a ‘sensitivity to the vague and the indefinable’, being that which ‘eludes meaning while remaining one of its conditions of possibility’ (Caygill 2002: 38). Saenredam represents such a case, seeming to elude meaning, yet based upon certain shared conditions of representation. The double negation of Saenredam, however, has to be understood against the dominant view of seventeenth-century Dutch painting more generally. The realism of Dutch painting has frequently been taken to undermine the works as ‘art’ (a precursor to the debates around photography as a mechanical, ‘artless’ art). The writer Henry James, for example, remarked upon the difficulty of knowing what is an original (i.e. a real landscape) and what is the copy (Alpers 1989: 27). Again, we encounter the dilemma noted by Basualdo of the inherent dissolution of art as it nears its zero degree. In the case of Dutch painting, it is not about the erasure of the object as a challenge to institutional boundaries, but about how we actually see objects, the world and representations. Barthes draws our attention to an insistence upon objects and surface, the rendering of ‘matter’s most superficial quality: sheen. Oysters, lemon pulp, heavy goblets full of dark wine, long clay pipes, gleaming chestnuts, pottery, tarnished metal cups … what can be the justification of such an assemblage if not to lubricate man’s gaze amid his domain, to facilitate his daily business among objects’ (Barthes 2000: 64).

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Crucially, we gain an ‘optical’ account of the image from looking at Dutch painting, which is very different to the dominant perspectival account. Alberti’s description of looking ‘begins not with the world seen, but with a viewer who is actively looking out at objects … in space, figures whose appearance is a function of their distance from the viewer’ (Alpers 1989: 41). Dutch painting, like the indexical photographic image, can in fact ‘mimic the Albetian mode’, but the distinction ‘lies not in the realm of the nature of vision but in its mode of visualization, its mode of representation’ (43). Specific points of contrast between North/South Renaissance art (between the Italian and Dutch modes), draw out the distinction. In Dutch paintings light reflects off objects, as if the world ‘stains’ the painted surface with colour and light, as opposed to the modelling of objects through light and shade in Italian works. Colours and textures in Dutch paintings are, then, presented as is, rather than placed within a ‘legible space’. Despite the literal frame or edge of a painting, the image of Dutch painting ‘spread out on the pictorial surface appears to be an unbounded fragment of a world that continues beyond the canvas’. The unframed image as opposed to the framed one in turn effects whether or not the viewer is situated according to what we see. In Dutch painting the viewer is ‘neither located nor characterized, perceiving all with an attentive eye but leaving no trace of his presence’ (Alpers 1989: 27). In brief, we gain two modes of picturing the world, ‘on the one hand the picture considered as an object in the world, a framed window to which we bring our eyes’, as in the Italian tradition, and ‘on the other hand the picture taking the place of the eye with the frame and our location thus left undefined’ (45). Of the latter, Vermeer’s View of Delft is a key example, whereby it is remarked that ‘Delft is hardly grasped, or taken in – it is just there for the looking. […] The Dutch artist, the argument goes, adds actual viewing experience to the artificial perspective system of the Italians. In this wide vista, which presumes an aggregate of views made possible by a mobile eye, the retinal or optical has been added on to the perspectival’ (27). Similarly, the nineteenth century French writer and artist Eugène Fromentin, writing on the panoramic landscapes of Ruisdal refers to the ‘circular field of vision’, and a ‘grand eye open to everything that lives’; it is an eye with ‘the property of a camera obscura: it reduces, diminishes the light and preserves in things the exact proportions of their form and colouring’ (Fromentin in Alpers 1989: 29). The use of the camera obscura has been widely debated, and it has proved difficult to verify (Alpers 1989: 31; Hockney, 2001). However, rather than focus only on this device, we can relate the cultural production of Northern Europe more broadly

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to the growing significance of the empirical, the ‘age of observation’. Dutch painting offers us a ‘universe of fabrication’, full of objects and space through which humanity is measured (Barthes 2000: 64). To more fully understand the relationship between scientific observation and the aesthetics of Dutch painting, we can defer to Alpers’ detailed account of Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician and astronomer. Kepler was aware of the inherent distortions of optical instruments, but also, crucially, he carries this awareness over to an understanding of the eye, and goes onto ‘define vision as the formation of a retinal image, which he significantly called a picture’ (Alpers 1989: 34). Kepler’s account of the eye seems matter-of-fact to us now, but this was ‘the first genuine instance in the history of visual theory of a real optical image within the eye – a picture, having an existence independent of the observer, formed by the focusing of all available rays on a surface’ (Lindberg 1976: 202). For the first time, then, Kepler turns our attention away from ‘seeing the world’ to insisting that we only have access to its representation, as a picture on the retina. It is a position that ‘involves an extraordinary objectivity and an unwillingness to prejudge or to classify the world so imaged’ (Alpers 1989: 37). Taking on board Kepler’s account we can look again at Vermeer: We might then consider Vermeer’s View of Delft not as a copy done after a camera obscura or as a photograph (both of which claims have been made in the past), but as a display of this notion of artifice. A claim is made on us that this picture is at the meeting-place of the world seen and the world pictured. That border line between nature and artifice that Kepler defined mathematically, the Dutch made a matter of paint. […] we have to consider if […] deception here engages not a moral but an epistemological view: the recognition that there is no escape from representation. […] To speak of the View of Delft in this way is eccentric since it separates the picture as a “seeing object” from the world and the maker. (Alpers 1989: 35) Kepler’s reading effectively ‘deanthropomorphizes vision’, with the world picturing itself upon a passive eye (like a screen), and with Dutch painting capturing this ‘zero degree’ vision. ‘The function of the mechanism of seeing is defined as making a representation: representation in the dual sense that it is an artifice – in the very making – and that it resolves the rays of light into a picture. Visual perception is itself an act of representation’ (36). To cite Kepler’s own formulation, ut picture, ita visio, sight is like a picture (in Alpers 1989: 36).

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While Dutch painting is of course full of colour, it shares something with so-called colourless, neutral writing. Like an unadorned ‘style’, in which authors such as Camus reject the adjective, the Dutch painter presents only what is before us. With sight always already a picture, according to Kepler, this includes our inherent distortions. The impressions of colour and lens flare, for example, are discernable in some cases. Crucially it is a direct rendering. So, for example: ‘Vermeer seems almost not to care, or not even to know, what it is that he is painting. What do men call this wedge of light? A nose? A finger? What do we know of its shape? To Vermeer none of this matters, the conceptual world of names and knowledge is forgotten, nothing concerns him but what is visible, the tone, the wedge of light’ (Gowing 1952: 19). If focusing, for example, on just a small detail in Vermeer’s The Art of Painting, looking just at the hand of the painter depicted in the work, ‘our experience is vertiginous’, Alpers writes, ‘because of the way the hand is assembled out of tone and light without declaring its identity as a hand’ (Alpers 1989: 37). To further explicate this model of vision and picture-making Alpers refers to an illustration from a Dutch medical handbook: In a darkened room, with light streaming in through a light-hole (fitted with a lens), we see two men holding a sheet of paper on which is cast part of the light-beam. An inverted, pin-hole image of an external landscape is formed upon it. It is a deliberately didactic illustration, with one of the men holding a pointing stick, as if to explain the (Keplerian) ‘operation’ of the eye: ‘This could be a view of Delft. Kepler’s eye and Vermeer’s image are both evoked in this unframed image of the world compressed onto a bit of paper with no prior viewer to establish a position or a human scale from which, as we say, to take in the work. The gentlemen standing by, detached observers, also remind us that such an image, rather than being calculated to fit our space, provides its own’ (Alpers 1989: 41). The distinction between the northern and southern traditions – between an optical and a perspectival account of picturing – is neatly encapsulated in a well-known commentary by Poussin on ‘aspective’ and ‘prospective’ seeing. The former is simply seeing as it is, while the latter is to be attentive in seeing. He privileges what he calls ‘prospect’ as ‘an office of reason which depends on three things: the discriminating eye, the visual ray, and the distance from the eye to the object’ (cited in Alpers 1989: 49). It is a formulation that maps directly to Albertian perspective theory. This leaves ‘aspect’ to refer to ‘an “operation naturelle”, as Poussin calls it, which corresponds to that natural painting that the Dutch spoke of as cast by the camera obscura’ (49). The word ‘aspect’ appears in a letter by Sir Henry Wotton, who describes Kepler’s technique

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of using a black tent that can rotate ‘like a windmill’ to take in a panoramic view; ‘so he traceth [the view] with his pen in their natural appearance, turning his little tent round by degrees, till he hath designed the whole aspect of the field’ (in Alpers 1989: 51). The view captured in this way is, as Alpers describes, ‘an assemblage or aggregate of partial aspects, and that world is itself but part of a larger whole’ (51). The ‘aggregate of view’ is very much how we can characterise the picture-making of Northern Europe. And here we can return directly to Saenredam, whose deceptively seamless church interiors offer ‘more than the eye can see’. Interior of the St. Laurens Church at Alkmaar (1661), for example, presents multiple views: ‘The eye passes low through two doors and through free space to the left, and is stopped by a high, lean slice of space behind the pillar at the right. […] The small figures at the right are markers … of the horizon line’ (Alpers 1989: 64). The organ case is high up, forcing us to physically lift our gaze. In other examples, figures within the picture space take up the artist’s viewpoint, making their object of sight into our own. In Interior of the Church of St. Bavo in Haarlem (1636), for example, the eye point runs from the bottom of the pillar to the right foreground. ‘It is from here that the view could be seen across the nave into the complex of space beyond and also up into the vault with the painted shutters of its great organ. One could see this, that is, if one adjusted one’s gaze. Once again the surface traversed by the eyes is the field of vision that the panel lays out for us. The definitive gaze of the human eye is then fortified with the figure of a man’ (64). As Alpers suggests, Saenredam’s ‘major innovation’ is to use the upward gaze of this figure to establish the view of the organ; he is ‘literally a captive of that view’ (64). We can more properly understand Saenredam’s work in relation to the geometric, orthographic draughting technique known as distance point construction. It refers to a method of rendering objects onto a flat surface without designating the viewer and picture plane, so without the Albertian frame. To help explain this point, Alpers refers to a northern treatise on perspective, De Artifiaali Perspectiva (1505) by Jean Pelerin, known as Viator: [Viator] assumes that representation replicates vision, which he defines in terms of a moving eye reflecting the light it receives like a burning mirror or miroir ardente. […] Alberti, by contrast, explicitly states that the operation of the eye itself is of no consequence to an understanding of his pictorial construction. Viator then proceeds to locate the eye point not at a distance in front of the picture, but

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rather on the very picture surface itself, where it determines the horizontal line that marks the eye level of persons in the picture. The eye of the viewer (who in Alberti’s construction is prior and external to the picture plane), and the single, central vanishing point to which it is related in distance and position, have their counterparts here within the picture. (Alpers 1989: 53) In this technique, the ‘eye point’ is placed multiply, so that theoretically it would be possible to move around the objects depicted. These points are ‘functions of the world seen’ rather than specific, external points of view. Again, this way of rendering objects and scenes can appear, in its results, to be very similar to perspectival drawings. In both cases, artists gain ‘geometric means of representing objects in space’ (Alpers 1989: 53). However, while the distance point method can be used to produce the unified perspectival view, it remains best suited to producing multiple views within a space, as we find pronounced in Saenredam. A more technical rendering can be seen in the work of the Flemish engraver, Vredeman de Vries. In one particular example, which further helps clarify Saenredam’s method, we are presented with a room of multiple windows and doors. Figures enter through two of the doorways, which are half open, and on the ground, centre left, lies another figure. Unlike perspectivalism we struggle to take in all of the viewpoints. As Alpers notes: ‘The multiplication of distance points leads the eye to a variety of views up and down, in and out of an empty room. […] When figures enter they are captives of the world seen, entangled Gulliver-like in the lines of sight that situate them […] The many eyes and many things viewed that make up such surfaces produce a syncopated effect. There is no way that we can stand back and take in a homogeneous space’ (Alpers 1989: 58). The recurring idea, when looking between the two modes of representation (and their respective technical, mathematical accounts), is one of being either inside or outside the picture. Perspectivalism presents the ideas of a definite viewing point outside the frame, while the Keplerian mode is of a ‘purer’ account of vision, as if leading us to the idea of being inside the picture. Viator’s account, for example, is of the eye ‘on the very picture surface itself’. Or, again, in thinking of the camera obscura, and the particular example from the medical handbook noted above, not only does the light of the outside world cast upon the picture surface, but it also bathes across the individuals who hold the paper, so placing them inescapably in the picture; the world is picture. As will be considered below, with regards to Robbe-Grillet and Victor Burgin, Viator’s account strongly equates to contemporary computing

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methods for rendering virtual 3-D environments. The ‘eye’ is in the coding itself, built into the algorithms for constantly configuring and reconfiguring a space, enabling us to simulate our movement through it. Although this is indeed a simulation, with the virtual ‘world’ needing to be constantly made, it nonetheless operates upon the principle of the unbounded frame. The virtual space of the computer game is always ahead of our every move. It is in this sense we might also think of Saenredam as offering an ‘acoustics’ of space, of a space that is – as if – in the process of calculating and re-calculating its viewing dynamics, its ‘syncopated effect’ (to echo Alpers’ music reference). Saenredam presents us with multiple views, a challenge to our place and viewpoint. Unlike many other examples of Dutch painting, which we seem to hover within, as (disembodied) voyeurs to a scene, Saenredam’s spaces are overwhelming. As much as they open up the world seen, due to the scales and aggregation of views, we are equally thrown out of them. Alpers (1989: 52) presents Saenredam as an exemplar of Dutch painting (albeit acknowledging his idiosyncrasies), while, as noted, Barthes positions the artist as a stubborn force within the tradition, ‘as the negative theologian of Dutch painting’ (Caygill 2002: 39), even as a ‘modern’ artist. It is not that all Dutch painting is devoid of a critical gaze. Rembrandt’s David, for example, offers what Barthes refers to as an ‘aberrant scene’; ‘[i]n place of the replete gaze of the patrician surveyor, the gaze of Rembrandt’s subject is dislocated’ (Caygill 2002: 44). However, while this may offer the ‘antithesis of the patrician gaze’, it remains ‘one which restores command to a historical subject, be it church, chosen people, or proletariat’ (44). The aesthetic of silence that Barthes attributes to Saenredam is of a different order. At the very close of his essay, he suddenly switches our attention (and our timeframe) to Coubert’s Atelier, as a space that is emptied of any gaze, except that of the painter. The implication is that this is the same ‘space’ of Saenredam: The aesthetic gesture of ‘emptying’ space is precisely that performed by Saenredam, whose reduction consists in a gesture of aesthetically emptying a space that has been emptied by history. The task of this art is not to refill the space, but to lend depth to its emptiness, to vest the gaze neither in objects nor faces, but in what made them possible, their scene or history. In Barthes’s words, for both Saenredam and Courbet: ‘Depth is born only at the moment the spectacle itself slowly turns its shadow toward man and begins to look at him’. The modality of emptying a space and then turning the emptiness out as a gaze exemplifies the practice

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of Saenredam, and leaves his art as a question rather than a command to the viewer. Such a philosophical art, one that questions without providing answers, is approached by Saenredam and Courbet, but also in Barthes’s eyes by Brecht and Eisenstein … (Caygill 2002: 44) Barthes’ equation of Dutch painting and the gaze (more of which below) is not only taken to its extreme in the case of Saerendam but, as a ‘zero degree seeing’, offers the gaze back as a critical moment; it turns surface to depth, it turns the picture itself into a question about picturing and our being looked at. Arguably the more famous example of such a phenomenon is Velasquez’s Las Meninas (an artwork that Alpers concludes with in her discussion of Saerendam). This painting has been commented upon countless times. It presents a highly complex set of viewpoints and subject positions. The scale of the work and its manner of looking out at those who stand before it never fails to raise questions about spaces and frames of representation. ‘What is extraordinary about this picture as representation’, writes Alpers (1989: 70), ‘is that we must take it as at once a replication of the world and as a substitute world that we view through a window frame.’ It is the fact that the painting seems to ‘suspend’ between two contradictory modes of picturing, that Alpers (1983) has been critical of Foucault’s (2002: 3–18) well-known summation of the work as a representation of (Classical) representation. Yet, arguably, her criticism of Foucault is overplayed, since he too emphasises the push and pull of our being seen in/by Las Meninas: in the midst of this dispersion which it is simultaneously grouping together and spreading out before us, indicated compellingly from every side, is an essential void: the necessary disappearance of that which is its foundation – of the person it resembles and the person in whose eyes it is only a resemblance. This very subject – which is the same – has been elided. And representation, freed finally from the relation that was impeding it, can offer itself as representation in its pure form. (Foucault 2002: 17–18; emphasis added) Alpers’ study undoubtedly opens up our understanding of a specific aesthetic (and method) of the gaze, but it is Foucault who maintains this as a political aesthetic. His writing on Las Meninas forms the opening to The Order of Things (2002), in which he charts the emergence of ‘man’ as an object of knowledge – one which famously, of course, can be erased ‘like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea’ (422).

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As a political aesthetic, we need to remind ourselves that the inside/outside of the picture frame (or indeed its unbounded nature) intersects (at right angles) with our ‘real’ world. And it is here, between two sites/sights, inside/outside, that we might fully locate the neutral. For Foucault, this is the ‘contract’ that Las Meninas never fails to invoke: ‘in this precise but neutral place, the observer and the observed take part in a ceaseless exchange. No gaze is stable, or rather, in the neutral furrow of the gaze piercing at a right angle through the canvas, subject and object, the spectator and the model, reverse their roles to infinity’ (5).

In/Different Times In his remarks upon a colourless or neutral writing, as an ‘absence of style’, we must remind ourselves Barthes positions such writing against History. It is ‘reduced to a sort of negative mood in which the social or mythical characters of language are abolished in favour of a neutral and inert state of form; thus thought remains wholly responsible, without being overlaid by a secondary commitment of form to a History not its own’ (1968: 77). The writings of Flaubert onwards ‘presuppose a problematic of language and society’, that requires specialist (disciplinary) ‘work’, against which neutral writing ‘rediscovers the primary condition of classical art: instrumentality’ (77–8). Importantly, however, ‘form as an instrument is no longer at the service of a triumphant ideology; it is the mode of a new situation of writer, the way a certain silence has of existing; it deliberately forgoes any elegance or ornament, for these two dimensions would reintroduce Time into writing, and this is a derivative power which sustains History’ (78). We can hear an accord with Sartre’s desires for a committed writing, of a clear, instrumental communication, but where Barthes differs is with the need to break with ‘style’, which is always a constraint of one’s time. In the essay on Dutch painting, Barthes refers repeatedly to the notion of chronos, a chronological time, which he also connects with a sense of instrumentality. ‘I regard the Dutch “kitchen scenes” …’, he writes, ‘less as a nation’s indulgence … than as a series of explanations concerning instrumentality of foodstuffs: the units of nourishment are always destroyed as still lifes and restored as moments of a domestic chronos’ (65). This same instrumentality Barthes suggests occurs in the writing of Robbe-Grillet, whose ‘object’ absorbs all function and substance into a purely optical nature. ‘For example, we would ordinarily say, “So-and-so’s dinner was ready: some ham.” This

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would be an adequate representation of the ham. Here is how Robbe-Grillet says it: ‘“On the kitchen table there are three thin slices of ham laid across a white plate.” Here function is treacherously usurped by the object’s sheer existence: thinness, position, and colour …’ (Barthes 1965: 14). Returning to Dutch painting, and with particular references to faces, Barthes describes a passionlessness. ‘Theirs is the chronos of biology’, he suggests, ‘their flesh has no need, in order to exist, to anticipate or to endure events’ (70). The time that Barthes is referring to is a prefiguration of the End of History debates of the twentieth century; the end of ideology debates of the 1950s (Waxman 1968), as well as the more general intellectual notion of posthistoire (Niethammer 1992), and of course, later, Fukuyama’s (1989; 1992) much-cited thesis that anticipates the collapse of communism set against the ‘one-sided’ politics of neoliberalism. Seventeenth-century Dutch painting, which renders so vividly the objects and transports of a rising capitalism, presents a ‘substantive world’; ‘an adjectival world of things: such is the order of creation dedicated to contentment’ (Barthes 2000: 70). Here, the gaze ‘institutes a final suspension of history, at the pinnacle of social happiness’ (72). Yet, Barthes asks: ‘What happens when men are, by their own means, content?’ His answer is the gaze itself: ‘a look is left. In this perfectly content patrician world, absolute master of matter and evidently rid of God, the gaze produces a strictly human interrogation and proposes an infinite postponement of history’ (72–3). Such an account of posthistoire echoes in Fukuyama’s (1989) ‘End of History?’ essay, in which he argues that economic liberalism leads to political liberalism. As he puts it, the very ‘spectacular abundance of liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem both to foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere’ (1989: 8). Encapsulating this view, he describes ideological resolution as being ‘liberal democracy in the political sphere combined with easy access to VCRs and Stereos in the economic’ (8). While we know Fukuyama is on the side of the ‘victors’, there is nonetheless a similar bleakness. What turns upon us is the same ‘gaze’ that Barthes sees in the ‘sheen’ of objects in Dutch paintings (the equivalent to our modern-day consumer goods). For all the progress Fukuyama might uphold, he himself bleakly acknowledges: ‘The end of history will be a very sad time ... the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems’ (Fukuyama 1989: 18). With these matters of History in mind, and by way of conclusion, we can consider finally not just the gaze that looks out at us from the empirical picture, but also

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a gaze that frequents our own thinking (being of a more ‘general’ conception of the Image, as explored elsewhere in this book, in ‘Painting, Photography, Projection’). It is to combine both an external and internal gaze, which, by way of the zero degree, presents a thoroughgoing challenge to our ‘place’ in the world. The above reference to Robbe-Grillet provides a suitable bridge. Barthes (1965) defines Robbe-Grillet’s form of description as ‘anthological’, which, it is suggested (being an echo of Viator’s miroir ardente), is ‘a matter of presenting the object as if in a mirror … permitting to make demands on our attention without regard for its relation to the dialectic of the story’ (12). In ‘The Dressmaker’s Dummy’ (from ‘Three Reflected Visions’), Robbe-Grillet (1986: 3–5) surveys a single scene, the elements entering and leaving the ‘frame’ as if in a mirror that surveys the room. Importantly, this has nothing in common with naturalism, which ‘bristles with signals … oriented towards judgment’ (Barthes, 1965: 13). Instead Robbe-Grillet ‘requires only one mode of perception: the sense of sight. For him the object is … merely the occasion of a certain optical resistance’ (13). There are no concealed, inner meanings to unveil; ‘… the object has no being beyond phenomenon: it is not ambiguous, not allegorical, not even opaque, for opacity somehow implies a corresponding transparency, a dualism in nature’ (13). In a famous scene of Jealousy (Robbe-Grillet 1965: 50–3), the eye of first-person narrator (who frequents the story yet is never seen or heard) surveys the banana plantation around which the story revolves. Over several pages we receive a detailed and methodical account of the layout and frequency of trees. We are told of relative shapes and scales (‘instead of being rectangular like the one above it, this patch is trapezoidal; for the stream bank that constitutes its lower edge is not perpendicular to its two sides’ (51)). The scene is like a first-person computer game. You can almost hear the ticking of the internal clock that regulates all binary computation. Parallels between Robbe-Grillet’s ‘object’ and that of Dutch painting soon begin to emerge, although, it is worth noting, Barthes remarks of an explicit contrast. Dutch painting, he argues, ‘transforms all materials of vision into a single visceral sensation: luster, the sheen of things’; the overall effect is to ‘endow its object with an adjectival skin’ (Barthes 1965: 17). By contrast, Robbe-Grillet is made analogous to modern painting, ‘for the latter has abandoned the qualification of space by substance in favour of a simultaneous “reading” of the planes and perspectives of its subject’ (17). We can assume Barthes is referring to cubist painting, which bears close comparisons (JafféFreem 1966), and which leads back to the aggregation of views of Saerendam. Barthes suggests a form of ‘movement’ within Robbe-Grillet’s description. The sense of space

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is not Euclidean, but offers a ‘proliferation of perspectives’, an ‘elasticity of our field of vision’ (Barthes 1965: 18). Here Barthes modifies Poussin’s aforementioned term ‘prospect’. In the classical sense, a picture is a static site: ‘the spectator (or the reader) has accorded the painter power of attorney to circulate around the object, to explore … its “prospect”, thereby effecting the simultaneity of all possible approaches, since every spectator after the painter himself must look at the picture with the painter’s eyes’ (18). By contrast, the modern painting (to which we can add the ‘modern’ aesthetic of Saerendam) brings the spectacle (of multiple viewpoints) to the spectator, not the other way round. ‘It has often been remarked’, Barthes writes, ‘that modern canvases seem to leap from the wall, rushing out at the spectator, overwhelming him by their aggressive pre-emption of space: painting is no longer a prospect, then, but a “project”’ (18). In the introduction to this book, Victor Burgin’s recent work is defined as ‘projection pieces’, which is to refer to the ‘throw’ of the image and of a virtual domain in which it is possible to render visible certain conceptual propositions (e.g. acomposition and the sequence-image). Thus, echoing Barthes’ suggestion of the painting as projection, the term in this book similarly relates to a complexity of production, object and reception. References to both a ‘projection’ and ‘movement’ of description leads us to a fuller understanding of both space and time. Barthes reads the ‘exaggeratedly precise’ locating of objects in space in Robbe-Grillet’s work as non-Euclidean. Crucially, he is referring to the impossible space that is shown, for example, in The Erasers when we shift seamlessly from the viewpoint of a single individual to a much-extended spatial field (Barthes 1965: 18–19). Or, simply through Robbe-Grillet’s rhetorical use of positional language (which only reveals the arbitrary nature of its signification) and his repetition of objects that appear in different places, in discontinuous space, like a ‘badly’ edited film. Yet, Euclidean space, as a mathematical definition, is the abstraction of space, detached from physical location or specific frames of reference. Distance in a mathematical space is number not measurement. This, however, helps us understand Barthes’ point about the temporal quality of Robbe-Grillet’s work. In reference to the aforementioned scene from ‘Three Reflected Visions’, for example, we gain what Barthes characterises as ‘motionless changes of orientation’. A kind of image that catches in a mirror, but only from specific points of view; ‘Robbe-Grillet’s objects may have a temporal dimension, yet the concept of time in which they exist is scarcely a classical one – it is an unwonted sort of time, a time for nothing’ (Barthes 1965: 22). In breaking with a classical concept of time, Barthes suggests certain objects

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are more pertinent than others. Robbe-Grillet would avoid, for instance, objects such a lump of dissolving sugar, which shows continuity. Yet nonetheless he presents objects as mutable: a mutability of which the process is invisible: an object, described for the first time at a certain moment in the novel’s progress, reappears later on, but with a barely perceptible difference – what was on the right, for example, is now on the left. Time dislocates space, arranging the object like a series of slices that almost completely cover one another: and it is this spatial ‘almost’ which contains the temporal dimension of Robbe-Grillet’s object. It is the kind of variation crudely – but recognizably – indicated from frame to frame in old films, or from drawing to drawing in a comic strip. (Barthes 1965: 21) We arrive at an account of Robbe-Grillet’s aesthetic as akin to Zeno’s paradox of motion as motionlessness (in order to go from A to B we must first be halfway between, and before that halfway before the halfway point, ad infinitum, which brings us back to the starting point). Sight is the only sense in which continuity is sustained by addition of tiny but integral units: space can be constructed only from completed variations. Visually it is impossible for a man to participate in the internal process of dilapidation – no matter how fine you slice the units of decay, he cannot see in them anything but their effects. The visual dispensation of the object is the only one that can include within it a forgotten time, perceived by its effects rather than by its duration, and hence deprived of its pathos. (Barthes 1965: 21–2) This is the space-time of the zero degree. When reading Robbe-Grillet ‘time takes place between parentheses’; his work is ‘ultimately to exile the world to the life of its own surfaces’. The novel is ‘no longer a chthonian revelation’. There is nothing secret here, nothing to reveal. Instead, we are left with ‘no other horizon’ than the scene before us (Barthes 1965: 23–5). We are left starkly with our own means to see. This is the responsibility of form that Barthes is presenting in his turn to ‘writing’ (away from the already coded language and styles that otherwise come before us). And here we might ‘loop’ back (a term explored in the next chapter) to the work of Victor Burgin, as presented more broadly in this book, including his print ‘translations’

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of the two works, Belledonne and Prairie. In the latter work is the recurring image of a balustrade. Conjured in light and shadow, this object holds still as we move through its light reflectance. While ‘an unwonted sort of time, a time for nothing’, it is also, we know, a poignant time (a time of others erased, built over). This same ‘time for nothing’ is also encoded into A Place to Read, which shimmers with its own sort of digital sheen. As we cut to the interior of the coffee house that no longer exists it is as if can hear silence (as if silence clicks in like a sound track). And the depiction of ‘air’ in Belledonne that comes of the aerial views and the ‘breath’ of the haiku (which Barthes has described elsewhere as being like a camera without film), we look about the landscape, acting ourselves as a kind of mirror – witness to it all, but never able to recuperate the image, which is rendered in ways we can never humanly see. As Robbe-Grillet suggests of Last Year at Marienbad, what is represented in all these scenes are not durations we commonly understand in the physical world: ‘These things must be happening in someone’s mind. But whose? […] the only time which matters is that of the film itself, the only important “character” is the spectator; in his mind unfolds the whole story, which is precisely imagined by him’ (RobbeGrillet 1989: 153). Similarly, in Jealousy, the story is not the re-mixing of a formerly ordered sequences of events, i.e. something external to its representation. Rather, the ‘unfolding’ of the story ‘had no other reality than that of the narrative, an occurrence which functioned nowhere else except in the mind of the invisible narrator, in other words in the writer, and of the reader’ (154). It is this inner ‘locating’ of materials and ‘narrative’ that we can relate to Burgin’s notion of the sequence-image. He considers our everyday engagement with the media to be the ‘formal analogue of such “interior” processes as inner speech and involuntary association’ (Burgin 2004: 14). Spatially and temporally we are in the realms of ‘dream-work’, shorn of causal linear progressions, yet it is a ‘space’ in which Burgin works in creating his projection pieces. The connection to Robbe-Grillet’s writing is evident, with both operating with the immediacy of objects, yet equally bound up in a psychical time space, or set of ‘acoustics’. Indeed, Morrissette’s description of Robbe-Grillet’s aesthetic could as much read for Burgin, writing of ‘its objectification of mental images, its use of psychic chronology, its development of “objectal” sequences’ (cited in Robbe-Grillet 1965: 10). Arguably, however, the creation and manipulation of virtual environments found in Burgin’s projection works allows for an even more direct engagement with ‘writing objects’. As noted in the dialogue presented in this book, ‘Reading Barthes, Again’, what Burgin looks for in art is not representations of reality (which must

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always come too late) but rather ‘an engagement with the real’. We might consider this to be getting in-between the layers of manifest meaning, to get at what allows meaning in the first place. Situating his work in a geopolitical context (and upholding a political aesthetic as beyond merely the representation of politics) Burgin (1996: 184) describes the phenomena of joining or (mis)layering histories as ‘the assembly of simultaneously present events, but whose separate origins and durations are out of phase, historically overlapping’. This, he suggests, is the ‘imbricated time of our global lived space’.3 Thus, in coming back to Barthes’ suggestion that what remains within the ‘contentment’ of an End of History is the gaze (the ‘fact’ of what we have looking back at us) we can begin to consider the trajectory of Saerendam to Robbe-Grillet to Burgin as an ongoing attempt – at the zero degree – to harness that look; to look upon ourselves at the moment of being looked back at. It is to return the gaze of our time, not as mere reflection, but as a form of writing. It is the case that Burgin – as an artist – has been criticised for being too ‘theoretical’, and too abstract in this account of subjectivity. Even for being too authorial, as if to overly control the reception of his work (Evans, 1994; Jones, 1991). But, understood in the context of this chapter, we can reframe the dilemmas over a ‘politics of representation’ through a reading and indeed a making of the zero degree. This requires (to borrow Barthes’ phrase) an ‘exaggerated precision’. When Burgin makes reference to a ‘theoretical vision’ it is not to theorise his work (or to remain in the domain of theory), rather it is the very level at which the work functions and is constructed – and through which we come to see the world again, anew. As this chapter has sought to show through an affinity of Saerendam, Robbe-Grillet and Burgin, the zero degree is not to be indifferent to our times, but rather – effecting a critical eye – it enables us to be in different times, at the same time. We return, then, to where we[ began, with the theatre of representation, but with its mathematics, its ‘acoustics’ lifted from the ‘base of the triangle’, of which the eye, as Barthes suggested, would otherwise form its apex.

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Notes 1 Intertextuality is the condition of signification, the means through which we can move between meanings. Kristeva (1984) develops this concept through her specific account of the semiotic (that which comes prior to the symbolic), which is frequently defined as ‘musical, anterior, enigmatic, mysterious and rhythmic’ (Smith 1998: 21). Semiotics in this case is of the body, of that which comes before we speak; it is defined by pulsional dynamics, ‘articulated by flow and marks: facilitation, energy transfers, the cutting up of the corporeal and social continuum as well as that of signifying material, the establishment of a distinctiveness and its ordering in a pulsating chora, in a rhythmic but nonexpressive totality’ (1984: 40). 2 Serge Daney is interviewed as part of The Late Show, ‘Roland Barthes Special’, BBC2, 5 April 1990. Directed by Terry Braun. 3 Victor Burgin takes the metaphor of imbricated time from Freud, who used it as a warning against explaining one part of the manifest dream by another ‘as though the dream had been coherently conceived and was a logically arranged narrative’ when, on the contrary, ‘it is as a rule like a piece of breccia, composed of various fragments of rock held together by a binding medium, so that the designs that appear on it do not belong to the original rocks imbedded in it’ (cited in Burgin 1996: 178).

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References Allen, Graham (2003) Roland Barthes. London: Routledge.

trans. Rosalind E. Krauss and Denis Hollier. New York: Columbia University Press.

Alpers, Svetlana (1983) ‘Interpretation without Representation, or, the Viewing of Las Meninas’, Representations, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 30–42.

Basualdo, Carlos (2000) ‘A Writing without Literature (or Painting as a Construction Site)’, Painting Zero Degree [exhibition catalogue]. New York: Independent Curators International, pp. 10–23.

Alpers, Svetlana (1989) The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century. London: Penguin Books. Barthes, Roland (1964) Critical Essays, trans. Richard Howard. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Barthes, Roland (1965) ‘Objective Literature: Alain Robbe-Grillet’ in A. Robbe-Grillet’s Two Novels: Jealousy and In the Labyrinth. New York: Grove Press, pp.11–25. Barthes, Roland (1968) Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1975) The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1985) The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang Barthes, Roland (1994) The Semiotic Challenge, trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley: University of California Press. Barthes, Roland (2000) A Barthes Reader, ed. Susan Sontag. London: Vintage. Barthes, Roland (2005) The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France (1977–1978),

Berman, Marshall (1983) All That is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. London: Verso. Burgin, Victor (1996) In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press. Burgin, Victor (2004) The Remembered Film. London: Reaktion Books. Burgin, Victor (2008) Components of a Practice. Milano: Skira. Caygill, Howard (2002) ‘Barthes and the Lesson of Saenredam’, Diacritics, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 38–48. Davis, Whitney (2011) A General Theory of Visual Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Didi-Huberman, Georges (2005) Confronting Images: Questioning the Ends of a Certain History of Art. Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press. Evans, Jessica (1994) ‘Victor Burgin’s Polysemic Dreamcoat’, John Roberts (ed.) Art Has No History! The Making and Unmaking of Modern Art. London: Verso, pp. 200–29. Foucault, Michel (2002) The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. London: Routledge.

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Fukuyama, Francis (1989) ‘The End of History?’ The National Interest, 16 (Summer), pp. 3–18. Fukuyama, Francis (1992) The End of History and the Last Man. London: Penguin.
 Gowing, Laurence (1952) Vermeer. London: Faber and Faber. Hockney, David (2001) Secret Knowledge. London: Thames and Hudson. Jaffé-Freem, Elly (1966) Alain Robbe-Grillet et la peinture cubiste. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff. James, Robin (2015) Resilience and Melancholy: Pop Music, Feminism, Neoliberalism. Winchester: Zero Books. Jay, Martin (1993) Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press. Jones, Amelia (1991) ‘Romancing the Father: On Victor Burgin’s “Family Romance”’, Artscribe, No. 86 (March–April). Kristeva, Julia (1984) Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. Margaret Waller. New York: Columbia University Press. Lindberg, David C. (1976) Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi to Kepler. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Niethammer, Lutz (1992) Posthistoire: Has History Come to an End? trans. Patrick Camiller. London and New York: Verso.
 Robbe-Grillet, Alain (1965) Two Novels: Jealousy and In the Labyrinth. New York: Grove Press.

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Robbe-Grillet, Alain (1986) Snapshots, trans. Bruce Morrisette. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Robbe-Grillet, Alain (1989) For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction, trans. Richard Howard. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Robbe-Grillet, Alain (2011) Why I Love Barthes, trans. Andrew Brown. Cambridge: Polity. Samoyault, Tiphanie (2017) Barthes: A Biography, trans. Andrew Brown. Cambridge: Polity. Sartre, Jean-Paul (2001) What is Literature?, trans. Bernard Frechtman. London: Routledge. Smith, Anne-Marie (1998) Julia Kristeva: Speaking the Unspeakable. London: Pluto Press. Waxman, Chaim I. (ed.) (1968) The End of Ideology Debate. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.


I Was Sitting in a Room: Cybernetic Aesthetics and Victor Burgin’s Projection Loops Ryan Bishop ‘Composition is the corollary of framing, but the panoramic scanning of a still image produces a frame that is “acompositional” (much as one speaks of the “atonal” in music); the contents of the moving frame are in a perpetual state of de-composition as the result of the constant, mathematically uniform, passing of all that is visible. As there is no parallax, there is no differential movement between foreground, middle-distance and background – as  there would be if the pan had been conventionally filmed by a camera operator. This is an  incorporeal form of vision, the view of a disembodied eye turning upon a mathematical point of zero dimensions. Neither does the way in which the visible world enters and leaves the frame owe much to the optical schemas at work in cinema, as this movement is a product of mathematical calculations rather of the characteristics of glass lenses. This is a theoretical vision’ – Victor Burgin Components of a Practice, 92 ‘one has to acknowledge that nothing is altogether natural in this world, everything is shot through with law, conventionality, technology (nomos, thesis, thekne). (These have in advance invaded physis and ruined its principle or its phantasm of purity. History as well, and that is enough to threaten, in the photographer’s dream, this classification compulsion.)’ – Jacques Derrida Athens, Still Remains, 39

Victor Burgin’s recent artistic output has largely consisted of installations of projected image loops. Often bespoke works for and about specific sites, these video loops contain computer-generated imagery, analog imagery, archival materials, film clips, allusions, still photographs, probing cameras examining specific locales, landscapes or architectural structures, and eerie ‘still moving’ images in which part of the image remains utterly still while other elements within the same frame are animate and motile. The installations occasionally contain sound, music and/or spoken word. More frequently they include intertitles, textual installations on the walls as well as strategic artistic use of the space of installation – a kind of ‘psychical cubism’ but with temporality. Acutely aware of the context of its engagement in a gallery or museum, Burgin constructs his loops in such a manner that viewers/listeners can and do enter at any point in the projection and will likely stay until they have reached their

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point of entry, the ‘reprise’ (2010: 371) or ‘ritornello’ operating as a kind of unfolding of the layers of the work. The circular or spiral nature of the image sequence and synched soundtrack (when there is one) demands that each element be a synecdoche or metonym of the whole: a part of it but apart from it – the whole in the moment but also an individual temporality evocative in its own instantiation. Each element of these installations links to memory, projection, introspection and attentiveness, thus becoming means for exploring and evoking space as dwelling – dwelling both present and absent. The return of the loop, or rather the return that is a loop, constitutes an epode of duration, layering and recycling. This chapter’s title offers a modified version of the most famous work by avantgarde US composer Alvin Lucier, whose compositions echo and complement Burgin’s. The present continuous tense of the Lucier work, ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’, indicates the temporality of presence rendered absent through the act of representation as well as drawing attention to the duration and iteration of the performance. The title’s tense has been rendered as continuous past for a number of reasons that pertain to Burgin’s image loops and that will be taken up shortly. The allusive purpose of this modified title is to bring the metonymic, Möbius strip attributes of the video loops into conversation with cybernetic theory and to suggest it constitutes a form of aesthetics operative in both Lucier and Burgin. That cybernetic aesthetics might be at work in Burgin’s art could strike one as somewhat antithetical to his apparently human-centric theoretical touchstones and textual tendencies, as exemplified by the lashings of Barthes and psychoanalysis found in his writings. These theoretical positions, however, sit alongside an explicit exploration of cultural history and its ellipses as evoked by internal musings on interpersonal relations that occupy affective domains. Burgin’s discussion of his digitally modified panoramas addresses the ‘zero point’ or ‘zero degree’ of perspective that he crafts in them, suggesting ways in which technological systems of information-gathering and perception simultaneously provide the conditions for a perceiving and understanding subject while removing the subject from the picture through the performance of its subject matter: ‘the disembodied point of view’ (2014: 133–4). The zero degree provides perspective in the image without a physically viable viewer position, an impossible view only available through technological production, whether photographic suture, video or CGI. David Rodowick observes that this zero degree perspective simulates movement through ‘the algorithmic turning of a dimensionless eye of a disembodied observer positioned at the center of a virtual sphere’ (Burgin et al. 2014: 29). This position is a decentred continuation

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of the Quattrocento perspectival tradition that has constituted seeing in the Western tradition for over half a millennium. Even early twentieth-century experiments in immersive projective spaces, such as Herbert Bayer’s ‘Diagram of 360 Degrees of Vision’ (1935) for an installation in Paris, while decidedly avant-garde and experimental, had at its centre a headless human body with an eye (singular) perched on top. Arrows emanated from the eye toward the screens covering the walls, floor and ceiling, reconstituting the viewing subject as the embodied radius of vision. Similarly experiments in the 1960s that serve as precursors to contemporary virtual reality environments retain Quattrocento perspective in their construction, as do the gaming and entertainment visual fields of the present. Both Burgin and Lucier offer a zero degree alternative, just as equally constructed by technics of perception as the Renaissance model but with a significant twist for the perceiving subject: its displacement. The shift to the past continuous tense further signals an initial link to the spatial content of and catalysts for Burgin’s video loops. Works such as Solito Post (2008), Hotel D (2009), A Place to Read (2010), Parzival (2012), Overlay and Mirror Lake (2013), Prarie (2015) and Dear Urania (2016) depict, evoke and/or dwell in rooms or spaces no longer capable of being occupied as they once were (if they ever were at all). The spatial incapacitation can be underlined by temporality (spaces that no longer exist) or by textual information (voice-over, intertitle, wall mounts, or some combination). Finely layered allusion and evocation consistently link the current moment of viewing with others of loss, memory, forgetting or desire. The perspective of the images, regularly formed by windows or other artificial constraints that draw attention to the camera’s rectangular framing, frequently is that of a person sitting in a room or contemplating what it means to occupy that specific built environment – a person, though, given the visual evidence impossibly positioned in relation to the image(s). The works by Lucier and Burgin use the repetition of objects or sounds in a representational ‘realistic’ fashion that causes them to turn, over time, into abstraction and evocation. For Burgin, this begins with the loop as an overarching structural principle for his projections. ‘I tried to write a text that makes sense when read in its entirety but which makes no less sense when dipped into at random’, he says. ‘A work in an art gallery typically occupies a space where viewers come and go at indeterminable intervals. The non-coincidence of the duration of the material and the time of its viewing suggests that the elements that comprise the work should be equally weighted and autonomously significant. For example, any intertitle may in principle occupy the position of “first” intertitle, just as any image may be the first

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image. Parzival, in common with most of my other works, is structured with this in mind’ (2014: 60). Lucier also uses loops in a structural way but does so by building them in a vertical and layered manner. Writing about ‘I am Sitting in a Room’, he points out that ‘the form is linear and cumulative; it changes from generation to generation until it reaches the point of diminishing returns’ (1980: 33), which is itself a kind of return. ‘Even though the form is repetitive as far as the recording and recycling procedure is concerned, the listener hears something quite different, and that is the climactic point at which the speech goes from intelligibility to unintelligibility, or from words to music’ (39) something which happens at a different point for each listener and thus constitutes ‘a sliding fulcrum on a moveable time scale’ (39). The emphasis on loops, layering and (the impossibility of) repetition closely aligns these works with cybernetic aesthetics, in which systems and processes are foregrounded over objects – systems and processes that need not necessarily include human agents. The desire of the zero degree renders an aesthetics and politics that speak neatly to cybernetic theory without explicitly invoking it or capitulating to its often reductive application toward self-regulating, homeostatic utopianism. Cybernetic theory and aesthetics resonate with the chronotope of Burgin’s tools and artworks, as well as those he allusively draws upon. They constitute an ambience unavoidably manifested through the conditions and systems that make the works possible, ones found in the (post-)structuralist and psychoanalytic aesthetic steer of his own theoretical explorations. Burgin writes in the introduction to Thinking Photography about the role of Althusserian formulations of ideology that reject the humanist agency found in Marx (one of alienation under capital) and Althusser’s emphases on the larger forces that constitute subjectivity whilst causing the subject to misrecognise itself. Burgin contrasts the occasionally contradictory views of Althusser and Lacan1 on the constitution of the subject to underscore critiques of the humanist tradition that still manage to remain human-centric (1982: 5–10). The seemingly anti-humanist qualities of cybernetic aesthetics and Burgin’s own theoretical framings actually lead to the same ethical and political agenda regarding agency, regarding space, regarding attentiveness: indeed, regarding how to regard. Looping and Repetition: Cybernetic Aesthetics ‘The word communication will be used here in a very broad sense to include all of the procedures by which one mind may affect another. This, of course, involves not only oral

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and written speech, but also music, the pictorial arts, the theatre, the ballet, and in fact all human behaviour. In some connections it may be desirable to use a still broader definition of communication, namely, one which would include all the means by which one mechanism (say automatic equipment to track an airplane and to compute its possible probable future positions) affects another mechanism (say a guided missile chasing this airplane). The language of this memorandum will often appear to refer to the special, but still very broad and important, field of the communication of speech; but practically everything said applies equally well to music of any sort, and to still or moving pictures, as in television.’ – Warren Weaver ‘Recent Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Communication’, 2 ‘The progressive coming-into-being of a system in human consciousness, the comforting rotation of its elements, the continual mourning for a prior-to that this practice seems to signify, point to a hopeless melancholy at the heart of systems thinking belied by its recent proximity to activist politics. Or, more optimistically, by its sheer endlessness such melancholic circulation never fully yields to understanding, and never fully dissolves into comprehension.’ – Melissa Raigan introduction to Jack Burnham Dissolve into Comprehension, xviii

Norbert Wiener’s initial major statement on systems theory, Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948) set the stage for the foundations of a major strand of thought across many disciplines and industries in the emergent post World War II world. The Macy Conferences and emergent labs at universities (e.g. MIT) and corporations exemplify the shift to the foundational role information was to play in the second half of the twentieth century. Wiener’s emphasis on systems rather than discrete objects studied in a decontextualised manner argued the primacy of communications, control and feedback in the maintenance and change of natural or machine-generated phenomena. Whether for animal or machine, or the two interacting with one another, cybernetics posited parallel processes for the self-regulation and control of the organism’s operation. As computation began to change how we process information, cybernetic theory drew on the ways in which electronic machines mirrored operations found in biology, chemistry and language through the processing of information for maintaining the system’s capacity to operate. Systems theory and information theory appear historically almost concurrently and are part of the larger rise of cybernetics. Understanding information as a first-order principle of material difference in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries essentially cast systems thinking across any domain. The study of information connected art,

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literature, linguistics, biology, chemistry, symbolic logic and calculus to each other through the centrality of information to the field, but more importantly linked them with engineering problems that emerged from automated algorithms, cryptography and long-distance signal transmission relay. That any phenomenon, seemingly, could be modelled or interpreted as information or within an information theory system carries much significance for the general tenor of academic inquiry across many disciplines for most of the twentieth and into the twenty-first century, and provided the foundation of the multitude of representational technologies and regimes operative in the present. Cybernetics joined information with feedback, provided a schema for understanding humans/animals and machines in similar ways, and created products/objects/artifacts that materialise these ideas. Although often erroneously reduced to it, cybernetics is more than feedback. Feedback systems have existed since antiquity; for example, water clocks of various kinds from the Egyptians in the fourteenth century BCE, to the Persians in 300 BCE, up to al-Jazari’s twelfth century elaborate timekeeping machines. Feedback, self-regulation and internal modulation or governance played an important part in early cybernetic thought. Lucier’s example for cybernetics as a field for studying systems of auto-balance comes from Balinese irrigation systems for rice fields. These militate against flooding for terraced rice fields by using pipes that balance when water levels are low and tip over when full, thus controlling how much water each field receives through a series of self-modulating gauges and pipes working autonomously (2012: 74). The movement toward self-regulation resulting in equilibrium and harmonious functioning, as witnessed in the irrigation balancing act of Balinese rice fields, is the optimistic side of cybernetic feedback theory. Homeostasis finds perhaps its most daunting application in the biological being. Survival, health, security might be the goals of systems within the animal/human but autoimmunity also operates within it, and Wiener’s biological metaphor becomes somewhat outmoded when considered in light of it. All these autonomous complex systems, rather like the immune system, contain the elements of their destruction, for the feedback mechanisms failing to achieve regulation: the conditions of possibility are also the conditions of impossibility. Starting in the late 1950s, cybernetics, information theory and systems theory received much attention at various art and technology labs hosted by corporations and universities, with György Kepes’ Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) being a singularly important space for its emergence. One of the first fellows at Kepes’ centre was Jack Burnham, who in the 1960s pushed systems theory and cybernetics as they pertained to aesthetics into mainstream art critical discussion but not without

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controversy or outright dismissal. His most well-known piece, the 1968 essay ‘Systems esthetics’ in Artforum, introduced the term ‘systems’ into art discourse and recently has become a staple in new media art genealogies. Along with his writings, he curated the 1970 exhibition ‘Software, Information Technology: Its New Meaning for Art’, the first to explore the aesthetic and artistic implications of information systems, thus providing a platform for examining how developments in information theory could be used as artistic resistance to Greenberg’s formalism and Fried’s ‘objecthood’ (Raigan, xi). Burnham’s ‘systems esthetics’ argued for a shift from object-oriented culture to systems-oriented relations and art because, he states, art does not exist in its materials. Burnham claims that art exists in relations, relations between people and components of their environment, with art being the means by which to conceptualise and unfold these relationships. Art for Burnham in the late 1960s and early 1970s is the conceptual focus that provides ‘a catalyst to understanding’ (xii). This dimension of information theory as it pertains to art, relations, systems, materiality/immateriality provides useful cues for engaging the Burgin and Lucier works discussed in this chapter. Because of the centrality of feedback for understanding the governance and operation of systems, the loop becomes the geometrical form supreme for manifesting cybernetics. For Lucier, the looping and additive dimensions of ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’ become the method by which the space reveals its acoustic qualities. The language Burgin uses to discuss repetition in his projections is exactly that of cybernetics. The terms ‘reprise’, ‘da capo’ and ‘leitmotiv’ are all musical terms that lead to understanding these pieces as ‘considerations of repetition’ in order to produce ‘different repetitions’ (2008: 92–4). The repetition results from the positioning of formal elements within a contained set of symbolic, visual and temporal structures in such a manner that the repetition is foregrounded or underscored as repetition. As such, the repetition loses its efficacy as repetition. In other words, it becomes repetition of the same without it being identical. With cybernetics there can be no real return, no true repetition, for the repetition, as in Derrida’s iterability, depends on an informational sequence prior to its emergence that becomes the basis and content of the repetition, thus drawing attention to and changing its status as repetition. ‘What I call iterability, which repeats the same while displacing or altering it, is all at once a resource, a decisive power, and a catastrophe of repetition or reproduction’, Derrida writes. ‘In this logic of iterability are found the resources both to cast into doubt oppositions of the type physis/tekhnê (and therefore also physis/nomos, physis/thesis)’ (2011: 75).

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Derrida makes this decidedly cybernetic point concerning iterability’s capacity to undo the antipodal relationships assumed in Western philosophical discourse between nature (physis) and technology (tekhnê ) in his seminar The Beast and the Sovereign. The particular discussion in which he makes this point revolves around Robinson Crusoe on his island desperately trying to make (or reinvent) a wheel. All invention on the island is essentially ‘a repetition reinvention’ of ‘the world itself, and of technology’ (2011: 78). The wheel becomes a specific locus of reinvention for Crusoe and for Derrida’s reading of ‘autonomization’ in terms of agency and subjectivity. The wheel itself invites this speculation as an object, but a wheel on island has even more purchase: on an island one invariably goes around in circles, one wheels about. The wheel, for Derrida, epitomises the machine as object/concept in that it revolves and turns on itself, like a looping mechanism. The mechanism of the wheel involves the stasis of the axle providing the means of rotation for the outer portion of the wheel: a still moving conjunction of technics that revolves and returns on itself. Further the wheel becomes the exemplary figure (or metaphora, Greek for ‘vehicle’) of iterability and thus a kind of auto-reference that leads us back to the issues cybernetic aesthetics pose with regard to making, invention and the subject of agency. Derrida’s consistent concentration on technology, repetition, iterability, auto-, automatism in these recently published seminars only underscores his exploration of them and their implications for Western metaphysics that he pursues in more extended and written-out works. His analysis in this seminar of the wheel in the novel Robinson Crusoe occurs within a larger discussion of Heidegger’s World, Finitude and Solitude as well as Rosseau’s Confessions (2011: 62–92). The DeFoe and Rosseau textual analyses connect the seminar to Barthes’ reading of Crusoe in his own lecture course How to Live Together and to his various readings of Rosseau in the same work. Barthes’ agenda is toward a reconstitution of community, of self and other with regard to community, as well as an examination of the quotidian. Derrida’s interests with these texts complement Barthes’ though they clearly reside elsewhere: in the technics of world- and subject-formation operating under the phantasm of power. Derrida’s readings address the metaphysical underpinnings of geopolitics within a Western tradition intensified and magnified through cybernetic and systems theory that challenge the received relationship between techne and physis that he perceives as having been there all along. Returning to Burgin’s engagement with many of these same concerns, we find that he writes in his note about Occasio (2014) that a visit to the Siegerlandmuseum

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served as a catalyst for the projection work. Housed in the Upper Castle, the museum stands near the site of the birth house of Peter Paul Rubens. Burgin notes that the house was destroyed in the WWII Allied bombing of Siegen. Though the bombing destroyed almost 90 per cent of the old town centre, the Upper Castle survived. The ground floor of the museum features a descent into a replica of mine workings typical of the local ore-mining industry that flourished in the Siegerland up to the 1960s. ‘During the war such subterranean galleries sheltered works of art’, Burgin writes, ‘albeit the Rubens “Occasio” now hanging in an upper gallery of the museum was not amongst these. My mind was still on the mining industry and the wartime assault on Siegen as I stood in front of Rubens’ allegorical plea for peace’ (2014: 3). The take-up and lowering mechanism that is the fulcrum around which the piece turns, literally and figuratively, shows its large wheel stilled and functions in ways analogous to Derrida’s exploration of Crusoe’s preoccupation with the wheel. Burgin links the mechanism’s mining associations and their relation to the wartime destruction to both his thought processes and Freud’s comments on daydreams when he writes that ‘Occasio is a waking product of such residues structured in accordance with the looping and repetitive movements characteristic of daydreams’ (3). Whether psychologically important for the individual or for the collective society, the technics of production (mining, projection, CGI modelling, the looping required to write software, narrative, perspective and repetition) serve to obliquely work the geopolitics of space in this projection through a heavily allusive cybernetic aesthetics of loss, erasure, presentation and representation. The mining mechanism is the figure of all of these, perched alone on the mountaintop, performing its mechanical duty while simultaneously helping generate subjects who engage it in the gallery projection. Moving from space to time, we note that although Burgin’s Occasio and Lucier’s ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’ are not necessarily ‘time-based’ in the outmoded sense of the term, they fundamentally address and question the temporality of their performance in ways that evoke alternative means for experiencing time. ‘From the development of mathematical stochastics and statistical dynamics in nineteenth-century thermodynamics [such as those that led to theories of entropy] up to Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics’, the media theorist Wolfgang Ernst observes, ‘the historical mode describing temporal processes has been confronted with alternative modelings of time’ (2012: 58). Although it is worth noting that Ernst uses historiographic narrative to provide his argument for alternative time modellings, the point is nonetheless worth considering in relation to the range of temporalities simultaneously at play in Burgin’s installation loops and Lucier’s

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‘I am Sitting in a Room’. These kinds of temporalities occur, according to Ernst, in an archaeological manner – an ‘enumerative rather than narrative manner, infrastructural rather than sociological’ that results in ways of thinking media through a ‘cultural sedimentation’ that is neither ‘purely human nor purely technological but literally in between’ (2012: 70). This ‘in-between’ space or time, of course, etymologically returns us to the roots of the English term ‘media’. These different temporalities provide a density of duration that resuscitate a Heraclitian flow as much as a cybernetic series, echoing the ways in which pre-Socratic thought influenced post-structuralist theory (as one notes in the posthumous publication of Barthes’ late lectures, relying as they do on a number of pre-Socratic thinkers). The stochastic and elemental aesthetics of Burgin’s metonymic patterning finds conversation with the innovations of Greek technological and philosophical insights of letters/numbers and atoms: the one and the many that so occupied them and apparently us as well. The one and the many also rely on the possibility of none, of zero. The panorama feature built into a standard ‘consumer’ digital camera’s software package becomes, as Burgin writes, ‘de facto an authorless popular form’ that necessarily involves an element of ‘automatism’ (2008: 92). This zero degree fulcrum of disembodied perspective that is the function of the software finds analogue analogy in Lucier’s piece. He describes the piece as one consciously constructed with ‘no poetic or aesthetic content’ (2012: 89). ‘The art’, he continues, ‘was some place else’ (2012: 89) – as is the listener of the piece. The art was in the process of exploring the acoustics of the room that the recorded piece reveals in its plummet toward incomprehensibility. As with the conceptual processual art of someone such as Hans Haacke, Lucier sets up a pre-digital program of additive looping repetitions in which the layering of resonance in the room establishes ‘destructive interference’ (2012: 90) of the series of sound waves’ capacity to be in sync with (or identical to) themselves. The repetitions of the piece reinforce this difference through the room’s resonances and eventually transform semantic utterance to noise bereft of linguistic information: noise that is music. Lucier’s piece anticipates digital glitch aesthetics by exploiting flaws in machinic reproduction and repetition, making the impossibility of exact reproduction the composition’s method and subject. Lucier’s piece exemplifies cybernetic preoccupations with information and noise, looping and loss, homeostasis and collapse, function and breakdown – all performed in the simple experiment of recording and re-recording loops as a means for exploring the relationship between acoustics and space. Similarly, but with a larger set of agendas,

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Burgin’s Occasio (discussed previously) illustrates the geopolitics of space through cybernetic aesthetics. Commissioned in 2014 by the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Siegen Germany, the piece provides a 360-degree view of a single image slowly circled one time during the fifteen-minute run of the loop: an image of a mountain peak poking above cloud cover with a cable car take-up reel mechanism poised on top of the mountain as dusk slowly gathers light from the sky. Used for the transport of people or coal, or both, while simultaneously analogous to the take-up reel for film in a cinema camera, movie projector or reel-to-reel tape recorder, the mechanism is viewed from a circling computer-animated perspective that is mirrored in the story told by the narrator, a story in which mirrors and movies and TV figure prominently. Narrative circularity – layering and looping – is common in oral literature but not so much in textual ones, which tend toward linearity.2 There are telling exceptions though; one of the most famous being the first line of Finnegans Wake, which is the end of the last sentence of the book broken off in mid-syntactical flow. In an homage to Vico more than Nietszche, readers are meant to close the book, turn it back to the front and start again. This book of puns reinforces the looping structure through the title: Finn becomes F. fin (‘end’) and ‘-egan’ becomes ‘again’ rendering the name and title as ‘end again’. Because the book begins with the end of the last sentence, to begin again also means to finish again.3 The inversion of the sentences in Burgin’s text for the projection, though repeated, provides us the illusion of a chiasmus, the structure of which is not easily realised within the rigid word order of English syntax, though capable of being evoked with swapping the order of sentences as experienced here. The basic chiasmatic format of ABCBA occurs across sentences and not within them nor necessarily across entire textual constructs. There is a weaving and splicing of the chiasmatic qualities that echo the impossibility of repetition and the musical (as well as Beckettian) variations on a theme.4 But the inversion is more complex than this as the opening paragraph receives a repetition of sorts in the second paragraph, indicating (if one were to assume incorrectly that the first paragraph is indeed the first paragraph) that repetition and reversal along themes and variations will be a primary structural element of the voiceover (voice off). The cybernetic theoretical position that no true repetition occurs in any given system due to the fact that the placement of symbols or elements in relation to each other alters each iteration of it is apparently echoed in Burgin’s narrative variations at play in this projection. Derrida’s ‘iterability’ proves useful again as it construes a similar logic indicating that the capacity of language to be reused, recycled and repeated

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resides at the very core of language’s operation: its capacity to differ from itself while still remaining itself – an insight that offers us a view of how information systems operate. This insight about the operation of information systems occurs at all levels of Occasio: at the level of enunciation of the soundtrack and the image track, as well as within the descriptive neo-narrative diegetic spoken through the voice over but which is never visualised for us. These elements resonate with the resonances generated by Lucier’s artistic experiment. Similarly, the narrative and intertitles place the subject in ‘past present tense’, a subject in the past remembering an even-further past moment. The images evade the temporal as does Lucier’s recording but in so doing bring into presence through the artifice of representation and reproductive/evocative techne a space-time moment (or chronotope) that is also produced through the artwork itself, through the technologies that provide the work its capacity for existence.

Zero Degree Listening: I am Sitting in a Room ‘I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.’ – Alvin Lucier ‘I am Sitting in a Room’ spoken text ‘Matter thus resolves itself into numberless vibrations, all linked together in uninterrupted continuity, all bound up with each other, and travelling in every direction like shivers through an immense body.’ – Henri Bergson Matter and Memory, 208

Alvin Lucier’s iconic ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’ blurs the lines between production, reproduction, manifestation and destruction. A speaker utters the statement or lyrics quoted above (in several recordings it is Lucier himself) and records the utterance in a specific room.5 The initial recording becomes the content for a playback that is then recorded on another machine. Each reproduction becomes the content for the next recording with the sound layering capturing the acoustic resonance of the room. Reproduction becomes indistinguishable from production, recording from playback.

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Eventually the words tip over into sheer noise, the product of the room’s acoustic qualities, and result in the erasure of content/production (and reproduction) through technological engagement with the built environment (the eponymous room). The room’s acoustics combined with the technological looping allows the room and its own qualities to undermine the piece as intelligible utterance through the built environment’s invisible potentiality to reveal its own aural constructedness. ‘Air in a space’, Doug Kahn writes, ‘acted as a component that could exist in-circuit with a hardware configuration’ (2013: 102) that creates conditions of hearing what was unhearable in the room previously: namely the room itself. The conditions and spatial medium (air) that allow for an understandable reproduction of the statement work through repetition and layering of the technological intervention to undermine those conditions that can convey sound as information and subverts them. In the process, the room abstractly speaks for itself and renders its acoustic attributes evident. The tipping point, as mentioned, comes when the layered playbacks stop being identifiable as language and metamorphose into abstracted sound: speech becomes music. That moment, though, is different for each listener and each listening experience, providing the attentive witness to the work a moment of intimacy specific to the individual moment of engagement with the work. The process by which he builds the piece was initially developed as an acoustic experiment by Amar Bose, the loudspeaker designer and innovator, who was a student of Norbert Wiener at MIT and whose dissertation applied Wiener’s theories on nonlinearity to room acoustics. Bose’s formal experiment in cybernetic acoustics and innovation for the emergent hi-fi manufacturing sector in the Boston area in the late 1960s led to Lucier’s modification of the technique for his artistic sound piece. Bose’s experiment tested loudspeakers in rooms that allowed for resonance as opposed to the standard sound rooms of anechoic chambers. These experimental rooms meant only the speaker was heard in the lab and thus bereft of what it might sound like in standard home playback conditions (Kahn 2013: 102–5). The leap to working with resonance for speaker design became the aesthetic innovation that Lucier takes from Bose and therefore allowed him to build ever-increasingly thicker repetitions of sound predicated on the room’s acoustics to the point at which the listener simply hears the room’s capacity to generate air waves: an aural analogue to Burgin’s impossible panoramas. Lucier’s unattainable listening position and Burgin’s disembodied perspective create zero degree engagements with sensorial experience not realisable through naked biological and corporeal sense. As with the discovery of black light, this aesthetic gesture removes

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the human as perceiving subject while simultaneously affording human access through the technological traces to hear and see what one previously could not. Lucier understood the space of a room and its acoustics as the primary components in the system that generated the artwork. He simply formulated the system and set it in motion, allowing the resonance of the air as medium to produce the product. This composition and others by Lucier, as well as some by John Cage, David Tudor and Gordon Mumma and others, all of whom worked together and conversed, is composed to articulate the space of the performance, to articulate it as space through sound and time. Mumma’s 1967 piece of electronic music ‘Hornpipe’, for example, used a machine he constructed called ‘the Cybersonic Console’, which allowed him to do a quick acoustical analysis of a room in which he was to perform so that he could build up complexly layered sounds (indeed harsh dissonant sounds) that would eventually saturate the space and become unstable, thus triggering the electronics and provide an aural equilibrium based on the acoustics of the space. As did Bose, Mumma had studied at MIT with Wiener and the cybernetic aesthetic operates as a systemsdriven tool to produce a bespoke piece that uses the built environment as an essential component of the artwork. Mumma’s concept of the console and its use complement Lucier’s goal to articulate a space and allow its wave-like potentials and character to emerge. These pieces are not about imposing order on the space of performance and using it as a medium or obstacle for achieving a clear performance of the composition (removing noise from the message, as it were) but rather to allow the acoustic qualities of the space to emerge and determine the music, not vice versa. Lucier writes in Chambers, ‘the space acts as a filter; it filters out all of the frequencies except the resonant ones. It has to do with the architecture, the physical dimensions and acoustic characteristics of the space’ (1980: 35). This kind of engagement exemplifies the opposite of standard subject-object orientations with regard to agency in the production of art, shifting explicitly to a systems approach in which agency is distributed throughout the system and the art is produced in the programming. Both Lucier and Burgin require the audience of the piece to attend to the processual and conceptual thickening that accrues over time when engaging their works. The attentive listener and viewer receive a lesson in how to be an attentive listener and viewer through the artists’ attentive sensorial experience of the space being evoked. The works have an autodidactic element to them. They show us how to listen to and watch them. Lucier’s instructions for how ‘I am Sitting in a Room’ is made are also the content and basic building block of his sonic work. ‘I guess you could

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say’, he writes, ‘that the score is built into the performance’ (2008: 38). Burgin is more oblique than literal and the visual/associative layering in his loops when viewed in a cycle creates similar effects of spectatorship to that which one experiences before a painting (2008: 90–1). The autodidactic dimensions of these works extend the zero degree dimension of their systems aesthetics by casting the attentive audience member as simultaneously central to the unfolding of the work and peripheral to the processes witnessed, watched and heard.

Post-Digital Aesthetics: Still Moving ‘… it’s important to me to take into account the specificity of the location of these works in art museums and galleries. For example, I accept the customary behaviour of spectators in such places. I don’t ask them to behave any differently from the way they behave when they go to look at a painting. That’s the representational tradition out of which my work emerges – not photography, not cinema. Maybe it’s this background that has allowed me to relativise photography and cinema, to see these forms as historically contingent stages in the history of the perspectival system of representation, and to see computer simulation as the latest iteration of the way the West has represented itself and its others since the early fifteenth century.’ – Victor Burgin Barthes/Burgin, 112

The phrase ‘still moving images’ conjures the unusual terrain traversed by the visual element of Burgin’s projections and their unsettlingly paradoxical media. Not only are the loops occasionally composed of a series of still archival images animated, somewhat, by 3-D modelling, but also intellectually and affectively they are images that move and still (in the active verbal sense of the term) at the same time. If one considers the title of Derrida’s book on photography, Athens, Still Remains or Beckett’s last prose work published in his lifetime, Stirrings Still, the productive ambiguity of ‘still’ comes to the fore: evoking a condition or situation in which activity ceases but duration occurs through this cessation. With the Derrida title, the photographs provide still remains (as photographic objects) of still remains of the city’s recent and ancient past, proving that Athens continues (or remains) through that which no longer moves (is still). Beckett’s title proves more intriguing, for the stirrings have started to slow if not stop when read one way; if read another, the continuity of still – its durational

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dimension – means that the stirrings continue to stir. (Their transitivity, however, remains a further mystery.) Burgin’s loops help us think through duration and temporality, image and animation, as conditions by which we understand and perceive the world in relative or altered timeframes. They show, further, that these conditions are themselves products of technologies of perception and representation as much as they are of materiality and/ or subjective embodied experience. The images are not moving images nor are they still images: they are ‘still moving images’ produced through mediation by foregrounding their mediating capacities. These ‘still moving images’ are, as in Beckett’s title, durational and, as in Derrida’s title, proof of a kind of duration through their immobility and stasis. Their procession offers the required delay in the certainty of binaristic categories of movement and stasis, continuity and break, animation and inanimate entities: the delay that opens a space for attention and contemplation through an art that is both production and reproduction, presentation and representation. Recalling the work of Alain Resnais and Chris Marker in Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard ), the perspectival camera of Burgin’s installation loops provides the chiasmas of ‘still moving/moving stills’ to excavate memories of space. Their ‘short sequences, most often fragmentary, circular and repetitive’ (2010: 372) work an unstable ground between the still photographic image and moving cinematic/video image into a third area of purely mediated both/and found within the algorithmically modelled lens of the computer camera. They are animate yet not alive, like the clock in Claude Charbol’s Alice ou la derniere fugue that suddenly, of its own accord, inexplicably starts swinging its pendulum. This scene provides the central meditative frame of Burgin’s textual voice-over, or voice-off, for Occasio. The scene is the catalyst for his narrative overlay, and it is the automatic (the auto-movement) pendulum of the clock (temporality) that startles the film’s protagonist, the way the Mad Hare with his watch startles another Alice. It frames the action in chiasmatic fashion, for the pendulum’s equally inexplicable cessation of swinging brings the scene to a close: we loop back to where we started … sort of. Breaking from the constrained textual spaces of Occasio, Burgin’s Belledonne (2016) opens with a sweeping panorama of the Alps from a zero degree fulcrum point high above the sanatorium facing the eponymous Belledonne mountain range where Barthes underwent tuberculosis treatment. The panorama whizzes by compared to the long meditative circle looping around the mechanism in Occasio. As with the earlier projection piece, the sun provides a point of temporal reference, in this case with its

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static perch moving from left to right, as if we have entered into a still 360-degree photograph of the panorama and are able to inhabit it, but only from the impossible axis or vantage point of the camera. The lens is wide-angle, warping and distorting the edges of the still image it pans and altering perspectival relations. Quickly the camera zooms from an aerial shot high above the mountain range and plunges down into the valley before turning to the right to pan the mountain range from the valley floor from a perpendicular rather than parallel angle. The rapid tracking shot comes to a stop before a view that turns out to be an old postcard of the sanatorium. After some textual information about the sanatorium, there is a brief explanation of the daily number of deaths at the institution during Barthes’ sojourn there. A few intertitles explain Barthes’ déclive treatment, during which the patient must lie at an incline on the affected side for eighteen hours a day without any movement or speaking. The patient – as with the clock, or mining mechanism, or image – has been stilled in and through the moving projection of the installation. Another intertitle follows offering an evocative, indeed haiku-like, example and explanation of haiku – a poetic form Barthes much admired and wrote about often. The intertitle reads: According to tradition A haiku should be No longer than a breath The text itself fades, like a breath, evanescently in the projection: frozen text made mobile by the fade. Another haiku follows this textual image immediately: Thaw in the valley On the road by the river Columns of soldiers Through a classical haiku rhetorical gesture, nature connects and comments on human activity. In this instance, the slow movement of nature in the shift from late winter to early spring connects to the sluggish mobilisation of military logistics within a static haiku snapshot. But foreboding stalks this still-moving haiku: spring will eventually break forth in a riot of life and the columns of soldiers amassed by the river will eventually break out in a riot of death and carnage in WWII. Death inside the sanatorium is metonymic of the many dead outside it during the war years that

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Barthes lay at an incline, himself still but moving with the act of breathing that has betrayed his health. The patient reclines, immobile, rasping his waking life away. He is not sitting, but lying, in a room: lying still, still lying.

Loops and Systems of Loss and Geopolitics ‘The progressive coming-into-being of a system in human consciousness, the comforting rotation of its elements, the continual mourning for a prior-to that this practice seems to signify, point to a hopeless melancholy at the heart of systems thinking belied by its recent proximity to activist politics. Or, more optimistically, by its sheer endlessness such melancholic circulation never fully yields to understanding, and never fully dissolves into comprehension.’ – Melissa Raigan introduction to Jack Burnham Dissolve into Comprehension, xviii ‘The space of the globe is a circle of circles. Time is imprisoned in the solar system where one may distinguish circles of circles by transfer, rotation, by helices and spirals. Henceforth, space and time are but cycles. This was finally understood scarcely two centuries ago: Laplace.’ – Michel Serres ‘Jules Verne’s Strange Journeys’, 174

If a kind of post-digital aesthetics is operative, articulated and performed in these differing though related works by Burgin and Lucier, and unsurprisingly I would argue there is, then it would need to be found in a conceptual relationship between materials and processes found at play in these pieces. This relationship offers a set of aesthetics that lead to an ethical and political agenda regarding agency, regarding space, regarding attentiveness and regarding how to regard. While we might think there is little reward for trying to regard anew, etymologically it is useful to note that ‘ward’ and ‘guard’ are doublets with each conveying a sense of keeping in sight or in view something/someone for the safety of the watched or of the watcher or both. The ‘w-’ forms of the root’s different variations are Old Germanic and the ‘g-’ forms are Old French. To regard, then, is literally (and linguistically) to reward. And conversely if one regards, one is rewarded. Regard also comes to possess connotations, through its inherently mutual engagement between self and other, that relate to solicitude, respect and affection as well as understanding

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or interpretation. To regard anew in ways that the autodidacticism of these works indicate is to develop means of grasping and intervening in the post-digital infrastructure formation of reality that we have been navigating in its most apparent formulations since the digital constituted the analogue as something prior to but yet absolutely necessary for its emergence. Such regarding also leads us back to the falsely antithetical constitution of technology and nature manifest in these works. To return to the discussion of Derrida, a post-digital aesthetics engages with the inherited antinomies of techne and physis as necessarily contingent upon one another, a relationship the digital moment simply brings to light as something always already there. The processes and systems that yield the digital and that the digital lays bare invoke the impossibility of separating the study of technological materiality from that of networked global capitalism and environmental changes on a planetary scale. Creative practices of loss and mourning made possible by these materialities add to that loss through the creation of works that teach us how to regard anew again. Looping back to analogue technological practices, as witnessed in Burgin’s and Lucier’s works, is to enter into a relationship of temporalities and technics of mediation that the postdigital addresses. Text, postcards, CGI, reel-to-reel tape, air, spatial acoustics, mining, war, nuclear potentialities that yield information systems pliably productive of aesthetic experimentation – all of the elements of the materials operational in these works point toward the ineluctable geopolitical nature of any space, any temporality, any iteration … while also pointing to the technics of geopolitics that allow for its pervasiveness. Our geopolitics became apparent through a set of geometric loops (pace Laplace) that are repeated on a micro level in the loops of these works by Burgin and Lucier in form, content, materiality, concept and attentive regard. The peculiar and specific geometry underpinning Westphalian nation states offers the demarcations of nation states through a two-dimensional diagram of boundaries forming inclusionary and exclusionary pockets or envelopes of sovereignty. Kant’s essay on perpetual peace becomes constitutive of the imaginary of neatly naturalised divisions and borders while simultaneously posing a paradox to us about our earth as a globe: every person has equal claim to a spot on the earth, but by so claiming becomes an affront to others who cannot claim that specific spot. The methodological unit of analysis that forms and is the nation state functions as the model of the earth’s surface codified as a diagram of loops, largely contiguous states separated by lines on a plane, and Kant universalised the arrangement, giving it a foundational ethics (Bratton 2016: 3–9). These are inheritances being breached and reified simultaneously through technics

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of perception, placement and policing in current geopolitical formations built upon cybernetic platforms. Cybernetics is always just as interested in the animal/human as in the non-human: systems are systems. The subtitle of Nobert Wiener’s classic statement on the subject, Cybernetics, is after all ‘or The Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine’. Wiener’s book and set of theoretical explorations pieces to eliminate that division between nature (animal/human/physis) and technics (machine/techne) in a way that speaks deeply to Derrida’s philosophical project we find tellingly displayed in the Burgin and Lucier works. The post-digital moment demands attention and regard on scales not necessarily amenable to or imaginable for anthropomorphic understanding or even notice. A true zero degree for the technics of perspectival formulation of the sensing subject is demanded in this moment. Burgin and Lucier have crafted loops of attentive engagement with materiality for immaterial, noetic and fully embodied aims – if only we can regard them as such.

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Notes 1 Amongst other places in his thought, Lacan explicitly deploys cybernetic theory in his seminars on the symbolic order. 2 See Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (2nd edn). New York and London: Routledge, 2002. 3 The Bible can even be read in the same manner with the chaos in Revelations mirroring and segueing into the void in Genesis: a teleology undone by the looping nature of time. 4 Waiting for Godot and Krapp’s Last Tape structurally deploy sets of loops that are seemingly temporal but which work as layering and repetition but with a difference. Krapp is particularly productive in relation to the Lucier ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’ because of its exploitation of magnetic tape and the reel-to-reel machine for transmitting and recording in the present differing and varying temporal moments of the persona. See Steven Connor’s media archaeological exploration of the play in relation to magnetic tape in ‘Looping the Loop: Tape-Time in Burroughs and Beckett’. Available online: (last accessed 17 August 2018). 5 Lucier’s work influenced the soundtrack formation for David Fincher’s films Se7en and Zodiac according to the sound designer of these films Ren Klyce: ‘What I liked about the Lucier piece was how Lucier’s voice starts from a dry sound, then to sounding like it’s in the next room, then down the hallway.’ Available online: (last accessed 17 August 2018). It is useful to note that this is the reverse of the increasing proximity of the lunatic in Pink Floyd’s ‘Brain Damage’ as famously discussed by Kittler as a tale of the conditions of communications technologies that speak us. In the lyrics to ‘Brain Damage’, the lunatic is first on the grass (outside), then in the hallway, and then in the speaker’s (or singer’s) head.

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References Bergson, Henri (1996) Matter and Memory, trans. N. M. Paul and W. S. Palmer, New York: Cosimo. Bratton, Benjamin (2016) The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Burgin, Victor (ed.) (1982) Thinking Photography. Basingstoke: MacMillan Education.

Kahn, Douglas (2013) Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitudes in the Arts. Berkeley and London: University of California Press.

Burgin, Victor (2008) Components of a Practice. Milan: Skira Press.

Lucier, Alvin and Douglas Simon (1980) Chambers. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Burgin, Victor (2010) Situational Aesthetics: Selected Writings by Victor Burgin, ed. and intro. Alexander Streitberger. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Lucier, Alvin (2012) Music 109: Notes on Experimental Music. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Burgin, Victor (2014) Five Pieces for Projection. Berlin: Sternberg Press. Burgin, Victor, Gulru Chakmak, David Campany, Homay King, D. N. Rodowick and Anthony Vidler (2014) Projective: Essays about the Work of Victor Burgin. Geneva: Musée d’arte moderne et contemporain. Burnham, Jack (2015) Dissolve into Comprehension, ed. and intro. Melissa Raigan. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press. Derrida, Jacques (2011) The Beast and the Sovereign II, trans. Geoffrey Bennington. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Ernst, Wolfgang (2012) Digital Memory and the Archive, ed. Jussi Parikka. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Raigan, Melissa (ed. and intro.) (2015) in Jack Burnham, Dissolve into Comprehension. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press. Serres, Michel (1975) ‘Jules Verne’s Strange Journeys’, Yale French Studies 52: 174–88. Shannon, Claude and Warren Weaver (1949) The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

The Situation of Practice Victor Burgin Towards the end of his book Writing Degree Zero (1953) Roland Barthes invokes the image of the writer facing the blank page.1 The writer may wish to acknowledge ‘the vast novelty of the present world’ but finds that History has put at her or his disposal ‘only a language which is splendid but lifeless’ – ‘Literature’. Hence, Barthes says, the search by certain writers for: ‘a non-style or an oral style, for a zero level or a spoken level of writing’ which is ‘the anticipation of a homogeneous social state’ (1970c: 86–7). The confrontation with the blank page is the degree zero of any art practice, the schematic centre of the situation of the practice. In everyday speech the word ‘situation’ is used in disparate senses. It can refer to a job, a physical location, a set of circumstances, a state of play, an emergency and so on. An art practice is additionally ‘situated’ in ways more or less specific to art. For example, at the beginning of the conversation with Ryan Bishop in Barthes/Burgin I say how, in my projection works, I take account of the behaviour most usual among visitors to art museums and galleries – a peripatetic mode of spectatorship different from, for example, that of the sedentary cinemagoer. I also talk about the way in which a work may be situated in relation to the specific geopolitical context into which it is produced (in this particular case that of the city of Istanbul in 2010). In what follows, I take Barthes’ idea of a degree zero of writing as a point of departure for an account of the situation of my practice in relation to its apparatus – in both the technological and institutional senses of the term. My remarks at times apply to the material means specific to my own art practice – writing and camera images – and at other times concern ‘art’ in general. Situations are relative, they involve taking positions. The ‘homogeneous social state’ Barthes’ writer anticipates in 1953 is that envisaged by French Marxism in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Although Barthes’ political thinking evolves in the course of his subsequent work, his view of the political role of art remains fundamentally that with which he concludes Writing Degree Zero: ‘Literature becomes the Utopia of language’ (1970c: 88).

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Writing In the decades since the publication of Writing Degree Zero the expression ‘degree zero’ has been variously appropriated in a variety of fields. It is therefore worth reviewing how the term emerges in Barthes’ own work. In the course of a series of interviews filmed between 1970 and 1971 Barthes dates his first formulation of the idea of a ‘degree zero’ of writing to his time in the tuberculosis sanatorium for students at Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet, where he was a patient from 1942 to 1945: ‘At the student sanatorium there was a review called Existences … for which I wrote my very first texts, and notably I wrote a first text … on Camus’ L’Etranger … where, basically, we find … the first proposition of this notion of the zero degree of literature – white writing (l’écriture blanche), zero writing, (l’écriture zéro) – which I’ll make use of later’ (Thomas, 2015). The text which Barthes cites, however, contains neither the expression l’écriture blanche nor l’écriture zéro. In her preface to the US edition of Writing Degree Zero Susan Sontag refers to ‘the notion of zero-degree, neutral, colorless writing – first discussed by Sartre, who called it l’écriture blanche, in his famous review of Camus’ L’Etranger…’ (1970: xx–xxi). I assume that the text Sontag cites is Jean-Paul Sartre’s essay of 1943 ‘Explications de L’Etranger’ – but the expression l’écriture blanche does not appear in this essay either. What Barthes writes, in the concluding sentence of his essay on Camus is: ‘with L’Etranger … appears a new style, the style of silence and the silence of style, where the voice of the artist – equally distanced from sighs, blasphemies and canticles – is a voix blanche’ (1993: 75). The term voix blanche (literally, ‘white voice’) is used in French to refer to a voice devoid of expression. In typographic language ‘un blanc’ (‘a white’) refers to the interstice between two lines. Writing Degree Zero addresses the dilemma of the writer who wishes to free his or her writing from the grip of bourgeois history as enshrined in language. Barthes cites the example of Stéphane Mallarmé’s typographical experiments which ‘[seek] to create around rarefied words an empty zone in which speech, liberated from its guilty social overtones, may, by some happy contrivance, no longer reverberate’ (1970c: 75) – but sees such solutions as leading inexorably into silence. In his commentary on L’Etranger Sartre addresses the paradox of a meaningful writing that is empty and expressionless: ‘how to keep silent (se taire) with words? … This gamble implies recourse to a new technique’ (1947: 109). Sartre acknowledges that Camus’ technique owes something to that of Ernest Hemingway. He notes that both

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writers similarly favour short sentences, with each sentence refusing to benefit from prior sentences – as if each sentence were a new beginning. Sartre has the impression, in respect of both authors, that each sentence is the equivalent of an isolated ‘shot’ of a gesture or object. Early in his memoirs of his years in Paris in the 1920s Hemingway describes how he faced writer’s block: ‘I would … think, “All you have to do is write one true sentence.” … I found that I could cut [the] … ornament out … and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written’ (1964: 11). Later in the book he refers to a story in which he had ‘omitted the real end’. He writes: ‘This was omitted on my new theory that you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood’ (1964: 34). This ‘theory of omission’ he will later refer to as his ‘iceberg theory’ of writing.2 What breaks the surface is a point of concentration, condensation, of all that lies below. For example, this sentence from Hemingway’s memoirs: ‘The new heavy weight was a local boy who had been employed carrying parts of carcasses in the stockyards until he had an accident which affected his reasoning power’ (2009: 196). A terse ‘journalistic’ statement of anecdotal fact folds the brutality of boxing into the violence of the proletarian condition of its practitioners. Hemingway began his career as a journalist, and in Writing Degree Zero Barthes invokes the example of journalism when he first presents the expression ‘degree zero’ as ‘a simile borrowed from linguistics’.3 He writes: ‘we know that some linguists establish between the two terms of a polar opposition … the existence of a third term, called the neutral term or zero element: thus between the subjunctive and the imperative moods, the indicative is according to them an amodal form. … writing at the zero degree is basically in the indicative mood … it would be accurate to say that it is a journalist’s writing, if it were not precisely the case that journalism develops, in general, optative or imperative (that is, emotive) forms. The new neutral writing takes its place in the midst of all those ejaculations and judgments, without becoming involved in any of them; it consists precisely in their absence’ (1970c: 76–7). Hemingway’s sentences are a triumph of concision, which for Barthes is a characteristic of Classicism; Hemingway’s style therefore retains an affiliation to ‘Literature’. Something more than concision however is at work in the opening sentence of Albert Camus’ L’Etranger: ‘Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure’ (1946: 4).4 Both Sartre and Barthes find the key to L’Etranger in

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Camus’ book-length essay of 1942, Le Mythe de Sisyphe, published a few months prior to his novel. Camus gives the example of watching a man speaking on the telephone in a glazed telephone cabin: you see him gesticulating without understanding what he is saying. Sartre says that all of Camus’ procedure may be found in this example: ‘between the characters he speaks of and the reader he is going to place a glazed partition. … It remains only to choose the glass.’ Camus, he says, achieves the effect of a world ‘transparent to things and opaque to significations’ (1947: 121). In similar terms, writing in 1958 in defence of the work of Alain Robbe-Grillet, Barthes writes: ‘There is … in Robbe-Grillet’s work, … a rejection of the signification of objects. Whence the importance of optical description: if Robbe-Grillet describes objects quasi-geometrically, it is in order to release them from human signification, to correct them of metaphor and anthropomorphism’ (1972: 92). Barthes’ images of ‘optical’ and ‘quasi-geometrical’ description is consonant with the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who writes: ‘Our perception ends in objects, and the object, once constituted, appears as the reason for all the experiences we have had of it, or could have had. For example, I see the neighbouring house from a particular angle. One would see it differently from the right bank of the Seine, differently from its interior, and differently again from an aeroplane. The house itself is none of these appearances, it is, as Leibnitz said, the géometral of these perspectives and of all possible perspectives; that is, the nonperspectival term from which all possible perspectives may be derived. It is the house seen from nowhere’ (2012: 69). Barthes’ early characterisation of Robbe-Grillet’s writing in terms of optics and geometry foreshadows his later interest in the assimilation of the written trace to the graphic trace he finds in Japanese art and in the work of Erté and Saul Steinberg, and in his interest in photography. Moreover, the success of Claude Lévi-Strauss in applying conceptual models from structural linguistics in the field of anthropology had lent credibility to Ferdinand de Saussure’s prediction that linguistic analysis would one day be applied beyond natural language to become a general science of signs – semiology – based on the analogy between natural language and signifying systems other than language. When the idea of ‘degree zero’ returns in Barthes’ book-length essay of 1964 ‘Élements de la sémiologie’,5 it is in a substantively different form from his presentation of it a decade earlier. Barthes now derives the notion of ‘degree zero’ from a discussion of linguistic oppositions in the work of the Danish philologist Viggo Brøndal.6 One such opposition, the ‘privative’, is that in which one term

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is unmarked in relation to the term to which it is opposed. Barthes gives the example of the word mange (from the verb manger, ‘to eat’) in its opposition to mangeons. The first term gives no indication of person or number, whereas the second announces itself as the first person plural form of the verb. Barthes writes: ‘the unmarked term … is called the zero degree of the opposition. The zero degree is therefore not a total absence … it is a significant absence. We have here a pure differential state; the zero degree testifies to the power held by any system of signs, of creating meaning “out of nothing” …’ (1967: 77). Between the two occurrences of the expression ‘degree zero’ a significant shift has taken place. In the earlier presentation, the zero degree is a ‘third term’, as it were ‘between’ two terms; in the later version it is one of the terms in a binary opposition. Barthes himself did not develop a coherent system of thought, and laid no claim to apply the ideas he derived from fields other than his own in a consistent fashion. The question of whether Barthes resolved apparent discrepancies in the terminology of theoretical linguistics is secondary to the question of the use to which he put the ideas. In the course of its evolution, Barthes’ notion of a ‘degree zero’ – a strategy of escape from the confines of (bourgeois) literary history – is shown to be as applicable to visual image practices as it is to writing. Concomitantly it is precisely the abstract generality of the concept that requires that its contents be specified in terms of the practice in question.

Apparatus I: Camera It was long obvious that there is no singular ‘photography’ but rather a variety of photographic practices (medical, journalistic, touristic, artistic, domestic, documentary, etc.) each with its own institutional framework. Nevertheless, all were assumed to be rooted in a common technology – the still camera. Today, an air of nostalgia hangs about the expression ‘still camera’. It no longer needs to be argued that the convergence of the technologies of film, photography and video has dissolved the previously categorical distinction between still and moving images – the fact is obvious to any owner of a mobile phone. The most revolutionary event in the recent history of photography, however, was not the arrival of digital cameras as such, but rather the broadband connection of these cameras to the Internet. The same virtual space in which numerical camera images now propagate also gives birth to images with

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no indexical relation to the material world, in the form of scenes shot on immaterial cameras in ‘photorealistic’ virtual worlds. The 3-D modelling algorithms at work in, for example, architectural rendering and videogame authoring software, bring electronic computation to knowledge that originated in classical antiquity. This has thrown into relief a fundamental basis of Western rationality as embodied in pictorial techniques, one that runs unbroken through painting, photography and film: perspectival representation. The computer modelling programs in use today render space in terms of a representational system devised in Italy around 1420 when Filippo Brunelleschi applied principals of optics and geometry to painting. Although based on natural phenomena – the physics of light and the physiology and psychology of visual perception – perspectival representation is not in itself natural; nor is it ideologically innocent, as dramatised in the murderous conflict between sixteenth-century Istanbul miniaturists that Orhan Pamuk evokes in his 1998 novel My Name is Red. The pictorial traditions of Islam, and such other civilisations as those of Egypt and China, demonstrate that perspectival representation is not inevitable, yet it has nevertheless become the globally hegemonic mode of representing the world – to the point that it now passes largely unremarked as a system. The emergence of the camera in the virtual space brought about by the digital revolution has revealed the essence of the camera to be immaterial, residing in optical, geometrical and mathematical principles that are independent of their physical, and now computational, forms. Because the distinction between still and moving images is no longer definitive, because cameras are nodes in the Internet, because the camera has dematerialised, for these and no doubt other reasons there is no longer any singular objective basis to serve as material ground for the attribution ‘photography’. Histories of photography and cinema often begin with a summary account of the ‘prehistory’ of the technologies ‘from camera obscura to praxinoscope’. To consider the camera in terms of the history of perspective suggests a different periodisation, one in which we may speak of pre-modern, industrial and digital photography: manual perspective drawing with optical aids gives way to the mechanical operation of a machine, which then cedes place to electronic computation. We may identify correlates of this periodisation in art criticism: first, works of art are judged with reference to criteria of taste;7 later, they are interpreted as expressions of such things as an artist’s intentions, or the ‘spirit of the age’; then we arrive at what, following Michel Foucault, we may call an archaeology.8 Foucault envisages an archaeology of painting, which ‘would not set out to show that the painting is a certain way of “meaning” or “saying” that is peculiar in that it dispenses with

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words. It would try to show that, at least in one of its dimensions, it is a discursive practice that is embodied in techniques and effects’ (1972: 194). As the American philosopher Joseph J. Tanke puts it, this suggests the analysis of an artwork: ‘in terms of the way of seeing that it makes possible or denies, the positions it assigns the viewer, the historical position required on the part of the artist, the theoretical reflections it gives rise to, and the transformations the work inaugurates in the visible field’ (2009: 61). Such considerations, evidenced throughout Barthes’ work, are fundamental to an understanding of the ‘apparatus’ in the terms established by Foucault. It is no longer possible to point to any physical apparatus – mounted on a tripod or hand-held – as anchor and guarantor of the category ‘photography’, the attribution is now made only on the basis of the institutional and discursive understanding of ‘apparatus’.9

Apparatus II: Art In questions put to him in 1977, following the publication of the first volume of his History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault was asked to explain what he meant by the word ‘apparatus’ (dispositif) when speaking of the ‘apparatus of sexuality’. He replied: ‘firstly, a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions … the said as much as the unsaid. Such are the elements of the apparatus. The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements’ (1980: 194). If we were to identify the components of the art apparatus in Foucault’s terms we might begin by making lists under some of the categories he identifies as constituting the apparatus. For example, under ‘discourses’ we would enumerate the various bodies of speech and writing that take ‘art’ as their object: curatorial, critical, journalistic, historical, sociological, philosophical and so on. Under ‘institutions’ we would list not only such entities as Tate Modern, The Photographers’ Gallery and art departments in art schools and universities, but also such instruments of legitimation as the Turner Prize, the Deutsche Börse Foundation Photography prize and so on. Foucault’s category ‘architectural forms’ would include the various types of structures within which works of art are presented: most obviously art museums and galleries, but also journals, magazines and newspapers, and the Internet.

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It is obvious to common sense that art discourses, institutions and so on, all converge upon a singular common object that has given rise to them all: ‘art’. But this putative singularity is in fact a mutating heterogeneity incapable of presenting a coherent picture without discursive framing. It is the apparatus alone that produces ‘art’ and manages the historical contradiction between the cliché of art as a vehicle for ‘alternative values’ and the fact that art is now an integral part of the society of the spectacle, the culture of celebrity and the ‘economy of enrichment’. I take this last expression from a study published in France earlier this year. In their book Enrichment. A critique of the commodity (2017) the French sociologists Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre describe a fundamental transformation, across the last quarter of the twentieth century, in the way wealth is created in the Western nations: a change marked on the one hand by de-industrialisation and on the other by the exploitation of resources that, although not totally new, have assumed an unprecedented economic importance. The two sociologists bring together domains previously considered separately – most notably the arts, especially visual arts, the luxury industry, the trade in old objects, the creation of foundations and museums, and the national heritage and tourist industries. What all of these have in common is that they generate their profits through an exploitation of the past. Boltanski and Esquerre describe how the type of industrial capitalism that came to be established in the West after World War II reached a platform in the mid-1970s. An overcapacity of production and an increase in costs due to the success of labour unions in securing higher wages and better working conditions reduced profits to shareholders. Capitalism found a way out of this impasse by exporting production to countries with a cheap and docile labour force, thereby increasing unemployment and depressing workers’ incomes in the West. As industrial production declined in the West and finance capitalism separated from industrial capitalism, there was an increase in the value of newly unregulated financial services and an unprecedented expansion in the production of luxury goods. Whereas under the industrial regime products such as motor cars and washing machines were aimed at all economic classes of society except the extremely poor, the new luxury goods were aimed exclusively at the very rich. In the industrial economy the middle and working classes were needed to sustain the market, in the enrichment economy these classes are no longer needed. Boltanski and Esquerre use the term ‘enrichment’ to refer both to the system under which commodities are produced exclusively for the rich, and the operations by which such goods are ‘enriched’ in the eyes of their wealthy consumers. They distinguish between different classes of commodities

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according to the types of discourses associated with them and their relation to time. In the case of the mass-produced ‘standard form’ of commodity (the washing machine, the motor car) the dominant discourse is one of innovation, reliability and durability, even though with respect to time it is tacitly accepted such products are destined to obsolescence and the scrapheap. Across the period of history examined by Boltanski and Esquerre we see the fields of art, architecture and design increasingly drawn into the enrichment economy. With this fact in mind we may turn to Berthold Brecht’s formulation of ‘apparatus’ which, unlike Foucault’s, is primarily socio-economic in inspiration. By ‘apparatus’ Brecht means every aspect of cultural production – from technologies, through publicity and promotion, to the financial and political elites that bankroll and control the various cultural institutions. Brecht speaks of what he characterises as the ‘muddled thinking’ of artists and critics alike in respect of this apparatus. He writes: ‘imagining that they have got hold of an apparatus which in fact has got hold of them … leads to a general habit of judging works of art by their suitability for the apparatus without ever judging the apparatus by its suitability for the work. People say, this or that is a good work; and they mean (but do not say) good for the apparatus. Yet this apparatus is conditioned by the society of the day … an innovation will pass if it is calculated to rejuvenate existing society, but not if it is going to change it ...’ (Willett 1964: 34). To illustrate how Boltanski and Esquerre conceive the discourse and time of the enrichment commodity in the particular setting of contemporary art I shall turn to an anecdote. Most of the information I receive about what is happening in the artworld today arrives in the form of unsolicited e-mails. One of these told me of the creation of a new prize for sculpture: the ‘Barbara Hepworth Prize’. From the blurb I learn that ‘sculpture is the art form of the moment’ and that the prize is to be presented by the chief executive officer of the British luxury fashion house, Burberry. I am told ‘sculpture is the art form of the moment’, but the word ‘sculpture’ inevitably trains in its wake the history and reputations attached to such names as ‘Praxiteles’, ‘Michelangelo’, ‘Rodin’ and so on. The name ‘Hepworth’ by implication belongs to this series, and by further implication the recipient of the prize touches, may even inherit, the mantle of this history. This exemplifies what Boltanski and Esquerre call the ‘serial apparatus’, the legitimating narrative within which the value of the object – here the sculpture – will be enriched. In the enrichment economy value is added to the object largely through the agency of such overt or implicit storytelling. If sculpture according to this story, is both very ancient and at the same time ‘the art

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form of the moment’ it can only be because sculpture is outside of time and therefore impervious to the fluxes in valuation that may affect other potential investment assets.10 In this particular case the timeless mise en scène is completed by the allegorical figure of Capital personified by the chief executive officer of a FTSE 100 company. Although it is symbolically important who gives the prize, it is strictly irrelevant who receives it; the only essential is that the gift be accepted. Jean-Luc Godard was once asked, in a television interview, if he would go in person to receive a prize recently bestowed on him. He replied: ‘If someone gives you what is called a “prize” you can’t deny the fact that it is they who have given it, they are the authors of the prize … so I say, “give this prize back to the authors”.’11

Doxa Brecht in effect defines the apparatus as a prevailing system of beliefs and values unreflectingly inhabited as if it were natural, and therefore unquestionable. To this extent his critique of the apparatus in the cultural sphere presages Barthes’ more general critique of the doxa. The notion of doxa, that which appears self-evidently true to the majority of people, originates in Greek antiquity – first in Plato, then elaborated by Aristotle as endoxa. Aristotle opposes endoxa to paradoxa, that which appears contradictory or otherwise implausible to the majority, and identifies a logic of ‘verisimilitude’ that deals in what is plausible (that is, in conformity with the endoxa – with public opinion) rather than in what is verifiable (that is, true). In his long essay of 1970, ‘The Old Rhetoric’, Barthes refers to Aristotle’s ‘verisimilitude’ as a ‘deliberately diminished logic, one adapted to the level of the “public”, that’s to say to common sense, to current opinion. … This is why … it would be well suited to the products of our so-called mass culture’ (1970a: 179). Writing in 2013, with no apparent irony in respect of his status as a ‘bestselling’ novelist, the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard remarks: ‘Wherever you turned you saw fiction. All these millions of paperbacks, hardbacks, DVDs and TV series, they were all about made-up people in a made-up, though realistic, world. And news in the press, TV news and radio news had exactly the same format, documentaries had the same format, they were also stories, and it made no difference whether what they told had actually happened or not … the nucleus of all this fiction, whether true or not, was verisimilitude and the distance it held to reality was constant. In other words it saw the same. This sameness, which was our world, was being mass-produced’ (2013: 497).

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Writing in 1975 Barthes had observed: ‘always new books, new programmes, new films, news items, but always the same meaning’. Barthes acknowledges his own antecedent in Gustave Flaubert, author of the Dictionary of Received Ideas – those opinions Flaubert characterises as la bêtise, ‘stupidity’ (1975: 42).12 In his book of 1968, Difference and Repetition, Gilles Deleuze writes: ‘Cowardice, cruelty, baseness, stupidity (la bêtise) are not simply … facts of character and society, but of structures of thought as such’ (1968: 196).13 Deleuze, whose notion of bêtise derives from Nietzsche, dates the emergence of the problem of modern stupidity to the moment in the nineteenth century when the State, science and capitalism come into alliance. This was the time of emergent forms of mass dissemination of ideas and opinions: railways and telegraph, mass-circulation newspapers, posters and other forms of publicity. Writing in 1871 to Georges Sand, Flaubert remarks: ‘All the dream of democracy is to elevate the working man to the same level of stupidity as the bourgeois. The dream is in part accomplished. They read the same newspapers and have the same passions’ (Sand 1904: 284). Flaubert saw literature as the only remaining space of individuation in a growing tide of consensual mass consciousness, but a space which was in process of being engulfed. He found his own act of writing to be an interminable struggle against the stupidity ingrained in language itself: in formulaic expressions of received ideas, in platitudes and stock metaphors, in clichés of all kinds. In Flaubert, la bêtise is the sum of received ideas that Barthes calls the doxa. In Barthes, however, la bêtise extends beyond the doxa into subjectivity itself. For Barthes, as his editor Claude Coste observes, ‘all stupidity is tied … to a double weakness of the subject: “I” am stupid each time “I” am not “me” (giving way to the hegemony of the stereotype) and “I” am stupid each time “I” believe myself to be “me” (giving way to the illusion of the imaginary)’ (2011: 18). The first of these ‘weaknesses’ – ‘the hegemony of the stereotype’ – may be understood in terms of Jean-Paul Sartre’s notion of ‘bad faith’. The best-known example of this comes from his book of 1943 Being and Nothingness, in which he describes the behaviour of a waiter in a café in terms of the alienation of the waiter’s individual freedom in a social role scripted in advance (no longer himself, the man is ‘being a waiter’).14 The second weakness – ‘the illusion of the imaginary’ – is to be understood in terms of Lacan’s description of the alienation of the subject in its own ego-ideal, most famously in his account of the ‘mirror stage’ in the formation of subjectivity. In 2001, when I began to teach in a London art school after an absence of some fifteen years in California I was surprised by changes I might not have noticed if I had simply

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lived through them. One of these changes was in the use of the word ‘artist’, a word I now frequently heard embedded in the expression: ‘as an artist’. The expression could occur at either the beginning or the end of a statement. I was surprised when I first heard an undergraduate art student begin a sentence with ‘As an artist, I …’.15 I was more surprised when another student told me he was ‘doing sociology as an artist’. In both cases the meaning of ‘artist’ seemed assumed to be self-evident, and to imply an imaginary of the artist as one endowed by nature with faculties denied to others, as if one were born an artist. Many artists derive narcissistic gratification through identification with this ego-ideal, but if we are to look for a word that better describes the situation, then we might consider replacing the word ‘artist’ in the expression ‘as an artist’ with the word ‘amateur’.

Amateur and demotic For Roland Barthes, the amateur confronts the professional artist with the ideal of a practice undistorted by the market or bad faith. In an essay of 1973, he writes: ‘The amateur is not necessarily defined by a lesser knowledge, an imperfect technique … but rather by this: he is the one who does not put on a show (ne montre pas), … the amateur seeks to produce only his own enjoyment (jouissance) … and this enjoyment does not tend toward any hysteria. … the artist enjoys (jouit), no doubt, but once he shows … once he has a public, his pleasure must accommodate itself to an imago, which is the discourse that the Other holds on what he makes.’16 For the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, whose language Barthes invokes here, the hysteric identifies with the lack in the Other, and desires to be what the Other desires. Barthes posits an ideal of amateur practice situated apart from the hierarchically ordered space of material accumulation, the place of egoism and narcissism, the hysterical show of fashion and advertising, all the parade of the economy of enrichment that he summarises as: ‘stupidity, vulgarity, vanity, worldliness, nationality, normality’ (1982: 9). Barthes played the piano and practised a kind of calligraphy, but to these conventionally ‘amateur’ activities we might add the ‘professional’ amateurism of his book of 1970, The Empire of Signs. Apparently a book about Japan, it is a book, as Barthes immediately makes clear, about a ‘fictive nation’, a ‘novelistic object’, that allows him a liberty he had previously denied himself. Speaking of The Empire of Signs, he says: ‘I fulfilled the vocation of writing, which is the accomplishment

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of a desire … I lifted the constraints of the super-ego, even of the ideological super-ego, I did not feel obliged to speak about capitalist Japan …’ (Calvet 1990: 221). Barthes speaks much about the poetic form of haiku in this book. Seventeenthcentury Japan, most notably during the lifetime of the celebrated poet Matsuo Bashō, was a society of the haiku, which was practised across all social classes. In a 1975 interview, he says: ‘I can imagine a society to come, completely de-alienated, that would no longer know anything except amateur activity on the level of writing. … People would write, make texts, for pleasure, they would benefit from the enjoyment of writing without being preoccupied with the image they may elicit in others.’17 Barthes recuses himself from the obligation to speak of Japanese capitalism, only to express the utopian dream of an egalitarian society of amateurs. The camera lends itself to amateurism in Barthes’ sense, as an instrument of individuation. ‘Individuation’ is to be understood in terms of a relation of respect between a unique self and its environment – an environment consisting of the natural world and other individuals. Individuation therefore is the antithesis of the competitive individualism promoted by the apparatuses of consumer capitalism, just as it is the negation of the uniformly identical subjects presupposed by totalitarianism in all its forms, including the normative subjects of consumerism. Photography, along with speech and writing, is an instrument of individuation; its practices may be both individual and accessible. I use the term ‘accessible’ not of a work that may necessarily be easily understood, but rather of one that may in principle be emulated, and its work extended by others, whether in thought or in action. Much of the shift in the mainstream art institutions since the 1970s seems to have been premised on the idea that ‘ordinary people’ should be able to understand art even though they may never aspire to own it.18 We might maintain, to the contrary, that ‘ordinary people’ might aspire to own art even though they might not understand it. Here, the word ‘own’ is to be understood not in a narrowly economic and possessive sense but in the broader sense of ‘to make one’s own’. As a working-class child, with nothing of ‘high culture’ at home, I had access to well-stocked, free public libraries. The city I lived in had an art museum, admission was free and I went there often. I made the books and paintings my own. I cannot say I ‘understood’ everything I saw in the city art gallery, or read in the books I borrowed from the library, but worlds beyond the confines of my everyday life – not least, worlds of my own imagining – were accessible to me. No one patronised me, no one condescended to provide me with books or paintings they thought I would ‘understand’ – after all, what does ‘understand’ mean if not a perfect match between

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the message emitted and the message received? This kind of understanding is for traffic signs, not art. I see the condition of accessibility in art to lie in those practices I think of as demotic. The Rosetta Stone allowed Jean-François Champollion to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics because it bears the same message written in three different forms: hieroglyphic, Greek and ‘demotic’. In ancient Egypt, hieroglyphics was a writing reserved for the priesthood and the aristocratic class. Demotic writing, a cursive form, was the medium of everyday affairs amongst the literate non-elite (for example, the merchant class). Barthes writes: ‘The threat of becoming a Fine Art is a fate which hangs over any language not based exclusively on the speech of society’ (1970c: 75). My turn, in my own practice, towards photography and away from painting and sculpture and their derivatives, is analogous to the adoption of demotic script in preference to hieroglyphics. This is to say that ‘demotic’, at least in my use of the term, is a form and not a content. To say ‘demotic’ is not necessarily to say ‘popular’ (which is measured by audience numbers and/or market share), and even less to say ‘populist’ (which is a genre of politics and political address). There are at least two ways in which photography is demotic: first, by way of its predominance in the mass media where, in association with words, it contributes to the formation of hegemonic popular common sense; secondly, by way of its almost universal use by the general public to exchange meanings amongst themselves. A left political aspiration for contemporary society is to see the latter gain independence from the former.

Interstice I: East A Western visitor to Japan is invited to the home of a Japanese colleague. After a long taxi ride from his hotel he arrives at a traditional house set in a garden enclosed by a high hedge. Following refreshments and conversation he is invited to walk in the garden. The day is hot. Water is running into a rough stone basin close by the hedge and he stoops to cool his face. As he raises his head from the basin his eyes become level with a low aperture cut into the hedge. He sees the ocean. In an essay published in 1998 Claude Lévi-Strauss refers to the Englishman Basil Hall Chamberlain, who had settled in Japan in 1850 and later become a professor at the University of Tokyo. Lévi-Strauss writes:

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‘In one of [Chamberlain’s] books, Things Japanese (1890), written in the form of a dictionary, an entry under “T,” “Topsy-Turvydom,” develops the idea that “the Japanese do many things in a way that runs directly counter to European ideas of what is natural and proper.”’ (2013: 108–9) What more natural to Western sensibility than to capitalise on the view when building by the sea, and what better example of the interstitial than this anecdote? Surely one attribute of a degree zero of apprehension would be what Lévi-Strauss characterises as the Japanese ‘extreme attention to enumerating and distinguishing all aspects of reality, without leaving any out, granting to each one an equal importance’ (2013: 26). Gaps and absences – interstices – are constituents of reality and the space between things is itself a thing. In his book The Empire of Signs, Barthes speaks of ‘The dream of a paradox: that of a purely interstitial object’ (1983: 35). The editor of the OEuvres complètes of Barthes, Éric Marty, has observed: ‘The word “empty” is without doubt the word that returns most often in L’empire des signes : “empty sign,” “empty centre” … The word “empty” is omnipresent. But Barthes was perhaps a little suspicious of the metaphysics that can emerge from the term “empty,” from nothingness. And in order not to slide into an excess of nothingness which would have this metaphysical dimension, I believe that he modifies this notion, in adding subtleties, nuances, which are precisely those of the interstice …’ (2010: 124). That the interstice is at once spatial and temporal is recognised in the Japanese category of ma. The Japanese architect Arata Isozaki notes: ‘In Japanese, when the concepts of time … and space … were first written down, the Chinese ideogram ma – an interstice – was used as the second character for both’ (2011: 90). The concept of ma, he finds, dates from ‘the moment at which time-and-space had not yet been disentangled and rendered as distinct notions’ (Isozaki 2011: 95). In a book on the sense of space in Japan, the French geographer and orientalist Augustin Berque writes: ‘fundamentally, the ma is the interval that necessarily … exists between two successive things; hence the idea of pause. These two ideas of necessity and of succession, that is to say of liaison and of movement, introduce … the notion of meaning. The ma is … a spacing (espacement) charged with sense … Its semantic charge varies according to two conditions: its place in an ensemble, and its scale’ (2004: 29–30). The ‘historic’19 Japanese understanding of time has little of the pronounced directional linearity that characterises the dominant Western conception. The authors of a study of traditional Japanese orchestral music note that the richness of this music is not

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based on ‘dramatic progression’, as it is in the Western orchestral tradition, but on ‘the inner life of the ever-elusive moment’. This is not to say that there is no development in Japanese orchestral works, but rather that ‘the returns and even changes of sections do not create momentum or expectation of a climax, instead they create a sense of déjà-vu and an impression of motionlessness’ (Rose and Kapuscinski online source). Speaking of Gagaku, the oldest classical music form in Japan, they observe: ‘Gagaku music … is relatively static, which increases the degree of predictability and creates a feeling of slowness. As it lowers expectations for forward motion it allows the listeners to focus their attention on the present moment (Rose and Kapuscinski).20 The ‘present moment’ in the Japanese tradition is not the discrete, calculable and infinitely divisible point of what Bertrand Russell calls ‘mathematical time’. The historian and anthropologist Alan Macfarlane observes: ‘Tenses are rarely used in Japanese, so everything is potentially simultaneously past, present or future’ (2007: 143). The ‘present moment’ is rather understood as naru – an ungraspable movement of becoming. The concept of naru – ‘becoming’ – adds direction to the idea of ma – ‘interval’. The fact that ma is indistinguishably an objective and a subjective space raises the question of the space of the subject, but now viewed from outside Western philosophical and psychoanalytical frameworks. Berque’s presentation of the grammatical context of the notion of ma cannot be resumed here, but he provides an anecdote which gives some sense of the alterity, in a Western perspective, of the spatialisation of the linguistic subject in Japanese. Berque is watching a Japanese war film in a French cinema. The story has reached a moment when, in spite of great danger, a nurse refuses to leave her post: ‘the doctor asks her why; she is silent, then suddenly says without looking at him: suki desu. Subtitle: je vous aime. … very clear: the subject … (je), the verb… (aime), the complement … (vous). … But, in the Japanese sentence, there was … neither subject nor object that might indicate who loved who. … The enunciation strictly indicated nothing other than the existence of a feeling of love somewhere in the scene’ (2004: 10–11).21 The distribution of real and virtual elements in this emblematically minimal psycholinguistic tableau suggests a de-localised, tentative and non-hierarchical space of subjective dis/association free from the ‘pressure of capitalist language’ that Barthes describes in his book of 1973, The Pleasure of the Text, as ‘an implacable stickiness, a doxa, a kind of unconscious: in short, the essence of ideology’ (1975a: 29).

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Interstice II: West In a lecture given in Italy in 1974 Barthes says: ‘that which semiology must attack is not only, as at the time of Mythologies, petit-bourgeois good conscience, it is the symbolic and semantic system of our civilisation in its entirety; it is too little to want to change contents, it is above all necessary to aim to fissure the very system of meaning itself: to emerge from the occidental enclosure, as I postulated in my text on Japan’ (1985: 14). Barthes’ book Writing Degree Zero is a tacit response to Sartre’s book of 1948 What is Literature?22 Sartre argues that the ethical responsibility of the writer is to offer works whose contents engage with history and society to the end of promoting individual freedom. To the contrary, Barthes writes: ‘writing is … essentially the morality of form … It is not a question for the writer of choosing the social group for which he is to write … His choice is a matter of conscience, not of efficacy. His writing is a way of conceiving Literature, not of extending its limits’ (1970c: 15). Again, in 1978, he writes: ‘the responsibility of a political work … does not consist in “inventing” new symbols, but in bringing about a mutation of the symbolic system in its entirety, in overhauling (retourner) language, not in renewing it’ (1978: 38–9). Barthes’ first course on The Preparation of the Novel is headed ‘From life to the work’ and is largely devoted to the haiku, as exemplifying the capacity of language to ‘show’ the unique individuality of an ephemeral lived moment (the two courses conclude with a seminar on ‘Proust and photography’). In one of its aspects the haiku is a literary expression of satori – the recognition of the simply ‘being there’ of the world of things, and of oneself as a thing amongst others. In part, this relation to the Real has a Western parallel in phenomenology: in the state of apprehension striven for in the phenomenological epoché. Satori however exceeds the epoché in that it entails the dissolution of the self. In his novel of 1934, La Nausée, Sartre’s protagonist Roquentin confronts the inability of language to adhere to things.23 Roquentin nevertheless retains his own proper name and, although apparently on the borderline of psychotic disintegration, he remains intact as an ego. In a 1980 interview Julia Kristeva is asked how her conception of the artist differs from the traditional idea of a ‘subject who speaks in the work’. She replies that to say that the artist ‘speaks’ in the work is to suppose a subject that exists before the work, however: ‘the practice in which [the artist is] implicated extends beyond and reshapes subjectivity. There is, on the one hand, a kind of psychological ego, and on the other, there’s the subject of a signifying practice. […] The work of art is a kind of matrix that makes its subject’ (Guberman 1996: 16).

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The painter Philip Guston recalled that John Cage once told him: ‘When you start working everybody is in your studio – the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas – all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave’ (1960: 36). The utopic aspiration of a degree zero of practice is to shed the burden of that which ‘goes without saying’, the stereotype, the cliché. Gilles Deleuze observes: ‘It is an error to believe that the painter faces a blank surface (surface blanche) … everything he has in his head or around him is already in the canvas … as so many images, actual or virtual … he paints on images already there … a whole category of things we may call “clichés” already occupies the canvas, before the beginning … and if the painter is content to transform the cliché, to deform or treat it violently (malmener), to mash it up (triturer) in every possible way … [it] allows the cliché to be reborn from its ashes, which again leaves the painter in the milieu of the cliché, or else gives him no other consolation than parody’ (1996: 57). He concludes: ‘the painter does not have to fill a blank surface, he rather has to empty, disencumber, wipe clean’. Philip Guston’s anecdote indicates the terminal point of this ‘wiping clean’ in the disappearance of the subject.24 In his notes for his second course on The Preparation of the Novel, given at the Collège de France in 1980, the year of his death, Barthes reflects on the ‘place’ of the writer. He rejects the image of the writer as positioned at the ‘margin’ of society – there are so many margins, he says, and they encourage the ‘arrogant posture of marginality’. For the idea of the Margin, Barthes says, he prefers to substitute ‘the Image of the Interstice: Writer = man of the Interstice’ (2003: 377). For Barthes: ‘Writing is that play by which I turn around as well as I can in a narrow place: I am cornered, I struggle between the hysteria necessary in order to write and the imaginary, which oversees, guides, banalizes, codifies, corrects, imposes the aim (and the vision) of a social communication’ (1975a: 128). Interstitiality is a perpetual situation of negotiation between resistance to the hegemonic-consensual, and the disappearance of the very agent of that resistance: the subject of the political process itself. The paradox of Barthes’ unremittingly paradoxological practice is that, throughout it, he works to efface himself. The egoist, the hysteric, the narcissist, are all to be written out – as so many characters ‘written out’ of a story in which they can no longer have a part. In the passage from his earliest to his later work the formulation of Barthes’ political thought evolves within a framework that remains broadly Marxist.25 In the 1970 preface to his book of 1957, Mythologies, he writes that, notwithstanding the changes occurring in the

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years elapsed between the two editions, the ‘essential enemy’ remains ‘the bourgeois norm’. Three years later, in The Pleasure of the Text, he writes: ‘The social struggle cannot be reduced to the struggle between two rival ideologies: it is the subversion of all ideology which is in question’ (1975a: 32–3). The transition from the notion of ‘degree zero’ to that of the ‘neutral’ takes place along the line of this evolution. In his 1975 book Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes he succinctly defines the neutral as ‘an ethical category which is necessary … in order to remove the intolerable mark of manifest meaning, oppressive meaning’ (1975b: 128). He says: ‘The Neutral is not … the third term – the zero degree – of an opposition that is at the same time semantic and conflictual; it is, at another notch (cran) of the infinite chain of language, the second term of a new paradigm, of which violence (combat, victory, theatre, arrogance) is the full term’ (1975b: 136). In a 2011 interview the Belgian philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers speaks of ‘the possibility of creating interstices … which give another texture to our world by [their] capacity to pass across and through the State apparatuses … to create and resist in the present, and not in a messianic mode’ (2011: 13). She continues: ‘Where messianism incites the desire for separation, I try to think practices of the interstice. … The interstice is not defined against the block; it produces its own presence, its own mode of production. It knows that the block is certainly not a friend, but it does not define itself through antagonism, or else it would become the mere reflection of the block. This does not mean non-conflict. It means conflict when necessary, in the way that is necessary. This is thinking in the interstices’ (2011: 13). Thinking through her practice in these ‘interstitial’ spaces she says: ‘I try … to create concepts that … display their relativity to the situation in which they may be effective … I speak of “characterizing” … in the pragmatic sense where one asks oneself what one can expect of this “character” in this situation. No … grand conceptual theatre … Rather the pragmatic of the writer who does not know how to define the character she herself has nevertheless created, but who explores that character in a mode that is always situated: what can she become capable of in that situation?’ (2008: np). In terms consistent with those of Barthes, against ‘combat, victory, theatre, arrogance’, Stengers sees the situation of practice not as a given role, an occasion for hysterical acting out, but as a tentative act of self-authoring in an interstitial space.26

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The situation Taking the notion of ‘degree zero’ as my point of departure, I have referred to this and related ideas to sketch some aspects of the situation of my practice as it appears to me when considered through Barthes’ writings. An art practice inevitably confronts the question of its relation to the society which contains it, for all that the question may be suppressed, disavowed or otherwise ignored. I am qualified to speak only from my ‘own’ position, but ‘my’ situation is that of any artist in contemporary Western neo-liberal societies – societies in which business and commerce, once considered to be simply occupations, have been elevated to the status of overriding values. The global hegemony of these values in the political sphere is effecting a brutal ravaging of populations and environments in the interests of an insatiably rapacious financial elite. Sartre concluded What is Literature? with a description of the role of the writer in a future society freed from the grip of capitalism. Barthes responded, in Writing Degree Zero, with an account of literature itself as a site of liberation in the present. Those for whom Barthes’ arguments from linguistic form may appear as mere abstractions when set against Sartre’s argument from history are advised to look to recent history. In a talk given in 1987 Gilles Deleuze says: ‘The dream is a terrible will to power … If you’re caught in the other’s dream, you’re fucked.’27 We are trapped in the dream of neo-liberalism. One of the most faded clichés in the tapestry of received ideas woven by the art apparatus is that art is ‘subversive’. To the contrary, art has been subverted. In a society with ever-dwindling provision for a space of values between the law and the market, a whole range of intellectual and cultural activities that were once estimated according to their own criteria must now look for their legitimation and survival in market terms.28 I have spoken of my surprise, on returning to the UK after a long absence, at encountering a change in the language with which art students referred to themselves. I was further surprised when an academic colleague asked me who my ‘line manager’ was, and when I was told of an expensive initiative to ‘enhance our brand’. These were my first encounters with that monolinguism of the neo-liberal university in which the Arts, Humanities and Sciences in common are now required to think and express themselves in the language of the School of Business and Management.29 Foremost among the criteria that researchers in British universities must now meet if they are to qualify for government funding, whether in the sciences or arts, are ‘contribution to economic growth’ and ‘impact on society’. Stengers observes: ‘Objectivism is a poison proper to the sciences, just as the art market is a poison proper to artistic practices’ (2008: np).

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The same period that has seen the university come to assess intellectual production in terms of instrumentalised economic performance, in terms of money and mass audiences, has also been the period which has seen the introduction of league tables of artists ranked according to their prices at auction, and lists of curators and dealers ranked according to their (promotional) ‘power’. It was not always like this. In the period from the end of the 1940s to the late 1960s it was generally accepted that laissez-faire capitalism had been definitively discredited by the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression that provided conditions favourable to the rise of Fascism. By the end of World War II, Fascism had been defeated but there was no question of returning to the form of government that had presided over the disasters of the interwar years. Where the invisible hand of the market had conspicuously failed, the State now stepped in to provide economic and social stability and a decent quality of life for all of its citizens. In Britain, in the unfavourable circumstances of a war-ruined economy, the post-war Labour government introduced the National Health Service, public pensions and unemployment insurance, and opened a path to free grammar school and university education for working-class children. Now, as inordinately vast accumulations of wealth are taken out of productive circulation to feed cupidity, we are told that the days of ‘unaffordable’ public services are past. The past, however, is never gone, it lives in present memory not only as a warning but as an example of what is possible. At the beginning of Chris Marker’s film of 1962, La Jetée, the camera pans across the ruins of a world devastated by nuclear war. A voice-over narration tells us that the survivors have no way forward into any future and must therefore seek salvation in the past. Refusing the dream of the other demands greater freedom of movement in history and memory than may be accommodated in the relentless drive into the future of kleptocapitalism. According to Stengers: ‘To think practices is to try to situate ourselves, starting from the way in which, in our own history, practices have been destroyed, poisoned, enslaved’ (2011). Barthes characterises a zero degree of practice as one that eschews inherited and preformatted signs of ‘literariness’, the artworld equivalent of which is the artiness, kitsch, commodity-readiness and media-friendliness that characterises so much of contemporary art. A zero degree practice aims not to ‘make art’, which by definition is condemned to academicism and hysteria, but to represent something. In his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France Barthes said: ‘From ancient times to the efforts of our avant-garde, literature has been concerned to represent something. What? I will put it crudely: the real. The real

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is not representable, and it is because men ceaselessly try to represent it by words that there is a history of literature’ (1979: 8). The literally unutterable ‘encounter with the Real’ described by Lacan is represented only partially, tangentially, in translation, after the event – in terms of the various representational forms that have produced a history of art practices in general.30 Barthes’ utopianism envisages a society of amateurs where the categorical distinction between producer and consumer of representations of the real of being in the world will have dissolved, where the freedom to attempt to represent what cannot be represented will no longer be the privilege of a marketable minority. In this scenario amateur production becomes the site of ideolectical resistance to the structural causality of the neo-liberal doxa, and of the rehearsal of personal evolution and collective emancipation. It is the manifestation in terms of art practice of the peer-to-peer learning networks that Ivan Illich described with such prescience in 1971 in his book Deschooling Society. The computer-assisted exchanges that Illich anticipated are now routine to an extent far beyond what could have been anticipated fifty years ago. Today, while forklift trucks are now routinely needed to carry high-investment-value products of photographic art from gallery walls into bank vaults, the camera image is recovering its essential lightness of being in digital space. For example, in addition to transforming the highly capitalised productions of the film industry, most conspicuously in the area of spectacular special effects, digital technologies are providing the de facto conditions for demotic practices based on the historic example of cinema but with amateur and professional artists enjoying equal access to the means of production and distribution. It is notable, however, that very few of these productions – for example, ‘mashups’ and ‘machinima’ – depart significantly from the contents and forms of mainstream media productions. Digital image technologies exemplify what Jacques Derrida, following Plato, termed a pharmakon – they are both poison and cure.31 The mobile phone may serve individualism or individuation, nothing in either technology or human nature dictates where the balance will shift.32 Pessimism of the intellect in respect of human nature need not dampen optimism of the will. Concluding his talk, Deleuze cites the painter Paul Klee’s remark: ‘You know, the people are missing’. Deleuze comments: ‘There is no work of art that does not make an appeal to a people that does not yet exist’ (1998: 142).

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Notes 1 In what follows I have introduced some passages from elsewhere in my publications. 2 In Death in the Afternoon, 1932. 3 For an account of Barthes’ readings in linguistics at the onset of the 1950s see Alexandru Matei, ‘French Literary Language Studies: Pour une anthropologie de la “langue française”’, RELIEF – REVUE ELECTRONIQUE DE LITTÉRATURE FRANÇAISE. 8 (2), 2014. 4 ‘Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.’ In everyday French the word ‘maman’ is closer in sense to ‘mum’ than to ‘mother’. L’Étranger, Paris: Gallimard, 1942. 5 Roland Barthes, ‘Elements de la sémiologie’, Communications, No. 4, 1964. (Trans. Elements of Semiology, London: Jonathan Cape, 1967.) 6 Viggo Brøndal, Essais de linquistique général, 1943. 7 The expression ‘Fine Arts’ first entered language in 1746 in the title of an aesthetic treatise by the French philosopher Charles Batteux. In Les beaux-arts réduits à un même principe (‘the fine arts reduced to a single principle’) Batteux argued that music, painting, poetry, sculpture and dance share a common aim – the imitation of what is beautiful in nature – which differentiates them from other arts. 8 I might further, in this play of periodisations, invoke Foucault’s ‘sovereign’ society, which gives way to the ‘disciplinary, or surveillance’ society, which then cedes place to Deuleuze’s ‘control society’. 9 French has different words – appareil and dispositif – for the former and latter meanings of the English word ‘apparatus’. 10 ‘It is an old trick of our criticism to proclaim the breadth of its views … by baptizing avant-garde what it can assimilate, thereby economically combining the security of tradition with the frisson of novelty.’ (Roland Barthes, Critical Essays [1964], Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1972.) 11 The scene of prize giving is itself inscribed in a ‘serial apparatus’ of histories and myths more turbulent than the history of sculpture: for example, Paris awards the golden apple to Aphrodite with disastrous consequences for his nation; the black athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos receive their medals at the 1969 Olympic Games and raise their fists in the Black Power salute as the band plays ‘The Star Spangled Banner’.

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12 Although the French term bêtise is usually translated as ‘stupidity’ it is not the equivalent of ‘stupidity’. There is no exact correspondence between the idiomatic uses of bêtise in everyday French and the use of ‘stupidity’ in English. Moreover, the term bêtise has a specific history in French literature and philosophy. For these reasons I shall alternate between the French and the English word to signal that it is to be understood as a technical term. 13 Gilles Deleuze, Différence et repetition, p. 196. Deleuze credits Michel Foucault with: ‘fulfilling the function of philosophy defined by Nietzsche, “to do damage to stupidity”’. (Gilles Deleuze, Pourparlers, Paris: Minuit, 1990, p. 206.) 14 It is this conformity to a stereotype that produces the individuals Jean-Luc Godard refers to as ‘the professionals of the profession’. 15 It was if I had been confronted by a first year medical student who had said to me: ‘As a doctor, I  …’ I asked him if he would be happy to have a tooth filled by someone ‘doing dentistry as an artist’. In a Sartrean perspective the man ‘doing sociology as an artist’ may be seen as doubly in bad faith – as a man playing at being an artist in order to be an artist playing at being a sociologist. 16 Roland Barthes, ‘Réquichot et son corps’, in Roland Barthes, Marcel Billot, Alfred Pacquement, Bernard Réquichot, Brussels: La Connaissance, 1973. Available online: (last accessed 17 August 2018). 17 Roland Barthes, ‘Vingt mots-clés sur Roland Barthes’, Le Grain de la Voix, Paris. 18 Travelling on the London Underground some years ago I saw a Daily Mail headline that trumpeted that more people are interested in contemporary art today than ever before. Had the newspaper’s readership changed, or had art? 19 It is convenient here to look to the Tokugawa, or Edo, period (1600–1868). In 1868 the Tokugawa shogunate ended. Emperor Meiji was restored to power, beginning the ‘Meiji period’ of increased openness to Western influence. 20 We might make a similar observation of certain historical Western forms; I think, for example, of the complex polyphonic forms predominant in Western music before the seventeenth century. 21 Roland Barthes, in his inaugural address at the Collège de France in 1977, observes that the French language requires that he first impose himself as a subject before announcing the action that will be his attribute. The same is of course true of English. Barthes then goes on to detail all else that French imposes on him ‘before he opens his mouth’ (for example, that he decide on his affective relation to his interlocutor, in his choice between familiar and polite forms) – leading to his much commentated conclusion: ‘Toute langue est fasciste’. 22 The two works originate in essays that precede their publication as books. For a succinct account of the history of their relations, see Susan Sontag (1970: xiv ff).

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23 For example: ‘This thing on which I’m sitting … is called a seat. … I murmer: “It’s a seat,” … But the word remains on my lips, it refuses to settle on the thing … Things have broken free from their names. They are there, grotesque, stubborn, gigantic, and it seems ridiculous to call them seats or say anything at all about them: I am in the midst of Things which cannot be given names.’ (Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, London: Penguin, 2000, pp. 179–80.) 24 John Cage, as is well known, was a student of Zen. 25 Barthes learned his Marxism from Georges Fournié, a Trotskyist veteran of the Spanish civil war and a survivor of Buchenwald, while the two of them were patients in the tuberculosis sanatorium at Leysin, Switzerland, to which Barthes had been transferred from Sainte-Hilaire-du-Touvet in 1945. He later told his lifelong friend Philippe Rebeyrol that when it came to politics he could only think in Marxist terms (‘penser marxistement’). See Louis-Jean Calvet (1990: 87 ff, 113–14). 26 I have written elsewhere about the spectacular theatricality that many ‘political artists’ bring to their instrumental use of misery; see Victor Burgin, ‘Face à l’histoire: Document and Interpretation’ (2009), in Parallel Texts: Essays and interventions about art, Reaktion: London, 2011; and in The Camera: essence and apparatus, London: MACK, 2018. 27 ‘Qu’est-ce que l’acte de création?’, talk given at La Fémis, Paris, 17 May 1987.Published in Trafic No. 27, Automne 1998. [‘dès qu’il y a rêve de l’autre, il y a danger. A savoir que le rêve des gens est toujours un rêve dévorant qui risque de nous engloûtir. Que les autres rêvent, c’est très dangereux. Le rêve est une terrible volonté de puissance. Chacun de nous est plus ou moins victime du rêve des autres. … Méfiez-vous du rêve de l’autre, parce que si vous êtes pris dans le rêve de l’autre, vous êtes foutu.’] 28 At the time of writing I have recently received an e-mail invitation to a forum scheduled to take place in London early in 2018. The title is: ‘Adapting to the Transformed Student-Consumer in Higher Education: Exploring and succeeding in the new higher education landscape.’ Although the event is organised by the private company Policy-UK the keynote address will be delivered by the ‘Head of Consumers and Competition’ at the National Audit Office. As befits the spirit of the event, the invitation comes with a discount coupon allowing me 30 per cent off the regular price. 29 In his book of 2013, The University in Dissent, Gary Rolfe refers to Bill Readings’ book of 1996, The University in Ruins. Rolfe speaks of what Readings calls the ‘University of Excellence’, ‘which is not just like a corporation – it is a corporation’. Rolfe writes:

In order to explain his adoption of the term ‘University of Excellence’, Readings told the story of the Cornell University car-parking service, which was given an award for ‘excellence in parking’ in recognition of the fact ‘that they had achieved a remarkable level of efficiency in restricting motor vehicle access’. Although ironic and somewhat amusing in itself, Readings used this story to demonstrate the empty nature of the concept of excellence. He pointed out that the term ‘excellent’ could just as easily be applied to attempts to increase or decrease the number of parking spaces available to faculty, so that ‘excellence can function equally well as an evaluative criterion

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on either side of the issue of what constitutes “excellence in parking”’. This notion of excellence as an empty referent, a term devoid of meaning that can be used to ‘talk up’ almost anything, emerges periodically as a key concept throughout his book.

(Gary Rolfe, The University in Dissent: Scholarship in the Corporate University, London: Routledge, 2013, p. xiii)



In the absence of such discourse analysis words mean simply what those in power want them to mean, and the powerless are relegated to those who submit to the différand in Jean-François Lyotard’s use of the term, in which the injury suffered by one party is literally inexpressible in the discourse of the other.

30 Actual perception of the real is inseparable from the real of psychical processes. The painter Pierre Bonnard said that he wished the experience of his pictures to have something in common with the experience of first entering an unfamiliar room – one sees everything at once, and yet nothing in particular. What I would add to Bonnard’s purely optical picture is the fleeting concatenation of impromptu thoughts one may have at that moment, from purely personal associations to the omnipresence of the political, in its manifestations as a mutable aspect of our everyday reality on an equal perceptual basis to the changing light, an aching knee, a distant sound or a regret. Such a situation of being in the world is the common condition of everyone. 31 Jaques Derrida, ‘Plato’s Pharmacy’, Dissemination [1972], Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. In the Phaedrus Plato has Socrates compare the written texts shown to him by Phaedrus to a pharmakon. Bernard Stiegler has more recently applied the concept in his analysis of technologies. (In its original sense, in Greek antiquity, the word pharmakon could also designate a scapegoat – digital technologies often fill this role.) 32 I do not share the theoretical view, more or less justifiably attributed to Friedrich Kittler, that technology determines human nature, for all that so much in contemporary society seems anecdotally to support it.

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References Barthes, Roland (1967) Elements of Semiology, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. London: Jonathan Cape. Barthes, Roland (1970a) ‘L’ancienne rhétorique’, Communications 16, pp. 172–223. Barthes, Roland (1970b) L’empire des signes. Geneva: Skira. Barthes, Roland (1970c) Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland [1958] (1973) ‘There is No Robbe-Grillet School’, in Critical Essays, trans. Richard Howard. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, pp. 91–6. Barthes, Roland (1973) ‘Réquichot et son corps’,in Roland Barthes, Marcel Billot, Alfred Pacquement, Bernard Réquichot. Brussels: La Connaissance. Available online: (last accessed 17 August 2018).

Barthes, Roland [1970] (1982) Empire of Signs, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1985) L’Aventure sémiologique. Paris: Seuil. Barthes, Roland (2003) La Préparation du Roman I et II. Paris: Seuil / IMEC. Berque, Augustin (2004) Le Sens de l’Espace au Japon: Vivre, Penser, Bâtir. Paris: Arguments. Boltanski, Luc and Arnaud Esquerre (2017) Enrichissement. Une critique de la Merchandise. Paris: Gallimard. Calvet, Louis-Jean (1990) Roland Barthes 1915–1980. Paris: Flammarion. Camus, Albert (1946) The Stranger, trans. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Vintage. Coste, Claude (2011) Bêtise de Barthes. Paris: Klincksieck. Deleuze, Gilles (1968) Différence et repetition. Paris: PUF.

Barthes, Roland [1973] (1975a) The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang.

Deleuze, Gilles (1996) Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Paris: Éditions de la différence.

Barthes, Roland (1975b) Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes. Paris: Seuil.

Deleuze, Gilles (1998) ‘Qu’est-ce que l’acte de création?’, Trafic No. 27, Automne.

Barthes, Roland (1978) Sollers écrivain. Paris: Seuil.

Foucault, Michel (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon.

Barthes, Roland, (1979) ‘Lecture in Inauguration of the Chair of Literary Semiology, Collège de France, January 7, 1977’, trans. Richard Howard. October, Vol. 8, Spring, pp. 3–16.

Foucault, Michel (1980) ‘The Confession of the Flesh’, in Michel Foucault: Power/Knowledge, ed. Colin Gordon. Brighton: Harvester, pp. 194–228.

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Guberman, Ross Mitchell (ed.) (1996) Julia Kristeva Interviews. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sand, George (1904) Correspondance entre George Sand et Gustave Flaubert. Paris: Calmann-Lévy.

Guston, Philip (1960) ‘Philip Guston speaking on “The Philadelphia Panel”’ transcribed in It Is, No. 5, Spring, pp. 36–8.

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1947) Situations 1. Paris: Gallimard.

Hemingway, Ernest (1964) A Moveable Feast. New York: Scribner. Hemingway, Ernest (2009) A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition. New York: Scribner. Isozaki, Arata (2011) Japan-ness in Architecture. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press. Knausgaard, Karl Ove (2013) A Man in Love. New York: Vintage. Lévi-Strauss, Claude (2013) The Other Face of the Moon, trans. Jane Marie Todd. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Macfarlane, Alan (2007) Japan Through the Looking Glass. London: Profile. Marty, Éric et al. (2010) Sous la direction de Raphaêl Enthoven, Barthes, avec Igor et Grichka Bogdanov, Antoine Compagnon, Éric Marty, Tiphaine Samoyault, Meiko Takizawa, MarieJeanne Zenetti. Paris: Fayard, p. 124. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice [1945] (2012) Phénoménologie de la perception. Paris: Gallimard. Rose, François and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski (2009) ‘Japanese Traditional Orchestral Music: The Correlation between Time and Timbre’. Available online: (last accessed 17 August 2018).

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Sontag, Susan (1970) ‘Preface’ in Writing Degree Zero. New York: Hill and Wang, pp. vii–xxi. Stengers, Isabelle (2008) ‘History through the Middle: Between Macro and Mesopolitics: Interview with Isabelle Stengers, 25 November 2008’, INFLeXions No 3. Available online:

(last accessed 17 August 2018). Stengers, Isabelle (2011) ‘Le soin des possibles’, Les nouveaux cahiers de socialisme, 6, Fall. Tanke, Joseph J. (2009) Foucault’s Philosophy of Art: A Geneology of Modernity. London: Continuum. Thomas, Thierry (director) (2015) Archives du XXème siècle: rushes, institut national de l’audiovisuel (ina), 1970–71, incorporated in Roland Barthes 1915–1980: Le théatre du langage, Les Films d’ici 2 / ARTE France / ina Editions. Willett, John (ed.) (1964) Brecht on Theatre; the Development of an Aesthetic. London: Methuen.

Painting, Photography, Projection Ryan Bishop and Sunil Manghan

To proclaim that our optical senses have been fundamentally enriched by new creative principles in painting and the film still produces a revolutionary effect. Most people stick far too fast to the continuity of development of the manual imitative craft work ad analogiam classical pictures to be able to grasp their complete reorganization. (Moholy-Nagy 1969: 34)

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In the essay ‘From Work to Text’ (Barthes 1977: 155–64), one of a series of canonical essays by Roland Barthes from the late 1960s and early 1970s that epitomise the intellectual shift to post-structuralist thought, we are left with the idea of the ‘practice’ of theory, or at least a practice of writing. The ‘discourse on the Text’, Barthes suggests, ‘should itself be nothing other than text, research, textual activity’. The Text, as he concludes, ‘is that social space which leaves no language safe, outside, nor any subject of the enunciation in position as judge, master, analyst, confessor, decoder. The theory of the Text can coincide with a practice of writing’ (1977: 164). Typical of Barthes, it is a somewhat enigmatic position to hold, i.e. that the practice of writing is itself the Text. Nonetheless, the idea continues to resonate for us today as we try to square the circle of theory and practice. In this chapter, we take our cue from the propositional nature of the essay ‘From Work to Text’. In the grammatical, rather than logical sense, Barthes presents seven propositions on the Text, which he notes are less argumentations than ‘enunciations, “touches”, approaches that consent to remain metaphorical’. In our case, the focus is upon the ‘image’, upon the technics of the image, rather than the Text. We might suggest a practice of imaging, except that in everyday language such a term for the making of the image seems to falter somewhat, to evoke techniques and technologies of the image, rather than a more general conceptual space, as we understand with the Text. Here, as we look through painting, photography and projections, we come to consider perspective as the underlying construct, and one which leads us to work against the image, or at least the fixed, empirical image. Zero degree writing for Barthes was always an impossiblity. Any example offered, such as works by Camus or Robbe-Grillet, only proved its ever-elusive nature. The textual space of zero degree operated in potentia in a social sphere attempting to reconcile the history of literature and the nature of language, but being unable to step out of the deterministic elements of both. While there was no outside the Text, there was still play in the conversion from work to text, a play that included self-reflexivity and temporality. Burgin’s concepts of ‘the sequence-image’ (a mental image that may be described neither as ’still’ nor ‘moving’ but only as undecidedly both at the same time) and ‘theoretical vision’ (camera images where the point of view would be impossible from the position of a corporeally embodied eye; for example, panoramas ‘seen’ from a dimensionless point on the axis of rotation of the camera, rather than by the eye of a camera operator) lead us to speak of his engagement with a ‘zero degree’ of the image. These theoretical concepts exploit the role of temporality in Image (as with Text) but also engage the space of an image made possible by the

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technics that produced that image, thus drawing attention to its constructedness by not confusing the history of seeing and perspective with the nature of seeing: the two being inseparable and unknowable without each other. It is worth noting, in the late 1990s, Barthes’ ‘From Work to Text’ is an explicit reference in Mirzoeff’s (1998) early configuration of visual culture, described as an ‘interactive’, intertextual and interdisciplinary field of study. Mirzoeff paraphrases Barthes (somewhat conveniently perhaps) to suggest that ‘[i]nterdisciplinary study consists in creating a new object, which belongs to no one’ (Mirzoeff 1998: 6). The suggestion of creating a ‘new’ object (albeit belonging to no one) introduces a notable problem. In terms of Barthes’ original statement, the new object is the ‘text’, which is not a real ‘object’ but an expression of semiotic process or experience. Bearing that in mind when considering the alleged ‘visual turn’, it would not necessarily be appropriate to reformulate ‘From Work to Text’ as ‘From Text to Image’. Although there are important distinctions to make about how we might relate differently to verbal or visual elements, the ‘shift’ Barthes is concerned with – as a shift from a static cultural object to one that is in process – actually bears out equally across all modes and mediums. Yet that need not undermine distinctions between mediums. So, while Mirzoeff’s ‘postdisciplinary’ work certainly offers a pertinent working through of the ‘epistemological slide’ that Barthes announces, the overall effect, all too easily, is to conflate a number of important concerns. At stake is a more nuanced consideration of both medium specificity and an expanded understanding of medium. Thus, one reading of Barthes’ ‘zero degree’ is of a deeper rumination on how form is content and yet how content itself can never quite hold to form. It is an impossible mode or space, the ‘zero degree’, but it occurs. And it occurs when the work becomes Text and when the image becomes Image in its playful and dynamic circulation in social spheres, accruing layers of meaning while still seeming not to be a palimpsest except under critical scrutiny. While we cannot escape the predominant role that history, temporality and technology play in the formulation of the structures of seeing afforded by these medial specificities, it would be a mistake to perceive the trajectory from painting to photography to CGI projections only in historical, temporal and technological terms, for Burgin’s own chronology or for visual culture generally. It is an even greater mistake to see the shift from one medium to another as either progress with regard to visual representation or indexicality, or worse a teleology, of the same – as if fidelity resided outside the medial formulation of what is seen and visual experimentation

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were merely a drive to get closer to an empirical real. In charting the progress from ‘work’ to ‘text’ in Barthes’ well-known essay, he makes similar claims with regard to literature within an expanded and more contextualised engagement with literary production. The same kinds of concerns addressed in Barthes’ essay on literature are at play in ours with visual media, visual culture, perspective and the image around which visual media specificity revolves. In pursuit of a certain ‘practice’ of the Image (being both the fabrication of the image and a critical consideration that comes of Image, or the imaginal), our account here is held in and around an image-text: one that seeks to keep in play the practice of writing, of thinking, that Barthes so eloquently described in his essay ‘From Work to Text’. As Mitchell notes, there are various typographic conventions we can employ for such a ‘text’ (1994: 89n). We can write ‘image/text’, with a slash to denote ‘a problematic gap, cleavage, or rupture in representation’. Or, the agglutination of ‘imagetext’ could be used to describe ‘composite works (or concepts) that combine image and text’, and finally, the use of a hyphen, as in ‘image-text’, can be said to designate ‘relations of the visual and verbal’. While the focus here is not on the relationship between image and text per se, it is through their relational means that we seek to be open to the ways we think and read the image. Whether classical or modern, Barthes’ argument in his essay on the Text is for a ‘pleasure’ of the Text, which is to consider the text as ‘writerly’, as eventful and, intertextually, self-perpetuating. Thus, in the essay, rather than charting a linear argument for understanding the transition from work to text, he relies on a rhetorical strategy of interrelated but by no means solely complementary propositions to examine the phenomena at hand. We lean similarly on this particular set of strategies, with a view to opening up and circulating ideas about perspective and image within a political aesthetics that informs and is informed by zero degree seeing. Here then are our ‘imagined’ propositions and operations; they concern the ablative, image as continuum, the shadows of representation, the cut, infinitude, image as process, and theoretical vision.

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Vision undergoes re-vision; intention, symbol, reality are the factors that undergo constant change in the appearance of any art form. Motion pictures – pictures in motion – seem most suited to the metaphysics of change, to life in motion (Stan VanDerBeek ‘Re:Vision’ 335)

(1) The Proper Case for Perspective is the Ablative We can no longer oppose perception and technics; there is no perception before the possibility of prosthetic iterability; and this mere possibility marks, in advance, both perception and phenomenology of perception. In perception there are already operations of selection, of exposure time, of filtering, of development; the psychic apparatus functions also like, or as, an apparatus of inscription and the photographic archive. Think of Freud’s Wunderblock, the ‘mystic writing pad’. What I attempted to say about this a long time ago, about writing, also concerned photography. Retrospectively, looking into this techno-historical rearview mirror, we would therefore have to recomplicate the analysis or the description of what was supposed to have preceded technology or photographic technology’. (Derrida 2010: 14–15)

Perspective operates most properly in the ablative case in terms of origin (as in ‘emergent from’) and means (‘the means by which’). The complexity of Latin cases largely disappears in English and is diffused through different prepositions, thus making the manifold relations that cases can suggest more delimited in preposition use. Like the image, the drive for precision results in elision and elusion. For the ‘originary’ use of the ablative, the preposition ‘from’ or the phrase ‘due to’ provide substitutes. For the ‘means’ usage of the case, the prepositions ‘by’ or ‘through’ do the work. In other words, for our proposition, it is painting, photography and projections as material results of geometry, optics and lenses that produce perspective, not vice versa. Perspective is born of the technics that produce the perception and the means by which the technics produce perception. The ablative case resides in the word’s etymology, combining in Latin the terms for ‘to look’ and ‘through’ in which the looking is always already the mediated status of perspective’s operation. However, the

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etymology also reveals a lurking, somewhat pernicious, quality of the act of looking through (of perspective) in the Latin form perspecuus, which means ‘capable of being looked through’, as in something transparent. And to see through something is also to suggest seeing through or past artifice. The hidden operation of perspective and of perspective’s operation – the technics’ disappearance in their apparently transparent operation – allows us to assume that what is seen, regardless of whichever medium produces the image, is unmediated, natural and universal: seen the same way by all at any time or place. Occasionally this ‘natural’ way of seeing, therefore, erases the ablative case and merely falls into the copula (‘to be’): the way things are. And the basis for this assumption is not just hubris that all technics allow, but also the hubris posited by an apparently universal body of the spectator shared by one and all. The construct of the universal body is unmade by the alignment of perception and technics that Derrida addresses in the quote above. The training of our perceptive apparatuses, from senses to synapses, conditions all from the outset, but does in different ways in different chronotopes. This is yet another text we cannot get outside of. Once we have learned the techniques of perception as generated by the reigning technics of the moment, we conflate it with nature, with the indicative mood, with the copula. Anything that precedes or comes after a given chronotope and representational regime (verbal or pictorial) will be just as marked by another regime: hence the elusive impossibility of zero degree. And hence the gift of potential that the elusive impossibility delivers to us. Moholy-Nagy issued a call for the ‘elimination of perspectival representation’ (1969: 147), an achievement he considered realisable by technological experimentation in the early decades of the twentieth century. A fan of photogrammetry, or ‘photography without a camera’, he proposed ‘cameras with lenses and systems of mirrors which can take the object from all sides at once and cameras which are constructed on optical laws different from those of our eyes’ (32), thus anticipating 3-D scanning imagegeneration in his drive to eliminate perspectival representation. The book MoholyNagy produced in 1924 in Berlin, while working at the Bauhaus and in experimental theatre, was entitled Painting, Photography, Film, which finds an echo in our own chapter title (sans digital projection and CGI). One basic premise of the book held that the emergence of photography (as well as moving image) meant that painting could be freed to explore abstract, ‘non-objective’ concerns, with painting now having the burden of pictorial realism lifted from its shoulders and thus leaving machinic processes to fill a desire for reportage and more descriptive documentation (7–9). He says that

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painting, thus liberated, can fully focus on ‘pure colour composition’ (9). Anticipating later developments in painting, he arues that the ‘theme’ of ‘colour composition’ or painting is ‘colour itself’, an exploration of the materials and materiality of the constituent elements of traditional painting put to non-mimetic use. It is worth noting the subordination of colour through the history of art. Giorgio Vasari’s The Lives of Artists (1568) places the Tuscan’s art of disegno above that of the Venetians’ colore. Vasari claimed the Venetians concealed their lack of knowledge of drawing through their use of colour. One of the dilemmas of colour is its inherent unpredictability. In his essay on Twombly, for example, Barthes describes colour not as an effect, but as a gesture: the pleasure of a gesture: to see engendered at one’s fingertip, at the verge of vision, something that is both expected (I know that this crayon I am holding is blue) and unexpected (not only do I not know which blue is going to come out, but even if I knew, I would still be surprised, because colour, like the event, is new each time…) (Barthes 1985: 166) Similarly, Moholy-Nagy’s interest in ‘pure colour composition’ suggests of a form of enquiry and experimentation. He was by no means being prescriptive or evaluative in his account, and unambiguously states that both painting and photography should be used for each kind of representational agenda, with the simple description where strengths and likely trajectories might lead. The new optical capacities afforded by technologies of production and reproduction further suggested ways in which painting might appropriate these emergent perspectives in, for example, experimenting with light painting and kinetic painting, which could be juxtaposed with static painting and/or ‘films in all dimensions’ (Moholy-Nagy 1969: 9). The profusion of possibilities exponentially increase when Moholy-Nagy lays bare the dyads of static/moving, objective/non-objective, painting/projection, representation/abstraction, single/multiple works, isolation/juxtaposition, gallery/site, etc., not as binaries at all but as indicative of continuums. Moholy-Nagy’s Bauhaus colleague and good friend, György Kepes, two decades later, in his 1944 Language of Vision, charts the demise of traditional perspective through visual technologies that freed the biological eye to see otherwise. The various section titles indicate as much, ‘Amplified perspective’, ‘Multiple, simultaneous perspectives’, ‘Breakdown of fixed perspective’, ‘Integration of the plastic forces’,

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‘Compression, interpenetration’, ‘Final elimination of the fixed perspective order’ and ‘Ultimate opening of the picture surface’. As with cybernetic theory (see Chapter 5), the centrality of the human in a given process (e.g. image-making) disappears. Perspective’s ablative case in operation leads us to understand how a great deal had changed in the two decades separating Moholy-Nagy’s imperative – now essentially rendered self-fulfilling side effect of other technological goals – and Kepes’ tracking of the auto-erasure of traditional representational perspective. The reprint of Kepes’ book in 1969 allowed for another quarter century to pass and thus repeat and intensify the generative nature of technological development and its impact on representation in art. The reprint included new introductions by S. I. Hayakawa and Kepes along with the original introduction by Sigfried Giedion. The collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of Kepes’ intellectual, artistic and social agenda is found in these thinkers as indicative of specific intellectual and academic trends: Gideon as a cultural historian of automation and also of architecture, and Hayakawa as an advocate of universal grammar, itself feeding into the emerging field of information theory. Hayakawa highlights Kepes’ emphasis on the relatedness between viewer and viewed as a revolutionary call to move beyond ‘the deluded self-importance of absolute “individualism” in favor of social relatedness and interdependence’ (1969: 10). The suggestion in Kepes’ work, as with Moholy-Nagy’s, in spite of their occasionally naïve assumption that new visual perspectives can and will lead to progressive social perspective of our collective endeavour, remains that of the ablative case for seeing and for perspective. Learning to see differently in a literal sense might allow us to see differently in a figurative one: the perspective wrought by perspective held the key to social healing, if one could just envision it and see it as such. There is no question about vision or optics or perspective without an observer, so the viewer is always implicated in and perhaps produced through the positing of that question. ‘To perceive a visual perception implies the beholder’s participation in a process of organization’, Kepes pens in his introduction to the 1969 reprint. ‘The experience of an image is thus a creative act of integration’ (13). Smuggled into his collaborative statement is that we see what our technics allows us to see, and they determine how we do so. The image is determined by them, which to some extent means we are too. Thus we return to our proposition that the proper case of perspective is the ablative.

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He believes that copies do not differ in anything at all from the models that they are the copies of … But how could someone distinguish the image from the copy if there is no difference between them, resulting from their different natures? – Nikephoros, Antirrhetics, I, 222 B (in Mondzain 2005: 82) …the question ceases to be whether the icon is either by nature or definition true or false, or good or bad, because its truth is derived not from itself but from its founding cause. The essence of the image is not visibility; it is its economy, and that alone, that is visible in its iconicity. Visibility belongs to the definition of the icon and not the image. This is why the icon is nothing other than the economy of the image … (Mondzain 2005: 82) (2) Image as continuum; as ‘economy’ The disappearance of the operation of perspective reveals a continuum of the image; an ‘economy’, that which allows images to emerge, and through which we are all too readily caught up in our own sense of authorship. In her study Image, Icon, Economy (2005), Marie-José Mondzain uses the word ‘imaginal’ to refer to a domain of images that straddles the conscious and unconscious, the perceived and the imagined. It is the ‘imaginal’ – as a dimension, as a capacity – that underlies the argument to be made here, suggesting we turn our attention away from the empirical image towards a theory of Image. Mondzain traces the force of the image in contemporary culture to the Byzantine iconoclastic controversy of the eighth and ninth centuries. Her case is that ‘the image is still a sacred cause today only because the fate of thought and liberty are at stake in it’ (3). As she explains, ‘[i]n order to be able to envisage a world radically founded on visibility, and starting from the conviction that whatever constitutes its essence and meaning is itself invisible, it proved essential to establish a system of thought that set the visible and the invisible in relation to each other’ (3). It is this same relationship that lies at the heart of this essay. In the Byzantine period, the need for a system of thought stemmed from a need to qualify the Holy Trinity, which Mondzain rewrites as ‘the Father, the Image, and the Voice’ (77). ‘The incarnation’, she writes, ‘is not an in-corporation but an in-imagination … The image is everywhere a figure of immanence, absolute in the one case, relative in the other. In one it concerns presence, in the other an absence.’ The lines are drawn between the Image as invisible, and the icon as visible, which needs bringing to accord in some

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way in order to allow for the mediations of the Trinity. The crucial third term in her account is ‘economy’: ‘The image is mystery. The icon is an enigma. The economy was the concept of their relation and their intimacy. The image is eternal similitude, the icon is temporal resemblance. The economy was the theory of the transfiguration of history’ (3). When Merleau-Ponty (1964: 169) evokes Sartre’s account in Nausea, of how the smile of a long-dead king remains and continues to reproduce itself on the surface of a canvas, he is making a claim for a total or absolute vision; an image degree zero (or ‘imaginal’). Yet, this anthropomorphic form is seemingly no accident. As the phenomenological account has it: ‘We see only what we look at’ (Merleau-Ponty 1964: 162). However, as Moholy-Nagy and Kepes encountered in the first half of the previous century, the prevalence of imaging technologies allows us to think, and of course ‘see’ outside of ourselves (and inside ourselves). As an unintended consequence, the way in which these technologies intersect with (and alter) our lives, so they tend to add to our rhetoric of an image culture (i.e. that somehow ours is a visual culture). But increasingly, these technologies offer ‘ways of seeing’ that go beyond our own intuition. Like the alternative dimensions that can be used to more effectively model our universe, we can comprehend all manner of imaging technics, but we cannot intuitively see as they ‘see’. Whether it is X-rays (the black light that so fascinated the avant-garde), computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography or ultrasound, we have been able to reconstruct the insides of our bodies without even touching them, much less opening them up. Similarly, Toshiba’s Portable Gamma Camera measures radioactivity, designed specifically for Fukushima, in sites of contamination yielding a real-time image superimposed with colour fields denoting levels of radiation exposure. The division between the visible and the invisible was, in Western art, one that demarcated the secular and the religious domains, as well as those of the subjective and the objective (God’s vision). Visual technics recast and redrew those lines over centuries. And the rediscovery of linear perspective by the Renaissance designer Burnelleschi proved a particularly powerful technic for providing the vision of God at human, or ground, level. Much more recently, in astronomy the radio telescope has long superseded the use of optical technology, with ‘Deep Field’ imaging bringing back pictures of the further reaches of the universe, full of galaxies fainter than had ever previously been seen. And looking in the other way, the electron microscope enables us to resolve single atoms. The scanning probe microscope is not simply an imaging device; it is a tool

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for the manipulation of matter at the level of atoms. By moving to the actual surface of the atom these devices have been able to ‘observe’ the so-called Corral Wave – as if a stone has been dropped into a pond (Moriarty, 2013). This signature of electrons is our witness to quantum mechanics. But of course, the ‘image’ we see from the scanning probe microscope, like any other digital image, is a series of ones and zeros. It is mathematical data converted to empirical image. What these images show is a physics we cannot begin to see. The X-ray, established over a hundred years ago (but now so commonplace), alongside cinema and psychoanalysis, gave us a new way of imagining interiority, a secret visibility, which in turn altered our ways of thinking about ourselves. Akira Mizuta Lippit (2005: 30) describes these technologies as offering ‘not an access or opening as such, but a mode of avisuality’, or the demise of perspective, as hoped for by Moholy-Nagy and Kepes. If we follow Lippit, we are introduced to our alien self, ‘secret and distant in its proximity’ to ourselves. Such (a) vision is what Derrida (1995: 90) refers to as ‘in-visibility’, being ‘an invisible order of the visible that I can keep secret by keeping out of sight’. Weapons in an underground silo, a part of the body under a veil, or even just our internal organs, are all ‘naturally said to be invisible, but they are still of the order of visibility: an operation or an accident can expose them or bring them to the surface’ (90). Derrida also refers to ‘absolute invisibility’, that which falls outside of the ‘register of sight, namely the sonorous, the musical, the vocal or phonic … but also tactile and odoriferous’ (90). Lippit suggests this as a ‘visibility that takes place elsewhere … it is seen in the other senses, as another sense. To see in another register, to hear or smell an image, to touch it’ (2005: 32) For all the visibility of the empirical image, we need to respond to the Image in terms of a more far-reaching avisuality. There are at least two kinds of invisibility and thus two kinds of dis- or nonappearance. The invisibility of the visible would be so only contingently, but that contingency, as the accidental visibility of the empirical realm, should at the same time be understood as a kind of potential visibility. Affecting both material and cognitive conditions, and thus rendering them continuous, the invisible here gives itself up to uncountable possibilities of representation, which variously memorialise, represent, produce or destroy a previously or consequently visible. It is this potential that constitutes the visible and the invisible together as the field of vision and the horizon. The second kind of invisibility must be regarded as a condition of possibility for potential visibility, which rests on a deeper ground in the potential for visibility – a potential that must now be thought outside the Aristotelian framework that

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Burgin, Parzival (2013)

subordinates potentiality to actuality. This would be not the invisibility of the visible but the invisibility of visibility, a potential for making visible but which cannot itself, as a structural condition, ever be made visible. Modernist aesthetics in all of its many guises and disparate manifestations responds to this deeper kind of invisible. As an example of an avisual image, one reliant on maintaining a zero degree perspective hinted at by Moholy-Nagy, take Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), the computational photographic method that reveals surface information that is otherwise undisclosed through direct empirical examination. RTI generates information from a series of photographs using a stationary camera, with the light source projected from multiple, but known directions (typically using a small black reflective ball as a control measure). Lighting information is mathematically synthesised to render a model of an object’s surface. Each picture in a sequence is a form of data, encoding the image-data per pixel, so when synthesised the RTI ‘image’ provides information

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of how light reflects off its subject matter. In dedicated viewing software, each constituent pixel is able to control aspects of interactive ‘virtual’ light. Through RTI, then, we control the light from an object, not the object itself, and in doing so we disclose fine detail unseen by the naked eye: As if an absolute invisibility turns to in-visibility. However, still, when we look at these images, we are hardly equipped to see them for what they are. We think them empirical images, not light reflectance information. Sculptor, Ian Dawson, disorientates us further still. Inverting the process, using a static light, but fixing the light control to the camera, while moving it around the object, he has recorded a dynamic form of RTI. Any one single ‘image’ does not do justice to what Dawson reveals, but as we watch a succession of pictures, to see the movement of imaging, we begin to discern the ethereal world of imaging itself, as if we can indeed not just see the image but touch its cloudy effervescence. When Burgin turns to digital projection pieces, he is constructing images out of ‘data’ and algorithms: images out of and from ‘nothing’. The orthographic means for fixing and arranging text and/or image, as they become codified and routinised, according to John May at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, provided ways of geometrically fixing what had previously been magical images – the moment of iconoclasm here perceived as fully ascendant. Data imagery might be considered postorthographic, even if so much of what this postorthographic means of image-making merely repeats and replicates the orthographic codes it is superseding. The Dürer image below shows the orthographic in action and conceptualisation. The Dawson image beside it shows the ecotomplasmic medium in which 3-D scanning can operate. Dawson’s ‘dynamic’ Reflectance Transformation Imaging – seen through an animated sequence of stills – gives us a misty representation of Image, revealing the shifting ‘space’ in which images duly take hold (when intersected with a viable screen or body). Burgin’s projections function within a liminal space operating between the two, the zero point between, providing enough of each to render them uncanny. The light through the water in Parzival, and that piece’s oddly breaking and churning waves, sit uncomfortably in orthographic or postorthographic regimes.

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Dürer, Man Drawing a Lute (1523)

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Dawson, MJ Unstable RTI (2016)

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I am taking the structure at the level of the subject here, and it reflects something that is already to be found in the natural relation that the eye inscribes with regard to light. I am not simply the punctiform being located at the geometral point from which the perspective is grasped. No doubt, in the depths of my eye, the picture is painted. The picture, certainly, is in my eye. But I am not in the picture. That which is light looks at me, and by means of that light in the depths of my eye, something is painted … but something that is an impression, the shimmering of a surface that is not, in advance, situated for me in its distance. This is something that introduces what was elided in the geometral relation – depth of field, with all its ambiguity and variability, which is in no way mastered by me. It is rather it that grasps me, solicits me at every moment, and makes of the landscape something other than a landscape, something other than what I have called the picture. The correlative of the picture, to be situated in the same place as it, that is to say, outside, is the point of the gaze, while that which forms the mediation from the one to the other, that which is between the two is something of another nature than geometral, optical space, something that plays an exactly reverse role, which operates, not because it can be traversed, but on the contrary because it is opaque – I mean the screen. – Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis

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With reference to the writing of Paul Claude, and in particular a description while travelling through a landscape, watching two trees in the distance come to accord in a single line of vision, Lyotard writes: ‘here we move, searching for composition, constituting the space of the picture, relying on that plastic space where the eye, the head, the body move or swim, buoyed as if in a bath of mercury. It is the juxtaposition by the eye that guarantees the agreement of the pine and the maple, agreement fulfilled because total, a harmony of silhouette, tone, value, and position: desire momentarily satiated’ (Lyotard 2011: 3). Lyotard’s concern is that once the visual is ‘read’ or placed within a rational order (recognised, comprehended) we lose its ‘truth’. By ‘truth’ he refers to the idea of ‘the event’, which ‘presents itself like a fall, like a slippage and an error, exactly the meaning of lapsus in Latin. The event clears a vertiginous space and time; untethered from its context or perceptual environment’ (129–30). But we need to consider what happens when the plastic, material space is converted to the digital. What is the ‘event’ of the programmed image, the three dimensional image that has no coordinates, no ‘past, present or future’, outside of our digital control?

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There is no gravity in computer simulated space – unless the programmer decides to simulate it – so the ‘built space’ of this coming parallel virtual world may be navigated as if it seamlessly combined Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries – giving a whole new twist to urban flânerie. (Burgin in Bishop and Cubitt 2013: 214)

(3) Image is infinite The use of the definite article is typical of how we refer to images. We worry about the power of the image, and invest energy and money in getting the right image, while news reports warn we may find some of the images disturbing. These are all instances of the empirical image, i.e. images that we can point to, distribute, and analyse. They are all too plain to see. Putting aside the usual problematics of such images (that there are too many, too few, or of a general crisis of representation, etc.) the main problem of the empirical image is that, in the end, it leaves us with very little to go on. Pushing the logic a little further, we may contend there is no such thing as the image. It has been suggested, for example, that while we can cut a picture in half, we cannot reasonably cut an image in half. Semantics aside, this essay represents a scepticism of ‘the’ image, and instead adopts Image with a capital ‘I’, as a virtual site/ sight. If it were not for the restrictive vocabulary and grammar that relates to our use of the word ‘image’ (certainly in the English language, but others too), we might prefer imaging to image, or perhaps imagement, to capture the plurality, the movement, the handling of Image. At root is the idea that Image is infinite: which is not to say that Image extends indefinitely, but that as capacity, it is inexhaustibly infinite. Like Text, it ‘is not a co-existence of meanings but a passage, an overcrossing; thus it answers not to an interpretation … but to an explosion, a dissemination’ (Barthes 1977: 159). The shift in much contemporary study is from the ‘media’ image (i.e. as something that is mediated) to a medial image – the notion that it occurs through many points at one time; such as we might say of the connectome, or as we know of wave-particle duality. As Einstein and Infield (1947: 278) once expressed it: ‘We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.’ Of course, this difficulty is not so new. We can draw back to Plato and Aristotle’s accounts of dynamis and energeia. The former is typically rendered as ‘ability’, ‘strength and potential’ as well as ‘power’; while the latter, energeia, refers to ‘activity’ or ‘actuality’: potential and

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realisation. The etymology of dynamis as linked to the Indo-European root *dun- feeds into the English term ‘do’ and thus also implies both the strength to do something and then to perform it. A physics as articulated by Empedocles or Democritus (and many of the Pre-Socratics) allows this kind of capacity and completion to be one and the same before the more fine-grained Platonic separation occurs. Once this division emerges, though, it is easy to see how these terms can be read as temporalities, as in future and present (or present continuous) tenses; but equally, if we think in terms of wave and particle, we might consider the phenomena as a set of spatial relations. Time and space form the basis of physics but also serve as foundational elements of Western metaphysics, either separately or as a ‘spacetime’ unit. One potential of Image, one attribute of its dynamis that often converts to energia, is the capacity it allows us to elude the ineluctable grip of metaphysics, to slip-slide through space and time/spacetime with unharnessed plasticity. Nonetheless, understanding dynamis not solely in terms of time but as dimension seemingly requires us to think beyond our ordinary understanding of dimensions. Just as imaginary numbers are a serious pursuit, which we imagine as ‘a new kind of number at right angles to ordinary real numbers’ (Hawking 2001: 59), perhaps we need to newly conceptualise Image as perpendicular to the ‘reality’ that brings empirical images to our attention, to the surface of our ‘membrane’ or existence. In the early twentieth century we identified quarks, (a term deftly plucked by physicist Murray Gell-Man from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake) with lengths of a millionth of a millimetre. Today, with the Planck length, we have reached a smaller scale by a further factor of a billion. The smaller we go, the more structures we uncover and can further imagine. One way of unifying current observations is to suggest we live in a four-dimensional ‘brane’, which in turn sits within ‘higher-dimensional spacetime’ (Hawking 2001: 180) ‘From the viewpoint of the positivist philosopher’, as Hawking reminds us, ‘one cannot determine what is real. All one can do is find which mathematical model describes the universe we live in’ (59). But if we wish to consider Image as infinite (in its capacity to image), then some due must be given to its nominal form: infinity, that bugaboo of metaphysics. We have long been troubled by the notion of infinity, if only because it denies any purpose to ourselves as finite (as the unsung heroes of our universe). Aristotle famously sought to settle the matter by describing two types of infinity: the potential infinite that he acknowledged, and actual infinite that he denied. A potential infinity is one that occurs over time. An actual infinity is one that must be present all at once. We can

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potentially count up numbers infinitely, but this action must take place over time because it is not possible to encounter all such numbers at once. The difference is between process and object, between verb and noun. For Aristotle space cannot be infinite because it is there all at once. Yet, we ask, what limits it? Beyond space is more space. Here, then, space becomes time; it becomes horizon. Historically, the development of the perspectival system of representation has been an important technics of imaging, since it provides a ‘rational’ point of origin. It has a point of view. Yet, of course, this always stops short (at its singular point of origin) of a complete account of the image as a medial physics – of a ‘zero degree’ image, or of a spatialising of the image through all matter that surrounds us when actualising the image. We can think again of Dürer’s drawing of Albertian perspectivalism as showing that the ‘image’ can be cut at any point in our line of vision – a perpendicular incision. Through this account, our reading of so-called media images changes. It is not about the ‘power’ of the image (as forms of representational magnitude and potency), but rather about the capacities and resistances of imaging; how seeing is formed of a continuous medium and sets of calculations. Even our whole universe might be thought an illusion, as one ‘cut’ in the lines of incident rays. Holographic theories of the universe have been around since the 1990s, but a recent study claims to present the first proof that what we perceive as three-dimensional emanates from a two-dimensional field. Looking back as far as 13 billion years, the new holographic modelling (derived from quantum, rather than classic theories of gravity) shows how the developmental structures of gravity and the universe draw upon thin, vibrating strings of an initially flat, two-dimensional universe. The holographic universe (Afshordi et al. 2017) is a very different model of the Big Bang (unseating its ultimate metaphysics of presence). It is as if imaging in fact goes the other way round. The flat plane as we see in Dürer’s drawing (that we take to be derived from the 3-D world around it) is in fact the plane upon which the structuring of our universe takes place – the ground of the image that allows the image to exist but which we never encounter or see. Dürer’s flat plane is just another projection, as it were, and our view of it, just another incision in the perspectival trajectory. To help counter the ‘gravity’ of perspectivalism with levity, we might ponder Eastern painting traditions, such as liubai (Chinese landscape inks), which are typically viewed as a form of escapism, in a similar way to Japanese ukiyo-e (‘pictures of the floating world’). Yet, these washed inks give rise to a ‘radical’ blankness (or Xu to adopt a Daoist notion), intermingling trees with mountains, and mountains with mists

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to give rise to a ‘unidirectional fluidity of relations’ (Yu, 2015). Or, we might suggest, the Gaze in an ‘expanded field’ (Bryson, 1988). Norman Bryson recounts Sartre and Lacan’s accounts of the gaze, which both critique the Cartesian self-enclosure of the subject and break the rigidity of subject/object. Yet these accounts still lack the more demanding and radical field of vision of Xu. Coming closer to this demanding and radical vision that overturns Cartesian self-enclosure is Baudrillard’s (2002) medial/ televisual image. Writing in the 1960s, Baudrillard argued that this new type of image and visual flow was in the process of replacing the scene of subjects and objects with the obscene of networks and nodes. ‘But today the scene and the mirror no longer exist; instead there is a screen and a network. In place of the reflexive transcendence of mirror and scene, there is a non-reflecting surface, an immanent surface where operations unfold – the smooth operational surface of communication’ (Baudrillard 2002: 146). Gone is the stable subject and its relation to stable objects, as well as the cultural-psychical site upon which such relationships could be staged. Baudrillard’s account breaks with Sartre’s account of the subject-object relation, which remains in ‘a kind of tunnel vision in which all of the surrounding field is screened out’ (Bryson 1988: 100). Lacan’s (1998: 82–90) account of the gaze is perhaps closer to that of Xu and Baudrillard. His reference to the anamorphic imagery of Holbein’s The Ambassadors is emblematic of an expanded field of vision – as if looking (calculating even) across ‘branes’. Why, as Bryson (1988: 105) asks, do we remain with just one model of vision, ‘that of a regime or terrorizing gaze’? As an alternative, he turns to the writings of Kitarō Nishitani, and in particular his use of the concept śūnyatū (translated as ‘emptiness’, ‘radical impermanence’, ‘blankness’ and ‘nihility’). Similar to Xu as ‘regulating’ luibai painting, Bryson refers to the Japanese ink painting technique of ‘flung ink’ as a way to describe an omnidirectional field of vision. He equates this to an undoing of the divisions between subject and object, a taking away of any sense of ‘frame’ (101–4). It is referred to as ‘radical impermanence’ because ‘it cannot be said to occupy a single location, since its locus is always the universal field of transformations: it cannot achieve separation from that field or acquire any kind of bounded outline’ (97–8). This is the infinity of Image, as a boundless field of transformation. It becomes a means of eluding the spatial and temporal trap of metaphysics. At stake is a politics of vision away from the ‘terrorizing gaze’, away from the empirical image. When Davis (2011: 6) argues that ‘vision must succeed to visuality through a historical process’ (so taking account of processes of recursion and feedback, much as Burgin discusses

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current CGI visual technics), we need pay heed to the fact we still know little about the visual process as a means of amplification. Light consists of a finite amount of energy, of photons or quanta. Indeed, the ‘ingenious amplifier’ that enables us to see, to image, remains an unsolved puzzle: ‘The energy of a photon is sufficient to disturb only a single atom or molecule. With this energy alone, the information that a photon had been absorbed could not be transmitted beyond the point of absorption, let alone to some central nervous system’ (Rose 1973: 2). The amplification to convert dynamis to energia in the act of imaging seems unavoidably caught up in a corporeal mystery of physis, in a pre-Socratic sense. Furthermore, nature does not work in an orderly fashion. The quantum mechanics of photons mean their excitation situates them at random times and places, giving ‘rise to a fundamental graininess of any image’ (Rose 1973: 6). Given the stochastic process and the inherent need to amplify photonic energy, it is a wonder we see at all. The signal-to-noise ratio is such that we hardly see what is before us, but rather somehow, someplace we fashion the finite world around us through potentially infinite means.

I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendos, The blackbird whistling Or just after. – Wallace Stevens, ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ (4) Image is more process than thing, or so the mind says The Image can be approached, experienced, in reaction to the picture. While a picture is ‘a material object, a thing you can burn or break [… an] image is what appears in the picture, and what survives its destruction’ (Mitchell 2008: 16). The clear break between empirical/material picture and immaterial, perhaps ineffable, image proves an interesting rhetorical provocation and could hold some usefulness for purposes of distinction and definition, but might not be as clean as Mitchell formulates. Burgin, for example, refers to the sequence-image to describe the image that is neither still nor moving, but instead is of a ‘psychical reality’ (2004: 7–28). Burgin’s sequence-image is plucked by faulty memory from the flow of cinematic images in a film and built

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up psychically as a generally remembered (correctly or not) image or set of images. And Hans Belting (2005: 302–3) describes how ‘[i]mages are neither on the wall (or on the screen) nor in the head alone. They do not exist by themselves, but they happen; they take place whether they are moving images … or not. They happen via transmission and perception.’ The suggestion that the image comes to attention when captured upon a material support (when pictured), which might include being simply pictured through the body, leaves open the quandary of where images go when we’re not looking at them. As the neuroscientist Semir Zeki (1999: 37–49) argues, Plato was not necessarily wrong to postulate a realm of archetypes where forms and ideas can manifest. His mistake was to consider this an Ideal realm above and beyond the range of physical human experience. Without explicitly acknowledging a transcendental argument, neuroscience nonetheless raises important (and largely unanswered) questions about how and where images form and/or where image concepts are stored in the brain. The workings of the brain provide a means and power of calculation that goes beyond our conscious comprehension, the latter being only the 10 per cent of our nonautopoietic brain activity, dependent upon the other 90 per cent of our autopoietic brain (Stafford 2008; 2009). The billions of neurons in the brain ‘resemble trees of many species and come in many fantastic shapes’, and crucially it is the totality of their connections, or connectome, that makes us who we are (Seung 2012). The first thing any connectome reveals is that it is unique. To date, we are still only able to observe a very limited subset of our neurons, unable, then, to see how we relate from one moment to the next and how we retain distant memories. When William James wrote of the ‘stream of consciousness’ he referred to the flow of thoughts in our minds. For the neuroscientist, ‘every stream has a bed. Without this groove in the earth, the water would not know in which direction to flow. Since the connectome defines the pathways along which neural activity can flow, we might regard it as the streambed of consciousness’ (xix). Our ability to image relates both to a fast-moving stream of thought (neural activity) and the stable ‘grooves’ we hone over time to ensure we look the ‘right way’. As Zeki remarks: ‘a picture cannot represent an object, only the brain can do that, having viewed an object from many different angles and having categorized it as belonging to a particular class’ (1999: 47). In effect, our ability to image is not so different from the mathematical coding that allows the 360-degree ‘frames’ of 3-D CGI imaging, in which we can model any conceivable angle without actually having-been-there. Of course, unlike computer modelling in which the variables are preset within a closed system, we maintain an input and feedback system that presents with a fluid

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Hoogstraten, The Shadow Dance (1678)

Projection – of the world projecting itself into the eye, of a human psyche projecting itself on the world, or of the free mind traveling through virtual space – is the beating heart of light’s creation of visual space. At its most atavistic, it relates to the uncanny doppleganger of the shadow that accompanies us through sunny days and both our projection of faces into the fire and fire’s projection of shadows on the wall. In its characteristic twentieth-century form, cinema is so densely a matter of shadows cast by opaque areas of filmstrip that the Chinese called it dianying, electric shadows. Projection concerns the complexity of our relations with the world, the relations Kant described in terms of contingency, the subjection of human will to natural laws, as opposed to the freedom in which human will transcends physics. Shadow theater provides a suitable conundrum for entering into an enquiry on the practice of freedom. – Sean Cubitt The Practice of Light

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sense of reality, yet is equally prone to error (as with optical illusions and effects borne of cognitive impairments). Nonetheless, this is ‘zero degree’ seeing: a world in which the ‘camera’ can inhabit all points of view at once, and provide impossible perspectives – out of which we gain a semblance of a shared ‘reality’ – a navigable space of the Image. Neurological accounts are often criticised for an inherent solipsism, but the underlying materialism enables our rethinking of Image as both internal and external. Reference to images as always necessarily mediated tends to lead to an understanding of them as temporal, rather than spatial. It is interesting, for example, that in the nineteenth century techniques such as photogrammetry (which is not so different to today’s 3-D printing) offered a spatialising of the image. Yet, historically, this is overridden by the ‘moving image’ as temporal – as if somehow the image is only ever moving before us (or in us). Here we must acknowledge the role of the fleshy body: ‘It is our own bodily experience that allows us to identify the dualism inherent in visual media. We know that we all have or that we all own images, that they live in our bodies or in our dreams and wait to be summoned by our bodies to show up’ (Belting 2005: 305–6). Yet, the description of our bodies as ‘living mediums’, through which we ‘perceive, project, or remember images’, is, if left without deeper explanation, reductive of something like cinema (as if we are forever ‘at the pictures’). A broader account of the sensorium is important. There is a growing evidence of how our bodies ‘sense’ beyond the standard five senses. Introception, for example, the awareness of the internal body, whereby we detect regulation responses, such as respiration, hunger and heart rate, is a form of sensing that triggers prior to brain activity and is linked to empathy. Also, crucially, our combined senses are key. Smell, sounds and sight alter how we taste. The fluid in our ear canals affects how we see (when we sit in a plane on the ground and during take-off our field of vision does not change, yet we ‘see’ the front of the cabin lifting due to the changing state of equilibrium sensed by our ears). As noted from Whitney Davis, a ‘general theory’ of visual culture must allow for the succession of vision to visuality. We can accept that in order for an observer to use and interpret pictures they must be able to see them, yet ‘it is more difficult to demonstrate that these depictions … organize the seeing itself’ (2011: 6). In fact, the various recursions of vision succeeding to visuality ‘are not well understood analytically, let alone neurologically, as actual or functional operations of the visual cortex and of higher (cognitive) processing’ (8). Arguably, however, the ‘body as medium’ has to date only led us to define image as something tangible (that needs

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mediating or is archived by the body) rather than a capacity to mediate more generally. The latter need not preclude the former, but importantly leads us to both a structural and biological account. It is just such a condition of the Image that we need to clarify.

Shadow is the diminution alike of light and darkness, and stands between light and darkness. A shadow may be infinitely dark, and also of infinite degrees of absence of darkness. The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the diminution of light by the intervention of the opaque body; shadow is the counterpart of the luminous rays cut off by an opaque body. (da Vinci in Cubitt, 2014: 125) … the theatre is that practice which calculates the observed place of things: if I put the spectacle here, the spectator will see this; if I put it elsewhere, he won’t see it and I can take advantage of that concealment to profit the illusion: the stage is just that line which intersects the optic beam, tracing its end point and, in a sense, the inception of its development: here would be instituted, against music (against the text), representation. (Barthes 1985: 90)

(5) The Constancy of Shadow is the Prehistory of Perspective In The Remembered Film, Victor Burgin describes images arising from ‘involuntary associations’ (2004: 60). Based on various train journeys, the remembered images are prompted by visual cues including the landscape outside the train and remembered scenes. Akin to a word association game, he works through various elements before settling on a specific image of interest. He refers to these as ‘sequence-images’. Different to image sequences of film, he suggests, ‘[t]he elements that constitute the sequence-image, mainly perceptions and recollections, emerge successively but not teleologically. The order in which they appear is insignificant (as in a rebus) and they present a configuration – “lexical, sporadic” – that is more “object” than narrative.’ Furthermore, ‘[w]hat distinguishes the elements of such a configuration from their evanescent neighbours is that they seem somehow more “brilliant”’ (2004: 21). We might relate this to Barthes’ notion of the punctum. It is an (idiosyncratic) image, specific to a viewer, different to other potential configurations. Yet, importantly, beyond Barthes’ quasi- (even ironically) theoretical ‘punctum’, Burgin explores the sequence image through images themselves, not through a ‘lexicon’ of images. And furthermore,

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he describes of a visceral ‘concatenation of images’. There is a materiality we must approach. These images raise themselves ‘as if in bas relief above the instantly fading, then forgotten, desultory thoughts and impressions passing through my mind as the train passes through the countryside’ (Burgin 2004: 21). How might we think of this ‘bas-relief’, whether across painting, film and projections (and as digital imagery)? Images (however flat, virtual or invisible), present through a certain dimensionality. By its definition the ‘bas-relief’, that which lifts one from the other, must always include its shadow, that area ‘between light and darkness’ that Leonardo da Vinci describes. Of course, for all the ‘brilliant’ images that capture our attention, come also a myriad of others folded among the shadows. As Crary has eloquently noted, in reference to his study of nineteenth-century visual ‘techniques’: We’ve been trained to assume that an observer will always leave visible tracks, that is, will be identifiable in terms of images. But here it’s a question of an observer who takes shape in other, grayer practices and discourses, whose immense legacy will be all the industries of the image and the spectacle in the twentieth century. The body which had been a neutral or invisible term in vision now was the thickness from which knowledge of vision was derived. (1988: 43) By comparison, Crary is concerned with a more macro view of social and historical discourse, while Burgin (though equally attuned to such concerns) focuses upon the more singular, psychoanalytic subject. However, in both cases their interests and methods take them towards forms of seeing that are shadowy, in-between, and that which is left unarticulated by verbal discourse. And if shadow provides a means for the image to convey perspective and volume, as da Vinci notes, then in Burgin’s projections it also expresses temporality and the irrealis of CGI. In A Place to Read, for example, the interior of the coffee house marks time through long shadows and sweeps of light as the diurnal turn passes. The reintroduction of temporality into the image operates in these sweeps of light and shade. The coffee house that no longer stands in Istanbul is conjured through the trick of CGI heft, temporality, space and perspective, and thus becomes a present non-space, with the passing of time in a zero room. The lost public space of the coffee house, where one could go to read, is now occupied by an international hotel: the sort of privatising of public space that led to the Ghezi Park protests and the ensuing violence. The political aesthetics of Burgin’s projection emerge from the shadows moving silently across the empty room. The

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ground of Image here is the ground on which the coffee room formerly stood but does so no longer, swept away by avarice more than time. When the CGI camera shows us the coffee house perched high above the Bosporus, in a swirling helicopter overview, we note the waves are still. We have entered some lost image of the lost structure, remade by code. The shadows of frozen time and its erasure by temporal progression cascade in the unsettling stillness of the background. The prevailing standard of realism in computer modelling is not the world as such, it is rather the world as it appears to the camera. I believe that this is an ideological artefact of a period of historical transition, and will pass. In time we will forget how physical cameras showed the world, and we will adapt our supposedly ‘natural’ vision to the new standards. (Burgin in Bishop and Cubitt 2013: 212) Shadow and reflections are the ‘currency’ of computer modelling – the means through which they prove their worth as ‘even better than the real thing’. But, equally, it is simply a means of remediating our ‘natural’ vision that the shadow is so much a part of. In Burgin’s Photopath (1967), a line of photographs is laid upon a wooden beamed floor and exactly matches the floor; it is the fractional shadow between the photographic paper and the floor itself (and the differing tonal values between the paper and the real wood) that of course show us the line between fact and fiction, between reality and its papered illusion. In the Borges fable, in which the cartographers of the empire draw a map exactly covering the territory it charts, might the ‘shadow’ between have been the only distinction? Or, like the contemporary ‘voxel’ (the three dimensional pixel), there is no depth when scanning an object – we encounter a shadowless world, without gravity. As we spin a new 3-D scan in the available software, we see straight through the object when we look from behind or from ‘within’. Unlike the piece of paper we can draw upon, which while thin nonetheless has depth, the 3-D scan is pure surface, with no depth. Indeed, depth and shadow must be applied, drawn in (in order to ‘draw’ us in, to give us the illusion or our own reality), without which we have a whole new kind of vision. Of course, it is a form of vision long enumerated. Paul Klee writes of the rendering of the visible and didactically walks us through it in his Pedagogical Sketchbook. Pliny tells of the Greek painters, Apelles and Protogenes, who took turns to paint straight lines, each inside the other, giving us a myth of the line as both boundary and surface. And da Vinci writes similarly of the codes and conventions of lines:

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The science of painting begins with the point, then comes the line, the plane comes third, and the fourth the body in its vesture of planes … A point is that which has no centre. It has neither breadth, length, nor depth … The point has no centre, but is itself a centre and nothing can be smaller. The point is the minimum. The point is indivisible by the mind. The point has no parts. The point is the end, which nothingness and the line have in common. It is neither nothing nor line, nor does it occupy a space between them. Therefore the end of nothingness and the beginning of the line are in contact with one another, but they are not joined together, for between them, dividing them is the point … (da Vinci 2008: 119–20) Sean Cubitt posits that shadow in artworks likely predates the study of geometric perspective as a means for constructing space (2014: 171). And he says that the rationalist perspective introduced by geometric perspective that Leonardo explored in his notebooks, drawings and paintings found a meeting ground in shadow with the earlier ‘sfumato of sensuous apprehension’, (171) thus allowing a coexistence of light, dark, line, point and differing technics of representing sight that converged in and was produced through shadow. Suvee’s cross-medial painting The Invention of the Art of Drawing (1791), a painting about drawing in which one medium documents what it is replacing it in an emergent hierarchy of image-making, the desire to ‘fix the shadow’ renders the ablative case of shadow as a technics of representation different from that of perspective. Inevitably, perhaps, continuing in this long trajectory of the shadow, Burgin’s own rich engagement comes through time and again. In Gravida (1982), a series of photographs begins with a bas-relief of a female figure, which is followed by several headshots with deep black surrounds. These faces, like the figure of Gravida, are both coming forth, into the world, yet equally receding, falling back into the unbeing of shadow. And in Office at Night (1986), with its explicit reference to Edward Hopper’s 1940 painting of the same title, the modelling of light (that later in CGI is so easily applied) is the subtle means through which the female figure, previously the object of curiosity, becomes that of the subject (the agent) of curiosity and contemplation.

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Sargent, El Jaleo (1882)

In the background on the left above the musicians is an allusion to Altamira. The cave paintings were discovered the year Sargent started the painting after arriving in Spain. So while the focus seems to be on the dancer and her shadow, with a sly allusion to The Invention of the Art of Drawing, what we actually get is something that could be called The Invention of the Art of Painting – a painting about painting, about how painting has always been with us: the simultaneity of tool culture and art culture found on the walls of the caves. (Powers 2000: 132–5)

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Suvee, Invention of the Art of Drawing (1791)

If Pliny’s account of the origin of painting survived for almost two millennia it can only be because it is true. My sketchy history of the lineage of Pliny’s tale ends in the mideighteenth century. Western history thereafter is a history of industrial capitalism and scientific empiricism. The shadow of an unrelenting positivism will fall across the ‘poetic wisdom’ (sapienza poetica) that the eighteenth century jurist Giambattisa Vico found in all human intelligence. Such ‘histories’ as Pliny wrote will henceforth be reclassified as ‘myths’. But myth, as one modern anthropologist has put it, is: ‘the expression of unobservable realities in terms of observable phenonena’. (Burgin 2009: 244)

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(6) Without the Cut, None of this would be possible … Cinematic metaphysics, its manipulation of time and space, largely emerges from the power of editing, of the cut. Whether analogue or digital, the elasticity of disparate elements occupying the same place and time is made possible primarily through editing. The camera’s visual verity in its early days of documenting movement could be manipulated such that physical acts impossible in nature could be seen as having occurred and documented by the unblinking (and supposedly) empirical eye of the cinema camera – for example, having events run backward. However, there is a kind of a remediation of collage operative in cinematic montage, a revisiting of the surrealist techniques fully realised by Max Ernst within the frame of a print or that of a photograph. What Ernst’s experiments revealed was a rupture of the unity of the image that audiences had come to expect through the use of a frame as an organising principle. The kind of jump in space and time that George Méliès accidentally discovered when his cinema camera jammed and resulted in a shot of an ambulance entering a tunnel and a hearse leaving the same tunnel converted several minutes of existential time into a few seconds of cinema time, and in grimly humorous fashion too. The jarring juxtaposition that Méliès whimsically cultivated turned the indexicality of photography and cinematography against itself, allowing impossible mergings of time, space, objects and actions that became immediately part of early cinema’s grammar, especially early comedic cinema. Similarly, Vertov celebrated the prying of vision from the corporeal constraints of the biological eye and allowed for yet other forms of ‘theoretical vision’ and imaginations of images to run riot through the animation of the inanimate and vice versa, but with a heavily informed political agenda for perspective and the collective imaginary. A continuum of editing can be found in cinema, video work and projection pieces, from the montage (as developed by early experimental cinema and brought to high art and theoretical framing by Eisenstein), to the hidden cut of Classic Hollywood Cinema, to the invisible yet unsettling suture of manipulated space-time images as found in Burgin’s projections (but also present in his photographic panorama manipulations and later video work). The montage cut draws attention to itself, foregrounding the juxtaposition of images and the incongruity or impossibility of the elements of imaging involved. This is what early cinema, comedic and surrealist/avant-garde, worked through in elaborate fashion. This kind of edit, or coup, is found in that most famous of cuts, the one early in Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s Un chien andalou, in which a shot

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Buñuel and Dali, Un chien andalou (1929)

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Ernst, Une semaine de bonté (1934)

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of a straight razor that hovers over the eye of a seated woman is followed by an image of the moon crossed by a razor-thin cloud, which in turn is followed by the slashing of a gelatinous orb (donated by a deceased cow). As Bishop and Phillips explain: This cut asserts the violent removal of visual possibilities allowed to the audience. All that can operate in their visual domain from now on are the individual, psychological dream images that follow in the remainder of the film. The cinematic ‘cut’ between the symbolic and the biological eyes, the cinematic ‘cut’ that leads to an act of blinding, also becomes the cut – the entryway, the incision – that leads to the individually aestheticised realm revealed in the body of the film. Only the ending takes us back to the public world invoked in the prologue, and it, too, involves blindness. (Bishop and Phillips 2010: 43) As we noted in the book Barthes/Burgin, the orthographic mark known as the slash, much treasured and used by Barthes and now infinitely ubiquitous due to web addresses, performs a similar function in print as the montage cut does in cinema. The slash or barre oblique ‘creates and embodies intellectual, conceptual and material relationships’ (Bishop and Manghani 2016: 21) through the act of simultaneously joining while keeping separate through punctuation and chirographic mark-making independent and perhaps utterly unrelated parts of writing. In the act of moving from work to text, the slash can play a liberating role by returning writing to its segmentations and disrupting the flow of alphabetic writing/reading by drawing attention to its frozen constituent elements. Conceptually, the slash, as with the edit that draws attention to itself, and indeed as with collage, performs its paradoxical sleight of hand in the open: it divides while bringing together, suspends temporal movement while advancing it through the collapse of words and spacing, and conjoins whilst holding apart. ‘Constitutive of division, our simple chirographic mark serves essentially as “visual onomatopoeia” for the act of mark-making generally’ (21), just as Buñel and Eisenstein’s coup or Pound’s imagism inscribe their productive act of cutting and recombination. Buñel writes in the late 1920s that ‘segmentation’, the conceptual division and reconnection of images, is the most important aspect of film-making: By explicitly drawing attention to segmentation, especially in a film such as Un chien andalou, Buñuel makes visible what others blind audiences to. That is, he increases the gap between visible text and remote object, letting out the

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slack rather than tightening it up. In a prototypical modernist move, Buñuel shows viewers the conditions that make the representation possible while simultaneously showing them the failure of his ability to show them. He can only show them what he cannot show them. (Bishop and Phillips 2010: 43) A standard theory of editing, especially Classical Hollywood Cinema, is the suture, in which the invisible editing not only hides the cut but also in effect sutures the spectator into the diegetic narrative. An example of this can be found in the highly polished over-the-shoulder shot/counter-shot used in dialogue: one that maintains line of sight and spatial relations. This is not the suture one finds in Burgin’s panorama of analogue and virtual images. Certainly he wishes to enmesh attentive viewers into the spatial evocation of his projections, but it is not to embed them in a system of signifiers unfolding through narrative. The narrative (if there can be said to be one) is not linear, neither is the unfolding image. The suture provides the basis for a theoretical vision that realises an impossible perspectival position, one no human body could occupy. In a gesture back to the coup, but modestly understated, the uncanny unfolding and reiteration of the projection loops gestures to cinema history remediated in the gallery space. Burgin’s suture, paradoxically, carries forward elements of both the montage cut and the hidden edit of Classical Hollywood Cinema. The uncanny contiguity of spatial qualities unsettles and draws attention to the suture as cut just as montage editing does. At the same time, the cinematic grammar of spatial continuity holds firm … until it doesn’t, and the panorama reveals the impossible spatial dimensions within its apparently continuous framing. The frame slips and slides, no longer, as with collage, maintaining visual sense. The stealthy undoing of the panorama as a 360-degree visualising technique with which audiences are familiar through many different mediums slides, almost imperceptibly, to zero degree. Once we see the frame animated and transgressed, once vision shifts from 360 to zero, we cannot go back. The cut in the form of this type of suture has unravelled visual fidelity to indexical coherence by miming all the techniques of said coherence.

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Bayer, The Lonely Metropolitan (1932)

One of the things I liked about photography was that it allowed me to put everything in the environment on a common basis, on film. In a photograph, the Arc de Triomphe or a matchbook can occupy the same amount of space in the frame, and through doubleexposure, they can occupy the same space at the same time. Similarly what I like about digitization is that it brings everything onto a common ground. (Burgin in Bhabha and Burgin 1994: 462)

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Bayer, Diagram of 360 Degrees Field of Vision (1935)

Representation is not directly defined by imitation: even if we were to get rid of the notions of ‘reality’ and ‘verisimilitude’ and ‘copy’, there would still be ‘representation’, so long as a subject (author, reader, spectator, or observer) directed his gaze toward a horizon and there projected the base of a triangle of which his eye (or his mind) would be the apex. The Organon of Representation … will have for its double basis the sovereignty of that projection and the unity of the subject doing the projecting. (Barthes 1985: 90)

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Moholy-Nagy, Shooting Gallery (1925)

Composition is the corollary of framing, but the panoramic scanning of a still image produces a frame that is ‘acompositional’ (much as one speaks of the ‘atonal’ in music); the contents of the moving frame are in a perpetual state of de-composition as the result of the constant, mathematically uniform, passing of all that is visible. As there is no parallax, there is no differential movement between foreground, middle-distance and background – as there would be if the pan had been conventionally filmed by a camera operator. This is an incorporeal form of vision, the view of a disembodied eye turning upon a mathematical point of zero dimensions. Neither does the way in which the visible world enters and leaves the frame owe much to the optical schemas at work in cinema, as this movement is a product of mathematical calculations rather of the characteristics of glass lenses. This is a theoretical vision. (Burgin 2008: 92).

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The cultic value that becomes attached to photography always depends on uniqueness, the nonreproducibility at the heart of the reproducible itself in photography. (Derrida 2010: 29) Citing [theory] in three ways: the work cites theory, stages it, upstages it. (Homi Bhabha, in conversation with Burgin (Bhabha and Burgin 1994: 459))

(7) Theoretical Vision This essay has worked through (and between) various references, citations and allusions to painting, photography and projection. By projection we refer specifically to Victor Burgin’s work in the last decade, in which he has turned to the use of digital image production including CGI and gaming engines. While these works are produced in a virtual space, for their exhibition they are projected through digital video projectors. However, of course, projection is also a more general phenomenon, taking us all the way back to Plato’s allegory of the cave, and before that the historical sites of cave painting, which would have needed a fiery light source in order to bring the delicate forms into view. We could choose to offer a schematic account of painting, photography and projection. Paintings are typically understood as being framed. They are made up of marks as their unit of ‘drawing’, and suggest a pause or tableaux of viewing. Photography, as a means of ‘capturing’ the image, is regarded as much for framing than that which is framed. The sign is its unit of production and is characterised by the still image. Contemporary projections, in the sense we mean with Burgin’s work, are about the animation (even transgression) of frames. The digital image is made up of the virtual pixel (voxel) and borne of this virtuality is the means of the infinitely looping image. Yet, as the chapter has sought to show, what underlies all of these forms is in fact a more general, traversing of seeing and imaging that is of all painting, photography and projection. We refer not to the image, but Image. This is not to present so much a theoretical equivalence or extension to the Text (as it operates according to different properties). However, echoing the ‘move’ that Barthes makes in his essay ‘From Work to Text’, the charting of Image in this chapter, through these various ‘propositions’, similarly take us from the particular to the general. To adopt Barthes’ (1977: 156) analogy, this is to move from a static object (in his case the ‘work’, in our case empirical images), typically ‘conceived of in a, so to speak, Newtonian way’, to instead reach for an ‘Einsteinian science’, one that demands ‘the relativity of the frames of reference’

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(as we have tried to evoke here through a range of disciplinary perspectives and ‘objects’). It is here, in amongst the ‘network’ of imaging, we lead towards an image degree zero; both the site and (im)possible ‘space’ of imaging. A key operator in this ‘zero degree’ must however be our ability to spectate. Burgin’s projection works – by his own reckoning – are decidedly uncinematic. At the level of image, they do not behave as we would expect of the motion picture, or of the televisual. But it is more than that. It is how we come to the image (not the other way round) that establishes how we specify these works. Indeed, it is as much the conditions of spectatorship that allows us to move between mediums, to engage Image (rather than simply encounter a series of images). We maintain here a ‘specificity’ of the image, but which might be said to be as much painting as projection: The actual space of spectatorship of my work is determined by its institutional setting in the gallery. My videos are intended to be seen under conditions of viewing specifically different from either the theatrical setting of cinema or the domestic setting of television. In the gallery, the work occupies a dark and empty space, without seating or other furnishings. It is accepted that viewers will enter and leave the projection space at indeterminable intervals: the work therefore perpetually loops, with no particular ‘beginning, middle and end’. In all, the conditions of spectatorship are similar to those of painting, where the relation to the work is one of repetition, or more accurately reprise, and where the ideal viewer is one who accumulates her or his knowledge of the work, as it were, in ‘layers’ – much as a painting is created. (Burgin 2008: 90–1) At its site of production, Burgin’s ‘theoretical vision’ results from the orthographic fixing we find in the Dürer image (and its contemporary mimeography in the dirty or dynamic Reflectance Transformation Imaging in the work of sculptor Ian Dawson). In Burgin’s case, it is the digital supplementing of the inherited orthographic tradition of Western perspectival image formation, but with the clear removal of an embodied subject capable of creating a seamless panorama. For this panorama to exist, the body must be missing. The disembodied view we witness requires the digital replication of this inherited tradition to use its tools of operation against themselves, to show when they cease to function while also functioning: a quintessential element of zero degree seeing. The acomposition resultant from compositional rules pushed to their limits is the image generated by the digital technics in use. Yet the moment we come

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to spectate, to arrive to the image, this zero degree must be folded back upon ‘ways of seeing’. A recoding or encoding takes places through our consumption of the image. Whether we seek to collude with or dispel the notion of the zero degree, it is always necessary we must ‘entertain’ the image, to see it. And here, like Barthes’ reading of ‘colourless writing’ in Writing Degree Zero, the acompositional holds only to a point. We get but a trace of the zero degree. However we cut it, then, this arrival to the image is to arrive at the political aesthetic. Our new ability to see 360 degrees is an ability to comprehend, though not necessarily intuit, such a point of view. To see all round, upside down in a ‘frictionless’ manner pertains to the same utopic project Barthes’ saw with the emergence of postwar colourless writing. Indeed, Robbe-Grillet’s attention to the objects and spaces of a story (not its characters or plot) has very direct echoes of the multidimensional spatial and temporal properties of CGI (see Chapter 4). The disembodied eye, the expansive Image (an impure vision) is the new ‘social’ space, as we once thought of the Text, as Barthes expounded; in our case it is a practice of vision, not language. By way of ‘illustration’, we can take the example of an ‘image’ from 1996: ‘the Taliban in Afghanistan, taking control of Herat, stripped the city of its televisions – its image-machines – and skewered them in great scarecrow towers, festooned with fluttering videotape, at the city gates’ (Bell 1999:16). Most people who saw this broadcast likely recall this ‘image’ vividly. They can picture the BBC’s world affairs correspondent reporting in front of one of these ‘totems’. It could all be read as a postmodern artwork, fluttering defiantly behind an establishment journalist. The fluttering videotape, though, evoked twentieth-century crucifixions, with nails through the tape as if through the corpus produced by image-making and image-reproducing machines. The magnetically rearranged data of moving images fluttered in the wind in a manner haunting and haunted, the return of image suspicion and erasure that has never left us. It was a warning to all images and image-makers, like heads on stakes, not to tread there. The desire to nail down the image, here literally, proves impossible as the broadcast image leaked out of the site and wedged into our memories. The image cannot be nailed down as image because these moving images of sacrificial videotape remain image after (and because of) their impaling. These are moving images in spite of being stilled by hammers and nails; not only in the television broadcast but in the fact that we are moved when viewing them. As a metapicture of Image, this is an image of the combined complexity of images, mediation and regimes of seeing. And, just as with Burgin’s panoramas that animate still images and make them move, so with

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this starkly remembered image of sacrificial videotape, that could no longer be played, we are moved through their enforced stillness (‘still moving’ as an underlying property of Image?). Significantly, the image of these ‘scarecrow towers’ cannot be found via the Internet. In being denied this singular empirical image, our capacity to form images is highlighted. As with most iconoclastic gestures, one image is replaced with another. We remain, then, at the threshold of our reception of the image, oscillating through Image, which like a black hole is only ever discernable by what it discards about its circumference. In the case of Image it is the endless parade of pictures that distract us from their singularity: the very zero degree we struggle to define or pinpoint here. Like the example Burgin gives of The Invisible Man, a film which posits an impossible visual ‘subject’, but consistently brought into view by what surrounds and ‘sticks’ to the figure (in Bishop and Manghani 2016: 103), we must inhabit in a cycle, a repetition of images, through which we keep ourselves open to the grounds of Image (or the figuring of figures). Burgin refers to the musical da capo as the ‘most direct analogy’ with his work. ‘Musically, the da capo indicates that one must resume the performance of the score either from its beginning of from some appropriate sign. It therefore implies the reiteration of the same. However … the reprise does not produce the identical. Auditory memory in effect gives another dimension to the second audition. Keeping the memory of the first audition, it transfigures it’ (Massin, cited in Burgin 2008: 93). It is this multi-dimensional ‘space’ of the image – as a constantly accumulating zero degree – that we remain open to: the space of Image over the surfeit of empirical, static and/or overly narrated images. Unlike the cinematic, as Burgin notes, the primary purpose of his projections is not to tell a story, rather the narrative component ‘is simply one association to the real amongst others’. Instead, the ‘space’ of the Image cannot merely be painted, photographed and projected, but rather carried forth because we seek to paint, photography and project. We move, then, from the particular to the general. Image is never entirely what we see, but what enables us to see. It represents a null point, an oscillation, or ‘economy’ – it is a productive in-between. Here, we might leave the final word to both Barthes and Burgin, with the latter saying of the former: ‘Roland Barthes complained that, at the cinema, you are not permitted to close your eyes. The silences in my videos, the places where “nothing happens”, where you may close your eyes, are spaces where viewers may inscribe their own associations’ (Burgin 2008: 95). As we have explored in this chapter, the theory and projection of Image can only emerge through the practice of imaging. This practice and its resultant images serve simultaneously as the vehicle for and impediment to our understanding.

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References Afshordi, Niayesh, Claudio Corianò, Luigi Delle Rose, Elizabeth Gould and Kostas Skenderis (2017) ‘From Planck Data to Planck Era: Observational Tests of Holographic Cosmology’, Physical Review Letters, 118, 27 January, pp. 041301-1-6. Barthes, Roland (1977) Image-Music-Text, trans. Stephen Heath. London: Flamingo. Barthes, Roland (1985) The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. Baudrillard, Jean (2002) ‘Ecstasy of Communication’, in Hal Foster (ed.) The AntiAesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. New York: New Press, pp. 145–54. Bell, Julian (1999) What is Painting? Representation and Modern Art. London: Thames & Hudson. Belting, Hans (2005) ‘Image, Medium, Body: A New Approach to Iconology’. Critical Inquiry, Vol. 31, pp. 302–19. Bhabha, Homi and Victor Burgin (1994) ‘Family Romance’, in Lucien Taylor (ed.) Visualizing Theory: Selected Essays from V.A.R. 1990–1994. New York and London: Routledge, pp. 452–68. Bishop, Ryan and John Phillips (2010) Modernist Avant-Garde Aesthetics and Contemporary Military Technology: Technicities of Percepton. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Bishop, Ryan and Sean Cubitt (2013) ‘Camera as Object and Process: An Interview with Victor Burgin’, Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 30, No. 7–8, pp. 199–219.

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Bishop, Ryan and Sunil Manghani (eds) (2016) Barthes / Burgin: Research Notes for an Exhibition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Bryson, Norman (1988) ‘The Gaze in the Expanded Field’, in Hal Foster (ed.) Vision and Visuality. Seattle: Bay Press, pp. 86–113. Burgin, Victor (2004) The Remembered Film. London: Reaktion Books. Burgin, Victor (2008) Components of a Practice. Milan: Skira. Burgin, Victor (2009) Situational Aesthetics, ed. Alexander Streitberger. Leuven: Leuven University Press. Crary, Jonathan (1988) ‘Modernizing Vision’ in Hal Foster (ed.) Vision and Visuality. Seattle: Bay Press, pp. 29–44. Cubitt, Sean (2014) The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technologies from Prints to Pixels. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Da Vinci, Leonardo (2008) Notebooks, ed. Thereza Wells. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Davis, Whitney (2011), A General Theory of Visual Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Derrida, Jacques (1995) The Gift of Death, trans. David Wills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Derrida, Jacques (2010) Copy, Archive, Signature: A Conversation on Photography. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Einstein, Albert and Leopold Infield (1947) The Evolution of Physics. London: Scientific Book Club.

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Hawking, Stephen (2001) The Universe in a Nutshell. London: Bantam Press. Johnson, Christopher (1993) System and Writing in the Philosophy of Jacques Derrida. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kepes, György (1969) The Language of Vision. New York: P. Theobald. Lacan, Jacques (1998) The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis, trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Vintage. Lippit, Akira Mizuta (2005) Atomic Light (Shadow Optics). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Lyotard, Jean-Francois (2011) Discourse, Figure, trans. Antony Hudek and Mary Lydon. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1964) The Primacy of Perception: And Other Essays on Phenomenological Psychology, the Philosophy of Art, History and Politics. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Mirzoeff, Nicholas (1998) Visual Cultural Reader. London: Routledge. Mitchell, W.J.T. (1994) Picture Theory: Escape on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: U of Chicago P Mitchell, W. J. T. (2008) ‘Visual Literacy or Literary Visualcy’, in James Elkins (ed.) Visual Literacy. New York: Routledge, pp. 11–29. Moholy-Nagy, László (1969) Painting, Photography, Film. London: Lund Humphries.

Mondzain, Marie-José (2005) Image, Icon, Economy, The Byzantine Origins of the Contemporary Imaginary, trans. Rico Franses. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Moriarty, Philip (2013) ‘Ripples in an Elctron Pond’, in Sunil Manghani, Image Studies: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge, pp. 210–13. Powers, Richard (2000) Plowing the Dark. New York: Picador. Rose, Albert (1973) Vision: Human and Electronic. New York: Plenum Press. Seung, Sebastian (2012) Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes us Who We Are. London: Penguin. Stafford, Barbara Maria (2008) ‘The Remaining 10 Percent: The Role of Sensory Knowledge in the Age of the Self-Organizing Brain’, in James Elkins (ed.) Visual Literacy. New York: Routledge, pp. 31–57. Stafford, Barbara Maria (2009) ‘Thoughts Not Our Own: Whatever Happened to Selective Attention?’, Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 26, No. 2–3, pp. 275–93. Stevens, Wallace (1972) The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play, ed. Holly Stevens. New York: Vintage. Yu, Peng (2015) ‘Zones of Indeterminacy: Art, Body and Politics in Daoist Thought’, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 93–114. Zeki, Semir (1999) Inner Vision. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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The End of the Frame Victor Burgin To speak of ‘cinema’ today is to speak in the aftermath of two related events: one local, the other global. The former may be metonymically represented by Susan Sontag’s announcement in 1996 of the death of cinephila,1 the latter is the upheaval brought about by the advent of digital technologies. Looking across this divide in the preface to her book of 2006, Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image, Laura Mulvey notes some consequent differences between the ‘then’ of her work in the 1970s and its ‘now’ – a perspective I shall maintain in what follows. The earliest of Mulvey’s writings collected in Au-delà du plaisir visuel: Féminisme, énigmes, cinéphilie (2018) – the first book of her writings to be published in French – is her essay of 1975 ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’2 in which she uses Freud’s 1927 paper ‘On Fetishism’ to analyse ‘the voyeuristic-scopophilic look that is a crucial part of traditional filmic pleasure’.3 Writing in 1990, looking back on the reception of this widely influential essay over the intervening fifteen years, I observed that the psychoanalytic foundation of Mulvey’s argument had been largely abandoned by her followers, many of whom had evicted the divided sexual subject of psychoanalysis in favour of the unproblematically empirical categories ‘male’ and ‘female’.4 The most recent of Mulvey’s writings translated in Au-delà du plaisir visuel is her essay of 2015, ‘Cinematic Gesture: The ghost in the machine’. Here Mulvey discusses the image of Marilyn Monroe in a thirty-second sequence from Howard Hawks’ film of 1953, Gentleman Prefer Blondes, a sequence she digitally slows down in order to isolate four moments of arrest – ‘gestures’ – in the dance Monroe performs. To a francophone reader encountering Mulvey’s work for the first time it might at first sight appear that although the earliest and latest essays in the book both address the phenomenon of woman as spectacle, ‘Cinematic Gesture’ otherwise owes little or nothing to the Freudian theory of her essay forty years previously. This would be a misunderstanding. In ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ Mulvey takes Freud’s account of fetishism as her point of departure. In this account, the fetishised object – which is not necessarily a material object – is installed in a moment of arrest analogous to a ‘frozen moment’ abstracted from the flow of lived experience. Rather than having been abandoned, it is as if this fundamental aspect of Freud’s theory of fetishism had slipped its psychoanalytic moorings to travel more freely throughout her writings.

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The dialectic between movement and arrest has not only remained one of Mulvey’s recurring preoccupations, it has become the basis of a redirection of her theoretical interests – from the erotics of the look, to the representation of time. Mulvey first describes slowing down the sequence from Gentleman Prefer Blondes in Death 24x a Second, where she writes: fiction films are not necessarily structured to move inexorably, uniformly and smoothly forward … Privileged moments or tableaux are constructed around an integrated aesthetic unity that is detachable from the whole, although ultimately part of it. (2006: 147) In my own essay of 1984, ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’,5 I outline the history of the concepts of ‘privileged moment’ (peripateia) and ‘tableau’ in seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury theories of painting.6 My 1984 paper is an example of theoretical work inspired by Mulvey’s essay of 1975, but which took place within the context of writing on photography rather than film. Psychoanalytic theory offered me a way of describing the psychical processes by which a materially poor still photograph might become enriched with associative meaning, including narrative meaning. In my essay I suggest that what may lead us to find equivalents of peripateia and tableau in photographs and films is our unconscious recognition of the mise en scène of an unconscious fantasy.7 There are of course reasons other than unconscious ones for isolating a sequence from a film. The scene may belong to the image repertoire of a fully self-aware cinephilia – for example, to stay with Marilyn Monroe, the ‘subway dress’ sequence from The Seven Year Itch.8 On other occasions the reasons may be preconscious – not immediately apparent, but accessible to introspection. Invited to write this present essay for a colloquium on Laura Mulvey’s work, I found myself recalling a scene from a film by Max Ophüls. The most immediately obvious explanation for this would be that Mulvey has written eloquently about the films of this director. But she has written no less eloquently about films by other directors, which invites the psychoanalytic question: ‘Why has this sequence come to mind rather than some other?’

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Ophüls (dir.), Letter from an Unknown Woman, 1948

Panoramic perception In 1787 an Irish landscape artist patented his idea of a painting that would encircle the viewer. In 1832 a London attraction called the Panorama seated visitors in replicas of railway wagons as a moving canvas disclosed the high points of a journey on the Liverpool-Manchester railway.9 On the occasion of the Paris Exposition Universelle, in 1900, the Transsiberian Panorama simulated, over a period of forty-five minutes, the most spectacular stages of a voyage of some ten thousand kilometres between Moscow and Peking.10 Louis Lumière had presented the first screening of a film to a paying audience in 1895, and the painted panorama would decline in popularity after the Exposition Universelle, but the two attractions nevertheless have something in common. In the railway panorama, the scene beyond the carriage window takes the form of an image strip traversing a frame, much as a film strip passes through the film gate as its projected images cross the space of the cinema screen. The couple in Ophüls’ film are seated in the carriage much as the audience for his film would be seated in a movie theatre. Just as the couple in the carriage are entranced more by each other

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than by the spectacle which serves as pretext for their tryst so, in the movie theatres in which the film was first released, similarly preoccupied couples might follow the tale on the screen in a state of distraction. On occasions, however, a detail may emerge from the flux of images to fix the attention. In his book of 1986, The Railway Journey, Wolfgang Schivelbusch cites the nineteenth-century journalist Benjamin Gastineau who observes that the coming of the railway has brought about an innovation in his viewing practices: as he travels in a railway carriage he finds that he fixes his attention upon some detail in the passing scene and follows it with his gaze until it passes out of sight. Schivelbusch notes that Gastineau describes the view from a moving train as if it were a panorama, and he coins the expression ‘panoramic perception’ to name this form of attention (1986: 60). The film-maker and theorist Christian Keathley has compared Schivelbusch’s idea of ‘panoramic perception’ to Paul Willemen’s concept of the ‘cinephiliac moment’ in film, which Willemen defines as a ‘fetishising of a particular moment, the isolating of a crystallisingly expressive detail’ (2000: np). Willemen in turn compares the cinephiliac moment to Roland Barthes’ notion of the ‘punctum’, the detail in a photograph that an individual finds emotionally moving in a way incommunicable to others, and says he prefers his neologism cinephiliac to the more usual ‘cinephilic’ to acknowledge the shadow of necrophilia that falls on the lost object of cinephilia.

Two kinds of narration In the railway panorama, seated spectators looked at a fixed linear sequence of images for a predetermined period of time – a form of audience experience and behaviour that invites comparison with cinema. The earlier ‘circular panorama’ presented ambulatory spectators with an image environment they could enter and leave as they pleased – behaviour we may associate with art galleries and museums. In her preface to Death 24x a Second Mulvey writes: Then, I was absorbed in Hollywood Cinema, turning to the avant-garde as its binary opposite. Now, I think that the aesthetics of cinema have a greater coherence across its historical body in the face of new media technologies … (2006: 7)

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To this I would add that ‘then’, in the 1970s, cinema studies and avant-garde filmmaking together formed a cultural unit that had the theory and practice of photography as its ‘binary opposite’. Mulvey’s critical cinephilia brought her to disengage the still implied within a narrative; I sought to explain how a narrative may be implied by the still. The opposition between movement and still here is not to be reduced to the distinction in narrative theory between ‘narrative’ and ‘image’,11 it is rather a matter of two kinds of narrative structure historically located in two kinds of architectural setting, each presupposing its own specific form of audience behaviour. Although it is possible to enter a movie theatre after the film has begun and leave before it ends it is normally assumed that the duration of the film will coincide with the duration of the spectator’s viewing of it. In the gallery it is normally assumed that these two times will not coincide, as visitors to galleries usually enter and leave at unpredictable intervals. Moving image works made with this behaviour in mind are therefore typically designed to loop, with a seamless transition between first and last frames. As any element in the loop – image, text, sound – may be the ‘first’ to be experienced by the visitor then the elements that comprise the work should ideally be independently significant. In this, the experience of a projection work designed specifically for a gallery setting is closer to that of a psychoanalytic session than to a narrative film: no detail of the material produced in an analysis is considered a priori more significant than any other, all elements equally are potential points of departure for chains of associations. Roland Barthes complained that, at the cinema, you are not allowed to close your eyes. Voids and silences are integral to what I have elsewhere called the ‘uncinematic’ organisation of loops.12 The temporality of loops may also be compared to that of a psychoanalytic session, which is characterised by reiteration, for example in the symptomatic phenomenon of the ‘compulsion to repeat’, and the therapeutic principle of – in the title of one of Freud’s essays – ‘Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through’.13 What in musical terms one might call the ritornello structure of many gallery works has its analogies in such psychical mechanisms as deferred action, in which a previously anodyne event may become traumatic when recalled in different circumstances, or in the unconscious determinations of the sense of déja vu and the uncanny. The psychoanalysts Jean Laplanche and Serge Leclaire describe the reiterative fractional chains that form daydreams and unconscious fantasies as ‘brief sequences, most often fragmentary, circular and repetititive’ (1981: 261–321), and characterise the fantasy as a scénario with multiple entry points (1985: 71) – which is exactly the way I think of my own projection loops. In all, the conditions of spectatorship of moving

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image works made for the gallery are closer to those traditionally associated with painting than those associated with cinema. The ideal viewer is one who accumulates his or her knowledge of the work, as it were, in ‘layers’ – much as a painting may be created. In the mid-twentieth century the American art critic Clement Greenberg judged that the history of Western painting had culminated in the celebration of its material condition as pigment on a flat surface – ‘Content’, he wrote, ‘is to be avoided like a plague.’ For centuries prior to modernist aesthetics, however, painting had been a form of representation of the real and a form of narration. Across those centuries the technology of painting evolved: for example, through the introduction of easel painting and of such various aids to drawing as the camera lucida; through the invention of oil paint and of collapsible tubes (which allowed painters to leave their studios much as sixteen-millimetre cameras later allowed film-makers an analogous freedom). Understood as a representational technology we might judge, contra-Greenberg, that the specificity of painting lies most fundamentally not in the historical contingency of its material mode of production, but rather in the specificity of its mode of reception – interpellated via a particular form of spectatorial address in a specific architectural setting, regardless of whether pigment or projected light is used to produce the image on the wall.14 To pass from the movie theatre to the museum is to pass from one kind of spectatorial interpellation to another, from one form of narration to another, from a determinate linear time to an indeterminate recursive temporality. However, just as the advent of digital technology filled the space between the cinema screen and the gallery wall with a variety of other screens, so it has engendered hybrid forms of attention, narration and time. If, at home, I attentively watch a ninety-minute film on a mobile device, without interruption and with the room lights dimmed, I behave much as if I were at the cinema (albeit with a certain disrespect). If I extract a sequence from the same film and watch it repeatedly, understanding it differently with each reprise, then I may be behaving as if I were in an art gallery. Moreover, works positioned securely within the apparatus of cinema – festivals and prizes, star performers, mediatic attention, and so on – may offer ‘uncinematic’ forms of narration. I think, for example, of the films of the Korean director Hong Sang-soo. The characters in Hong's films are preoccupied with their emotional lives to the almost total exclusion of such other concerns as the state of the world around them. In this, his films have much in common with classic Hollywood melodrama. In narrative structure however his films are radically different from those of such directors as Max Ophüls or Douglas Sirk. As one writer has remarked of Hong’s films:

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Instead of illustrating the logical process of narrative development, each shot (plan) is never the first or last link in a chain of facts, but restores the impression produced in the present by an event. (Park 2018: 102) The ensemble of Hong Sang-soo’s films produce an impression of perpetual return: much the same types of people, in much the same work occupations and life situations, go through much the same types of interactions. I am left with the impression of a Monet returning to paint the same cathedral facade under different lights, or a Cézanne returning again to paint Mont Sainte-Victoire.15

Camera and politics 1 Laura Mulvey’s essay of 1975 ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ not only offered a theoretical analysis of the symbolic reproduction of sexual subordination in mainstream cinema, it also argued for the invention of politically alternative forms of film practice – a project to which she herself contributed as co-director of such works as Riddles of the Sphinx.16 In 1975 even such ‘low budget’ film production was beyond the economic and technical means of most individuals. In the interwar years of the twentieth century some artists addressed the class basis of their avant-garde practices. Such movements as Arbeiter-Fotograf in Germany and Protekult in the Soviet Union sought to put the means of visual and written representation into the hands of workers, thereby erasing the bourgeois category ‘artist’ from the pages of history. In an irony of history such projects have since been realised not by revolutionary organisation but by capitalist innovation. The same technologies that allow Mulvey to dissect Hollywood movies frame by frame also allow for practices based, amongst others, on the historic example of cinema but with amateur and professional artists enjoying equal access to the means of production and distribution. On social media the ubiquitous practice of ‘iPhotography’ not only facilitates the exchange of still and moving selfies, it is also used to assemble de facto communities around a potentially infinite variety of shared interests, from broken umbrellas to urban insurrection. In a popular counterpart to some avant-garde artworks, ‘cinemagraphs’ allow the freezing of a detail in a smartphone video frame while everything around it is in motion (for example, a child leaping into a swimming pool hangs motionless in mid-air while her reflection dances on the surface of the water below). Under the parental gaze of GAFA

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endless parades of demotic works now pass in the company of hordes of ‘follows’, ‘comments’ and ‘likes’. Among the more structured of these is the ‘mashup’. Writing in 2003, Colin MacCabe observed: ‘In a world in which we are entertained from cradle to grave whether we like it or not, the ability to rework image and dialogue … may be the key to both psychic and political health’ (2003: 301). In the 1970s the détournement of commercially produced films through dissembling and reassembling their contents was a laborious and skilled practice of avant-garde film-makers. Now anyone with broadband access may use online video editors to make collage films from inexhaustible streams of online images and sounds. Many mashups engage directly with mainstream cinema: for example, by remixing Hollywood film trailers, or montaging anthologies of similar scenes from different films of the same genre.17 Mashups cannibalise media contents external to the editing software used to assemble them. In contrast, the practice of ‘machinima’ allows the production of films shot entirely with virtual cameras in such virtual worlds as those of video games and Second Life. In 2005 two teenagers were accidentally electrocuted while attempting to escape from police in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. Televised comments on the incident by the then Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy provoked widespread rioting. Alex Chan, a young industrial designer living in La Courneuve, one of the sites of the disturbances, responded with a thirteen-minute machinima film, The French Democracy. Beginning with a scene of the two deaths, Chan’s film moves on to represent the frustration of French youth minorities in their routine encounters with racial discrimination and police harassment. The French Democracy was produced within the business simulation game, The Movies, in which players adopt the role of managing a simulated film studio. Although not a requirement of the game, players who wish to do so can write and shoot their own ‘films’ with sets and ‘actors’ provided within the game. In The French Democracy the limitations of the game’s virtual world determined that, for example, the electrical substation where the deaths occur is represented by a rustic shack, and the Paris métro is represented by the New York subway.18 After Chan uploaded his film to the Internet it ‘went viral’ internationally (for example, he was interviewed at length by The Washington Post).19 In its economy and effectivity The French Democracy invites a radical reassessment of what today may constitute a ‘political’ film. If political art is to aim for the most democratically accessible means of production and optimum reception then we might conclude that the future of political cinema is in machinima.

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Camera and politics 2 In the 1970s the number of visual artists and film-makers producing art that might be considered ‘political’ was relatively small. Today ‘political art’ is as ubiquitous and academic a genre as once was landscape, still life or the nude.20 As Jacques Rancière has observed: The problem is that this irreproachable effort by many artists to break the dominant consensus and to put the existing order into question tends to inscribe itself within the framework of consensual descriptions and categories … (2005: 198) Writing in 2013, with no apparent irony in respect of his status as a ‘bestselling’ novelist, the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard remarks: Wherever you turned you saw fiction. All these millions of paperbacks, hardbacks, DVDs and TV series, they were all about made-up people in a made-up, though realistic, world. And news in the press, TV news and radio news had exactly the same format, documentaries had the same format, they were also stories, and it made no difference whether what they told had actually happened or not … the nucleus of all this fiction, whether true or not, was verisimilitude and the distance it held to reality was constant. In other words it saw the same. This sameness, which was our world, was being mass-produced. (2013: 497) As Roland Barthes had put it: ‘always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning’ (1975: 42). In this perspective the political import of a work of art is to be measured not with reference to its manifest content, but by the degree and nature of its relation to taken-for-granted reality – the horizon of what may be thought and said. In a short text on his collaboration with Salvador Dali, ‘Notes on the Making of Un chien andalou’, Luis Buñuel says: When an image or idea appeared the collaborators discarded it immediately if it was derived from … the cultural pattern … [the film] has no intention of attracting nor pleasing the spectator; indeed, on the contrary, it attacks him, to the degree that he belongs to a society with which surrealism is at war … (Stauffacher 1947: 30).

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Un chien andalou is limpid in expression ­– not with the clarity of a political statement, but with the clarity of a riddle. Commenting on Buñuel’s text in a 1989 essay, Laura Mulvey writes: Solving an enigma is as basic a source of aesthetic pleasure as spectatorship, but the pleasure is intellectual rather than visual. … there is an important political difference between the avant-garde and the popular. The popular can disturb, bring difficult material to the fore, cause returns of the repressed, but tends to reconcile contradiction in the last resort. (1989: 133–4) What stands outside the reality of consensual verisimilitude is the real, which by definition cannot be represented, but nevertheless … In his 1977 inaugural lecture at the Collège de France, Barthes says: From ancient times to the efforts of our avant-garde, literature has been concerned to represent something. What? I will put it crudely: the real. The real is not representable, and it is because men ceaselessly try to represent it by words that there is a history of literature (1979: 8). The encounter with the real is registered only partially, tangentially, in translation, after the event – in terms of the various representational forms that have produced a history of art practices in general. Barthes’ work had first come to prominence in 1953 with the publication of his book Le degrée zero de l’écriture – a tacit response to Jean-Paul Sartre’s book of 1948, Qu’est-ce que la Littérature? Sartre had argued that the writer has a moral responsibility to offer works whose contents manifestly engage with history and society. To the contrary, Barthes writes: ‘writing is … essentially the morality of form … a way of conceiving Literature, not of extending its limits’ (1970: 15). Again, in a lecture given in 1974 he says: ‘it is too little to want to change contents, it is above all necessary to aim to fissure the very system of meaning itself: to emerge from the occidental enclosure …’ (1985: 14). The politically inspired modernist literary aesthetic Barthes defended in the post-war period has a visual arts counterpart in the criticism of Clement Greenberg. One way of describing Greenberg’s aesthetics would be as a prioritising of the real of the material base of production. In Death 24x a Second Mulvey describes the way modernist avant-garde film-makers ‘consistently brought the mechanism and the material of film into visibility’ (2006: 67) and gives

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the example of the Austrian film-maker Peter Kubelka, who says that the ‘harmony [of his films] spreads out of the unit of the frame, of the one twenty fourth of a second’ (2006: 68). But the twenty-four frames per second of film became the twenty-five frames per second of PAL video and 29.97 frames of NTSC video. Next came the universal digital animation standard of thirty frames per second, while the normal rate of a videogame is currently sixty frames per second. In computer-generated imagery the frame rate of a camera, in common with that of any other of its attributes, is not given in advance by the operation of a physical mechanism – it is an algorithmically variable parameter. When the camera is virtual, the modernist avant-garde argument from ‘medium specificity’ becomes groundless.

Panorama / VR / videogame Throughout the history of art, the desire to represent the real has been accompanied by the desire to create it. The laterally moving painted backdrop of the railway panorama originated in courtly entertainments in sixteenth-century Florence, which included such things as gardens haunted by hydraulically animated automata.21 When cinema dislodged the painted panorama, the dream of immersion in a fabricated reality was pursued in terms of film technology – from the ‘Polyvision’ system used by Abel Gance for his 1927 film Napoléon, through the Cinerama technology of the 1950s, to current IMAX attractions. Digital virtual reality (VR) technologies are the most recent expression of the dream of immersion. First developed in such disparate fields as military training and medicine, VR has now entered the field of narrative film-making.22 In his book of 1957, Film as Art, Rudolf Arnheim cites the triptych sequence in Gance’s Napoléon, and subsequent ‘experiments with enlarged screens’ in the US, and concludes: ‘the greater the surface of projection the more difficult it is to organize the picture meaningfully’ (1957: 75). Film theory in the 1970s described the ‘suturing’ of the cinemagoer into the imaginary space of the film through his or her identification with a number of looks, the first of which is the look given by the camera and bestowed upon the spectator. A virtual reality film knows only one look, moreover one that cannot be solicited by off-screen space as there is no longer a frame.23 Even before the arrival of VR technology, video game designers had already been required to reinvent camera and editing practices inherited from cinema. Notwithstanding the fact that the videogame and film industries are converging,

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the videogame has remained largely beyond the consideration of film theory to become the object of a separate field of study.24 In a game analogy, the Russian Formalist critic Viktor Schklovsky observed that fundamental changes in cultural history occur not in direct line of descent from what has gone before but rather as the knight moves in chess, in an abrupt lateral departure from the established track. In the academic field, the second half of the twentieth century saw an expansion of what has become broadly called ‘visual cultural studies’: from Art History, through Film Studies, then Photography Studies and most recently ‘Digital Media’.25 One effect of the technological innovations that prompted the last of these research areas has been to blur the boundaries between those that preceded it. A more profound effect of digital technologies however has been to challenge the primacy of ‘medium’ implied in the widely used academic appellation ‘Digital Media’. The materialist priorities enshrined in this last expression are in direct line of descent from the primacy allocated to the ‘medium’ in modernist aesthetics26 and a misrecognition of the knight’s move effected by the essentially virtual nature of the image in algorithmic culture. In the 1930s Walter Benjamin saw the arrival of cinema as accompanied by a demand for the invention of the concepts that would be required in order to understand the new regimes of the image that cinema would bring. An analogous demand may be felt today in relation to the products of digital image technologies, but whereas in Benjamin’s day ‘cinema’ named a circumscribed and relatively homogeneous institutional and aesthetic object, what we may provisionally call ‘virtual image practices’ now present a heterogeneous and boundless technological and phenomenological field. If an object of study is nevertheless to be discerned within this field it can only be through a radical revision of what constitutes an object. The lines of such a revision may perhaps be found in recent work in epistemology and philosophy of science.27 In a rudimentary and opportunistic appropriation of the technical complexities of such work, two basic procedural tenets may be extracted: a ‘flat ontology’ – a non-hierarchical attitude to phenomenologically given things; and a definition of the ‘complex object’ made of these things to include the intention of the observer – what the philosopher of science Anne-Françoise Schmid calls a ‘contemporary object’. Schmid suggests that ‘we treat this object as a kind of unknown “X” the properties of which are distributed in an unprecedented way between different disciplinary forms of knowledge. An object with multiple dimensions, each of which is a discipline’ (2015: 65–6).28 It is obvious to common sense and cinephilia that the object of film studies is the film. In the 1970s Jean-Louis Baudry and others directed attention to the ideological effects of the ‘apparatus’ within which films are produced and consumed: the darkness

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of the movie theatre, camera and projector, the spectating subject of the perspectival system of representation. Roland Barthes observed: There will always be representation for so long as a subject (author, reader, spectator or voyeur) casts his gaze towards a horizon on which he cuts out the base of a triangle, his eye (or his mind) forming the apex. (1977: 69) [my emphasis] The recasting of the perspectival system of representation in terms of algorithmic space has revealed the eidos of the camera to be immaterial, residing in optical, geometrical and mathematical principles that are independent of their physical, and now computational, forms. The horizon to which I cast my gaze or mind’s eye today is a panorama of virtual images. In Jean-Luc Godard’s film of 1967, 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle, his heroine Juliette Janson muses: No one today can know what the city of tomorrow will be. Part of the semantic richness that it had in the past … it will lose, certainly … Perhaps … The creative role of the city will be guaranteed by other systems of communication … perhaps … Television, Radio, Vocabulary and Syntax … (1971: 40) No one today knows what the cinema of tomorrow will be. A part of the semantic riches it possessed in the past will certainly be lost. The creative role of cinema will be assured by other systems of communication … perhaps. We may search for the elements of their emerging vocabulary and syntax wherever we may hope to find them: in some films, some video games, some mashups, some machinima, some works of art … In 1936 Walter Benjamin famously wrote: Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have us locked up hopelessly. Then came the film and burst this prison-world asunder by the dynamite of the tenth of a second, so that now, in the midst of its far-flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go travelling. (1973: 239) Today we are witnessing an implosion in which far-flung fragments of hybrid and mutating representational technologies, and the images they engender, are coalescing into objects and institutions whose forms we can yet barely discern.

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Epilogue When the railway panorama sequence from Letter from an Unknown Woman came to my mind I searched for the scene in the prosthetic memory that is YouTube. As usual, in addition to the clip I requested, the search algorithm suggested associated items – including a 1991 interview with Joan Fontaine, the ill-fated heroine of Ophüls’ film. In the thumbnail image, by a visual coincidence now part of the ordinary rhetoric of photography, it appears to me that the 74-year-old Fontaine still holds the rose her 31-year-old ‘Lisa’ had received from Louis Jourdan’s 27-year-old ‘Stefan’. Only one click away is the knowledge that Fontaine died in 2013. Cinephilia as love the second time around may become cinepenthos: an act of mourning. Jean Laplanche argues that mourning is long, even interminable, because it concerns not the loved one as such but rather the questions he or she poses. In life the departed was never sufficiently heard, never sufficiently understood. The lost object and the art object alike present an enigma, but with the difference that in the former case the enigma is directed to some one. The railway panorama sequence from Letter from an Unknown Woman is a mise en abyme of technic and affect, and as such is comparatively rare. Attention to technology in art has more usually led to the evacuation of the subject, or a reduction of the subject to an effect of which technology is the cause.29 The unprecedented movements of scattering and amalgamating of representational technologies and forms is however a dialectical work, both of and upon the subject. In this movement the work of art (tekhnê) is an address, but of a particular kind. A commentator on Laplanche writes: the museum, the gallery, all places where we come upon objects … whose presence exceeds the simple logic of a communication … they detach themselves from the world of objects to say something to us … They are enigmatic messages of which we try to make sense … the emanating presence … of which we ask, ‘What does it want from me?’ … this for Laplanche is the characteristic of cultural production, … ‘an address to an other who is out of reach, to others “scattered in the future”…’. (Pacteau 2001: 34)

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Notes

This chapter is based on a paper given at the event ‘Féminism, énigmes, cinéphilie: trois journées d’échanges avec Laura Mulvey’, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3, 6 April 2018.

1 Susan Sontag, ‘The Decay of Cinema’, The New York Times, 25 February 1996. 2 Laura Mulvey, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Screen, Vol. 16, No .3, Autumn, 1975; and in Visual and Other Pleasures, 1989. 3 Laura Mulvey, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Screen, Vol. 16, No. 3, autumn, 1975; and in Visual and Other Pleasures, 1989. 4 Victor Burgin, ‘Perverse Space’, in William Allen and Stephen Bann (eds), Interpreting Contemporary Art, 1991; and in The Camera: Essence and Apparatus, London: MACK, 2018. 5 Victor Burgin, ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’, in The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity, Basingstoke and London: Macmillan, 1986. 6 The programme of history painting dominated painting in the West from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-eighteenth century. As the painter of ‘histories’ had to show in a single instant that which took time to unfold, it was recommended that the moment selected by the painter for depiction should be the peripateia – that instant in the course of an action when all hangs in the balance. This idea returns in the work of Denis Diderot in the concept of the tableau. The tableau represented the ideal of an image whose meaning would be communicated at a glance. It is in this context that Diderot invokes the hieroglyph, he writes: ‘discourse is no longer simply a suite of energetic terms which expose thought … but a tissue of hieroglyphs gathered one on the other which paint what is to be represented’ (Denis Diderot, Oeuvres Complètes, Vol. III, p. 190). 7 An operation I identify at work in Barthes’ description of the ‘punctum’ in a photograph by James van der Zee, and in my own privileging of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo. 8 The Seven Year Itch, dir. Billy Wilder, 1955. 9 The moving panorama had its greatest success in the United States, where river journeys – especially on the Mississippi – became the primary subject matter. 10 The spectators sat in luxurious carriages belonging to the commissioning railway company. Through the windows they could enjoy painted scenery that slipped by convincingly thanks to mechanisms which allowed the foreground, middle distance, background and far distance of the landscape to move at different speeds. (See, Bernard Comment, Le XIXe siècle des panoramas, Paris: Adam Biro, 1993, p. 45.)

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11 In his essay of 1966, ‘Notes Toward a Phenomenology of the Narrative’ (Film Language, New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), Christian Metz distinguishes narrative from both the image and description. The distinction between image, description and narrative is, Metz says, ‘classical’, by which I assume he means that it may be found in the philosophy of Greek antiquity. The differences between the three are differences in their relation to time. The image is outside of time. In the case of description, images are deployed over time but what they collectively describe is simultaneously present. In the case of narrative, images are deployed over time to signify events that unfold in an irreversible temporal order. Metz admits, however, that it is difficult to maintain the categorical distinction between simultaneous description and sequential narrative; the distinction between the two, he says, is inhabited by an ‘ambiguity’. The time of the panorama was never simply that of simultaneity. Panoramic scenes of battle, for example, tended to display the temporality of their antecedents in the genre of history painting, where the before and after of a historic moment may appear alongside the moment itself, projecting the diachronic onto the plane of the synchronic. Even cityscape and landscape panoramas, where there is no depiction of events but simply the description of a topography, inevitably entail the time of the viewing, as it is not possible to take in the entire image at a glance. Joachim Bonnemaison has observed that the panoramic photograph is: ‘a matter neither of a framed object, as in conventional photography, nor of a narrative sequence, as in cinema, but rather something in the order of a gesture. The rotation about one’s own axis … is a total body gesture that is transmitted, with the panoptic, into an instantaneous visual memory’ (Collection Panoramas Bonnemaison, Milan: Actes Sud, 1989, p. 34). 12 See, for example, ‘Interactivité et non-cinématique’, Trafic, 79, automne, 2011. 13 Sigmund Freud, ‘Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psycho-Analysis II)’ [1914], SE, XII, 145 ff. 14 The corresponding form of spectatorial attitude we may characterise as contemplative – a word which today tends to be associated with passivity, but which once implied active interpretation. The etymology of the word ‘contemplate’ is in the Latin verb contemplari – ‘to look attentively, thoughtfully’ – and the noun templum, a ‘place for observation’, a place for the interpretation of signs. The Greek equivalent of the Latin noun contemplatio is theoria – ‘theory’. 15 Hong Sang-soo himself passed through art schools before entering cinema. The figures of painters appear in several of his films, as do film directors who were previously painters, 16 Riddles of the Sphinx, dir. Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, 1977. 17 For example, potentially interminable concatenations of ‘High Noon’-style gunfights from Westerns. 18 Although machinima productions are circumscribed by the possibilities offered by the software, the practice of ‘modding’ may extend the range of these; for example, providing additional characters by clothing existing game characters in alternative ‘skins’. Modding requires more or less sophisticated programming skills, and different game engines are more or less amenable to modification.

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19 Mike Musgrove, ‘Game Turns Players Into Indie Moviemakers’, The Washington Post, Thursday, 1 December 2005. 20 In 2017 the Royal College of Art, London, created the post of ‘Professor of Political Art’, which it bestowed on the artist Peter Kennard. 21 (last accessed 12 September 2018). 22 For example, last year’s Sundance Festival (2017) saw the premiere of the Public Broadcasting Service’s virtual reality film My Brother’s Keeper, a story of two estranged brothers who find themselves face to face on a Civil War battlefield, for which VR and 3-D film technologies were combined. In February this year The New York Times released the VR film Lincoln in the Bardo, based on a bestselling novel by George Saunders which tells of Abraham Lincoln’s nocturnal visit to his son’s tomb, and gives voice to the ghosts that inhabit the cemetery – recalling the nineteenth-century Phantasmagoria. 23 In the Tractatus Ludwig Wittgenstein compares the relation between the eye and the visual field to that between subject and world. Just as a description of the visual field cannot include any reference to the eye that sees it, so a description of the world cannot contain any reference to a subject. He writes: ‘The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world’. In one scenario, the arrival of VR heralds the end of the frame in cinema, and with it the disappearance of the very subject of the cinematic apparatus (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, London: Kegan Paul, 1922, 5.632). 24 The first issue of Games Studies: the international journal of computer game research appeared in July 2001 with an editorial announcing it as ‘the first academic, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to computer game studies’ (Espen Aarseth, ‘Computer Game Studies, Year One’. Available online: (last accessed 12 September 2018)). An editorial in the July 2017 issue announces that, from the next issue, the journal ‘will not be limited to [a] focus on digital games. It is time to recognize that the study of games cannot … be segregated into digital and non-digital …’ (Espen Aarseth, ‘Just Games’. Available online: (last accessed 12 September 2018 )). This view puts video games beyond the consideration of those who do not play them, but only at the cost of eliding their defining characteristic – the fact that they exist algorithmically in virtual space. 25 At the time of writing, a Google search on ‘school OR department “digital media”’ produced 60,400,000 results. A search on ‘virtual image studies’ produced 0 results. 26 The preoccupation with ‘medium’ is a characteristic of modernist aesthetics from Clement Greenberg to Rosalind Krauss; see my essay, ‘“Medium” and “Specificity”’, in James Elkins (ed.), Photography Theory, New York: Routledge, 2006. 27 See, for example: Graham Harman, ‘An outline of object-oriented philosophy’, Science Progress, Vol. 96, No. 2, 2013; Tristan Garcia, Form and Object: A Treatise on Things, Edinburgh: Edinburgh

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University Press, 2014 (Forme et objet: Un traité des choses, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2011); Graham Harman, ‘Object-Oriented France: The Philosophy of Tristan Garcia’, continent, 5.1, 2012. 28 Schmid continues: ‘This is the way designers and inventors think: Not by seeing the object as the result of a disciplinary rationality, even a composite one, but by putting an unknown “X” in relation with islands of knowledge that cannot all be foreseen in advance.’ 29 In his book of 1994, Technics and Time 1: The Fault of Epimetheus, the philosopher Bernard Stiegler invokes a fable of origin that Plato puts in the mouth of Socrates [Plato, Protagoras, 320]. At the beginning of time, Zeus charged the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus with the task of bringing animals and humans into being by endowing each individual species with its own proper attribute. Epimetheus convinced his brother to allow him to distribute the attributes, with Prometheus to examine the results. He first created the animal world, giving form to each species according to one or other of the qualities he had been given to distribute – strength to the elephant, speed to the gazelle, and so on. But when he came to create human beings he found he no longer had any qualities left; he had already distributed them all. Prometheus then went to the workshop of the god Hephaestus and stole fire – the symbol of technology – and through this attribute brought humankind into the world. What Stiegler finds significant in this myth is that technology was given not to a being that already existed, rather, it was only through this gift that humans came into being. In this view, which receives empirical support in the work of the palaeontologist André Leroi-Gourhan, technology is not something added to humankind, it is the very condition of its possibility. In his emphasis on the indivisibility of the body and technology Stiegler is in agreement with Marshall McLuhan, who saw technologies as prosthetic extensions of the body’s natural capacities, and with the philosopher Gilbert Simendon, for whom technology is the concretion of thought. This view of humankind as in a symbiotic relation with its technologies is absent from the work of such media theorists as Friedrich Kittler, who succinctly states in the opening sentence of his preface to his book of 1986, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter: ‘Media determine our situation’ (Friedrich A. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter [1986], Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999, p. xxxix). More generally, we may note that the question of art to technology has a long history. Bernard Berenson complained that the art of the Italian Renaissance suffered from a ‘fatal tendency to become science’. John Constable wished that painting might become a ‘branch of the natural sciences’. The self-styled ‘laboratory artists’ in the Soviet Union of the immediate post-revolutionary period claimed that their work was the equivalent of pure scientific research. The late 1960s saw such initiatives as ‘Experiments in Art and Technology’ (EAT) in the US, and the ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’ exhibition at the ICA, London, presaging current computer-based convergences between art and technology. This history, however, is not cumulative but rather a concatenation of unrelated events. Berenson’s remarks apply to contributions by painters to the development of geometrical systems of perspectival representation. Constable was speaking, in the context of the aesthetic ideology of Realism, in favour of an ‘objective’ representation of atmospheric effects. The ‘laboratory artists’ found political and artistic asylum in the Western market for non-representational art. EAT prospered only so long as corporate sponsors could be led to hope for a return on their investment. In an essay published in 1980, the art historian and critic Jack Burnham, who was closely involved in the major art and

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technology projects of the late 1960s, gives a retrospective account of his own experience of EAT: ‘While EAT and other art groups held out the boon of “new discoveries” to corporations funding them, most companies were cynical and wise enough to realize that the research abilities of nearly all artists are nil’ (Jack Burnham, ‘Art and Technology: The Panacea That Failed’, in John Hanhardt (ed.), Video Culture: A Critical Investigation, Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop, 1986, p. 243).

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References Arnheim, Rudolf (1957) Film as Art. Oakland: University of California Press. Barthes, Roland (1970) Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland [1972] (1975) The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1977) Image – Music – Text, trans. Stephen Heath. New York, Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (1979) Lecture in Inauguration of the Chair of Literary Semiology, Collège de France, January 7, 1977, trans. Richard Howard. October, Vol. 8, Spring, pp. 3–16. Barthes, Roland (1985) L’Aventure sémiologique. Paris: Seuil. Burgin, Victor (1991) ‘Perverse Space’, in William Allen and Stephen Bann (eds), Interpreting Contemporary Art, London: Reaktion. Benjamin, Walter (1973) Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books.

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Laplanche, Jean and Serge Leclair (1981) ’L’inconscient, une étude psychanalytique’, in Jean Laplanche, L’Inconscient et le Ça. Paris: PUF, pp. 261–321. Laplanche, Jean and J.-B. Pontalis (1985) Fantasme Originaire, Fantasme des Origines, Origines du Fantasme. Paris: Hachette. MacCabe, Colin (2003) Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at 70. London: Bloomsbury. Mulvey, Laura (1989) Visual and Other Pleasures. Basingstoke and London: Macmillan. Mulvey, Laura (2006) Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image. London: Reaktion. Mulvey, Laura (2015) ‘Cinematic Gesture: The ghost in the machine’, Journal for Cultural Research, Vol. 19, No. 1. Mulvey, Laura (2018) Au-delà du plaisir visuel : Féminisme, énigmes, cinéphilie. Sesto San Giovanni: Mimésis.

Godard, Jean-Luc (1971) 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle. Paris: Seuil, p. 40.

Pacteau, Francette (2001) ‘The seduction of difficulty: a note on interpretation’, in Victor Burgin, ed. Norman Bryson, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Francette Pacteau and Peter Wollen. Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, pp. 27–40.

Keathley, Christian (2000) ‘The Cinephiliac Moment’, Framework, 42, Summer, online journal.

Park, Heui-tae (2018) ‘Une Lecture Possible : du Cadre à la Fenêtre’, in Les Variations Hong Sangsoo, Vol. 1. Rennes: de l’incidence, pp. 87–109.

Knausgaard, Karl Ove (2013) A Man in Love. London: Harvill Secker.

Rancière, Jacques (2005) Chroniques des Temps Consensuels. Paris: Seuil.

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Schmid, Anne-Françoise (2015) ‘On Contemporary Objects’, in Simulation, Exercise, Operations, ed. Robin Mackay. Falmouth: Urbanomic, pp. 63–8. Schivelbusch, Wolfgang (1986) The Railway Journey. Berkeley: University of California Press. Stauffacher, Frank (ed.) (1947) Art in Cinema: A Symposium on the Avantgarde Film Together with Program Notes and References for Series One of Art in Cinema, San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Art, pp. 29–30.

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Camera as Object and Process Ryan Bishop, Victor Burgin and Sean Cubitt The following conversation between Ryan Bishop, Victor Burgin and Sean Cubitt appeared in Theory Culture & Society (30: 7–8, 2013, pp. 199–219). It appears here in a slightly altered version. Covering topics relevant to this book generally and this section more specifically, the conversation posits the camera as an ever-shifting concatenation of visualising techniques both material and immaterial that have helped solidify a certain kind of perspective in the West for many centuries. This codification resulted in a political aesthetics of representation that remains almost completely unchallenged by computer-generated imagery and its potentials for rethinking visualisation and image-making, or what we call Image in the chapter ‘Painting, Photography, Projection’ found in this volume. Ryan Bishop/Sean Cubitt: In a recent talk you sketched a genealogy of photography from the camera obscura to virtual photography and cinema (machinima), and you varied Bazin’s famous question ‘What is cinema?’ a few times to arrive at ‘What is a camera?’ Such a question places the apparatus of the camera as a transitional or temporary object within a much larger stream (or trajectory) of audiovisual tools, including perhaps most importantly, the shift from a light reception and production device to light production solely. When does a camera cease to be a camera? – we might ask. Would you elaborate on some of the effects of this shift as well as the need to ask these questions? Victor Burgin: My talk moved on from an idea in my book of 2004 The Remembered Film, where I write about what I call the cinematic heterotopia – a hybrid material and imaginary space in which we encounter a heterogeneous variety of fragments of cinema beyond the confines of the movie theatre. The Internet, of course, is a major contributor to this space, and I spoke about two current Internet practices which draw upon and reconfigure mainstream cinema: ‘video mashups’ and ‘machininima’. The remixed Hollywood film trailer seems the most popular mashup genre, often used to lampoon box-office hits. Other mashups satirise prominent politicians or provide new image-track accompaniments to popular songs. In contrast to video mashups, which cannibalise contents from outside the software used to produce them, ‘machinima’ is a form of ‘film’ production shot entirely with virtual cameras in such virtual

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worlds as those of ‘massively multiplayer online role-playing games’ and Second Life. Machinima originated in the 1980s when playback facilities were first programmed into video games to allow players to record the ‘speed runs’ in which they complete a level of the game. Since then, the form has evolved to the point where it now has its own annual ‘film festivals’. So I was making the observation that – in addition to transforming the highly capitalised productions of the film industry, most conspicuously in the area of spectacular special effects ­– digital technologies are also providing the de facto conditions for demotic practices based on the historic example of cinema but with amateur and professional artists enjoying equal access to the means of production and distribution. It is notable however that neither mashups nor machinima depart significantly from the contents and forms of mainstream media productions. One line of discussion, then, would take us into an exploration of alternatives to such contents and forms in what I have elsewhere called the ‘uncinematic’. In the talk you heard, however, I took another path – which was to raise precisely the question to which you refer: ‘What is a camera?’ In brief, I argued that the history of the camera is inseparable from the history of perspective, and that this history is not to be reduced to lumps of metal bearing such insignia as ‘Nikon’ or ‘Canon’. I suggested that given the preponderance of computer simulation in our image environment we should now be prepared to rethink the ‘camera’ in terms of a multidimensional representational apparatus, comprising such intersecting practices as architectural and engineering drawing, theatre design and scenography, cinema, virtual world building, and so on. This requires nothing more than a different way of looking at a very familiar history, but to do this might allow us to better theorise what is probably the most fundamental representational regime governing our society – the ideological chora of our spectacular global village.

RB/SC: Baudrillard argues that with the advent of television, as well as other broadcast devices, the subject-object relationship that is played out within the social space of a scene yields to the obscene of nodes-networks relationships, a full emptying out of interiority as it is displaced in public and exterior technologies. How might Baudrillard’s formulation from the 1960s regarding the effects of television on this alteration of the subject-object relation come into play, if at all, with virtual cinema/photography? VB: Back in 1989, the year the World Wide Web was invented, I published an essay in which I describe everyday life in the ‘developed’ world as taking place in an image environment which increasingly resembles the space of subjective fantasy turned inside out. At that time television was the primary agent of this tendency. The arrival of the Web vastly accelerated what Lev Manovich subsequently called the ‘trend to externalize mental life’ and continues

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to contribute, in previously unimaginable ways, to the mechanisation and exteriorisation of previously purely ‘internal’ associative processes. For example, if I go to a YouTube website to search for a particular clip, I will be offered not only the clip for which I am looking (assuming I am successful) but also a column of thumbnail images of other clips that the program ‘believes’ are related to my search. Clicking on any one of these will again summon not only the selected clip but a further column of apparently aleatory alternative choices. I may quickly find myself far from my original point of departure. To immediate appearances it may seem that a spontaneous ‘drifting’ of associations has taken place analogous to the type of free movement of thoughts in, for example, daydreaming. In reality a computer program has formed a chain of associations between images from a database on the basis of key search words, ‘metatags’, attached to those images – in effect replacing ‘free association’ with bound association. Such mimicking of spontaneous human mental processes may produce the uncanny impression of an auxiliary intelligence at work, forming associations on my behalf and in my place. In these and other ways the Internet is weaving a seamless continuity between physical and psychical processes. In replicating what psychoanalysis calls ‘primary process’ thinking the Internet now represents a form of prosthetic unconscious as well as a form of prosthetic memory. We should note that technology is not the only agent in the process of exteriorisation and objectification of subjectivity. I recently came across a book by a French psychologist who points to purely discursive aspects of this phenomenon [Marilia Amorim, Petit traité de la bêtise contemporaine, Paris: Érès, 2012]. The writer gives the example of the language of those little texts one finds in the box when one buys, say, a kitchen device or an over-the-counter medication. She lists the contents of one of these and remarks on the displacements of subject positions in its enunciative form. The text begins with such questions as ‘How does this medication work?’ and ‘What symptoms may this medication alleviate?’, but then alternates these with such first-person subjective forms as ‘How should I use this medication?’, ‘How should I store this medication?’. Here, the subject position in the text is no longer that of the implied doctor but that of the patient – the external voice of authority masquerades as a kind of subjective internal musing but one which is in fact located in the outside where it functions as a commonly imposed consensual voice. What is objectively external is subjectively internalised, in a discursive analogue of Foucault’s optical panopticism. The writer goes through a number of other examples – such as the talking chocolate cake that says ‘To give me pleasure, please recycle my packaging’ – and describes the infantilisation of the subject in these increasingly ubiquitous forms of address, and the subject’s discursive subordination to what the writer calls a ‘false democratisation of the relations of knowledge’ which, to invoke Foucault again, we may recognise as a false democratisation of the relations of power.

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RB/SC: These quite different examples presumably illustrate how the discursive and the imagistic both contribute to the ‘ideological chora’ you alluded to in your talk. VB: I was referring to the psychical space in which the talking chocolate cake and the memory trace of the YouTube clip equally ‘take place’. I have tried to describe this space in various ways, admittedly mainly psychoanalytic, in previous publications – in The Remembered Film, but also in such earlier writings as those collected in In/Different Spaces (University of California, 1996). More recently I have been working with 3-D computer modelling software, and have been struck by how the on-screen space constructed by these programmes – a space common to all of them – suggests the Platonic idea of the chora, not least in Emmanuel Levinas’ de facto representation of this idea. In my talk I quoted a passage from Levinas’ Totality and Infinity in which he describes a ‘space of light’ in which everything comes into being, and describes it precisely in terms of geometry – in terms of points, lines and planes. I was struck by how Plato’s idea, and Levinas’ articulation of it, seems to perfectly describe the primal void of 3-D computer space. As this computer space is increasingly the site of the industrial production of the popular imaginary – ‘industrial light and magic’, in the name of George Lucas’ aptly named company – then the expression ‘ideological chora’ seemed appropriate. It seems to me that the subjective space of associations in which the fragmentary dispersals of elements in the cinematic heterotopia may become reassembled and reconfigured has much in common with the phenomenological and algorithmic-parametrical space of 3-D computer modelling. This immediately suggests a connection with architecture, as well as cinema, and it is obviously the case that architecture – no less than cinema – is providing spectacularly visible manifestations of the associative capacities of computer drawing, and moreover that these are deployed in an space no longer entirely circumscribed by the Euclidean parameters that Plato and Levinas imply. In an essay published in 1987 in the Architectural Association’s journal AA files (‘Geometry and Abjection’, reprinted in In/Different Spaces) I referred in passing to Jacques Lacan’s use of non-Euclidean geometrical figures – the torus and the Borromean knot, the Möbius strip and the Klein bottle – as heuristic aids in the representation of unconscious structures, where inside and outside, manifest and repressed, form a single continuous surface, and where absences are structuring. In more recent years such topological figures have become ubiquitous sources of reference in architectural design; but it seems to me that here their use tends to take the form of what the architectural historian and theorist Anthony Vidler has characterised as ‘illustration’ and bears out his observation that questions of space in contemporary architecture have been largely subordinated to categories of style. This failing of architecture is for the most part a result of the political, ideological and financial conformism of the business of architecture,

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but architecture is also inescapably constrained by the force of gravity itself – which computers and the mind may ignore. I believe there is more to be made of the analogy between computer space and psychical space than contemporary architecture has so far been able to represent – which is why, in my talk, I was careful to pass via Winnicott on my way to Plato and Levinas.

RB/SC: Your discussion of space leads us to ask a question that contains a few elements, especially as they pertain to your more recent video work (your machinima work). How does site specificity remain intact with these works, especially given they are commissioned to be site specific? And given the aspersions some contemporary media theorists have cast about the indexical capabilities of digital media, how do you assess or construct the relationships between these recent pieces (e.g. the one for Istanbul, or the Hôtel Dieu in Toulouse) and the places to which they refer? How does the 3-D space of a computer relate to the place of reference? Or is the relationship something other than referential? A follow-up to that pertains directly to the Istanbul piece. Part of what makes the video so haunting is movement and/or stasis both within the frame of the image and with the camera. The camera moves ceaselessly but does so as if filming photographic stills, for nothing in nature moves (e.g. the leaves of the trees or the Bosphorus). Can you comment on the effects these create, ones unique to machinima, and that also seem to archive early forms of visual technological imagemaking? In this respect, the video also proves haunting as it seems an oblique allusion to Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog, with its juxtaposition of still images and moving camera, black and white and colour, and its exploration of a deserted space. VB: First, a note on terminology. I do not, myself, make ‘machinima’ works. The philosopher and film theorist David Rodowick has spoken of a ‘crisis of naming’ in respect of works such as my own – not films, not videos, what should we call them? If the definition of the word ‘machinima’ were not already established in the quite restricted sense I have already remarked on, then I might agree to using it in the broader sense you seem to be suggesting now – certainly it would establish the requirement that the work be made with virtual cameras within the confines of the virtual spaces allowed by the software. I tend to refer to my own production as simply ‘digital projection’, but admit this may not be very helpful as it is a category that may equally include films and videos, as well as other such artists’ productions as slide projection pieces. On the question of indexicality, I suppose that if I have been unable to share in the excitement over the question of ‘indexicality’ in relation to digital photography – or computer simulation – it is because I never considered traditional photography to be indexical in any fundamentally

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epistemological way. Take the example of those news reports that refer to images of a massacre but with the caution that the veracity of the images ‘cannot yet be confirmed’. This has become a familiar refrain throughout the reporting of the recent and ongoing conflicts in the Arab world. The image is never enough, at some point someone has to step forward and say: ‘I was there, I saw this’ – and then even this statement has to be interrogated and either substantiated or denied by others. It makes no difference to this process whether the image is digital or was shot on film. The most epistemologically profound register of the indexical is discursive and affective, the optical is quite literally superficial. In relation to the ‘site specificity’ of my works, what is ‘indexed’ here is not simply the material substance of the place, or the optical imprint of the light reflected from it, it is the registration of the material world on a consciousness. The ‘image’ is not simply a material thing – a photographic print or the variegated light on a screen – nor is it just an optical event, the physiological imprint of this light on the retina, it is a psychological process. The image is always ‘virtual’, an idea which most recently gained currency with Deleuze’s presentation of Bergson – for all that Bergson’s idea was heavily inflected on its passage through Freud and Lacan, not to mention Proust. In Bergson’s account, memory takes its force from present perception – an insight that is clearly there throughout Proust, but which also reminds me of Walter Benjamin’s notion that our access to history has nothing to do with knowing the past ‘as it really was’ but is rather a matter of the activation of a memory in a moment of crisis. One way of understanding that moment of crisis – albeit perhaps somewhat departing from Benjamin now – is as the experience of affect, or even the apparent lack of it, in our first encounter with a place. When I first stood in the Hôtel Dieu, in Toulouse – or more precisely, when I first spent time alone there – I found myself most preoccupied with thoughts of how that now empty space was once full of hospital beds. The work I subsequently installed there was a process of the elaboration of that perception of the place together with the purely physical perception of it. My commission in Toulouse was to work in response to a particular building, the Hôtel Dieu. In Istanbul I was asked simply to respond to the city. After several visits to Istanbul I found myself most preoccupied by the ongoing process of destruction of some of the most beautiful public aspects of the city in the pursuit of private profit. What came to metonymically represent this present process for me was the past destruction of an architecturally significant coffee house and public garden, on a beautiful site overlooking the Bosphorus, to make way for a hideous and orientalist luxury hotel. The house and garden had to be disinterred from oblivion through the agency of surviving drawings and photographs, and was resurrected as memory in the form of virtual camera movements through a computer-modelled space. The completed work was then installed in the Istanbul Archeological Museum. You refer to the affective dimension

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of the work; a woman at the opening was in tears – she had known the original coffee house as a child. In retrospect it is interesting to me that there was absolutely no reference in Istanbul, either in what that woman and others said to me at the time of the exhibition or in the response of the audience when I later screened the work at a conference, to the difference between the actual building and the computer simulation of it – the ‘indexicality’ of the work in this sense seemed not to be an issue, suggesting that we need to broaden the definition of indexicality beyond the tacit empiricism of the media theorists you mentioned.

RB/SC: The need to think indexicality in a larger, more complex and nuanced fashion, is something I think most theorists would agree with. Can you elaborate on this somewhat? One direction to consider could be the material and the technological. To that end, you suggested in your talk that the virtual camera is a projector, noting pre-digital antecedents from Plato’s extramission model of vision to the Lumières’ camera-projector apparatus. Projection is almost universally based on the geometry of the cone of vision, which you note does not distinguish the direction of travel between eye or projector and vanishing point. The chora implicit in this system presents itself as timeless. Is it the changing geometry, or the mere fact of apparent motion, that brings about a new relationship with the image? On a somewhat related point, do you distinguish between the 3-D model held in the computer’s memory and the 2-D visualisations which you present in your artworks? VB: There is a distinction that may have been elided in some of those debates over photographic indexicality: the ‘index’ is not a thing in the world, it is a concept in semiotics – a useful one, but a limited one; we shouldn’t expect too much of it, any more than we should expect too much of the image itself. You invoked Renais and Marker’s film Night and Fog. There are of course those who have argued that the death camps are simply unrepresentable. Georges Didi-Huberman gives a well-reasoned rejection of this argument in his book Images malgré tout. The image cannot be everything, but it does not follow from this that it is nothing. The past takes its force from present perception. The virtual image of the coffee house that I made for Istanbul was an occasion for memory for the audience there, but few of them would have known the actual historical building. My own first encounter with the building was in the form of a photograph in a book devoted to the work of its architect, Sedad Hakki Eldem. Apart from some pathologically exceptional case we might imagine, it seems unlikely that the photograph in the book would provoke tears. Or again, let us suppose that I had been given the budget and technical resources of a feature film-maker, and that I had physically reconstructed the

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coffee house and its immediate surroundings, and made my virtual helicopter shot from an actual helicopter flying around my reconstruction of the site. The result would have been very different from my simulation, and I cannot believe that the affective dimension could have been at all comparable in kind. Nor should we fixate on the optical image, for all that I am obviously interested in the visual specificity of computer modelling. The optical images in my work are interleaved with mental images suggested by the text. I would emphasise here the error in the otherwise convenient formulation: ‘the text that accompanies the images’ – because this form of description, albeit literally applicable to the situation in the gallery, implicitly endorses the hierarchical separation of text and image conventional to artworld doxa. There are the ‘images’ and there are the words, and there is an empty space between them. For me, this space is the space in which I work, in anticipation of the work of the viewer-reader in this same space. In the Japanese tradition the space between things – ‘ma’ – is charged with sense. It is, if you like, a semiotic and affective substance. This is the substance of the ‘image’ as I understand the term, the plastic substance I think of myself as working with – differently ‘material’ from paint or clay, but with its own psychical materiality. To return to the optical and geometrical, in response to your question about the computer image, is to come back to the fundamental issue of projection. It is convenient to refer to the image produced using a computer as ‘three-dimensional’; it describes the nature of the illusion we experience, but of course it is nothing of the sort. As you yourself note, what is at play is the geometrical projection of three-dimensional objects onto a two-dimensional plane. What you refer to as the 3-D model in computer memory is fundamentally a matter of fluctuations of electrical intensities – so the analogy with physiological memory is actually quite well based. These intensities represent lines of code, very long lines, that describe a particular virtual world event, let’s say the orbit around the coffee house I mentioned earlier, in terms of photogrammetrical algorithms, and others. For example, the behaviour of photons has been mathematically modelled and expressed as algorithms that may be built into 3-D computer modelling programs. Here again, to make quite literally ‘the point’, the program does not model the entirety of the behaviour of the light in the scene, for any given frame it models only the light that has converged upon the geometrical position that represents the camera’s point of view, the position given to the spectator – which is to say that the program begins with that given point and extrapolates out from it to the projective geometry of the objects before it, and their appearances resulting from the light reflected from them. Appropriately, in this the most Platonic of worlds, light is in effect emitted by the eye of the spectator.

RB/SC: The point you make about the apparent 3-D capacity of some virtual camera production is productive because the 3-D is indeed only apparent. There are implications

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here for the concept ‘camera’ which you have discussed but also for kinds of images we engage within this continuum of reproductive technologies. You seem to be indicating a distinction between two types of camera, the actual ‘lump of metal’ and the virtual camera that the notion of ‘camera’ must now include. Traditional lens-based photography (which would include digital cameras, which use more or less identical bodies to analog cameras) comes across as Euclidean, while virtual in-computer cameras can produce the illusion of a 3-D space that opens onto non-Euclidean capabilities. How clear is the distinction between lens-based representation and computed simulation? And what are some of the effects on the spectator or viewing subject? Is the ‘affective screen’ of the image, where the cone of vision telescopes to the vanishing point that then opens out to perspectival engagement, any different with analog and digital? Or have the visual technologies over time merely repeated and reinscribed a tale of the viewing subject as sovereign subject? VB: What comes to mind is a New Yorker cartoon that shows two people in medieval dress walking through an architectural environment of crazily incompatible vanishing points. One of them is saying: ‘I won’t be sorry when they have this perspective thing worked out.’ The perspective thing was worked out in the West centuries ago and has framed our view of the world ever since. Computer-simulated space does not represent a departure from perspective but rather a ‘third revolution’ in pictorial space inaugurated by the invention of perspective. In the previous revolution photography replaced perspective drawing as the principle mode of image making in everyday life – the basic means though which the West represents itself, and its others, to itself. This was consistent with the central impulse of the Industrial Revolution: the delegation of previously time-consuming and skilled manual tasks to the automatic operation of machines. Where photography represents a shift from manual to mechanical execution, computer imaging effects a shift from mechanical to electronic execution. As before, the shift is both quantitative and qualitative – an increased amount of information is deployed in the interests of a higher degree of mimetic realism. However, where photography represents the object in front of the camera, the computer simulates the object itself. I do not, then, distinguish between the camera as a lump of metal and the virtual camera, but rather see them as different implementations of the same geometrical and optical knowledge. This same knowledge is brought to the design of glass lenses in metal cameras and to the specification of algorithmic lenses in virtual cameras. The difference between the real world and the virtual world here is one of degree and not of kind. In the real world I may choose an ‘off-the-shelf’ lens from the wide range available, along points on a scale specified in terms of focal length:

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28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, and so on. I can choose between different examples of 28 mm lenses on the basis of their comparative performance in terms of barrel distortion, spherical aberration, etc. In a 3-D modelling program I can similarly choose from a menu of real-world lenses familiar to any amateur photographer, but I can also type in any number between the points on the conventional real-world scale. For example, if I want a 26.6232 mm focal length lens then I can have one. Moreover, there is no reason for the virtual lens to be subject to either barrel distortion or spherical aberration. Significantly, however, an enormous amount of expertise is devoted to writing computer programs that may not only model a scene as it appears to a virtual lens, but which may also simulate the results of the various imperfections of glass lenses. Where film cameras are involved – with the rider that there is no strictly no difference between film and still cameras in the virtual world – then additional considerations are taken into account; for example, if a real camera movement is made using a physical ‘rig’ – as in a crane shot, or whatever – there will be an unavoidable degree of camera shake at the beginning and end of the movement. Software has been written to simulate that shake, which moreover allows the user to specify which particular film camera, and which type of commercially available rig, is being used. The prevailing standard of realism in computer modelling is not the world as such, it is rather the world as it appears to the camera. I believe that this is an ideological artefact of a period of historical transition and will pass. In time we will forget how physical cameras showed the world, and we will adapt our supposedly ‘natural’ vision to the new standards. I have had intimations of this mutation in perception in the course of my own experience of working with 3-D modelling programs. For example, I have had the experience of finding myself dissatisfied with the ‘unrealistic’ appearance of a simulated wall on my screen, or the bark on a tree, and then going out for a walk and finding that walls and bark actually do look like that. I occasionally visit Internet 3-D modelling forums looking for solutions to technical problems. Most of the contributors append ‘signature’ adages of one kind or another to their posts. One I remember, apposite here, exhorted: ‘Go outside, the graphics are amazing!’

RB/SC: Is it possible that the topological turn of the virtual camera, the drifting ‘cinematic heterotopia’ it enables, including the ‘trend to externalise mental life’ that Manovich and others allude to, does not liberate the unconscious but opens it up to new organisations of power and exploitation? That in effect replacing perspective with a different system is no more positive than the introduction of cartographic space or the transition from the temporal organisation of double-entry bookkeeping to the spatial organisation of spreadsheets?

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VB: I see no different system here but rather an evolution, perhaps mutation, of the existing system. In my talk I spoke of a number of recent technologies based on ‘photogrammetry’ – the derivation of metrical attributes of three-dimensional objects from photographs. Photogrammetry is as old as photography itself, but computer technology has vastly expanded its applications. The most revolutionary event in the recent history of photography was not the arrival of digital cameras as such but rather the broadband connection of these cameras to the Internet. Such photogrammetrical applications can compile coherent and navigable 3-D spaces from the countless numbers of photographs available on the web. I gave the example of the city of Dubrovnik – modelled in its entirety as a ‘point cloud’ from photographs on the Internet taken mainly by tourists. If we extrapolate from these present incipient technologies to their likely future implementation then it is easy to foresee the time when a navigable computer model of the entire planet will be available on a mobile device. There are other technologies already capable of integrating the simulated and real worlds by punching holes in the wall between the two – for example, by turning the screen of a mobile device into a window through which the user may see a previous state of what is actually present. We should remember that it is not the image that is non-Euclidean, it is the space-time of navigation. Navigation in the simulated world may take place both in Euclidean space and in a non-Euclidean space for which there is no counterpart in reality. Some architects have in effect already attempted to represent this possibility. I think, for example, of some of the ‘visionary’ pencil drawings of the French ‘brutalist’ architect Claude Parent. Or again, in 1993, the Dutch architect Ben van Berkel designed a house inspired by a Möbius strip – a surface with only one side and one boundary. The house has since become famous as the ‘Möbius House’ but it remains of necessity within the confines of traditional habitable space. One can easily make a Möbius strip in Euclidean space by giving a strip of paper a half twist and then joining the ends together to form a loop. A line drawn down the centre of the strip now appears on both of what were previously separate sides, but which now form a single surface. A fly could walk this line without difficulty, but gravity prevents a human being from living in a building with a truly Möbius strip topology. There is no gravity in computer-simulated space – unless the programmer decides to simulate it – so the ‘built space’ of this coming parallel virtual world may be navigated as if it seamlessly combined Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries – giving a whole new twist to urban flânerie. Combine this potential with the prosthetic associative procedures previously mentioned – or the possibility of winding back one’s field of vision to past states, and so on – and we may foresee a future in which the dominant visual representational space in the West, the natural descendent of perspective, will have modelled – externalised – the hybrid perceptual-psychical space that Bergson, Freud, Proust, et al. have evoked so well in words. This is an inchoate intuition, and I do not know

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whether it would be best worked out in theory or science fiction, but I do think it relevant to the consideration of ‘new organisations of power and exploitation’ – not least because the more we ‘farm out’ out psychical processes to technology, the more easily they may be hacked into, further facilitating what Félix Guattari, prior to the arrival of this technology, had already foreseen as a ‘colonisation of the unconscious’.

RB/SC: In your visual works, you make a special point of working at the intersection of text and image, criticising the subordination of text as caption and image as illustration. This seemed to produce on the one hand an effect of equality, perhaps analogous to the desired equality of the notes in Schoenberg’s 12-tone compositions; but on the other to risk making image and text supplementary to one another. Is it possible to destabilise the typical dominance of one over the other, without making their relation, and therefore their affective or semantic potency, indeterminate and ineffective? Another way of thinking about this would be, how does one combine text and image (regardless of source or duration) without allowing it to become a kind of Romantic gesamtkunstwerk? We know you are thinking about and working on a Wagner piece now, so how does the whole cease to be a whole, or does it? VB: I am working on a Wagner piece because 2013 is the two-hundredth anniversary of Wagner’s birth, and a work has been commissioned from me for the occasion. I doubt that I would have thought of the project without prompting, but it has been very interesting doing the research. To begin with ‘text-image’… The optical images in my work are interleaved with mental images suggested by the text. I would emphasise here the error in the otherwise convenient formulation: ‘the text that accompanies the images’ – because this form of description, albeit literally applicable to the situation in the gallery, implicitly endorses the hierarchical separation of text and image conventional to artworld doxa. There are the ‘images’ and there are the words, and there is an empty space between them. For me, this space is the space in which I work, in anticipation of the work of the viewer-reader in this same space. In the Japanese tradition the space between things – ‘ma’ – is charged with sense. It is, if you like, a semiotic and affective substance. This is the substance of the ‘image’ as I understand the term, the plastic substance I think of myself as working with – differently ‘material’ from paint or clay, but with its own psychical materiality. The culture of the ‘developed’ West is a text-image culture, from advertising and the popular press to cinema and live theatre, and beyond. Questions of ideology and political hegemony are inseparable from considerations of the scripto-visual régimes in which individual consciousnesses are formed. My theoretical work on photography has always been premised on this basic fact of Western society, just as my artworks have always been produced out of what I might call

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a ‘demotic attitude’ – which differs from aesthetic populism in that its focus is not on actual mass cultural forms and contents but rather on virtual possibilities, alternative configurations and outcomes, inherent in contemporary technologies and extant languages. Wagner derived his model of an ideal work of art not from conditions extant in his own time but from classical antiquity. In classical Greek drama – as it evolved in the city state of Athens between the fifth and second centuries BCE – poetry, narration, acting, instrumental music, singing, dancing, mask and costume design, props and painted scenery, combined within a unifying architecture to produce a form of artistic expression more powerful than could be achieved by any of the contributory arts in isolation. The Athenian drama staged everything that touched the lives of the demos, the people, and provided the occasion for reflection and debate on every issue of the day. Wagner despised what the opera had become in his time – a commercially profitable, trivially spectacular entertainment and social occasion for the more affluent members of society. He dreamed of a transformed opera – he called it ‘music drama’ – that would be to a future egalitarian republican Germany what the classical Greek drama had been to ancient Athens: a mirror to society and a form of spiritual, intellectual and emotional bonding of individuals in a sense of community. The failure of the 1849 Dresden insurrection, during which Wagner fought on the barricades with his friend Mikhail Bakunin, put an end to Wagner’s belief in the possibility of revolution but did not change his ambition for music drama – he merely shifts from Feurbachian idealism to Schopenhauerian pessimism. In 1849 Wagner was at work on what would eventually become the Ring Cycle, a work he had begun as a Feurbachian parable in which an order of Gods ruled by greed and power self-destructs to make way for a human world based on love. After the failure of the revolution he interrupted his work on the Ring to write Tristan und Isolde, which culminates in the famous ‘Liebestod’ which with Freudian hindsight may appear as the very hymn of the death drive. It is Tristan that revolutionises Western music and prepares the way for Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and others – albeit Tristan remains Romantic in sensibility, imbued with what Schoenberg condemned as ‘psychologism’.

RB/SC: Considering the etymology of the word ‘animation’, when you animate a suit of still images, what is the mode of temporality involved? Is it a resurrection and reanimation of ancestral time – in the mode of memory and nostalgia? Are they simply rendered more fully present by including motion? Or do ‘moving stills’ open onto some form of futurity? VB: My works are designed to be shown in museums and art galleries. The setting of the gallery is different from either the theatrical setting of cinema or the domestic setting of television, and to take this specificity of setting into account is to arrive at what I have elsewhere called

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the uncinematic. In the gallery a projection work typically occupies a more or less darkened space, usually empty of furniture, where viewers generally enter and leave at indeterminable intervals. Audiovisual time in a gallery setting is therefore dual. Although it is possible to enter a movie theatre after the film has begun and leave before it ends it is normally assumed that the duration of the film will coincide with the duration of the spectator’s viewing of it. In the gallery it is normally assumed that these two times will not coincide. Most works made for the gallery are therefore designed to loop, with a seamless transition between the first and last frames of the material. The non-coincidence of the duration of the material and the time of viewing suggests that the elements that comprise the work should be equally weighted and autonomously significant. For example, the opening sentence of the voice-over script to a work I made for a gallery in Cologne reads: ‘The major museums are all close to the station, which is by the cathedral so I cannot get lost.’ This sentence establishes that the speaker is a stranger to Cologne, there to visit the museums, and it also states a material fact about the city plan. So far, I might be writing a short story. However, although this is the ‘opening sentence’ of my script it is not necessarily the opening sentence for the visitor to my installation, who may come and go at any time. A specific requirement of the voice-over text therefore is that it be written so that any sentence may occupy the position of ‘first’ sentence, just as any image may be the first image. Characterised by repetition, recursivity, temporal indeterminacy and the attenuation of hierarchy between elements, the spatio-temporal structure of a projection work specific to a gallery setting is closer to that of a psychoanalytic session than a narrative film. No part or detail of the material produced in an analysis is considered a priori more significant than any other, all elements equally are potential points of departure for chains of associations. Temporality in psychoanalysis is also characterised by reiteration, for example in the symptomatic phenomenon of the ‘compulsion to repeat’, and the therapeutic principle of – in the title of one of Freud’s essays – ‘Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through’. What in musical terms one might call the ritornello structure in audiovisual works has its analogies in such psychical mechanisms as deferred action, in which a previously anodyne event may become traumatic when recalled in different circumstances, or in the unconscious determinations of the sense of déja vu and the uncanny. The spacing of isolated semi-autonomous elements in a gallery work allows the possibility that viewers may see what is present to perception not only through the recollection of previous elements of the work but also through their own personal memories and fantasies. The psychoanalysts Jean Laplanche and Serge Leclaire characterise the reiterative fractional chains that form fantasies and daydreams as ‘short sequences, most often fragmentary, circular and repetitive’. Projection works composed for the specificity of the gallery setting typically take the form of ‘fragmentary, circular and repetitive’ short sequences. In response

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to your question about ‘moving stills’ and the future, it is interesting to me that the philosopher and film theorist David Rodowick had much the same intuition. In a talk he gave prompted by a work of mine he saw in a Berlin gallery he spoke of what he calls a ‘crisis of naming’ in respect of such works, and he sees a ‘future memory of cinema’ in these forms that may anticipate not only what the image has been but also what it is becoming in the mutating environment of digital media. I would add that this is not to attribute the status of prophecy to the work, but rather to view the ‘still moving’ form of the work as a symptom of our times.

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References Burgin, Victor (ed.) (1982) Thinking Photography. London: Macmillan. Burgin, Victor (1986a) The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity. London: Macmillan. Burgin, Victor (1986b) Between. Oxford and London: Basil Blackwell and ICA. Burgin, Victor (1996) In/Different Spaces. Berkeley: University of California Press. Burgin, Victor (2004) The Remembered Film. London: Reaktion. Burgin, Victor (2005) ‘The Separateness of Things’. Tate Papers (Spring), p. 17. Available at: (last accessed 12 September 2018). Burgin, Victor and Hilde Van Gelder (2010) ‘Art and politics: A reappraisal’, Eurozine, 30 July. Available at: (last accessed 14 September 2018). Didi-Huberman, Georges (2003) Images malgré tout. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.

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Pre-occupations: Calling Up Ghosts in A Place to Read and Belledonne Christine Berthin In an interview for Eurozine, Hilde Van Gelder describes viewing one of Victor Burgin’s installations as encountering a ‘dispersed painting or tableau to be discovered layer by layer’ in the mode of ‘reprise’ (Burgin and Van Gelder 2010: 9). This definition corresponds to most of Victor Burgin’s works to the extent that they are inherently linked to the experience of viewing in the specific context of the gallery where the duration of the projection and the duration of the viewing do not necessarily coincide. The audience enters and leaves the projection space at indeterminate moments during the projection, so that each viewing involves a form of replay and repetition. Victor Burgin’s artistic practice constantly reflects, at the level of form as well as content, on the relationship of space and time, exploring specific forms of language and of telling that ‘spatialize the temporal flow’ (Burgin and Van Gelder 2010: 10). The audiovisual projections put fragmentation, circularity and time at the core both of their form and their meaning. Recursive and sequential, they are composed of fragments that must at the same time be independent and deeply related, that must together tell a story but also stand on their own, and must constitute the first or the last or any moment in the continuous narrative loops. But Van Gelder’s description also fits a diachronic approach of Victor Burgin’s artistic production. Something returns and circulates, stretching from work to work, and must be discovered layer by layer. Although each piece tells a story of its own, brought together, the installations are linked surreptitiously by a system of echoes and recognizable patterns, which give the exhibitions their coherence and unity and define Burgin’s specific ‘style’. The exhibition at the Hansard Gallery, Barthes/Burgin (2016), like the retrospective exhibition at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Siegen, clearly point to a preoccupation with finding a name for the way text and image interact to produce new ‘forms of telling’ in Burgin’s work, and a new name for the type of story told in images and words in the exhibited pieces. Presenting together a selection of 15 works on paper by Barthes where writing and drawing interweave—blurring the boundaries between the two forms—and three recent pieces by Burgin, the very layout of the Hansard Gallery exhibition invites the viewer/reader to embrace ‘reprise’ and resonance, to listen

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for echoes and welcome the ghosts of surreptitious connections within each projection piece and between the pieces, as well as between the two artists. Displayed around the central room where Barthes’ drawings are exhibited, Burgin’s three installations can be viewed in any order and separately. But the central room also serves as echo chamber, where, from certain angles, A Place to Read and Belledonne can be seen simultaneously, silently unfurling their separate and yet strangely interwoven narratives. A Place To Read also invites a viewing of Burgin’s work ‘en reprise’ beyond the space of the Hansard Gallery, as it brings together Barthes/Burgin (Hansard Gallery, 2016) and Forms of Telling (Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Siegen, 2014) where it was exhibited as part of the retrospective on recent work by the artist. My journey through the exhibition in Southampton will start outside the space of the gallery and outside of the time frame of the exhibition itself, with a quote from Dovedale’s audio script (2010), which uses a metaphor both textual and visual, both temporal and spatial to evoke the principle of layering at work in Burgin’s practice. The narrative voice remembers the landscape of Dovedale in the Peak District in Derbyshire as ‘a palimpsest of tracks along the empty river banks’. Like the written traces of previous texts on the palimpsest, footsteps from former walkers can be seen across the white sheet of snow, just below the surface. They were imprinted before the snowfall but are made visible only by ‘a round of thaw and freeze’, the sign of the passing of time, on the snow blanket. Versions of the metaphor of the palimpsest recur in the projection works from Dovedale in Siegen to Belledonne in Southampton, distilling a poetics of loss, erasure and recovery.

Palimpsest and brecciation De Quincey, long before Freud, described how there is no such thing as forgetting and how the present of consciousness is made up of the myriads of memory traces of events or thoughts accumulated from time immemorial: What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain? Such a palimpsest is my brain, such a palimpsest, O reader! is yours. Everlasting layers of ideas, images, and feelings have fallen upon your brain as softly as light. Each succession has seemed to bury all that went before. And yet in reality not one has been extinguished. (1821: 144)

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De Quincey’s figuration of the mind as a page, a space where layers of personal and collective time are inscribed, ready to be re-activated in the moment of perception is very close to the way Victor Burgin defines the perception of the present and uses it in his own creative process where the present is seen not as ‘a perpetual fleeting point on a line “through time” but a collage of disparate times, an imbrication of shifting and contested spaces’ (Burgin 1996: 182). What we know as the present is a composite of fragments, an aggregate of images and events previously experienced, collectively and individually. In Hotel D (2009), for instance, the artist clearly links the ‘sense of being there, in the Hôtel-Dieu in Toulouse,’ and ‘being aware of the lives and deaths of those who were there before [him], aware of the past function of the building’ and at the same time being ‘aware of the forms of the architecture, of the time it takes to cross the room’ (Burgin and Van Gelder 2010: 6). Belledonne and A Place to Read too, like Hotel D, are ‘reactions to a place’, and more precisely to the disappearance, dis-location or change of use of a place, and to the feeling that a present place already belongs to the past, or that the past resurfaces in the present of a building. Thus, in Belledonne, the sense of the imminent relocation of the Hansard Gallery after 35 years triggers a deep connection to another building, the sanatorium of St Hilaire-du-Touvet, a building now disused and derelict where Barthes spent long periods of his youth, a place from a past immemorial beyond the present of the exhibition of his drawings. Memory is ‘invested with the experiential force of present perception’ (Campany 2003). Perception, as Bergson reminds us, is ‘never a simple contact of the mind with the object present; it is completely impregnated with memory images which complete and interpret it’ (Bergson 1911:170). Following the path of associations and spontaneous thoughts, necessarily brings an encounter with moments and places from the past, in their relation to the present of perception. This explains the complexity of Victor Burgin’s composite images. As the artist explains, ‘the image is not simply a material thing— a photographic print on a screen—nor is it just an optical event, the physiological imprint of this light on the retina. It is a psychological process. The image is always virtual’ (Bishop and Cubitt 2013: 208). It is always at one and the same time an optical image, a memory image or a fantasy image. In ‘A note on Occasio’ (Burgin 2014: 3) the literary metaphor of the palimpsest with its layers of time is modulated into that of archaeological traces accumulated in vestigial strata in a cityscape. Siegen is the place of an empty space: Rubens’ house was destroyed during World War II. But the Upper Castle survived. It is now the museum.

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From the ground floor of the museum one may descend into a replica of mine workings typical of the local ore-mining industry that flourished up to the 1960s. During the war such subterranean galleries sheltered works of art… My mind was still on the mining industry and the wartime assault on Siegen as I stood in front of Rubens’ allegorical plea for peace. (Burgin 2014: 3) From the Upper Castle, the present museum, to the subterranean galleries, in which masterpieces from the past have survived the destruction of time and history, physical space functions as a representation of historical but also personal time. Deep down in the objective space of the mines, deep down in the subjective space of the mind, time is secreted. It is the time of memory and fantasy that lies preserved under all the signifiers of a world in pieces. Burgin’s pieces for projection are spaces inhabited by moments in time, in which ‘a detail, an anecdote or something else’ brings ‘everything at the same time, including the perceptual experience and knowledge of the place’ (Burgin and Van Gelder 2010: 6). The body in space, walking up and down the Hansard Gallery or through the city of Istanbul or in the museum in Siegen, substitutes a logic of affect—in which fantasy, memory and events happen together and co-incide in the subject—for the logic of chronology and succession that constitute historical time. Reflecting more particularly on co-incidence and re-composition, on the way his biography and sense of history or chance encounters determine the shape of his experience of specific places, Victor Burgin for his part, quoting Freud’s description of dreams, talks of brecciation rather than palimpsest (Burgin 1996). The layering of the palimpsest does not fully account for the composite nature of the images in which periods of time and events are brought together, simultaneously, regardless of their separate origin or duration. Brecciation corresponds to the way the mind functions in dreams that are necessarily approached through secondary elaboration: images and events are like ‘fragments of rock held together by a binding medium, so that the designs that appear on it do not belong to the original rocks imbedded in it’ (Freud quoted in Burgin 1996:179). The disruption of chronology and logic, the violence done to the process of sedimentation are part of the critical project of the work of art, where only time and space out of phase can bring out the political dimension of art as well as opening up the ‘other stage’, the scene and space of fantasy. Opening perception to its invisible margins creates alternatives to the status quo imposed by standardized symbolic constructions of reality.

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A palimpsest should not simply be seen as a surface in which invisible and yet inerasable memory traces, be they individual or collective, survive. It is not simply an image or metaphor for the sedimentation of layers of time. The palimpsest is a space where times co-habit and coalesce. It has to do more with perceptual assemblages than simply with memory. It represents a certain way of inhabiting time and space and a certain susceptibility to what, for lack of a better word, I will call ‘haunting’ or, using a word that recurs in Victor Burgin’s texts, ‘pre-occupation’. Haunted space is space previously occupied by people and stories that exceed and precede the present. Anachrony is the main sign of haunting. In his contact with a place, the artist is pre-occupied, literally pre-inhabited by elements that are temporally heterogeneous to the present of perception and yet are intimately linked to the experience of the present. In Istanbul, the artist was ‘preoccupied with a building that could no longer be photographed’ (Burgin 2014: 89). Although the coffee house was dismantled, a part of it has been reconstructed away from the side of the hills and the views of the Bosphorus, and is now a soulless tourist restaurant. The building, undead and ill buried, haunts the way the artist apprehends and comprehends Istanbul. Absent and yet present, the coffee house becomes the point around which everything turns. Similarly, Prairie (2015), exhibited with A Place to Read and Belledonne in Barthes/ Burgin, explores the metaphor of the palimpsest further with the notion of ‘overlay’, by which the drawing of a building is traced over another drawing. The Mecca apartment building demolished sixty years ago, has been replaced by Crown Hall, a building of the Illinois Institute of Technology, and yet it remains palpably present, together ‘with the lives and deaths of those who were there before the demolition’. Overlays and palimpsests suggest not just the process of accretion of moments and stages of time in layers of drawing or writing on a page. They involve a gesture that complements but at the same time negates sedimentation: to unearth in order to recover. As in the actual recovery of the Dionysus Mosaic ‘unearthed’ from under the rubble of Cologne’s destruction during the War in Dovedale (Burgin 2014: 103), as in ‘the utopian imaginary of the Taslik Kahve’ ‘disinterred’ from oblivion and reconstructed, ‘resurrected as memory in the virtual space of A Place to Read’ (Burgin 2014: 89), Burgin’s digital pieces bring back memories of words and images that were already there and yet not, or no longer there. The projection pieces are ‘excavation projects’ (Burgin 2014: 89). They bring forth not just a forgotten reality but a composite image of our world, opening up new perspectives and giving a place to what was excluded

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from representation. In A Place to Read, the haunting lies in the impossible time frame that links a building that could no longer be photographed because it was destroyed some time ago and the current destruction of beautiful cultural landmarks in Istanbul in the name of private profit. Similarly, in Dovedale, all the postcards are substitutes for the impossible, non-existent representation of Wright’s picture, present as a ghost in each of them. Situated at the hinge of the ‘no longer’ or ‘not yet’ or ‘not quite’, all the pieces obey a logic of displacement and disruption that goes against the grain of everyday life, forces us to look awry, at the world around us, at what was here all the time but overlooked. We are forced to ‘travel at speeds beyond the ordinary thresholds of perception’ (Deleuze 1987: 196). The palimpsest is not just about erasing. It is also about bringing back what was there before and in so doing opening up secret lines of disorientation and reorganisation in the textual and visual material. It is about the play of spatial containment and temporal expansion.

Spatial Containment and Temporal Expansion: Forms of Telling Condensing large amounts of information, deep layers of memories and associations in small spaces, and combining sequences of moving images and text, Victor Burgin’s digital projection pieces explore a wide range of narrative forms and formats that all have in common brevity. Blending memories, fantasy and factual accounts, existing on several temporal and spatial planes, Burgin’s stories are uninterested in plot development, or in the process of discovery. They place us instead in relation to something unknowable and imperceptible that has already occurred. Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus, define the novella as the specific form of telling in which the question ‘what happened’—rather than what is happening or what will happen—is asked. Although the narrative format of the projections, determined by the conditions of viewing in the gallery, is necessarily different form the novella’s, this definition illuminates the type of storytelling at work in Burgin’s pieces: It is better to think of it as an affair of perception: you enter a room and perceive something as already there, as just having happened, even though it has not yet been done. Or you know that what is in the process of happening is happening for the last time, it’s already over with. (Deleuze 1987: 194)

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In short narrative sequences, ‘the lines of writing conjugate with other lines, life lines, lines of luck or misfortune, lines productive of the variation of the lines of writing itself, lines that are between the lines’ (Deleuze 1987: 194). Refusing straight lines— which constitute a mere intellectual convenience—and breaking rigid or molar lines of segmentation, the novella ‘molecularizes’ and expands matter, reconfiguring space and time around new lines of connections. Similarly, in Dovedale for instance, the professional appraisal of a painting by an art historian, a molar line of segmentation, conjugates with a myriad of life lines as, lost in contemplation, she becomes the pivotal presence around which images, memories and events from her personal life and from history connect on the same plane: tragic lives, images of ruin, of destruction, of abandonment and loss. Trying to define what form of storytelling Victor Burgin’s digital projections correspond to, one can only be struck by their similarity with narrative practices such as the short story: they convey the sense that spatial containment is the condition of temporal expansion. A moment of crisis, a chance encounter, a coincidence, an anecdote, a romantic painting, a vista in a city open out new possibilities, redistribute time and meaning along new lines. The smallest incident, the most elusive preoccupation, can turn a moment into a story and alter the forces at play in it. Short stories exist on many thresholds ‘between poetry and fiction, the story and the sketch, prophecy and reminiscence, the personal and the crowd’ (Charles Baxter 1989: 25). Similarly, Victor Burgin’s digital projections, working at the intersection of text and image, digital and analogue technology, or rhetoric and iconicity are at the crossroads between many genres, media, and forms of discourse. The crisis of naming to which Victor Burgin refers concerning his work (Bishop and Cubitt 2013: 207) evokes Virginia Woolf’s own frustration at defining her short stories, her ‘play-poems’ which she could only describe through the joint concepts of brevity and honesty, as ‘spatial moments of cross-fertilization between form and emotion, prose, poetry and drama’ (Reynier 2003: 67). In the short story, as Angela Carter remarks, elaborating on the concepts of brevity and honesty, ‘the limited trajectory of the short narrative concentrates its meaning. Sign and sense can fuse to an extent impossible to achieve among the multiplying ambiguities of an extended narrative’ (Carter 2006). Belledonne, like most of Burgin’s recent work, interrogates its own form of telling and method of exposition. The projection piece is about beginnings (and endings), about the place where Barthes begins and where Barthes and Burgin begin together too. This place is also a form: the haiku, no longer than a breath. In Preparation of the Novel Barthes describes his

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problem as ‘how to pass from the Notation (of the Present) to the Novel, from a short fragmented form (notes) to a long continuous form’ (2003: 23). The haiku for Barthes is the ‘exemplary form of notation’ (2003: 25). It does not ‘instruct, express, divert’ (Barthes 1970: 82), it does not describe or define, but simply ‘notes (marks, delimits, glorifies, endows with a ‘fama’) a tiny element of ‘real’, present, concomitant life’ (Barthes 2003: 23). The haiku as exemplary practice of notation embodies the brevity and honesty that Virginia Woolf was striving for in her writing. As ‘the conjunction of a “truth” (not a conceptual truth, but of the Instant) and a form’ (Barthes 2003: 25), the haiku captures and arrests life as it happens, as it befalls one. It makes truth manifest and confers immediacy to the reality that is glimpsed without being defined or interpreted. Interlaced with the linear unfolding of biographical details and of medical, biographical or historical narratives, haikus punctuate Belledonne turning narration and description into sheer experience, and chronological time into brief instants: Thaw in the valley On the road by the river Columns of Soldiers. The haiku, surrounded by blanks, fragments the flow of words, cuts through the flow of time, and suspends both language and temporality. A pure verbal gesture, it does not comment on the text or the images that unfurl on the screen. Separate and separating, it nonetheless produces the truth of the moment, in a breath and as breath: A parcel of snow weighing down a bough of pine Suddenly it falls. In Belledonne, Burgin’s experimentation with the haiku clearly illustrates the desire of the artist to find a form that would capture life as it happens, a form that would be ‘spaced Time’, to quote Barthes’ depiction of the lay-out of speech on the page in the haikist tercet (Barthes 2003:27). Barthes compares this layout to respiration in speech. ‘Spaced Time’ is not the chronological time of necessarily reconstituted and retrospective narratives of events. It is ‘the apprehension of the thing as event’ (Barthes 1970: 88), as ‘a dust of events which nothing…can or should coagulate, construct, direct, terminate’ (1982: 88).

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The question of what constitutes a story remains troublesome and uncertain, but in Victor Burgin’s stories, the purpose of narrative art has shifted from external action to internal states of mind, and moments of intense perception of feeling have replaced conventional cause and effect narratives. In the projection pieces the narratives are not entangled in causality. There is no plot development to focalise and thus distract the viewer’s attention, no linear reconstruction of external or factual reality, no diversions, and no teleological development of story lines or moral implications. Like short stories, they can only be described as what they are not: neither tales, nor moral fables, nor dramas of moral choices. Victor Burgin’s art of storytelling is a complex experience, as the pieces are not simply read or heard but also viewed. Alice Munro’s description of her reading and writing practice calls to mind the way the reader-viewer is asked to approach the projection pieces: For one thing, I can start reading [stories] anywhere; from beginning to end, from end to beginning, from any point in between in either direction. So obviously I don’t take up a story and follow it as if it were a road, taking me somewhere, with views and neat diversions along the way. […] It’s more like a house. Everybody knows what a house does, how it encloses space and makes connections between one enclosed space and another and presents what is outside in a new way. This is the nearest I can come to explaining what a story does for me, and what I want my story to do for other people. (Munro 1982: 224) A story is a structure built around a feeling, a moment of crisis, or an anecdote. It is a house that we penetrate for a moment, an enclosed space, such as the projection room, in which we come, and go, and linger. It is a space entirely ‘subordinated to the shape and growth of an emerging, expanding emotion,’ to quote Eileen Baldeshwiler’s definition of the lyric short story (1969: 451). This space makes connections with other spaces and reconfigures what is outside, changing our perception of, and relation to, reality. In Victor Burgin’s projections too, a process of cross-fertilization between form and emotion can be observed in particular in the interaction of text and image. The combination of moving still images and extremely condensed texts, which unite characteristics of informative prose and poetry, creates the sense of an inner voyage, deep into the consciousness, memory and fantasy. In Belledonne, the juxtaposition of haikus-like fragments, neutral captions at the back of the faded period postcards,

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matter-of-fact accounts of the symptoms and treatments of Tuberculosis during the war, and the computer-generated visual sequences that animate still shots into moving images, produce what Philippe Dubois calls ‘a space that spreads out in time’ (Boulouch et al. 2007: 81). Digital space, explored in large sweeping panoramic movements, is the closest possible equivalent to duration, and duration is pure mobility (Bergson 1946: 165). The camera gradually and consistently travelling through a computersimulated garden and coffee house in A Place to Read, for instance, creates the sensation of the unity of a movement that progresses. It is the interlacing of text and image, of the continuous motion of computer-animated images, associated with splinters of texts, fragments or, in the case of Belledonne, haikus that gives the sense of the time of consciousness. ‘Photographs that move’ (Bishop and Cubbit 2013: 201) or moving still images that unfold in two wide concentric circles, in detached, mechanical movements deep down a gorge in Dovedale, or, in A Place to Read, the sequence that leads the viewer from outside the computer generated coffee house, in a series of circling movements by a virtual helicopter, to the perfectly hermetically closed, empty and still interior space give the sense, in both cases, of being taken into an internal, psychical space. In such a space, external time, chronological and clock time no longer operate and clocks are often stopped in the digital pieces, as in A Place to Read. In Belledonne, the cold distant presence of the moon in a hazy halo (or is it a rayless sun that no longer signifies daylight?) shows that external time and space have disappeared. Seen from above a thick, stifling sea of clouds, the mountain range no longer belongs to the outside world. It is in fact the very world of the subject, a subject intent on breathing, trapped in a motionless world of rarefied air. Following the path of the valley of the Isère between foothills in a long-drawn sequence, the camera explores not so much a landscape as a nocturnal, internal world, and a fantasied body. The valley is a spine and the ridges dark motionless ribs. Time is the inner time of the patient interminably prostate in the sanatorium. It is the pace of breathing, difficult and precious breathing, that the projection piece gives us in fragments that are ‘struck like a note’ on a silent piano. The specific format of juxtaposed audio and/or textual components and visual elements in the projection pieces gives us the continuous flow of interior life with its multiplicity of states and its specific tempo. Emotion surges in the fragments of thoughts and memories addressed to the imaginary recipients of various postcards that burst onto the insistent silence of the mind of the female narrator in Dovedale. In A Place to Read too, the text carries the emotional charge of the piece. Daydreams,

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triggered by reading and writing, become the source of a mental journey between East and West as the female protagonist’s gaze wanders from her page into the past and the future, and across borders. Text and image are never set in a hierarchical relationship because they are part of a wider sense of what an image is for Victor Burgin. As J.L. Nancy reminds us, every image and every text is potentially and respectively text and image for itself. The potential is actualised in the gaze or in reading. I read a text and here is an image or here is yet more text. In looking at an image, I always textualize it in some way and in reading the text I imagine it. The actualisations are innumerable: no text has its proper image and no image its proper text. (2005: 69) In Victor Burgin’s work, optical images are simply ‘interleaved with mental images suggested by the text’ (Bishop and Cubitt 2013: 215). This practice of interspersing is inherent in the creation of the complex psychological process that Victor Burgin calls ‘virtual image’ that is only actualised in the viewing of the pieces: ‘There are images and there are words and there is an empty space between them. For me this is the space in which I work, in anticipation of the work of the viewer-reader in the same space’ (Bishop and Cubitt 2013: 215). Image as process is the combination of material and mental images, collective and individual memory images and fantasy images. The interwoven textual and visual sequences of A Place to Read and Belledonne create open stories in which the continuity of the narrative is both ensured and modulated by the differential nature of the viewing experience in the gallery. Notions such as beginning, end, and repetition are challenged by the structure in loops. But the very way the specific and yet never separate modes of enunciation are intermixed also makes for the activation and opening up by the gaze of the viewer of the potential contained in the story. The handling of time and space in the virtual world of the pieces, the tempo and spacing produced by the combined forms of enunciation create the illusion of interior life but also and more importantly become the interior life, time and space of the viewer for the duration of the projection. Alexander Streitberger sums up this phenomenon of mental participation when talking about Victor Burgin’s previous work: ‘photographic, cinematic and textual fragments conjured up by the virtual spaces are mixed together in the mental space of the beholder with personal memories and fantasies through which the “film”, in any single moment, may be newly constituted in the mind of any individual’ (2009: XXIII).

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This viewing practice calls to mind Barthes’ description of what constitutes a text, in which a text must be considered in a broad sense and not simply in terms of assemblage of words and images. Rather than a fixed system of meaning, a text is an open form that awaits the input of a reader/viewer in order to be activated, and in which the relations of words to words and images prevail over the relations of words and images to things. Lending an ear and an eye to the way in which words and images rebound on each other and create networks of echoes that blur the surface meaning and bring forth semiotic traces beneath the symbolic exposes ‘secret lines of disorientation or deterritorialisation’ (Deleuze 1987: 196-7) within but also between Dovedale, Belledonne and A Place to Read. These lines, like tracks in the snow, form patterns and delineate a poetics of loss and impossible recovery in these three texts, which are haunted by images of ruins and impossible love stories.

A Poetics of Loss Victor Burgin’s work has long been inhabited, that is to say haunted, by the presence of the silhouette of a woman in black as in Nietzsche’s Paris (2006), or Voyage to Italy (2000). It is also inhabited by the absence of this feminine figure and the sense of irretrievable loss associated with its absence. The silhouette seems to emerge from another time or world—the image often seems to be in black and white in the coloured world of present-day Britain or in the contemporary Paris of Nietzsche as if from a previous era. Blurring the borders of life and death, past, present and future, East or West, a spectral presence also crosses the virtual space of A Place to Read, which therefore reads as a ghost story of sorts. But the ghost is not simply the one announced in the Note (Burgin2014: 89), that is to say the looming digital presence of the Taslik Kahve dismantled in 1988 and reconstructed from a plan and an old photograph. Disinterred and thus undead, the coffee house is indeed like a place beyond time, coming back from the past yet existing as a future possibility. Silent as a tomb and empty, as if cut off from life in a totally fixed computer-generated landscape, the coffee house is undeniably brought back to life by the gaze of the viewer guided by the movements of the camera, but also by the text that unfurls between the sequences of images. The coffee house that we see is being created in another coffee house, in the book that is being written in the story that we are reading. A realistic frame of reference grounds it in the present: streets are named, voices heard, and the buzz

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of the city gives it colour and life. It becomes a place to read and write, and our reading participates in the project of reconstruction or resurrection of the coffee house. The prose performs the act of reconstruction. By naming over and over again the coffee house, the garden ‘overlooking the Bosphorus’, or by insistent spatial referencing through adverbs and deictics, it recreates, as if stone by stone, the place it names. The realistic frame of references inscribes the story in contemporary Istanbul and in the current destruction of the city’s ancient landmarks in the name of capitalism. The work therefore is a political gesture that repairs the injuries of history. But together with this work of excavation which brings back from the world of the dead the Taslik Kahve on the side of the hill, lingering echoes turn the ‘story about conspiracy and corruption’ into a story of ‘exile and loneliness, longing and sex’ (Burgin 2014: 89), and other ghosts furtively creep into the text, undermining the reconstructive work with images of impossible recovery. A Place to Read is also at the same time the story of an impossible attempt to regain a paradise irrevocably lost. Paradise is the ‘garden behind the coffee house’, ‘planted with Lebanon cedars and Judas trees’. Evoked in the text in images of oriental abundance, it is also ‘e-vocalised’ in the alliterative poetic prose, where ‘apples, apricots and pears’, combine with ‘yellow tulips’ to recreate in the ear of the reader a pre-verbal world of sounds, the world of infantia and oceanic unity. The garden behind the coffee house is both face and landscape, replete with pears (ears), blue irises (eyes) and tulips (lips). Sounds create lines of flight that allow the subject to fuse and diffuse the face of the loved one, imagined or remembered, in the landscape. In this oceanic world of fluidity, liquidity and free movement, ‘ferries, freighters and fishing boats’ crisscrossing the Bosphorus unite East and West. But, in A Place to Read, the female character is exiled from this landscape of desire. In the coffee house overlooking the Bosphorus, she reads a book where the garden has become a car park, a story where the future is also our present, a story of corruption, destruction and demolition. As the coffee house has been turned into the Swissotel, she finds herself stranded in Geneva, longing for the Bosphorus, writing and dreaming another world, a world en abyme. In this virtual world of smooth transparency, virtual doubles meet in the virtual garden created by the avatar of the male character she dreams of and writes about with the ink of longing, the ink from the Ink Tree taken to ‘the land of the Franks’. But in the world of virtual doubles, harmony is never fully regained, as the virtual coffee house exits only in a future perfect, in an impossible time where the future has already happened and is already past, where the destruction of the virtual coffee house has already been

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planned in a ruthless market in virtual land. The encounter of the avatars united into a pronoun – ‘they’– for a brief moment in the garden is both future and past at the same time. The text weaves together ‘she’ and ‘he’ or rather their avatars, into ‘they’, in a world twice removed where couples are only and ever doubles, where space is dematerialised, pulverised, as are time and identity. The possible world of virtual reality is also the impossible setting for an impossible love story. In the last images of the virtual coffee house, the fountain ‘falls silent in its gleaming pool’, and nobody sits at the café table of this deserted place. Virtual reality generates another way of being in time. In the indifference of the virtual eye, space has become time. Beams of light cross the virtual coffee house, closed to the outside world by veils like shrouds. Human time has been defeated and political decisions have been overturned by the recreation in virtual space of the Talisk Kahve as it was at the time it was built. But the virtual coffee house is also a monadic world of absence, an interior world that remains uninhabited. ‘She’ remains a solitary spectral presence, an absence rather, the shadow of a longing never properly inscribed in space or time. As in A Place to Read, where imaginary lovers must meet across continents and undertake a voyage that involves crossing not just the Bosphorus but also the gleaming surface of liquid space, river, sea, mirrors or reflecting surfaces that separate real and virtual worlds, orphic motifs crisscross the landscape of Dovedale as the camera slowly circles around the painting, plunging into the gorge, as into the underworld, and resurfacing. But from this orphic quest deep down the gorge, no lover emerges. Images of loss, exile and loneliness again prevail, in the empty landscape and in the interior monologue that seems to go further and further away from the surface of life, regressing deeper into the unconscious of the female narrator. The long-drawnout silences between the fragments of text suggest the depth of the interior space in which interior life unfolds, less and less affected by external stimuli. It seems that the silence is continuous and only broken here and there by the sound of the voice which brings back to the surface here a memory, there a series of dates, here a quote or an anecdote. As Blanchot remarks, ‘fragments, destined partly to the blank that separates them, find in this gap not what ends them, but what prolongs them, or what makes them await their prolongation.’ (1995: 58). The use of a fragmented narrative therefore contributes to the construction of a psychical space made more pregnant by the silence between the fragments. As time becomes thicker, less and less measurable, we are sent spiralling down, from loop to loop, further and further away from conscious thoughts or historical time.

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In the free floating attention of the female art historian, details of the picture observed closely but necessarily in a fragmented fashion, as if short-sightedly, evoke other paintings, or moments of history. The gaze of the narrator on the painting and around her in the gallery together with her writing of postcards create the particular tempo of a stream of consciousness in which associations and recollections are woven, following a logic that is not necessarily comprehensible to the conscious mind. Kafka, in his letters to Milena, remarks on how letter writing is the source of a ‘dislocation of souls’: It is in fact an intercourse with ghosts, not only with the ghost of the recipient, but with one’s own ghost which develops between the lines of the letter one is writing, and even more so in a series of letters where one letter corroborates another and can refer to it as a witness. (Quoted in Hillis Miller 1984: 135) Ghosts are raised by the hand that writes because a letter, or in the case of Dovedale, a postcard, is always addressed to an absent and distant subject, existing in another place and in another time. The writing self also is dis-located, always situated slightly outside the time frame and the space of writing, never quite contemporary with the written self. Writing calls phantoms into being and turns addressees into ‘destinataires’, into the persons destined to receive the postcards (Hillis Miller 1984: 137). The addressee does not exist before the letter but is brought into existence as the recipient of the card by the address itself. ‘It is I, uniquely I, who am able to receive this letter, not that it has been reserved for me, on the contrary, but I receive as a present the chance to which this card delivers itself. It falls to me [elle m’échoit]. And I choose that it should choose me by chance’ (Derrida 1988: 6). In Dovedale the postcard becomes a structuring motif. The brief, fragmentary format of the postcard participates in the tempo of the piece, where words come to break the continuum of silence that inhabits the solitary narrator’s mind and the continuous movement of the camera over the surface of the painting. Thematically, the postcards contribute to the sense of displacement and dislocation that one feels in the piece. In the same way as the copy of Dovedale by Moonlight in Cologne does not show the expected ‘spiky rocks’ mentioned by Wordsworth or represented in the Ohio version of the painting, none of the postcards are copies of Wright’s painting. All have only distant connections with the landscape painting. One represents a moonlight scene, another is the reproduction of a Roman mosaic rediscovered during the war, another still shows a painting that just shares wall space with Wright’s painting in the museum, and Oak Tree in the

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Snow simply evokes a detail of Dovedale by Moonlight seen close up. Each postcard triggers a chain of associations precisely because it is not quite the right postcard and therefore it opens the reading of the painting to lateral meanings and interpretations. Becoming the ‘you’ that receives the postcards, the viewer of the digital projection also receives a call, placed from a distance. The call turns him/her into a participant in what is not simply a monologue but can never be a dialogue. Not just a witness of a ‘ruin in a nocturnal wilderness’ (Burgin 2014: 103), the viewer/listener pieces together the disseminated fragments of Dovedale through their recurring motifs and mood, conjuring up ghosts that the glassy surface of the painting only suggests. For there are ghosts in Dovedale: ‘faces of women look down from the wall’. These faces are all ‘details from paintings cropped to landscape format.’ The haunting presence of female forms links Wright’s landscape painting with its curves and the narrow cleft of its gorge leading to a dark damp bed of the river to the curves of Miss O’Murphy and to Mary Wollstonecraft’s attempted suicide in the Thames. The painting is also haunted by other spectres: translucent in the moonlit sky, volutes of cloud conjure up images of nude women that seem to have inhabited other paintings in the gallery. The ghosts looking down from the walls and the painted sky bring back from the underworld the subterranean image of a face-landscape, from which, as in A Place to Read, the subject remains isolated and cut off. Long known and unrecognised, the place, with its caves and its river flowing deep down the ravine is the first home that we have known without knowing it and to which we cannot return or regress. ‘A lost child does not ask for directions, it cries for its mother’ (Dovedale). Yet, the cries echo in the empty space. They rebound in ‘the faint hymns to the cold, fruitless moon’ that remains indifferent and distant, and in the monosyllabic moans of a lost child crying, ‘and when I’m with no one I’m lost’. Lost in thoughts, lost in space, and lost in time, one is alone in the nocturnal world of Dovedale and no lover comes back from its underworld. Never separate and yet always distinct, the audio text and the gaze of the camera work together to elaborate a poetics of loss and impossible recovery. Derealized by the camera moves, the landscape of the painting becomes the underworld in the eerie white frozen light of the moon. And nobody can go out into the night ‘with impunity’ as the narrator informs us. In this spectral moonlit world, images, places and people are never quite what they are supposed to be, and the slight discrepancy is what allows the uncanny to creep in and what gives longing and loss their voice. But nowhere in Victor Burgin’s work does the sense of irretrievable loss and longing take hold of the viewer more acutely than in the empty black and white

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landscapes of Belledonne, which is also a story of ‘exile and loneliness, longing and sex’ (A Place to Read). The distant mountain range is the fantasmatic world of Barthes’ beginnings. Barthes’ tuberculosis and his consequent long stays in the sanatorium of St Hilaire-du-Touvet—a negative experience of collective life that leaves its trace forever on him—mark a ‘decisive fold’ in the life of the author that Barthes was to become, as Burgin notes: ‘while he’s preparing the intellectual foundation of his work, he is largely separated from the world’ (cited in Bishop and Manghani 2016: 80), outside history, and isolated in a world of silence and forced rest. From the sanatorium, a big motionless bird with its two stationary wings sprayed out on the cold hill side, Barthes had a panoramic view upon the mountain chain, a place that remains inaccessible, out of reach for a young man out of breath and condemned to imaginary conquests of summits only. The Belledonne peaks therefore are not a geographic or a topographic signifier. They are an imaginary signifier, the place of fantasy, desire and distant possibilities. Burgin’s projection piece starts on the ‘other stage’, in the heart of Barthes’ fantasy above the sea of clouds that partially hides snowy Alpine summits. He writes: “A fantasy requires a scene (a scenario) It therefore requires a place”. (Belledonne) In Preparation of the Novel, Barthes notes how a fantasy is made up of ‘scenes that get played, replayed, caressed (always the same, seemingly immobile scenes; the fantasy is a film made up of stills)’ (2003: 213). Burgin’s piece, a film made up of stills, unfolding in long slow loops plays and replays the same impossible scene of the caress of a gaze that scans frozen summits, and travels along inaccessible bleak ridges and narrow valleys that are also impenetrable fantasied bodies. Belledonne enacts the very story of human desire, of the pursuit and yet the unattainability of objects of love. The very name Belledonne (or belle donne) calls up the ghosts of beautiful exotic women as well as images of beautiful edenic valleys. But from the sanatorium, the Belledonne range is forever distant, never to be reached, irretrievably lost and yet painfully yearned for. Belledonne tells the poignant story of young Barthes, a TB patient, unapproachable, a world apart for the world of the living and above all ‘far removed from the maternal cocoon of real childhood’ (Samoyault 2015: 23), locked up in silence for endless hours of solitary treatments in the monastic world of the sanatorium. The mother, the first object of love, ‘brings music paper’, but

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no music is heard in a world of Belledonne, the world of Barthes’ inner solitude. And the irreparable distance between the subject and the object of desire is painfully palpable in the movement of the camera in Burgin’s piece: the panoramic slow motion shots progress through the landscape, but the summits, and the pale star that does not illuminate the semi-nocturnal landscape scene, recede further away from reach, as if caressing a dream was losing it at the same time. When Barthes met with his untimely death, he was working on a paper entitled ‘One Always Fails in Speaking of What One Loves’ (Samoyault 2015: 2) in which he reflects on Stendhal’s inability to capture his love for Italy through diary writing, a love that the format of the novel ultimately conveyed, as demonstrated in The Charterhouse of Parma. Burgin’s homage to Barthes is not simply the narrative of Barthes beginning. It is an experience of how to speak of what one loves, in perfect concordance with Barthes’ preoccupations towards the end of his life. Looming large behind Belledonne, both Barthes’ Mourning Diary with its brief, fragmented aphorisms and The Preparation of the Novel haunt the projection piece. Searching for the form of telling that could express the ‘truth of his emotions’ after his mother’s death, Barthes abandons the format of the diary and turns to the novel as an ideal, a guiding fantasy, and the source of a new life. It is the belief that the wounds of desire can be transcended by the very idea of writing a novel that informs his Vita Nova and gives him ‘a second breath’. But this novel fantasised as an act of love never goes beyond the stage of planning and projection. It remains an intention, a work in fragments and a sum of notations. It is the impulse behind this project of desire that Belledonne captures with its own questioning of its forms of telling, with postcards, narrative notations, fragmentary diary entries, and haikus, like ‘moments of truth’ interspersed with sweeping long and brief dreamy sequences of travelling over distant summits where the air is rarefied. Belledonne is the story of desire and its endless deferment. Telescoping moments of time, the projection piece necessarily encounters Barthes’ beginning and his end fused in the same breath. In her prologue to Barthes’ autobiography, Tiphaine Samoyault talks about the author’s death on 26 March 1980 in the Pitié-Salpétrière, and of the necessity of starting the biography of Barthes with this death. Likewise, it is because Barthes is dead that his life can be written or evoked and called up, fantasmatically, in Belledonne. The cause of Barthes’ death, according to the medical report, was ‘pulmonary complications in a patient who was particularly handicapped by the state of chronic breathing difficulties’ (Samoyault 2015: 6). In the silence and isolation of the hospital room, as Barthes slips away,

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the ghost of the Belledonne chain looms up and recedes in the distance, always out of reach. Belledonne captures, uncovers and recovers the story of desire, of inevitable pursuit and postponement. Victor Burgin’s projection pieces create for their viewer the sense that there is another way of experiencing time: one in which nothing is forever buried and extinguished. Hanne Loreck reminds us that the central proposition of Victor Burgin’s work is that ‘fictions can have real political effect’ (Burgin 2014: 120). In A Place to Read and Belledonne, the fictions clearly interlock subjective and intersubjective space and cause individual and collective history to reflect one another. The museum café in Cologne and coffee houses in Geneva and in Istanbul, at the same time private and public spaces, are the pivotal places from which the subjective experiences of the narrators interconnect with other people’s lives. Like the coffee place, the gallery is the locus of writing and reading, of seeing and relating differently. The visual, verbal, and aural images, the perceptions, memories and daydreams that constitute the pieces, are loosely strung together in a non-linear, non-teleological fashion so that data that would not necessarily be linked in the context of daily life are brought together in the time frame and space of each artwork and of the sum of the pieces collected in an exhibition. Only outside of chronology can this bringing together of heterogeneous material happen that allows story and history to echo one another. And only then can the veil of habit that obscures reality be lifted to suggest alternative ways of seeing, of relating, and of telling. Victor Burgin’s pieces are political gestures because they offer an alternative to the vision of reality created by mass culture by shifting the timelines and spatial compartmentalization according to which we organize our everyday life. To avoid domestication and to accept defamiliarization is to accept alternatives to the doxa. To resurrect in virtual reality for 10 minutes and 29 seconds the idyllic Talisk Kahve from its tomb beneath the Swissotel is a way of protesting the ruthless rule of international capitalism in Istanbul. It is also, fundamentally, a way of seeing what the present is made of: it is a way of seeing in the present the past, and perhaps also the future. Similarly, to recover the Barthes of the years of the war, to relive empathically and fantasmatically the intense solitude of his enforced isolation is to conjure up ‘brilliant ghosts from the underworld of history’ (Dovedale) and to connect to our present self differently. We then rediscover, for the time of the viewing, forgotten paths, which like tracks in the snow, take us back home.

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References Baldeshwiler, Eileen (1969) ‘The Lyric Short Story: The Sketch of a History’ Studies in Short Fiction, 6(4): 443–53. Barthes, Roland [1970] (1982) Empire of Signs, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Barthes, Roland [2003] (2011) The Preparation of the Novel: Lecture courses and Seminars at the College de France, trans. Kate Briggs. New York: Columbia University Press. Baxter Charles (1989) ‘Introduction to Sudden Fiction International’, Sudden Fiction International: Sixty Short-Short Stories, ed. Robert Shapard and Thomas James. New York: W. W. Norton. Bergson, Henri (1911) Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmar. London: George Allen and Unwin. Bergson, Henri [1946] (2007) The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Mabelle L. Andison. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

Burgin, Victor (2014) Five Pieces for Projection. Berlin: Sternberg Press. Campany, David (2013) ‘Victor Burgin: Other Criteria’ Frieze Magazine, 155, (last accessed 3 September 2018). Carter, Angela (2006) ‘Afterword to Fireworks’, Burning Your Boats: Collected Short Stories. London: Vintage. De Quincey, Thomas [1821] (1996) Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Other Writings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Scizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Bishop, Ryan and Sean Cubitt (2013) ‘Camera as Object: An Interview with Victor Burgin’ Theory Culture & Society, 30 (7–8): 199–21.

Dubois, Philippe (2007) ‘L’événement et la structure. Le montage des temps hétérogènes dans l’oeuvre de Victor Burgin’, Victor Burgin. Objets temporels, ed. Nathalie Boulouch, Valérie Mavridorakis and David Perreau. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, pp. 71–83.

Bishop, Ryan and Sunil Manghani (eds) (2016) Barthes/Burgin. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Loreck, Hanne (2014) in Victor Burgin, Five Pieces for Projection. Berlin and New York: Sternberg Press.

Blanchot, Maurice (1995) The Writing of the Disaster, trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Miller, J. Hillis (1984) ‘Dislocation of Souls’, Taking Chances Psychoanalysis and Literature, ed. Joseph H. Smith and William Kerrigan. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 135–46.

Burgin, Victor (1996) In/Different Spaces. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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Burgin, Victor and Hilde van Gelder (2010) ‘Art and politics: A reappraisal’. Eurozine, 30 July.

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Munro, Alice (1982) ‘What is Real?’, in Making it New: Contemporary Canadian Stories, ed. John Metcalf. Auckland: Methuen, pp. 223–6. Nancy, Jean-Luc (2005) The Ground of the Image, trans. Jeff Fort. New York: Fordham University Press. Reynier, Christine (2003) ‘The short story according to Woolf’, Journal of the Short Story in English, 41: 55–67. Samoyault, Tiphaine [2015] (2016) Barthes: A Biography, trans. Andrew Brown. Cambridge: Polity Press. Streiberger, Alexander (2009) ‘The Psychotopological Text: Victor Burgin’s Writings in Perspective’, in Situational Aesthetics: Selected Writing by Victor Burgin, ed. Alexander Streiberger. Leuven: Leuven University Press, pp. xi–xxix.

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Prairie (Argo) Kristen Kreider and James O’Leary Through its careful and poetic sequencing of image and text, Victor Burgin’s projection piece Prairie navigates the complexity of a specific urban situation. Embedded in the artwork’s aesthetic layers, its point of departure is the intersection of State Street and 34th on the south side of Chicago. This intersection, now the location of Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Crown Hall’ building on the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) campus, was previously the site of the Mecca apartment building. Built in 1892, the Mecca was demolished sixty years later, in 1952, after a decade of resistance by its occupants, predominantly African Americans living in this area known as the ‘Black Belt’ of Chicago (Bluestone 1998: 398–9). As the title of Burgin’s artwork suggests, this same location was once the geographical site of a Midwestern prairie, and segments of Prairie allude to how the land was home to the native Inoka. Informed by the structural logic of the architectural ‘overlay’, Prairie exposes these various layers of site, each with their respective social, cultural, urban and geographic rhythm; layers that, with the development of the IIT campus and construction of Crown Hall in 1956, are seemingly occluded by the proportioned measure of Mies’ modernist grid, itself situated within the gridded matrix of Chicago’s urban plan. And as replete pieces of text and image relate to one another across the linear sequence of Prairie, and from one looped cycle to the next, the complexity of the situation is explored and embodied by the intricate choreography of Prairie’s political aesthetic. We are a poet and architect who engage with site through our own creative collaborations. In what follows, we seek also to expose, explore and embody the urban situation at the heart of Burgin’s artwork, doing so by means of performatively enacting Prairie through writing and image-making. Developing this performative enactment becomes, for us, a means of engaging with the social, political, historical, architectural and geographical complexity of site through another’s artwork. As this essay is intended for publication in a book relating to the exhibition Barthes/Burgin at the John Hansard Gallery (University of Southampton, 2016), it befits the situatedness of the essay itself that we engineer a connection between Barthes and Burgin in the development of our performative enactment of Prairie. For this, we deploy Barthes’ image of the Argo:

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A frequent image: that of the ship Argo (luminous and white), each piece of which the Argonauts gradually replaced, so that they ended with an entirely new ship, without having to alter either its name or its form. This ship Argo is highly useful: it affords the allegory of an eminently structural object, created not by genius, inspiration, determination, evolution, but by two modest actions (which cannot be caught up in any mystique of creation): substitution (one part replaces another, as in a paradigm) and nomination (the name is in no way linked to the stability of the parts): by dint of combinations made within one and the same name, nothing is left of the origin: Argo is an object with no other cause than its name, with no other identity than its form. (Barthes 1975: 46) The image of an overarching structure (here, ‘the ship’) comprising a number of definable ‘pieces’ suggests the compositional logic of the fragment that characterises much of Barthes’ work. A similar compositional logic is at play in each of Burgin’s artworks on display at the John Hansard Gallery, including Prairie. Bearing this commonality in mind, we relate Burgin’s Prairie to Barthes’ image of the Argo, and perform it as such. Practically speaking, this involves, first, identifying the various ‘pieces’ or segments comprising Burgin’s artwork and giving a name to each. Then, and retaining both our assignations and the original sequencing of segments, replacing Burgin’s original content with material related to it, sometimes directly, often tangentially. For the most part, this involves using prose writing to replace the segments of Burgin’s Prairie that are text-based. However, there are three moments in Prairie where Burgin uses still image CGI to depict the figure of a woman (possibly a statue) within the representational space of Mies’ grid compositions; there are another three instances in Prairie of CGI animation used to represent spatial and architectural elements. For Prairie (Argo) we develop the first of these, the three figurative iterations, through verbal ‘Figures’. In doing so we activate the still image, exposing aspects of the ‘overlay’ (so, elements of the urban grid, of the Mecca and of the Midwestern prairie) and choreographing a movement between them. Meanwhile, corresponding with the three instances of CGI animation in Prairie are three different image composites in Prairi (Argo). Each of these comprises a drawing on the left and an image on the right. The drawings on the left contain fragments from Mies’ Crown Hall, the Mecca apartment building and the geography and root systems of the Midwestern prairie, with emphasis given to any one of these three ‘layers’. (And we are grateful to Nicole Salnikov for her help in composing these drawings.) The accompanying images on the

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right include: a photocollage of a model for Illinois Institute of Technology’s campus expansion and aerial view of South Side of Chicago (digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence); a photograph of Mecca tenants attending a meeting to protest their eviction (photograph by Charles Stewart Jr, courtesy of Chicago Historical Society); a film still from the one film clip Burgin has included in Prairie. As with the three verbal ‘Figures’, these image composites expose aspects of the ‘overlay’ (so, elements of the grid, of the Mecca and of the prairie) – this, in combination with the text surrounding it, renders sensible the historical layers of site, carrying a critical undercurrent throughout the essay. Prairie (Argo) thus takes on the form of Burgin’s Prairie, but through a different rhythm; navigates the ‘same’ urban situation, by means of a different course. In this respect, Prairie (Argo) cannot – and should not – be construed as identical to the original Prairie, but they are akin insofar as Prairie (Argo) becomes a kind of vessel that, like the original Prairie, seeks to explore a complex urban situation without ever fully representing it; instead, allowing cross-currents of meaning to arise from the site and resound amidst the vessel itself, contouring a poetics of thought. The fact that Barthes’ image of the ‘Argo (luminous and white)’ arrives by way of Greek mythology suggests its origins within a white European aesthetic sensibility. Indicatively, such a sensibility informs Barthes’ thinking and writing; arguably, it also shapes Burgin’s oeuvre; undoubtedly, it permeates our work too. Given the specifics of the urban situation at the heart of Prairie, this becomes particularly significant. There is much at stake in our efforts to expose, explore and embody rhythmic layers of ‘Blackness’ and ‘Nativeness’ seemingly occluded by an architectural overlay of the Modernist grid by means of a creative and critical apparatus developed through the work of Barthes and Burgin, whose aesthetics can be understood – as with the modernist grid (as with the Argo) – in the terms of a white European sensibility. With this in mind, we consider Prairie (Argo) not just a formal exercise, but a critical and political act: one through which bodies stilled in one realm of sense might become mobilised to figure actively through another; where sounds silenced in a scopic regime might be made heard and rhythmic through the sonic. It is our hope, through this, to engender new trajectories of thought by making alignments in and across all of the different layers, with their respective aesthetic sensibilities and rhythms. In doing so, we do not consider these trajectories in terms of origins, but rather as new beginnings, and the alignments they yield are not objects or bodies to be known, but political thinking to be activated. Phrased differently, we do not seek to know, but to think with and

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through multiple aspects of the site’s historical and cultural layers; we do not seek fully to represent, but to register, figure and configure these aspects, aesthetically rendering and poetically reconfiguring a politics of place. Ultimately, Prairie (Argo) is made up of a number of fragments or ‘pieces’. Taken individually, each ‘piece’ offers a replete image, observation, theorisation, interpretation or affect around issues of erasure, resistance, potentiality; the relation between aesthetics and politics; the role that rhythm plays in this and the homogenising impulse of the grid; whiteness, blackness, nativeness; ornament and crime; the importance of story and myth for our conception of the human and imagining new forms of life. Taken together, these ‘pieces’ form an ‘argoment’: a performative enactment of Burgin’s Prairie such that ‘by dint of combinations made within one and the same name nothing is left of the origin’ (Barthes 1975: 46) bar a relationship between a (polyrhythmic, stratified) aesthetics and a (racial and spatial) politics through which a complex urban situation is explored, exposed and embodied, triggering new and active thought. In what follows, we instigate this activity through ‘A Photograph’ although, in theory, it would be possible to start with any section of Prairie (Argo), just as one could enter into Prairie at any point in the looped filmic cycle. Phrased differently, any section of Prairie – and, in turn, of Prairie (Argo) – is a beginning.

A Photograph A photograph shows us the face of a man. His hair, white, is almost imperceptible – camouflaged even – by the light, bright background. The shape of his skull, the outline of his ears, are foregrounded. We see the contour of his jawline taper off into the dark fabric of his shirt and the caption below reads: “The mask is meaning, insofar as it is absolutely pure …” R. Avendon: William Casby, Born a Slave. 1963 This photograph, taken by white American fashion and portrait photographer, Richard Avendon, is looked at by Roland Barthes in his book Camera Lucida. Alongside the image, Barthes writes that it is only through assuming a mask that Photography can signify – otherwise, it remains contingent and, so, outside of meaning. The word

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‘mask’, he continues, designates what makes a face into the product of a society and its history: ‘As in the portrait of William Casby, photographed by Avedon: the essence of slavery is here laid bare: the mask is the meaning, insofar as it is absolutely pure (as it was in the ancient theatre)’ (Barthes 1980: 34). Later Barthes writes that, attributed too quickly, too easily, the ‘pure meaning’ of a photograph can be quickly deflected: ‘we consume it aesthetically, not politically’ (Barthes 2000: 36). As such, the mask is critical enough to disturb, but not to act as an effective form of social critique and this, for Barthes, is why a great photographer such as Avedon is also a great mythologist. All of which suggests that the mask is a myth. Elsewhere, earlier, in Barthes’ Mythologies, we read that myth is ‘depoliticised speech’. Myth does not deny, but works to simplify the contingent, the historical, the complex – in short, the political understood in its deeper meaning of ‘the whole of human relations in their real, social structure, in their power of making the world’ (Barthes 1957: 169). Phrased differently, myth covers over the fabrication of political reality. If the photograph of the face of William Casby is a mask, and this mask is understood as a myth, then how – or what – is it covering? We look at the photograph again. We see slavery laid bare as an historical fact, evidenced by this face, and this disturbs us. But now we surmise that this fact of slavery, this very essence of slavery, as presented through an ocular regime, all too quickly covers over the stories told and retold; sets of structural relations, repeated; patterns of bodies formed and reformed in the ongoing, everlasting struggle that exists between a dominant order and the forces that resist. And as we seek to attend to this worldly formation beyond the ontology of the photographic image, a question begins to take shape – who are ‘we’?

Grid I Rosalind Krauss speaks famously of the modernist grid. Making its appearance at the early part of the twentieth century, first in France, then Russia, then Holland, the grid announces art’s ‘will to silence’: its hostility to literature, narrative, discourse; with this, its total separation from the arts of language into a realm of pure visuality (Krauss 1979: 50). Temporally, Krauss argues, the grid is a form that is ubiquitous

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in the art of the twentieth century. Spatially, the flatness, geometry and order of the grid presents as anti-natural, anti-memetic and anti-real (Krauss 1979: 50). In both of these respects, the grid announces itself as inherently ‘modern’ and ‘in the cultist space of modern art … serves not only as emblem but also as myth’ (Krauss 1979: 54). With its coordinates working to crowd out the real, replacing it with the lateral spread of a single surface, the grid effectively signals the autonomy of the realm of art as the very hallmark of modernism.

II In the development of Piet Mondrian’s practice, one particular work stands out. Composition Trees II (1912) presents us with the image of a tree in the form of a cluster of gridded figures. Shifting away from the natural world and into the realm of abstraction, this painting marks a significant juncture in Mondrian’s oeuvre: one from which he will continue to paint grids and, for this, become known as one of modernism’s pre-eminent artists. Still, as Roland Barthes notes, even in his period of full-blown abstraction – a period in which he produced, for example, Compositions in the Square (1924) – Mondrian would continue to paint the odd flower and sell this to his friends in Holland, thus prompting Brassai’s comment: ‘There’s a man who paints flowers to live. And why does he want to live? So he can paint straight lines’ (Barthes 2012: 88). Later, Mondrian would move to New York City and, inspired by its gridded streets, the music of its jazz cafes and nightclubs, would paint his late masterwork Broadway Boogie Woogie (1954): a vibrant, pulsating, syncopated extension of his earlier, more restrained orthogonal works.

III There are reports of the young German architect, Mies van der Rohe, visiting Holland in the early 1900s and encountering works by Mondrian. This prompted later architectural historians to make a correlation between Mondrian’s paintings and Mies’ design work; for example, to see a clear relationship between Mondrian’s ‘Pier and Ocean’ (1915) and Mies’ ground plan for the Brick House (1927) (Al-Saati 1990: 68). Considered a seminal work of modern architectural design, the ground plan for Brick House

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shows a configuration of open, right-angled planes demarcating a space through which one could easily move in a fluid, unobstructed manner. Removing traditional architectural elements such as doors, corridor connections and fully enclosed rooms, the formal simplicity and radical openness of the Brick House plan exploded traditional understandings of space, instigating a ‘new’ architecture for the early twentieth century. While the house itself was never built, its plan formed a clear template for Mies’ later, possibly most famous work, the German Pavilion constructed in 1929 for the International Exposition in Barcelona. In part due to his success with the German Pavilion in Barcelona, Mies was appointed as Director of the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1930. In 1933 the school was closed by the National Socialists and, although Mies successfully argued to the Nazis to re-open the school, he later took the decision to close the school himself, in consultation with his Faculty (Mertins 2014: 10). Following this, Mies joined the vast exodus of artists, designers and intellectuals fleeing the Nazi occupation of Europe and migrating to the United States, thereby changing the course of art and design history in America. Here Mies would live and work, first in New York, then in Chicago, where he would be commissioned to design the new campus for the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

IV In his first act related to this campus design, Mies superimposed a grid over the entire site – the first time he had used the grid as a planning tool (Mertins 2014: 245). In its openness and fluidity of elements within a field condition, the urban plan for the new IIT campus, built in 1956, bears a striking relationship to that of the Barcelona Pavilion (and the Brick House) but at a much larger scale. Situated within the gridded matrix of Chicago’s urban plan on the city’s south side, the new IIT campus design presents itself as a completely different formal entity to that which preceded it. This is evident in a photocollage completed by Mies in 1942, where he overlays his model for the IIT’s campus expansion into an aerial view of the south side of Chicago (Mertens 2014: 254). Mies had a history of using the technique of photocollage in his work to soften the contrast between the existing and proposed site conditions. In this image, four existing city blocks are completely masked off through the act of superimposition inherent in the photocollage process, replaced by an open landscape populated by sharply monochromatic and hierarchically structured array of buildings.

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With the clean edge of the campus clearly distinguished from the otherwise ad hoc, eclectic mix of low-rise housing and small industrial units, the perimeter reveals a rather uncomfortable disjunction between the new formal openness of Mies’ midcentury modernist urban scheme and the densely packed urban fabric that was the south side of Chicago at that time. But what exactly is masked off in Mies’ photocollage? In Daniel Bluestone’s account of the site’s development, we read that the original location of the IIT campus was at Thirty-third and Federal, in the heart of what was then known as Chicago’s ‘Black Belt’. Named for its high population of African American residents, businesses, retail centres and cultural institutions – including numerous, infamous, jazz cafes and nightclubs – the area had grown in response to the massive migration of African Americans from the rural south to Chicago’s industrial jobs, spurred by World War I. Bluestone argues that, since 1937, and as part of their planned campus extension, the IIT board of trustees worked to slowly purchase up land around their original campus so that, ultimately, they acquired an extra thirty acres of property in addition to their original nine, all situated in the Black Belt. Continually lowering rents, filling the property with an increasingly poor population without putting in any money toward maintenance or repair, the institute allowed for the area’s deterioration with the intention first to control, then to clear out this area, modelling their plans ‘on the slum-clearance precedence of the 1930’s [when] [f]ederal legislation enacted in 1934 and 1937 supported massive assembly and clearance of urban tracts’ (Bluestone 1998: 393). From all this we understand that what is masked off in Mies’ photocollage – what disappears in the visuality of Mies’ overlay, but can still be heard in the city streets – is the collective cultural identity and city rhythm of the Black Belt of Chicago.

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A woman, the dancer – her stature and tight curls. Poised somewhere between the grid and what exceeds it, her limbs form a triangle; her fingers touch the ground. She closes her eyes. Why? Better to hear. She listens to the ground. She hears the voice of Audre Lorde, speaking. She hears that ‘a woman’s place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface; it is dark, it is ancient, and it is deep’ (Lorde 1977: 2). For women, poetry is not a luxury, but a way to give name to the nameless, form to the formless, so that it can be thought. So that newness is birthed into the world.

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Statues ‘I am in Barcelona’ (Burgin 2004: 75). So begins Victor Burgin’s ‘Mies in Maurelia’ that, published in his book The Remembered Film, offers an essayistic journey through Mies van der Rohe’s modernist masterpiece, the German Pavilion in Barcelona. Originally built for the International Exposition in 1929, this building was torn down one year later – only photographs remained. The building was later rebuilt, in 1986: resurrected on the site of its original construction. In the interim, war and death. Burgin describes how the Nationalists, who took power in 1939, killed an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 people while, before that, some 600,000 Spanish people died during the Civil War. One such person was a young woman about whom Burgin read on his first trip to Barcelona. The only woman amongst a group of university students arrested for possessing anti-fascist leaflets, she was tortured and killed. Her death haunts Burgin as he moves around the German Pavilion, turning and returning through the space. ‘No point of rest amongst its mirrored planes’, he writes, ‘but one constant point of reference: Georg Kolbe’s statue of a standing figure. Separated by a barrier of water, the bronze, titled Sunrise, shows a woman with arms raised to shade her face from the light’ (Burgin 2004: 75). This statue, a focal point for the building, becomes one for the video that Burgin is there to make and, as becomes apparent, also for this essay’s sequence of memories and associations, including that of the young woman. Burgin imagines the young woman holding up her arms in defence, a woman under attack. He then sees this same gesture in Kolbe’s sculpted figure with her legs bent and arms upstretched. Then another image, another involuntary association, as Burgin remembers a documentary film about Catalonia and the Civil War where the ‘fleeting fragment of a shyly smiling young woman, a rifle over her shoulder, raises her arm to shade her face from the sun’ mirrors the gesture of Sunrise (Burgin 2004: 83). So, the imagined gesture of the young woman and that of the smiling female soldier converge for Burgin at the point of Kolbe’s statue. They converge and they mix with the images of others whom Burgin has seen moving around the city, hands lifted to shield their eyes from the sun; still others now drifting amidst the architectural ground of the Pavilion, its paradoxical shifting of ocular frames and specular surfaces. And as real and imaginary, past and present, film and memory all converge at the point of Sunrise, the space between Burgin and the statue – the watery barrier between them – fills with this free play of meaning. A figure begins to emerge.

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* We shift scenes. We are at the end of the fifteenth letter of Friedrich von Schiller’s Uber die asthetische Erziehung des Menshen where he offers both a declaration and a promise, which Jacques Rancière reformulates as follows: ‘there exists a specific sensible experience that holds the promise of both a new world of Art and a new life for individuals and the community, namely the aesthetic’ (Rancière 2010: 123). Understood as the foundation of the art of the beautiful and of the living – intrinsic both to the construction of an autonomous realm of art that is partitioned, framed, set apart and reserved for contemplation (that is, the ‘art of the beautiful’) and to heteronomous acts of making, thinking and socially interacting (that is, the ‘art of the living’) – the aesthetic experience carries important implications for considering the relationship between aesthetics and politics (Rancière 2010: 124). But in order to appreciate this, we must first understand the way that autonomy and heteronomy are linked in Schiller’s thinking: a link established here, in this scene at the end of the fifteenth letter, what Rancière calls the ‘original scene’ of aesthetics. Here Schiller places himself and the reader ‘in front of a specimen of “free appearance”, a Greek statue known as the Juno Ludovisi’ (Rancière 2010: 125). Encompassing all of the traits of divinity, this statue appears ‘self-contained’ and ‘dwells in itself’, seemingly distanced from any duty or care, purpose or volition: ‘The statue thus comes paradoxically to figure what has not been made, what was never an object of will. In other words: it embodies the qualities of what is not a work of art’ (Rancière 2010: 125). Meanwhile, the spectator standing in front of this begins to enjoy a special kind of autonomy: one that is related to a withdrawal of power. In this sense, the autonomy of art does not inhere in the work of art itself, but in the experience of this specific sensorium, within which both the spectator and the artwork participate in a ‘free play’ of meaning. There is no need to know or possess the statue, which can never be known or possessed. Rather, ‘[t]he ‘goddess and the spectator, the free play and the free appearance, are caught up together in a specific sensorium, cancelling the oppositions of activity and passivity, will and resistance’ (Rancière 2010: 125). And this, we are told, offers the promise of a new world. What ‘new world’ is figured by this statue and one’s aesthetic experience of and with it? As Rancière argues, the statue embodies the appearance of what is not aimed at as a work of art; therefore, the ‘self-containment’ of the statue can be read as embodying ‘a collective life that does not rend itself into separate spheres of activities,

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of a community where art and life, art and politics, life and politics are not severed from one another – a life such as that lived by the ancient Greeks’ (Rancière 2010: 126). Thus understood as the ‘self-expression’ of the form of life of the ancient Greeks, the statue becomes a figure for the aesthetic regime of art: a realm where ‘art is art to the extent that it is something else than art. It is always “aestheticized”, meaning that it is always posited as a “form of life’’’ (Rancière 2010: 126). All of which suggests that there is not a strict partition between art and life; rather: Art can become life. Life can become art. And art and life can exchange their properties. These three scenarios yield three configurations of the aesthetic, emplotted in three versions of temporality. According to the logic of the and, each is also a variant of the politics of aesthetics, or what we should rather call its ‘metapolitics’ – that is, its way of producing its own politics, proposing to politics re-arrangements of its space, re-configuring art as a political issue or asserting itself as true politics. (Rancière 2010: 127) The statue, embodying the play of oppositions and interactions between art and life, thus suggests the possibility of a world – possibly a new world – as figured and configured by a relationship between art and life; that is, through the ‘politics of aesthetics’. * We shift scenes again. We are in a darkened lecture theatre in Toronto where Burgin is giving an artist’s talk and screening his recent projection pieces including A Place to Read (2010), Prairie (2015) and Belledonne (2016). Introducing the artworks, Burgin comments on some of their shared characteristics including: a preoccupation with buildings that have either disappeared already (the Taslik coffee house in Istanbul; the Mecca apartment building in Chicago), or are soon to disappear (the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, where the three works were exhibited alongside drawings by Roland Barthes); also the fact that each of these artworks, specifically designed to be shown in art museums and galleries, fosters a condition of spectatorship more typically associated with painting than with cinema. ‘The relation to the work is one of repetition, or more accurately reprise’, Burgin says, ‘the ideal viewer is one who accumulates her or his knowledge of the work, as it were, in “layers” – much as a painting may be created’ (Burgin 2016: 3). The form of the artwork, he later says,

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is thus comparable to the psychoanalytic situation, comprised of fragmentary, circular and repetitive short sequences: relatively autonomous elements that are spaced in such a way as to allow viewers to engage with what is perceptually present, combining this with the recollection of previous elements in the artwork as well as their own memories and fantasies. All of which, Burgin surmises, fosters a relationship to the artwork that is contemplative, requiring an ‘active interpretation’ on the part of the viewer. Now, what Burgin does not say, but what we know, is that the psychoanalytic situation – indeed, any situation involving a communicative act, including one’s engagement with an artwork – has the effect of producing reality (Kreider 2014: 25–33). All of which, we surmise, suggests a relationship between an artwork and the world (art and life; aesthetics and politics) through an active making and re-making of it in the mind of the viewer. Throughout the talk, Burgin offers background information related to each of the artworks. Introducing the second work, Prairie, Burgin describes the reality of the complex urban situation that the artwork seeks to explore. Specifically, he describes how post-war development programmes of the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology effectively effaced many of the centres of culture and business of the African American community on Chicago’s South Side. Homes and businesses were demolished to make way for the institution’s developments. However, Burgin tells us, one building ‘escaped anonymity and amnesia. The “Mecca” apartment building was built at State Street and 34th in 1892 and demolished sixty years later, after a decade of resistance by its occupants’ (Burgin 2016: 7). Despite resistance, the building was eventually demolished and the Crown Hall building, designed by Mies van der Rohe as the culmination of his IIT campus design, now occupies the site. After screening all three works, Burgin speaks about the text and image relations in his work, with a specific eye toward how these relations inform the politics of his art practice more generally. Framing this discussion, Burgin refers to an observation made by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard who, lamenting society’s oversaturation through mass entertainment, remarks: ‘Wherever you turned you saw fiction’ (Knausgaard, quoted in Burgin 2016: 8). And whether it was a paperback, a TV series, a movie, the press, the news, or a documentary, the format made no difference to the fact that: ‘the nucleus of all this fiction, whether true or not, was verisimilitude and the distance it held to reality was constant’ (Knausgaard, quoted in Burgin 2016: 8). It is this idea of mass cultural production maintaining a ‘fixed orbit around a real that it surveys with the same standard lens’ that Burgin picks up on, comparing this with the ‘spatial optic’ in his own work.

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On the one hand, there is the spatial optic typical of ‘hegemonic forms of industrialised common sense’ where representation and the real are completely distinct, the former navigating a ‘fixed orbit’ around the latter, which is thought to pre-exist (Burgin 2016: 9). On the other hand, there is the relation of text and image in Burgin’s art: two virtualities, both phenomenal and psychic, that ‘“see” one another from different places in a common space’ and, so doing, begin to circumscribe a ‘real’ – a worldly situation – that comes into existence in the mind of the viewer and through this act of circumscription (Burgin 2016: 9). In Burgin’s work, this act is less a ‘fixed orbit’ around a stable reality than it is a continually fluctuating, moving and varied relation between multiple points of reference from images and texts, sequenced and looped, through which that reality comes into being. As such, the ‘real’ is not centric, but continually de-centered or re-centred – or with a multitude of centres – depending one’s position (or situatedness) as much as one’s point of departure; that is, the text or the image from which one begins to piece together this reality, this story that is told and re-told. In this respect, we understand that the ‘real’ does not pre-exist, but rather comes into existence in and through the aesthetic – and this carries implications for how we can understand the politics of aesthetics in Burgin’s work and more generally. Ultimately, it suggests that the text/image relations in Burgin’s work (what one might call the ‘formal’ aspects of his art or its ‘aesthetics’) and the relationship they bear to the object of attention they circumscribe (which may be considered in terms of the ‘content’ of the work or the ‘real’ social, political, historical situations to which they refer) is not one of precedence (one does not precede the other), but of co-emergence. Here, form and content, aesthetics and politics, are figured and configured through a choreography of virtualities: one that, as Burgin has suggested, necessarily accounts for the specific subjectivity and situatedness of both artist and recipient as conscious and unconscious layers accrue and reveal through acts of reciprocal contemplation; one that, arguably, has the potential to move beyond the subject and any given situation into new configurations of the social, communalities yet unknown. * We find ourselves back in the opening scene, at the start of Burgin’s essay ‘Mies in Maurelia’: ‘I am in Barcelona. I find the genius of the place, which for me is where my inner world and the reality of the city intersect, in Mies Van der Rohe’s German

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Pavilion for the 1929 International Exhibition’ (Burgin 2004: 75). Even more precisely, the genius of the place – where Burgin’s inner world and the reality of the city intersect – would seem to be at the point of Sunrise; that is, of Kolbe’s statue: the one fixed point of reference in Mies’ German Pavilion as Burgin moves through the space; the single fixed point of reference for Burgin’s video work; the point onto which Burgin essayistically projects layers of association from his imagination, from a remembered film and from recollections of his urban foray through Barcelona and his experience of others moving about Mies’ pavilion. We begin to consider Kolbe’s statue in relation to the politics of aesthetics in Burgin’s work, and its potential more generally. As an object of attention circumscribed by image and text in his artwork and writing, the statue – seemingly fixed, seemingly pre-existent – comes into being through the ever-changing scale, tempo, direction, materiality and medium of the artist’s relationship to it as he moves toward and away, projecting layers of meaning onto it, reading layers of meaning into it, relating the world to it and through it. Within this specific sensorium, this free play of meaning and appearance, there is no division between form and content, aesthetics and the ‘real’. Moreover, the specificities of encounter (the subjectivities involved; the locatedness in space and time; the materiality and semiotics of the object) are all intrinsic to the meanings – the new reality – being produced. Out of this choreography, situated in time and place, a figure emerges: one that, capturing a moment of stasis, nonetheless carries traces of an endlessly shifting rhythm of attention and the stories that unfold through this. It is this figure that we, receiving Burgin’s artwork and writing, then encounter. Bearing this in mind, it is significant that Kolbe’s statue makes its appearance again, in another of Burgin’s works, in Prairie, where the third iteration of a woman, a dancer – her stature and tight curls – embodies the ‘same’ gesture as the figure of Kolbe’s statue, shielding her eyes from the sun, but with one key difference: in Prairie she is a Black female figure who, in the context of the artwork, carries traces of the disappeared Mecca. So, in this further figuration of Kolbe’s statue appearing in Burgin’s artwork, in Prairie through a still image CGI render, we move beyond the point of intersection between Burgin’s inner reality and the city of Barcelona and toward another city, Chicago, and another communality, the residents of the Mecca, their years of resistance. And here, amidst the silence of Prairie’s looped projected sequence, encountering the stillness of this Black female figure, we listen for the sound of another, possibly even new world: one that is figured and configured through a politics and aesthetics – a politics of aesthetics – both ‘strange and oppositional’ (hooks 1995: 74).

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A woman, the dancer – her stature and tight curls. Poised amidst the shadows, she takes first position. What will be her gesture? What will become pattern? What will pattern institute? She hears the voice of bell hooks, speaking. ‘Aesthetics then is more than a philosophy or theory of art and beauty; it is a way of inhabiting space, a particular location, a way of looking and becoming. It is not organic’ (hooks 1995: 65). From the shadows she longs, then moves, to begin. Her movement in step with hooks. Their movement an insistence that all art is political, that an ethical dimension should inform cultural production, that habits of being cannot be separate from artistic production, and that all of this is a strategy not of repudiation, but of revitalisation.

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Rhythm In his book Rhythmanalysis, Henri Lefebvre distinguishes between two distinct measures, by which he means two different patterns of repetition in time and space: the cyclical and the linear. The former, he writes, typically originates in ‘the cosmic, in nature: days, nights, seasons, the waves and tides of the sea, monthly cycles, etc’ and the latter is more evident in social practice, in human activity: ‘the monotony of actions and of movements, imposed structures’ (Lefebvre 2004: 8). These two systems of measure, which he associates with time and space, respectively, exert a reciprocal action: ‘they measure themselves against one another: each one makes itself and is made a measuring-measure; everything is cyclical repetition through linear repetitions’ and this, he argues, constitutes the measure of time (Lefebvre 2004: 8). This measure of time – that is to say, rhythm – is both quantitative and qualitative: the former marking time and distinguishing moments in it, the latter linking these together. All of which, Lefebvre argues, is superimposed on the ‘multiple natural rhythms of the body … though not without changing them’ (Lefebvre 2004: 9). Rhythm thus appears as ‘regulated time, governed by rational laws, but in contact with what is least rational in human being: the lived, the carnal, the body’ (Lefebvre 2004: 9). The resulting ‘bundle’ of natural rhythms, wrapped with social or mental functions, contours our habits and routines. If rhythm is form that is numerically regulated – that is, form that is ‘ruled’ by the law of numbers – then rhythm is form that is governed by measure. It follows that the measures that make up the rhythm by which we live govern our ‘forms of life’. However, this understanding of rhythm, based on measure (on ‘rule’), is open both to countermeasure and to syncopation – so, rhythm can resist. Meanwhile, the roots of rhythm suggest the potential for new forms of life and configurations to emerge amidst the code, the governing rules, the metrics through which we are habituated. We find these roots of rhythm elsewhere, in ‘The Notion of “Rhythm” in its Linguistic Expression’, where the linguist Emile Benveniste describes how the word ‘rhythm’ arrives to us through the Latin from the Greek word rυθμός (rhuthmos). This word r υθμός (rhuthmos) appears in the writings of Democritus, for whom the universe comprises individual particles: atoms in continual motion, forever falling, that join together in order to act as bodies. For the atomist philosophers, these bodies become recognisable by their mutual differences in ‘form’, ‘order’ and ‘position’, respectively, and it is in this context, Benveniste tells us, that Democritus first uses the word

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rυθμός (rhuthmos) to designate ‘form’ as the disposition or configuration of atoms; for example, water and air differ from one another in the form or rυθμός (rhuthmos) that their constituent atoms take. It is here, at r υθμός (rhuthmos) – in the Greek etymological roots of rhythm – that we find the notion of improvised, changeable form that Roland Barthes describes when introducing the second of his three late lecture courses delivered for the College de France in Paris between 1976 and 1977. The premise for the series, Barthes says, is based on a fantasy: a fantasy of living together. Throughout the course Barthes traces this fantasy through select communities from both Western and Eastern spiritual traditions, a number of literary works and a network of words. The fantasy itself, he says, was unleashed when he came across the word idiorrhythmy: ‘Where each subject lives according to his own rhythm’ (Barthes 2012: 6). Related to ways of living together or ‘forms of life’, idiorrhythmy can be understood as the means whereby individuals respond, react, change, alter and move (that is, improvise) in relation to others amidst the ensemble of togetherness; how, through this act of improvisation, the individual as well as the ensemble inserts herself into the code or the governing rules. For Barthes, idiorrhythmy thus suggests ‘the interstices, the fugitivity of the code, of the manner in which the individual inserts himself into the social (or natural) code’ (Barthes 2012: 8). And it is this word, he says, that transmutes his fantasy of living together into a field of knowledge. At this point Barthes makes reference to the essay by Benveniste. His lecture notes read: ‘Rhuthmos = the pattern of a fluid element (a letter, a peplos, a mood), an improvised, changeable form’ (Barthes 2012: 7). This etymological reminder is important, Barthes tells us, since it suggests that the term that set off his fantasy – ‘idiorrhythmy’, with its connotations of an ‘individual rhythm’ – is almost a redundancy: these roots of the word would seem to indicate that all rhythm has the capacity to be individual, singular, improvised. How, then, does rυθμός, understood as rhuthmos, come to be associated with the notion of rhythm as we now understand it, and what implications does this carry for thinking about bodies and cities and the measures by which we are ruled? Returning to Benveniste, we see a shift in the meaning of rhuthmos occur when an atomist consideration of the formal structure of things meets a theory of measure as applied to the figures of dance: a meeting found in Plato, who uses the word rυθμός (rhuthmos) to designate the measured movements of the dancing body. In this context, the word rυθμός (rhuthmos) retains its original meaning as ‘arrangement’ or changeable ‘form’, but adds to this Plato’s specific appreciation of rυθμός (rhuthmos) as the order

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of movement made by the human body in combination with meter or, more specifically, the ‘arrangement of figures into which this movement is resolved’ (Benveniste 1971: 287). rυθμός (rhuthmos) thus comes to designate corporal movement bound by the law of numbers: a form – more specifically, a figure (a dancer) – determined by measure and numerically regulated. Rhythm as we now understand it thus emerges through the ordering of improvised, changeable form (rhuthmos) into controlled, measurable form (rhythm). Phrased differently, etymological history reveals an overlay of rhythm (of measure and proportion; and think here of the gridded figure of Mies’ IIT campus design, of Chicago’s urban plan) onto rhuthmos (improvised, changeable form; and think here of the music in the clubs of the Black Belt, the pulsing, vibrating life of the city). All of which suggests how rhythm and rhuthmos relate to the political (‘forms of life’; political formation), to the urban (the formal order of our built environment; planning) and to the role of aesthetics in both. Phrased differently, the regulatory measures of rhythm, our ability to resist these through countermeasure and syncopation, and an underlying capacity to generate newness and change through improvised, changeable form are all intrinsic to the relationship between aesthetics and spatial politics.

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Sit where the light corrupts your face. Mies Van der Rohe retires from grace. And the fair fables fall. S. Smith is Mrs. Sallie. Mrs. Sallie hies home to Mecca, hies to marvellous rest; ascends the sick and influential stair. The eye unrinsed, the mouth absurd with last sourings of the master’s Feast. She plans to set severity apart, to unclench the heavy folly of the fist. Infirm booms and suns that have not spoken die behind this low-brown butterball. Our prudent partridge. A fragmentary attar and armed coma. A fugitive attar and a district hymn. – Gwendolyn Brooks, ‘In the Mecca’

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A Photograph A photograph shows the tenants of the Mecca apartment building in Chicago attending a meeting to protest their eviction. Handwritten text on the photograph reads ‘Mecca Tenants Fight – 1950’. That same year an extended essay on the Mecca appeared in Harper’s Magazine. Entitled ‘The Strangest Place in Chicago’, it tells of how the Mecca was once a ‘splendid palace’, a ‘showplace’, one of the ‘finest apartment building[s] in Chicago, if not America’ (Bluestone 1998: 398). Then came the fall and, with it, the building became a showplace ‘of a very different sort … one of the most remarkable Negro slum exhibits in the world’ (Bluestone 1998: 398). Architectural historical Daniel Bluestone examines this essay in the light of IIT’s early 1950s efforts to demolish the Mecca in order to make way for Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall Building. These efforts were framed, he argues, by just such a distorted historical narrative: a Mecca myth embodying the classical story of a fall from grace. ‘In the view of the institute and South Side planners’, Bluestone writes, ‘the Mecca’s fall from grace crystallized and rendered inescapable the logic of urban renewal and the need for inaugurating a new “golden age”’ (Bluestone, 1998: 399). Published in Bluestone’s essay, the photograph of the Mecca tenants’ fight solemnly decries this Mecca myth. Most of the tenants are seated in orderly rows; some are standing; they are all finely dressed. Their appearance is one of strength, conviction and a quiet solidarity. Two years later, in 1952, the Speedway Wrecking Company demolished the Mecca. Nearly three years after that, the Institute’s board gathered on the site to break ground for the new Crown Hall Building (Bluestone 1998: 399). Published around this time, another photograph shows the face of Emmett Till: the young black boy from Chicago who, in August of 1955, went to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi where he was shot in the head, his body thrown into the river, for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Till’s injured body was returned to his mother, Mamie Till Bradley, who decided that he should have an open casket funeral. Hundreds of thousands of mourners came to view the body in an unending procession and the photograph, published in the Chicago-based black newsweekly Jet, was accompanied by the following caption: ‘Mutilated face of victim was left unretouched by the mortician at the mother’s request. She said she wanted “all the world” to witness the atrocity’ (Moten 2003: 102). As Christina Sharpe argues, however, it was not ‘all the world’ who were called upon to bear witness. With its publication in Jet, she argues, it is specifically the Black community who is being solicited. This

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is Sharpe’s imagining of the imperative behind Mamie Till Bradley’s decision to make the image public: ‘Look at what they did to my son. This is my son. Look at what they did to him’ (Sharpe 2017: np). In this respect, Sharpe argues, the image ‘had nothing to do with white consciousness’ – it was not, she contends, intended to create empathy or shame from white viewers (Sharpe 2017: np). Rather, it was a call to the ‘you’ of the Black community; a call to be moved by the brutal realism of this photographic image and, in response, to call for change. Why do we invoke this photograph? We invoke it for the work it does to rupture the hegemony of the visual. The work it does to break the ‘will to silence’ of an occularcentric regime. So, the work it does to offer another sense of the political context and racial tensions of mid-century America and, more specifically, Chicago. We invoke it, also, that we may find a way to hear its call and bear witness to this event from a position of the ‘you’ that is, respectfully, different from the ‘you’ of the original address. A ‘you’ that is situated here and now and differently. A ‘you’ that informs a ‘we’ who would seek to think and to act in response to this call – to make alignments with it – without any pretence fully to know, but without any attempt to abstract. How might we, from our particular situation and from a position of difference, begin to hear the call of this photograph, and to respond? We do not see this photograph, but Fred Moten does, and we listen to him. We hear him speak of the ruptured face of this young boy whose mother, by opening the casket, by performing mourning, by publishing the image, ushered it into an aesthetic realm where perhaps there is beauty, but – like the blues, also seeming to ‘alchemise’ or ‘figure on the literal, on the absolute fact and reality of so many deaths’ – one that can never be said to be worth the dues that were paid, the pain; so, one that can never be disconnected from the political imperative, the force that it had and continues to have, not just through looking but by way of a sound (Moten 2003: 197). As he looks, Moten listens. In listening for the phonographic substance of this photograph, Moten presents a direct challenge to Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. For what he is listening for is a powerful material resistance to occularcentrism, which brings with it a political ontology premised on a sovereign sense of self. This is what Moten sees in Barthes’ theory of photography (Moten 2003: 198). What Moten hears is this: Scream inside and out, out from outside, of the image. Bye, baby. Whistling. Lord, take my soul. Redoubled and reanimating passion, the passion of a seeing

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that is involuntary and uncontrollable, a seeing that redoubles itself as sound, a passion that is the redoubling of Emmett Till’s passion, of whatever passion would redeem, crucifixion, lynching, middle passion, passage. So that looking implies that one desires something for this photograph. So that mourning turns. So that the looker is in danger of slipping, not away, but into something less comfortable than horror – aesthetic judgment, denial, laughter, some out and unprecedented reflection, movement, murder, song. So that there is an inappropriable ecstatics that goes along with this aesthetics – one is taken out, like in screams, fainting, tongues, dreams. So perhaps she was counting on the aesthetic. (Moten 2003: 201) Perhaps she – Till’s mother – was counting on the aesthetic, Moten says, to move a people into mourning, into moaning. Into a realm where what counts is ‘not the simple reemergence of the voice of presence, the visible and graphic word’ – by implication, the essential ‘truth’ of a subject (the ‘air’ and, later, the ‘punctum’) that carries, for Barthes, a capacity to wound or to prick – but, rather, the ‘rhythmic complication … the extreme and subtle harmonics of various shrieks, hums, hollers, shouts and moans’ with its capacity to incite action, insurrection; with its capacity to resist (Moten 2003: 201). ‘Black mo’nin’ is the phonographic content of this photograph’, Moten writes (Moten 2003: 202). All of which suggests that, in relation to this particular photograph, one is not gazing silently at the ‘truth’ of another, feeling a wound or prick to the ontological ‘I’, as does Barthes, gazing at the photographs throughout Camera Lucida. No. Listening to the pain of a collective ‘we’, Moten is one who feels a capacity to move and be moved; not to hold or to own, to be fugitive. There exists, then, an intrinsic relationship between this photograph’s material resistance and political movement – between the aural aesthetic of the resurrected dead and a force, a movement into new configurations, new alignments and forms of life. All of which suggests that rhythm, resistance and the capacity to generate change are intrinsic to the relationship between aesthetics and racial politics. As Moten says, ‘New word, new world’ (Moten 2003: 211). And as we listen, we write; and as we write (as we think) we begin to move.

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Ornament Images of the interior of the Mecca apartment building in Chicago show its high glass roof, light flooding into the vast atrium space and shining down through the four stories of balconies all encased with an ornamental grille – a cast iron cascade of curvilinear forms in the shape of leaves and floral rosettes. We imagine the point where this organic pattern meets the floor of the building, its curving lines moving past the flat plane and extending down into the building’s foundation, its layers of concrete and steel; extending deeper still into the ground, through top and other soil, whereupon the patterned lines start weaving into tighter, more intricate, complex patterns as the tendrils turn to roots and the roots make their way through the rich, dark matter that both resists and begets new life. The Mecca, designed by Edbrooke and Burnham, was built in 1891–2. Its balustrade, designed by Franklin P. Burnham, resonates with the art nouveau movement flourishing at the time. In 1908, after a visit to the Midwest of the United States where he came across – and admired – the simple architecture of barn construction that he encountered all across the prairie states, the Viennese architect Adolf Loos wrote the essay ‘Ornament and Crime’. This essay can be read as a response to, and rejection of, the fluid, undulating – sometimes syncopated and assymetrical – design motifs of art nouveau, with roots in the Arts and Crafts Movement’s emphasis on craftsmanship and rejection of mass industrialisation. Loos, for his part, calls for a shift into the more ‘progressive’ style of modern art, design and architecture, which he deems both morally and culturally superior. Indeed, having associated ‘the child’, the ‘Papuan [who] covers his skin with tattoos’ and the ‘negro tribesman’ with ornamentation, Loos labels each amoral before announcing the following ‘discovery’, which he wishes to pass onto the world: ‘the evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornamentation from objects of everyday use’ (Loos 1998: 167). For Loos, it follows that the continued use of ornamentation can only be read as a sign of ‘backwardness or degeneracy’. Following this logic, he claims that ‘people of culture’ do not consider ornament beautiful and, instead, prefer simplicity. Simple art, simple design. So what, then, is the connection between ornament and crime? It is, Loos argues, an economic one: ‘in economic respects [ornament] is a crime, in that it leads to the waste of human labor, money, and materials. That is damage time cannot repair’ (Loos 1998: 169). A craftsman working on an ornamented object may take twice as long

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as one who is able to make it in a factory in a few hours. And yet, Loos notes, the object itself will, at best, cost the same or, at worst – and particularly given the changing tastes of the time with its preference for more simple, straightforward design – it may even cost less. So, an ornamented object requires more time and more materials to produce than a simple object, but without economic return. This, argues Loos, means wasted capital: ‘Ornament means wasted labor and therefore wasted health. This was always the case. Today, however, it also means wasted material, and both mean wasted capital’ (Loos 1998: 171). So, ornament is a crime against the drive for productivity and, with it, the accumulation of capital. While it is clear that Loos considers ornamentation to be superfluous for anyone with a ‘modern’ sensibility, he nonetheless concedes that the case is different for those individuals and cultures who, in his terms, have not yet reached the same ‘level’. And here, Loos says, he is ‘preaching’ as an aristocrat: one who understands that, for those ‘lower’ than he, the work they are doing is their art whereas, for Loos: ‘We have the art that has superceded ornament. After the toil and tribulations of the day, we can go to hear Beethoven or Tristan. My shoemaker cannot’ (Loos 1998: 175). All of which might allow us to look at ornament in different light: as that which is moving and morphing, shifting and shaping – so, bringing about the potential for change and a different ‘form of life’ – in the shadows of a ‘we’ for whom art remains partitioned from life.

Ploughing Native to Illinois is the tall prairie grass ecosystem including, for example, Big Bluestem prairie grass (Andropogon furcatus), Blazingstar, Thickspike (Liatris pycnostachya), Goldenrod, Stiff (Solidago rigida), Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) and Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) amongst other species of tall grasses. One striking feature of the native prairie grasses is their deep root system, sometimes reaching over two metres below ground. These grasses once covered all of the land of what is now the United States, including Illinois, before the invention of the steel plough allowed the land to be cleared, and agricultural developments turned this area into the ‘breadbasket’ of the new nation. An article by David J. Costa, member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Language Committee, looks at the etymological roots of the word ‘Illinois’. Used as a place name

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for the state of Illinois, the word is also considered the legitimate name for the area’s indigenous people. Costa’s article, published ‘in the wake of the recent retiring of “Chief Illiniwek”, the mascot and official symbol of the University of Illinois’, begins with a quick internet search revealing a considerable amount of dubious scholarship claiming, for example, that the etymology of ‘Illinois’ and ‘Illiniwek’ lies in an Algonquin word meaning ‘tribe of superior men’ and that ‘Illinois’ is the French version of their own name ‘Illinikwek’ meaning ‘men’ or ‘people’ (Costa 2008: 6). Costa swiftly dismisses such claims. Instead, he argues that in order to discover the ‘true’ etymology of the word Illinois it is necessary to consult the oldest records available when the name first appeared: the Jesuits’ Illinois language records of late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries along with statements from French missionaries and explorers of the period. A close look at these records leads Costa to the following conclusions: that the name ‘Illinois’ originates from a verb meaning ‘speak the regular way’, borrowed into the Ottawa and Algonquin from a neighbouring dialect; that this name does not mean ‘men’, much less ‘tribe of superior men’; that ‘Illinioüek’ is the noun form of this word in Ottawa, and that ‘Illiniwek’ is simply an anglicised rendering of this form; finally, that none of these terms were the Illinois’s name for themselves, which was ‘Inoka’ – a native ethnonym almost completely absent from the literature due to its not being contained within French historical records (Costa 2008: 8).

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The Remembered Film Victor Burgin concludes his book The Remembered Film reflecting on the work of French philosopher Bernard Stiegler who, in De la Misere symbolique, argues that ‘the communality produced by the audio-visual industries to which cinema belongs results not in a “we” (nous) – a collectivity of individual singularities – but in a “one” (on), a di-individualised mass who come to share an increasingly uniform memory’ (Burgin 2004: 109). For Burgin, such thinking offers a re-engagement with film in terms of the premise set out in the film studies reformation of the 1960s and 1970s – namely, that film can be seen as ‘the product of the ideology of the economic system that produces and sells it’ (Burgin 2004: 110). Arguably, Burgin’s book, as much as his body of artwork, can be viewed in light of this premise, acting as both a critique and refutation of it. So, as he tells us, he began this book with a discussion of the ‘cinematic heterotopia’: the way that a film may be fragmented, broken up, and physically dispersed, viewed across multiple platforms and viewing environments. He then moved on to speak about how the mind – and more specifically the ‘preconscious’ and ‘unconscious’ – works similarly to break up and disperse filmic fragments, weaving them together through memory, fantasy and involuntary reverie. All of which leads him to his concluding sentence that can be read, in part, as a challenge to Steigler’s claim: ‘Consciousness may be synchronized in a shared moment of viewing, but the film we saw is never the film I remember’ (Burgin 2004: 110). For Burgin, it seems, the capacity for reverie of this unique and singular I, split subject though it may be, presents a challenge to the ideological imperative embodied by a synchronised, hegemonic we. Elsewhere, in an essay entitled ‘Revolutionary “Renegades”: Native Americans, African Americans, and Black Indians’, bell hooks recalls that ‘[d]uring the heyday of westerns on U.S. television, anyone watching saw spectacle after spectacle of white men destroying hundreds of Native Americans’ (hooks 2001: 186). She goes on to imagine the psychological impact on individuals, and particularly Native Americans, ‘who have suffered holocaust and genocidal attack only to live in a culture where the major medium of mass communication reenacts this tragedy for “entertainment”’ (hooks 2001: 186). What kind of communality results from this kind of spectacle? hooks tells us how, when she was a child, her grandmother encouraged her to identify with ‘the people of the first snow’ – the Native Americans, with whom she shared a history and a lineage. A history that preceded the ‘discovery’ of the

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Americas, starting with the Africans who came before Columbus, and continuing after the advent of slavery when members of the two ethnic groups often mixed. This history and shared lineage created a ‘bond of affinity’ that could be traced to and through their shared belief systems as, for both Africans and Native Americans, ‘ancestor acknowledgement was vital to the sustaining of culture and community’; for both, hooks continues, ‘a people without ancestors are like a tree without roots’ (hooks 2001: 180). And yet, hooks argues, the depths of this common bond between Native Americans and Africans is something that white supremacy has sought to suppress, strategically working to separate the two groups and erase the knowledge of their shared history. hooks, for her part, challenges this when she watches the spectacle of white men destroying Native Americans, the latter with whom she makes a conscious decision to identify, to be part of a ‘counter-perspective, a vision of cross-cultural contact where reciprocity and recognition of the primacy of community are affirmed’ (hooks 2001: 181). Through this counter-perspective, this vision of cross-cultural contact, there opens the possibility for another kind of subject to emerge through the viewing experience: not a de-individualised, totalising ‘one’, nor a normative, hegemonic ‘we’, nor a singular, ontologising ‘I’, but a subject who emerges within the realm of the sensible through a different poetics of us.

Naming Sylvia Wynter identifies three events. The First and Second Events are the origin of the universe and the explosion of biological forms of life, respectively. The Third Event is the co-evolution of the human brain with the emergent faculties of language and storytelling (Wynter and McKittrick 2015: 23). This Third Event is Wynter’s adaptation of Franz Fanon’s redefinition of being human in terms of ‘skins’ (phylogeny/ ontogeny) and ‘masks’ (sociogeny); in other words, as a particular combination of bios and mythoi. Elsewhere, in the essay ‘1492: A New World View’, Wynter compares Fanon’s contribution to the history of thought with that of Christopher Columbus who, presenting a challenge to Scholasticism’s then-predominant theocentric model of divine creation, made his famous voyage of 1492 when he ‘discovered’ the Americas. For Wynter, the significance of his contribution to knowledge does not lie in the discovery of any new facts but, rather, in effecting a root expansion of thought: a movement beyond

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what, in Foucault’s terms, would be called the ‘ground’ of the feudal-Christian episteme or order of knowledge. Phrased differently, Columbus ‘discovery’ did not add to the ‘knowledge of the world as it is’ but, rather, presented a challenge to the ‘knowledge of categories’: that is, the understanding shared by the subjects of any given episteme that enables them to experience themselves as, in Wynter’s terms, ‘symbolic kin or interaltruistic conspecifics’ (Wynter 1995: 21). Ultimately, Columbus’ ‘discovery’ had, and continues to have, an effect on how ‘we’, as global subjects, learn to live together insofar as it has an effect on ‘our’ very configuration. Wynter looks at this configuration of ‘we’ in Columbus’ era in light of the burgeoning intellectual revolution of humanism whose generalised ‘poetics of the propter nos’ set up a counter-premise to Scholasticism’s theocentric view: ‘This premise was that the Creation had indeed been made by God on behalf of and for the sake of humankind (propter nos homines)’ (Wynter 1995: 27). In other words, humanism effected a shift in thinking where the world was understood to have been created ‘for us’, and where this ‘us’ came to be represented by the ‘Figure of Man’ – a figure best exemplified in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man in 1490. Presented as universal, this figure – and the ‘we’ that emerges from it – must nevertheless be understood within the specific genre of the white, mercantile, European male. It was this poetics of the propter nos and the humanistic premise it set forth that allowed Columbus to justify his claim that the ‘new world’ he had ‘discovered’ was intended ‘for us’; that is, for the Spanish colonial ‘we’. The implications of this are vast. In a huge feat of intellectual labour, Wynter explores how this poetics led, ultimately, to the displacement of the native populations of the Americas and, later, to black Africans, all of whom were ultimately subjected to varying conditions of enslavement as predicated on their status as other than ‘we’: a status, as Wynter says, designated through categorical nomenclature, either ‘native’ or ‘nigger’, respectively (Wynter 1995: 37). Perhaps to justify, effectively to propagate, this form of subjugation, the Eurocentric, phallogocentric category of the ‘we’ then came to be mapped onto the very category of the ‘human’, understood as a purely biological species: a ‘natural’ organism, as set forth by Western scientific thought in the nineteenth century. As a model that pre-exists, rather than coexists with, other models of the human, this model of the human as bios suggests that all human societies have an ostensibly natural, scientific and organic basis; in turn, all religions and all cultures are merely superstructural. This, in turn, allowed human groups to be classified into those understood as naturally selected (i.e., eugenic) and naturally dysselected (i.e., dysgenic) beings, thereby mapping

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the same logic that had governed Columbus’ day – a logic that designated some parts of the world as ‘habitable’ and others as ‘inhabitable’ – onto the ‘human’, some of whom were considered to be human and others simply less so. It is at this point that Franz Fanon figures in Wynter’s thinking. Not unlike Columbus, she argues, Fanon was compelled to dispute the hegemonic rationality of his day; in his case, ‘liberal humanism’s biocentric premise of the human as a natural organism and autonomous subject that arbitrarily regulates his own behaviours’ (Wynter 1995: 44). And in a movement Wynter considers comparable to Columbus’ shift into ‘realms beyond reason’ – a root expansion of thought – Fanon projects his own image of the human. Making its appearance in the book Black Skin, White Masks (1964), this newly projected image of the human was predicated on Fanon’s empirical study as a practicing psychiatrist. Treating patients who were either ‘native’ colonial or black Caribbeans, Fanon observes that they ‘had been conditioned to experience themselves as if they were, in fact, genetically inferior as the hegemonic “learned discourse” of contemporary scholars ostensibly represented them’ (Wynter 1995: 45). And turning against the predominant Freudian orthodoxy of his time, Fanon sought to explain this autophobia and ‘aberration of affect’ displayed by his patients not through recourse to their ‘ostensibly individually autonomous psyches’ but, rather, to the ‘specific sociosystemic organizing process that had … induced the “aberration of affect” itself’ (Wynter 1995: 45). In other words, where Freud had placed emphasis on the individual, Fanon emphasised the processes of socialisation at play such that the ‘problem of the black man and of the colonial native’s self-aversive reactions was clearly not an individual problem. Rather, it was that of the processes of socialisation’ (Wynter 1995: 45). This understanding – which Wynter identifies as a veritable revolution in epistemology, turning humanism on its axis – can be summed up in Fanon’s declaration that ‘besides ontogeny, there is sociogeny’ (Wynter 1995: 45). Ultimately, what Fanon projects onto the Figure of Man – onto an understanding of human as bios – is mythos, language, the mask, so that being human can only be understood in terms of the whole ensemble of collective life. ‘And notice!’, Wynter writes elsewhere, moving with Fanon through his root expansion of thought: ‘One major implication here: humanness is no longer a noun. Being human is a praxis’ (Wynter and McKittrick 2015: 23). For Wynter, being human is a practice of, amongst other things, aesthetics. Why? Because aesthetics ‘is clearly the very condition of existence of all human “forms of life”’, she argues

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in yet elsewhere. ‘The category of the aesthetic is the determinant … of the ensemble of collective behaviour by means of which each human order effects its autopoesis as a living, self-organising (i.e. cybernetic) system’ (Wynter 1992: 258–9). Significantly, where the radical implications of Columbus’ voyage cannot be dissociated from the turning tide from theocentrism to humanism, Wynter explains that Fanon’s proposition that ‘besides ontogeny, there is sociogeny’ cannot be dissociated from the ‘general upheaval’ of the 1950s and 1960s. Here, she proclaims, is where one can begin to identify a new poetics of the propter nos as the rise of ‘Black Power’ and the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement fuelling the Civil Rights campaign of the United States, which itself began to trigger a series of other such movements by non-white groups globally, including indigenous peoples of the Americas and elsewhere, leading people to begin a process of trans-ethnic co-identification as a challenge to and collective refusal of the ‘extreme category of an ostensibly dysselected Otherness’ (Wynter 1995: 41). And while aspects of these movements and this general upheaval can be seen to have either failed or been co-opted, it is here that Wynter turns when she argues our need, now – the ‘now’ of her writing, which was 1992, but we can still say the ‘now’ of this writing, which is 2018 – to return if we are to continue to put forward a new poetics for the propter nos: that is, new understandings and new alignments of a ‘we’ with whom to empathise, for whom to care, as whom to act.

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A woman, the dancer – her stature and tight curls. Poised on an open plain, she shields her eyes from the sun. The sun is rising, the woman is still. Why is she so still? Christina Sharpe speaks of stillness in the lives of the enslaved and of all Black people in slavery’s wake: stillness in the hold of the Middle Passage; stillness in the daguerrotypes of Delia and Drana, two enslaved Black women; stillness in the wake and in the labour of wake work; stillness in the prisons of the military industrial complex; stillness in the suspensions of Black being between life and death; stillness in the resistance to such violent suspense. As she speaks there is movement in the word itself: this is the annagrammatical life of stillness, a strategy of thought. Elsewhere Sharpe says: ‘I arrive at blackness as, blackness is, annagrammatical … So, blackness anew, blackness as a/temporal, in and out of place and time putting pressure on meaning and that against which meaning is made’ (Sharpe 2016: 76). Blackness as a strategy of thought. So she thinks the wake, the ship, the hold and the weather. So shapes shift. So a woman starts the dance.

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References Al-Saati, Abdulaziz (1990) ‘Mondrian: NeoPlasticism and Its Influence in Architecture’, Journal of the Faculty of Architecture, Middle East Technical University. 10: 1–2, pp. 63–74. Barthes, Roland [1980] (2000) Camera Lucida, trans. Richard Howard. London: Vintage. Barthes, Roland [1957] (2009) Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers. London: Vintage Books. Barthes, Roland [1975] (2010) Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland (2012) How to Live Together: Novelistic simulations of some everyday spaces. trans. Kate Briggs, New York: Columbia University Press. Benveniste, Èmile [1956] (1971) ‘The Notion of “Rhythm” in its Linguistic Expression’, in Problems in General Linguistics, trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, pp. 65–75.  Bluestone, Daniel (1998) ‘Mecca Flat Blues’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. 57: 4 (December), pp. 382–403. Brooks, Gwendolyn (1968) In the Mecca. New York: Harper and Row. Burgin, Victor (2004) ‘Mies in Maurelia’ in The Remembered Film. London: Reaktion Books, pp. 74–88. Burgin, Victor (2016) ‘About A Place to Read’, transcript of talk given at Prefix ICA, Toronto (Thursday, 10 March 2016), courtesy of the artist.

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Costa, David J. (2008) ‘On the Origins of the Name “Illinois”’, Le Journal, (Fall), pp. 6–10. hooks, bell (1995) ‘An Aesthetic of Blackness: Strange and Oppositional’. Lenox Avenue: A Journal of Interarts Inquiry, Vol. 1, pp. 65–74. hooks, bell (2001) ‘Revolutionary “Renegades”: Native Americans, African Americans, and Black Indians’, in Black Looks: Race and Representation. New York: Routledge, pp. 179–94. Krauss, Rosalind (1979) ‘Grids’, October, Vol. 9 (Summer), pp. 50–64. Kreider, Kristen (2014) Poetics and Place: The Architecture of Sign, Subjects and Site. London: I. B. Tauris. Lefebvre, Henri (2004) Rhythmanalysis, trans. Stuart Elden and Gerald Moore. London: Continuum. Loos, Adolf [1908] (1998) ‘Ornament and Crime’, in Ornament and Crime: Selected Essays, trans. Michael Mitchell. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, pp. 167–77. Lorde, Audre [1977] (2018) ‘Poetry is Not a Luxury’, in The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. London: Penguin Books, pp. 1–5. Mertins, Detlef (2014) Mies. London: Phaidon. Moten, Fred (2003) In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Rancière, Jacques (2010) ‘The Paradoxes of Political Art’, in Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics, trans. Steven Concoran. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 123–42.

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Sharpe, Christina (2016) In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Sharpe, Christina and Siddhartha Mitter (2017) “‘What does It Mean to Be Black and Look at This?” A Scholar Reflects on the Dana Schutz Controversy’, (last accessed 5 March 2018). Wynter, Sylvia (1992) ‘Rethinking “Aesthetics”: Notes Towards a Deciphering Practice’, in Ex-Iles: Essays on Caribbean Cinema, ed. Mbye Cham Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, Inc., pp. 237–80. Wynter, Sylvia (1995) ‘1492: A New World View’, in Race, Discourse and the Origin of the Americas: A New World View, ed. Vera Lawrence and Rex Nettleford (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 5–57. Wynter, Sylvia and Katherine McKittrick (2015) ‘Unparalleled Catastrophe for Our Species? Or, to Give Humanness a Different Future: Conversations’, in Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis, ed. Katherine McKittrick. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 9–90.

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Photography as Rhythm: On Prairie Domietta Torlasco Another window looks out on an empty field. This field was once an apple orchard. I dug up the apple orchard – in 1938. (Eisenstein 1987: 65)

Sitting in the corner room of his Moscow apartment sometime after the end of War World II, Sergei M. Eisenstein observes the landscape outside its windows. What he sees (a village from one window, an empty field from the other) is a site marked by a history of struggle, a sequence of violent confrontations between Russians fighters and foreign invaders: Napoleon in the nineteenth century, the Germans as late as 1941, and the Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire as early as the thirteenth century. Indeed, the historic Battle of the Ice occurred here only in Eisenstein’s own Alexander Nevskyi (1938), as the director uprooted an apple orchard to make room for the ice-covered battlefield. The empty field is all that ostensibly remains. Now, sitting in this sunlit room, Eisenstein is about to execute another radical transformation of space, this time by virtue of a most active kind of viewing. On the wall between the two windows hangs an early etching by Piranesi, called Carcere oscura, which had fascinated him for years. A calm, even lyrical composition, Carcere oscura appears to be only a distant precursor of the convulsing architectural visions found in the later Carceri and used by De Quincey to describe his opium-induced hallucinations. Unless we ‘set it in motion’, as Eisenstein wilfully does, bringing about an ‘ecstatic effect’ that leaves no element of the composition untouched. ‘I ponder over what would happen to this etching’, he writes, ‘if it were brought to a state of ecstasy, if it were brought outside of itself’ (Eisenstein 1987: 67). Like in the case of El Greco, Eisenstein conceives of this experiment as an ‘explosion’, a dynamic and in fact violent ‘transfiguration’ of the picture’s lines, surfaces and volumes. In the process, a new picture takes hold of our eyes, ‘a whirlwind, as in a hurricane, dashing in all directions: ropes, runway staircases, exploding arches, stone blocks breaking away from each other’ (Eisenstein 1987: 70). Here, precipitating ‘forward’ and receding ‘into the depths’ are all but the same, in a madness of vision that shatters the contours of the objects but not their concreteness.

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Eisenstein’s critical operation does not emerge ex nihilo. In contrast, it turns out to be doubly bounded, pushed and pulled, if you will, by pre-existing dynamics. On the one hand, the original etching already possesses a ‘tendency to explode’ (Eisenstein 1987: 69), to leap out of itself, as it presents the viewer with a dissolution of forms and means of expression that upsets its own internal structure. That is, a latent motion pervades the entire composition and sets the stage for the frenzied ‘rebellion of the objects’ (Tafuri 1987: 57) that Eisenstein’s intervention will precipitate. On the other hand, next to Carcere oscura hangs a second etching, also by Piranesi but belonging to the later Carceri. We can surmise that, in its feverish fragmentation, this other etching has provided Eisenstein with both the inspiration and the validation for his experiment. As a result, we are now faced not by a series of discreet, autonomous pictures but by a sequence of shots. In ‘The Historicity of the Avant-Garde: Piranesi and Eisenstein’, Manfredo Tafuri rightly observes that there exists a profound agreement between Eisenstein’s method of ecstatic criticism and his theory of montage. For Eisenstein, ‘montage is the stage of the explosion of the shot’ (cited in Tafuri 1987: 56) and such an explosion is to occur when the shot’s internal tension reaches its apex. Tafuri interprets Eisenstein’s reading of Piranesi as the director’s attempt to strike a compromise between the disintegration of forms and the preservation of figurative values, fragmentation and organic unity – the avant-garde and realism. Essential to this compromise is Eisenstein’s strive to hold the frame in place (its function, its value) amidst repeated explosions and, concomitantly, to maintain a unitary viewpoint (a communion of affect, thought and action) amidst shifting perspectives.1 If the Athenian Acropolis provides its visitors with a route to be followed step by step, which Eisenstein calls a ‘montage plan’ (Eisenstein 1989: 121), the montage sequence needs to function as a path that is shared by both director and spectator. In ‘Laocoon’ and ‘[Rhythm]’, Eisenstein identifies rhythm as the fundamental means for binding a sequence’s disparate elements into a whole and, more specifically, for accomplishing that generalisation of the theme without which cinema remains a medium of depiction, adequate for stories but not for ideas. Sound plays a new decisive role in this respect and yet, well before Edmund Meisel composed the score for The Battleship Potemkin, the film had already given expression to a tension that reached beyond the plot while remaining integral to it. Potemkin’s bare rhythm ‘was not a generalisation of the rhythm of the ship’s engines; it was a generalised image of the collective heartbeat of the battleship’s crew, for which the engines themselves were a visual generalising image’ (Eisenstein 2010: 238). It is through the rhythm of montage that cinema is able to produce generalisation without abstraction, thus ensuring the persistence

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of a viewpoint that has the power of a collective heartbeat. In Eisenstein’s writings, rhythm affirms itself as the aesthetic condition for a politically viable articulation of the image. But can we envision a rhythm that, at this juncture between the aesthetic and the political, does not operate as a principle of systematic organisation? What image of the past and of the collective would this other rhythm engender? The Mecca apartments were built in Chicago in 1892 They were demolished sixty years later In the expansion of the Illinois Institute of Design Planned by Mies van der Rohe (Burgin, Prairie) I sit in front of Victor Burgin’s digital projection piece Prairie the day after it opens at the University of Chicago in November 2015. The text introducing the exhibition states that, as Burgin’s other recent works, ‘Prairie responds to specific architectural sites […] and explores erased or disappeared cultural histories, real and/or imagined, inscribed in the built environment.’ The text also explains that Prairie was created in the context of ‘Overlay’, a collaborative project investigating the controversial history of urban planning on the Chicago South Side. After a few viewings (Prairie plays in a loop), I recall Eisenstein’s essay on Piranesi and wonder if Burgin somehow remembered it while looking at the site of which Prairie constitutes the complex trace. The reasons for such an association are certainly not missing: both pieces explore the intimate relationship existing between architecture and image-making, stillness and motion, simultaneity and succession. Yet, it the difference, the distance separating them that exercises the strongest power of attraction: rhythm is this difference and my attention is wholly absorbed by it. As the piece unfurls, unfolds itself in a time of uncertain duration (eight minutes representing only its technical ‘length’), I encounter a rhythm whose function is more elusive and yet more troubling to the stability of both frame and point of view; perhaps a different kind of rhythm altogether. In Eisenstein, rhythm plays a distinctive role in aggregating perceptual forms under a coherent vision. On the other hand, in Burgin, rhythm emerges as a horizontal, recursive sliding of forms, a configuration that cannot stop undoing itself.

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Indeed, and this is my first claim, here rhythm itself emerges as a different kind of form, as a subtle and yet constitutive modulation of perception. This other kind of rhythm is not what happens to forms – rather, it partakes of their very taking shape. I draw the notion of rhythm as ‘subtle form’ from Roland Barthes’ 1977 lecture course, How to Live Together, which is devoted to exploring ‘idiorrhythmy’ as the fantasy of a life lived with others and yet according to one’s own rhythm. For Barthes, and Émile Benveniste before him, the Greek term rhuthmos identifies rhythm as a form that does not coalesce, an intermittent configuration, a manner of flowing. A marginalised, almost forgotten notion, rhythm as rhuthmos defies the requirements of order, measure and rationality. I will return to their work in detail as I claim for Prairie what at first might seem puzzling: its coming into view as a place where images ‘live together’ in a plural, non-hierarchical, provisional arrangement. My second proposition, intimately connected to the first, is that this place is a photographic one, that it belongs to the field of photography rather than cinema. In other words, I suggest that we conceive of Prairie as a singular photograph – a photograph that plays out its own rhythm. The questions that I will be pursuing in this essay revolve around such a seemingly impossible coincidence between photography and rhythm. I call it impossible to the extent that photography is traditionally regarded as the medium of instantaneity, while rhythm is most closely associated with music and its duration. Yet, I will show that Burgin’s projection piece reworks this very incongruence, leading to what might be called the reinvention of photography as rhythm, at once the mutation of a practice and the redefinition of the medium’s very conditions of intelligibility. (Doubtless there would be no difficulty in finding in post-Brechtian theatre and post-Eisensteinian cinema mises en scène marked by the dispersion of the tableau, the pulling to pieces of the ‘composition’, the setting in movement of the ‘partial organs’ of the human figure, in short the holding in check of the metaphysical meaning of the work – but then also of its political meaning; or, at least, the carrying over of this meaning towards another politics.) (Barthes 1978: 72) It is worth noticing that Barthes sets us on the trail of this other rhythm ahead of How to Live Together and its analysis of literary texts. In fact, he does so in the context of an image critique that focuses on Eisenstein’s construction of space and time. If, in the Piranesi essay, Eisenstein sets in motion a still image, in ‘Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein’, Barthes freezes the shot, looking for the instantaneity of the tableau. As the condition

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of representation in all dioptric arts (theatre, painting, cinema, literature), the tableau realises the most perfect semiotic enclosure. Everything outside its borders is cast into non-existence; everything inside is made to share the privileges of light and knowledge, at least insofar as the composition falls under a single point of view and, as Diderot stipulates, its ‘parts work together to one end and form by their mutual correspondence a unity as real as that of the members of the body of an animal’ (cited in Barthes 1978: 71). It is this tableau that will eventually burst out of itself, engendering another shot in the articulation of the montage sequence. ‘The shot is a montage cell’, Eisenstein states; as such, it is ready to split and ‘form a phenomenon of another order, the organism or embryo’ (cited in Tafuri 1987: 56). Barthes’ essay enables us to see that this mutation will occur only after the shot has offered us the ‘perfect instant’ (Barthes 1978: 73), the moment possessing the highest concentration of intelligibility and intensity. What the ‘pregnant moment’ (Barthes 1978: 73) holds in balance is not only the story but also the whole of history: past, present and future, in a simultaneity that does not dismantle teleology but rather anticipates its fulfilment. (The heightened gestures performed by Brecht’s Mother Courage and the peasant woman in Eisenstein’s The General Line stand at the centre of a chain of events that is both chronological and causal.) It is as if the very process of ‘setting in motion’ entailed a secret stillness, a moment of accord before the discharge of the explosion; a guarantee of the totality of both history and the artwork. Yet the discovery of stillness also holds a potential for deviation. In ‘The Third Meaning’, Barthes again turns Eisenstein’s shots into stills, this time shifting his critical attention from the fragment (shot) to the marginal details that the still makes visible. As a result of this process, the narrative does not vanish but loosens its hold on the image, facilitating the development of an ‘interrogative’, ‘poetical’ reading (Barthes 1978: 53). In a field now open to the free play of signifiers, Barthes finds a meaning that is ‘evident, erratic, obstinate’ (Barthes 1978: 53), a surplus that does not pay off in terms of an economy of fulfilment and discharge. He calls it ‘obtuse’ (blunted, like in a rounding that attenuates the impact of the signified) and counts it as ‘third’ – a meaning that is ‘one too many’, an excess in the very texture of signification. The third meaning is like an internal ‘fold’ (Barthes 1978: 62), a creasing of the image that coincides with a ‘slipping away ’ of its structuration, a minor and yet persistent disjunction of signifier and signified. That such a slipping away occurs ‘from the inside’ (Barthes 1978: 64), that it coincides with a drifting of meaning (and of desire) in perpetual avoidance of climax … all this suggests that, through Barthes, Eisenstein’s

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images can engender a transfiguration that is not explosion. If there is resistance with respect to the totality of the story (and of history), it emerges within the image, by virtue of a reading that turns the image itself into a field of potential permutations. Barthes notes that ‘vertical’ reading is not foreign to Eisenstein’s own thinking about audiovisual montage and his valorisation of the ‘inside’ of the shot (Barthes 1978: 67). However, I will remark, Eisenstein also insists on the necessity of finding the ‘correct mutual relationship’ between shots and their juxtaposition (Eisenstein 2010: 298) and reiterates that the montage principle ought to promote organic cohesion and consistency, criticising the absence of perspective characterising jazz, modern painting and the American cityscape. On the contrary, Barthes’ third meaning is precisely what rejects totalisation: ‘disseminated, reversible, set to its own temporality’ (Barthes 1978: 63). It emerges in a suspension of filmic time, as a crease that interrupts montage’s all-embracing rhythm. I wonder: what if the eccentricity of the third meaning had disturbed Eisenstein’s setting in motion of the etching and transformed his view of the empty field? What would a setting in motion that eschews ‘ecstatic violence’ look like? The vertical landscapes of Chinese and Japanese painting offer us a first glimpse of this other mode of expression. If Piranesi’s etchings heighten the contrast between opposites (foreground and background, retreat and advance) by producing an ‘interpenetration’ that leads to explosion, these paintings ‘reconcile the opposition by means of the dissolution of one into the other’. Here ‘quietism’ stands as the alternative to ‘active ecstasy’ (Eisenstein 1987: 89). Yet, in Eisenstein’s reading, quietism remains a matter of synthesis, while Barthes challenges us to imagine a ‘dispersion of the tableau’, a fragmentation, a ‘setting in movement’ of the pieces that does not strive toward recomposing an organic whole. The stakes reach into the domain of politics: ‘in the long run’, writes Barthes, ‘it is the Law of the Party which cuts out the epic scene, the filmic shot; it is this Law which looks, frames, focusses, enunciates’ (Barthes 1978: 77). The third meaning defies this principle of unitary organisation, mobilising stillness on behalf of erethism, an excitation too diffuse to be organised under one Law, under one organ; a vagrancy of meaning perhaps close to the nomadic. (Never becoming explicit, Barthes’ criticism of party politics repeatedly blurs into a critique of the libidinal hierarchies instituted by the Oedipal model.) How, then, can one reinvent space and its bearing over time while working with the fragment rather than the still? Or, rather, how can one imagine a fragment endowed with the transgressive qualities of the still?

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Sit where the light corrupts your face. Mies Van der Rohe retires from grace. And the fair fables fall. (Brooks 1968: 5) The building where Prairie is projected stands on the Chicago South Side, about four miles from the corner of 34th and State Street, the site that the piece set out to explore. Three stages, ostensibly given to us in reverse chronological order, mark the century-long process of enclosure that has shaped this plot of land. It begins with a photograph we do not see: a short text on black matte describes a group of men and women at the Illinois Institute of Technology in the late 1950s; they are gathered next to metal tables appointed with T-squares; on a table in the foreground lies an architectural model. In another photograph, also briefly described, a dancer poses next to a blackboard filled with architectural calculations; we are told that ‘her limbs forms triangles’. What follows is the digital animation of a black and white image capturing Crown Hall, Mies Van der Rohe’s modernist masterpiece at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the alleged setting of both photographs; the hall is empty and we notice a model of the same building on an off-centre table. As the camera steadily pulls backward toward the foreground, we are brought out of this hall made of steel and glass only to find ourselves in the same space, with the same architectural model, and the camera starting to repeat its backward movement. This time it comes to a halt before leading us out yet again, but the concatenation has quietly established itself and the foreground turned into a depth from which we cannot escape. The modernist masterpiece reproduces itself ad infinitum. In the following images we see a dancer, a woman with short curly hair, bending forward, her legs arranged in the shape of a triangle, and then standing, her body turned backward to face walls that hint at a vanished perspectival world. We are only about to enter the second stage of Prairie’s brief history of enclosure and already the interplay of words and images has taken on a certain cadence, forming a composition that is difficult to name – an alternation that is almost superimposition, a sequence that defies succession and might be better described by the ambiguous terms configuration or arrangement, to which I will soon return. The impression is that these eccentric tableaux do not follow one another as cinematic shots, perhaps not even as photographs in a series.

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The dancer appears to be gently leaning forward, as if she were about to guide us inside and further our memory journey. We learn from a few concise stanzas that ‘The Mecca’ apartment building occupied this site from 1892 to 1952, when it was razed to make room for the new Illinois Institute of Technology. The text does not weave the narrative of urban rise, decline and renewal through which the Mecca has typically been presented (a luxury building at the turn of the century, an increasingly impoverished and dangerous dwelling after the Depression, a city block reclaimed by the rightful alliance of administrators and architects and put to good use after the war). Instead, it weaves the figures of this lost building by passing through Gwendolyn Brooks’ In the Mecca (1968), a polyphonic, hybrid poem – an example of resistance through poetic form – in which the author narrates of the search for a lost child amidst a ‘labyrinth of stairways, balconies, parlors, and kitchens’. We are given no archival pictures of this U-shaped building with multiple entrances, skylit inner courts, and promenade balconies; not during the years when it counted as one of the city’s most vital centres of African American culture (the recording of Mecca Flats Blues dates back to 1924), not during the time of its fall into ‘blight’, but we might be familiar with the photos published by Life in 1951. What we see is a semicircular camera movement over a surface that resists coming into focus, like the shadow of the floral patterns that adorned the building’s wrought iron staircases and balconies. (This is another algorithmic animation, yet now it feels like a gesture of the eyes, almost a caress.) The text will soon describe the balconies’ ‘tendrils, leaves, and flowers’, the gray terrazzo and the oak-veneered panels, but not before pausing on a photograph captioned ‘Mecca Tenants Fight–1950’, in which composed, well-dressed people have gathered in assembly to resist the eviction and, with it, the calculus that has made their lives intolerable to white city officials and urban planners. (I read elsewhere that, upon the completion of Crown Hall, architect Eero Saarinen will proclaim, ‘because Chicago is a place of courageous thinking, a slum gives way to a brand new campus – crisp and clean and beautiful and harmonious – a model for a total environment’.) Now the dancer has disappeared and there remains only an empty wall; the light cast upon it turns slightly darker, as if the wall were a screen and a projection were about to start. The text that follows is at once spare and luminous, and almost makes visible the intricate surfaces of the Mecca’s courts, with their foliated ironwork and precious materials. Then it leads us outside, to the vegetation encircling the building, from Boston ivy to elms and honey locust trees. Here we encounter Prairie’s only film image: the low-resolution copy of a black and white Western showing covered

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wagons as they cross the plains. This dense and orderly caravan is moving toward an off-centre point in the background, partitioning the prairie’s open space and setting it up as a ‘place’ where the action can occur. (Stephen Heath has cogently connected this construction of narrative space with a drive for visual mastery that dates back to Renaissance perspective. But, all in all, the clip looks strangely frail, if only for the sense of precarious materiality it conveys.) The last few stanzas offer us a glimpse of what got lost in the controlled depth of this space: the names of the tribes that once inhabited the prairie, the abundance of its wild flowers and the brilliance – and sturdiness – of its grass (the prairie could be wrought only after the invention of the steel blade plough in 1837). The dancer reappears, her arms stretched upward and toward the viewer, her head slightly turned sideways. The foliated panel returns too, against a black background, the light dancing across its curved lines in an alternation of the gleaming and the opaque. The only depth we see is that of its ornamental surface, which intermittently displays the brilliance of the jewel, or of distant memories. (Is Freud’s ‘dandelion fantasy’ that far from this scene of projection?) Despite its intricacy, the panel’s arrangement of leaves and flowers maintains a certain symmetry and, with it, an internal hierarchy. But the artificial manipulation of light provokes a confusion, a dispersion of details, a disorder the eye cannot master. Here the detail (which, for Barthes, was the indicator of third meaning) cannot be subsumed by the fragment, the shot in its horizontal and narrative thrust. Instead, it becomes what Naomi Schor has called the ‘detotalized detail’, the mark or blemish of a resistance to the whole that has been historically feminine. In fact, she quotes the venerable Lord Kames stating, ‘in gardening as well as in architecture, simplicity ought to be the governing taste. Profuse ornament hath no better effect than to confound the eye, and to prevent the object from making an impression as one entire whole’ (Schor 2007: 14). The dispersion has taken place. Prairie loops back. Overlooking the gardens, the differences between habitual (daily, therefore linked to night and day) rhythms blur; they seem to disappear into a sculptural immobility. […] But look harder and longer […] You thus perceive that each plant, each tree, has its rhythm, made up of several: the trees, the flowers, the seeds and fruits, each have their time. (Lefebvre 2004: 40–1) Does this dispersion of the tableau, this other setting in motion of the static view belong to cinema or photography? Or, rather, can we continue to regard the photographic

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image as essentially still and associate it with instantaneous capture? 2 I will start by noticing that Burgin’s Prairie reaffirms his career-long interest in the imbrication between space and psychic life. In an interview on conceptual art and photography published in the 1990s, Burgin was already claiming, ‘it’s all about psychical space. That’s all my work was ever about’ (Roberts 1997: 102–3). Produced in the last ten years, projection pieces like Hotel Berlin, A Place to Read, Mirror Lake and Prairie unfold as theoretical investigations of specific sites: the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, a former coffee house in Istanbul, a Frank Lloyd Wright cottage in Wisconsin, and the intersection of 34th and State Street in Chicago. These sites exist at the threshold between perception and memory, historical erasure and unconscious mnemic persistence. In all cases, Burgin employs the algorithmic animation of still images to express the temporal complexity of the photograph in its very relation to both physical and psychic space and explore, as D. N. Rodowick has suggested, the ‘affinity between photography and disappearance’ (Rodowick 2014: 9). Whether we call them image/ text loops or video loops (and we should not underestimate this crisis of naming), they eschew the identical on behalf of ‘repetition, reprise, recapitulation’ (Burgin 2008: 93). For Burgin, it is music and the da capo form rather than cinema that provides us with the best analogy for understanding these strange loops. He even states, ‘my videos are uncinematic. I think of my work in video as the pursuit of photography by other means’ (Burgin 2008: 91, my emphasis). Indeed, his images challenge not only cinema’s construction of space but also the association between duration and cinema as it has developed at the expense of photography, typically considered to be the medium of instantaneity. ‘How long is the photograph?’ asks Burgin in an article on the last seven minutes of Antonioni’s 1962 The Eclipse (Burgin 2010: 131), which he experiences as a series of photographs. The question holds crucial relevance, as it induces us to resist the ‘reductive spatialization of temporality to clock time’ (Burgin 2010: 135), typical of capitalistic accumulation, and let the photograph secrete its own time. I will slightly displace the question and propose that we consider Prairie as one self-differing photograph – a building that opens up into itself, a dancer that endures the injustices of time, wrought-iron leaves fluctuating in the wind of a prairie that is crossed by wagons. This setting in motion of the image in all its components (frame, viewpoint, composition) is not a matter of movement, but of rhythm. Here, following Barthes, I adopt the term ‘rhythm’ in the sense proposed by Benveniste and untie the question of rhythm from that of music. Benveniste finds ample evidence that, in pre-Socratic philosophy and in lyric and tragic poetry, the Greek term rhuthmos

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(rhythm) meant ‘configuration’, ‘disposition’, ‘form’. Yet this form was not fixed but transitory, fleeting, irregular (i.e. the pattern of a fluid element, the shape of a letter, the arrangement of a garment, and even a particular disposition of the character or mood). Plato tried to put rhythm in order by appropriating the term rhuthmos to define the movement of bodies in a dance according to a metron or external measure; thus normalised, rhythm will fulfil the aesthetic requirements of a unified political community. But, before becoming order in movement, rhythm is a ‘manner of flowing’ that can be attributed to images, sounds and affects alike. Prairie is rhythm in this early sense: a form that does not coalesce, a fluctuating form. Rhythm as rhuthmos resists the reduction of temporality to measurable space; it also shows that, before any imposition of measure, space and time are profoundly imbricated. To speak of a form that is inseparable from the time of its appearance is to acknowledge the impossibility of isolating the shaping of space from the becoming of time. In ‘Uncinematic Time’, Burgin adopts the term virtual image to highlight the constitutive interweaving that, in the psychic economy of the subject, exists between the ‘real’ world of objects and the ‘imaginary’ world of fantasy. What D. W. Winnicott calls ‘the place where we live’ (cited in Burgin 2017: 80) partakes of this dual reality, which remains hard to elucidate as long we consider space and time as inherently divided. So Burgin turns his attention to Japanese culture and the concept of ma: the interval or interstice marking both space and time or, rather, in the words of architect Arata Isozaki, ‘the moment at which time-and-space had not yet been disentangled and rendered as distinct notions’ (cited in Burgin 2017: 81). As Japanese architecture privileges intervals, fissures, divergences over the fullness of things, so Japanese music pursues ‘the inner life of the ever-elusive moment’ (cited in Burgin 2017: 82) rather than dramatic progression as succession of punctual moments. Neither punctual nor self-identical, this evanescent moment is deemed inseparable from the movement of becoming (naru). It is in this interstitial domain that Burgin finds traces of his own uncinematic mode of expression. I maintain that the notion of rhuthmos enables us to perform a similar shift of perspective while reworking our culture’s thinking of forms from the inside. In fact, having been expunged from Western philosophy early on, rhythm as rhuthmos haunts the latter as its constitutive outside, as the reminder of another sense of space and time. Am I proposing that we reconceive of the photographer as a rhythm-analyst? To start with, at least: a rhythm-analyst, writes Henri Lefebvre, is ‘capable of listening to a house, a street, a town as one listens to a symphony, an opera’ (Lefebvre 2004:

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5). For Lefebvre, the world is made up not of inert things but of rhythms – garlands, bundles of rhythms, internal or external, secret or public, or both at the same time, in a criss-crossing of perspectives that position the rhythm-analyst in more than one place, at more than one time. ‘To grasp a rhythm’, observes Lefebvre, ‘it is necessary to have been grasped by it; one must let oneself go, give oneself over, abandon oneself to its duration’ (Lefebvre 2004: 37). After Gaston Bachelard’s critique of continuity, duration is understood here as fragmentary and heterogeneous rather than unitary and cohesive. While still holding onto a thinking of the instant, in his adoption of rhythm as method of analysis Lefebvre resists abstraction and calculation, privileging lived time and what he calls rhythm’s internal measure over the external measure of the metronome. To see rhythmically is to see in between simultaneity and succession, to perceive the echo of the image or, like in Burgin’s sequence-image, to be possessed by a ‘concatenation that does not take linear form’ (Burgin 2004: 21). Such a concatenation, specifies Burgin, ‘might rather be compared to a rapidly arpeggiated musical chord, the individual notes of which, although sounded successively, vibrate together simultaneously’ (Burgin 2004: 21). Neither image nor image sequence, the sequenceimage gives us the remembered film as a constellation of elements that can be drawn from diverse spatial and temporal sites, an arrangement that is ‘fragmentary, circular and repetitive’ (Burgin 2004: 14), in the sense adopted by Jean Laplanche and Serge Leclaire to describe fantasies and daydreams. In the case of digital projections, it is as if the gallery functioned as a luminous darkroom, the site of a development or flashing up of the image that is akin to what happens in the psychoanalytic session. From my window (December 1, 1976), I see a mother pushing an empty stroller, holding her child by the hand. She walks at her own pace, imperturbably; the child, meanwhile, is being pulled, dragged along, is forced to keep running, like an animal, or one of Sade’s victims being whipped. She walks at her own pace, unaware of the fact that her son’s rhythm is different. And she’s his mother! (Barthes 1978: 9) In How to Live Together, Barthes returns to the marginalised notion of rhuthmos to explore ways of life in excess of normative power. On a journey that takes us from accounts of the diaita (diet, lifestyle) of early monastic clusters to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, and Emile Zola’s Pot Luck, Barthes finds in the fantasy of ‘idiorrhythmy’ the form of a life lived according to one’s own rhythm. Idiorrhythm is for him a ‘subtle form’, and thus ‘the exact

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opposite of an inflexible, implacably regular cadence’ (Barthes 2013: 8); it requires a distance from the world, a withdrawal punctuated by interruptions that are not regulated by any strong architecture of power (large communes, phalansteries, convents, etc.); it articulates a field of diffuse desire. Following Benveniste’s interpretation, the term rhuthmos would suffice to suggest such a fluctuation: if it becomes necessary to attach the prefix idios, it is because power has repeatedly appropriated rhythm, its definition and its manifestations. ‘Before anything else’, writes Barthes, ‘the first thing that power imposes is a rhythm (to everything: a rhythm of life, of time, of thought, of speech). The demand of idiorrhythmy is always made in opposition to power’ (Barthes 2013: 35). It is worth noticing that Barthes connects normative power not only to the imposition of a structured rhythm but also to the production of fixed forms. He reminds us that the rectangle (of which the pictorial frame is an adaptation) constitutes ‘the basic shape of power’: the Rex is ‘someone who draws straight lines’ and the Regula is both the authoritative rule for communal life and ‘the instrument used to draw a straight line’ (Barthes 2013: 114, 116). Again, Barthes’ interest in the ‘function of the round (of the rounded)’ – and what is the third meaning if not obtuse, blunted? – arises in relation to questions of subversion (Barthes 2013: 115). In their circular form, the tent and the theatre of antiquity offer an overtly defiant model. However, Western art since Cézanne, oriental painting, and comic strips have also partaken in this attempt to fight ‘the tyranny of regulatory lines’ (Barthes 2013: 114) that has long partitioned the space we inhabit. It is in the context of idiorrhythmy that Barthes discusses the enclosure and its double function of protection and definition. If the former entails the ‘transformation of territory into property’, the latter coincides with the very drawing of lines: ‘to define’ is ‘to mark out borders, frontiers’ (Barthes 2013: 116). The rectangle and the frame partake of this history of the enclosure, which is also a history of the straight line, while rhythm as rhuthmos operates against them. A singular and impermanent form, and yet a form nonetheless, this other rhythm works in opposition to any authoritative demarcation, any rigid partitioning of space and time, opening up both to dispersion, disorder, decomposition. The pictorial or photographic frame too needs to be caught in this process of destabilisation. However, Barthes points out, ‘the subversion of a shape, of an archetype is not necessarily effected by its opposite but by more subtle means, by retaining the shape and inventing a distinctive play of superimposition for it, or one of effacement, of overstepping its limits’ (Barthes 2013: 116). This is what Prairie performs – an undoing of forms that remains elusive while challenging the

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very way in which we conceive of their stability and autonomy. To say that Prairie is a place of rhythm is thus also to foreground the piece’s complex reworking of ‘the pictorial space inaugurated by the invention of perspective’ (Bishop and Cubitt 2013: 211), a mode of image-making that, for Burgin, comprises both photography and 3-D computer modelling. If the straight line is essential to the calculus of the perspectival system, Prairie offers us the example of a practice of photography that makes this line provisional, devoid of fixed points of reference, incapable of guaranteeing a hierarchical ordering of space. There is a duration to the blink, and it closes the eye. (Derrida 1973: 65) A tentative patterning of perception, rhythm as rhuthmos operates against the homogeneous ordering not only of space but also of time; it discloses time’s depth against the tyranny of the instant and of chronology as mere succession of instants or points in time. It is at this juncture that my interpretation of Prairie as a place of rhythm interlocks with my claim that such a place belongs to the field of photography. In other words: Prairie points to, traces, indeed photographs an overlay in the history of the same site to the very extent that it comprises not a fixed view but a constellation of fleeting images. By radically intervening into the cohesion of frame, composition and point of view, Prairie makes visible this temporal layering beyond the opposition of simultaneity and succession; it registers it as ‘intermittence’, as ‘the staging of an appearance-as-disappearance’, to borrow Barthes’ striking formulation (Barthes 1975: 9–10). How then can Burgin’s piece and the rhythm it performs help us rethink medium specificity and photography’s indexical properties? What does it mean to practice photography by other means if we shift our critical attention to rhythm and the disturbance of mediatic properties that it entails? In particular, what needs to be tested (again) is the obsession with the instant and the instantaneous and the role it has played in defining photography as the medium capable of, indeed entitled to ‘testify[ing] to a present state of affairs’ (Sekula 2016: 34), to capturing that which allegedly takes place once, and only once, at a precise point in time, in front of the camera lens.3 In his contribution to the collection Projective, Rodowick states that Burgin’s new gallery works constitute the virtual materialisation of these sequence-images and that, as such, mark the ‘disappearance of photography in the digital image’ (Rodowick 2014: 35). While concurring on their innovative effect, I will nevertheless

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propose that we consider these works – Prairie in particular – as constitutive examples of photography’s ‘expanding field’. I borrow the term from Peter Osborne, who theorises the unity of the photographic as distributive – an aesthetic and pragmatic unity in which heterogeneous and continuously evolving image technologies are held together by common cultural functions. What digital imaging threatens is an ‘imagined unity’, an originary coherence predicated on the identification of ‘a particular technological process (optical/mechanical/chemical) and a particular set of social functions (the solemnisation of festivity/documentation/pornography/ advertising/surveillance etc.)’ (Osborne 2003: 69). Most importantly, Osborne underscores how this reduction of the photographic to the still photograph hinges on ‘the idea of the ‘capture’ of a moment in time’ (Osborne 2003: 69), on the fiction of the instant. But, if there is no instant to be grasped or missed, it becomes impossible to answer not only the question, ‘where is the photograph?’ (as Osborne suggests) but also its more intangible counterpart, ‘when is the photograph?’ that is, when does it take place, how long does it last? Burgin’s work enables us to push further this operation of dis-possession with respect to photography’s phantasmatic unity and rethink the photographic image in terms not of duration but of rhythm. Let me state it more directly: Prairie points us toward the reinvention of photography as rhythm.4 In its folding-unfolding of views of the same site, it traces the contours of a here that keeps disappearing as now, emerging instead as a complex modulation of the sensible – a rhythm or pattern made of dancers, leaves, flowers and words describing other invisible photographs. Unlike the film sequence, this constellation appears as a superimposition that unfolds while retreating into itself. Why am I so committed to finding rhythm and the differentiated duration it entails at the heart of Burgin’s new photographic practice? In Prairie, the brief shot of wagons follows a spare, careful description of the Mecca’s atrium with its foliated ironwork and the surrounding park as they were before the demolition. It is followed by the words: ‘Settlers crossing Illinois in Spring at the time of the Indian Wars marveled at the brilliant grassland and swells of abundant wildflowers/They could not plow the prairie until 1837 when a blacksmith invented the steel blade plow/They said the sound of tearing roots was like the rattling fire of infantry in battle.’ Photography as rhythm points to, traces this history of enclosure, which is also a history of violence, while maintaining the greatest distance from the logic of instrumentality that Allan Sekula finds at work throughout the history of photography. In his analysis of Edward Steichen’s activity during World War I, Sekula remarks precisely on the temporality of military vision, with its dream of instantaneity: ‘The value of aerial photographs,

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as cues for military action, depended on their ability to testify to a present state of affairs’ (Sekula 2016: 34). Or, in the words of a former US Secretary of Defence quoted by Paul Virilio in War and Cinema, ‘Once you can see the target, you can expect to destroy it’ (Virilio 1989: 4). Photography and war meet most keenly at this juncture – when time itself becomes a target. By unfurling in time rather than standing, holding its ground in some fictional now-point, Prairie subverts this goal-oriented logic and its demand for instantaneity. Indeed, as an ephemeral and yet recurring form, it shows us that, to borrow Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s words, ‘even in the present, the landscape is a configuration’ (Merleau-Ponty 1968: 240), that the landscape around us does not relate to other times in an external and sequential manner but holds them inside or behind itself, almost simultaneously, in a play of visibility and invisibility. It is among the tasks of photography to register this paradoxical persistence against the imposition of temporal enclosures and the writing of official history. As a fantastical digression, this: it goes without saying that we’ll be thinking of Living-Together as an essentially spatial fact (living together in the same space). But in its most basic form Living together is also temporal […] (Barthes 2013: 5) At the beginning of his lecture course, Barthes remarks that Living-Together always occurs in time. While fundamentally involving space, what he calls the fantasy of Living-Together according to an idiosyncratic rhythm also unfolds in the dimension of ‘contemporaneity’: ‘living at the same time as …’ ‘living in the same time as …’ (Barthes 2013: 5). Barthes does not further explore the question, ‘Who are my contemporaries?’ but notices that calendar time will not offer much guidance in this respect, leaving open the possibility of a concomitance that occurs across time or, rather, in a time that is overlay of past and present. Indeed, Barthes’ own gathering of literary texts and historical records suggests that lifestyles can take shape by virtue of semiotic encounters of all kinds. By privileging what he calls culture or non-method, that is, an ‘eccentric path of possibilities’ without a set destination (Barthes 2013: 133), Barthes turns his own lecture course into a place of anachronistic and creative misalliances. I now think of Burgin’s Prairie as a version of this particular fantasy – inhabiting the same space in a heterogeneous, internally differentiated time. Photography as rhythm makes visible a Living-Together that occurs in the depth of time, a superimposition of past and present that does not privilege any single temporal dimension. In the Piranesi essay, the field that was once an apple orchard remains empty, the present connecting

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to the past in an external or sequential manner rather than becoming contemporaneous with it. On the other hand, Prairie reworks the relationship between proximity and distance, appearance and disappearance from within, displaying something other than a linkage between shots. Here idiorrhythmy brings together not only subjects (the viewer, the photographer, the people of the Mecca and of the prairie) but also images – those images of the world emerging in between perception and memory through which our subjectivity is constituted. Indeed, by arranging them in a nonhierarchical, tentative manner, this idiosyncratic photograph lets us glimpse other ways in which subjects can come into being and live together in a relationship of intimate distance.

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Notes 1 While introducing Eisenstein’s ‘Montage and Architecture’ (Eisenstein 1989), Yve-Alain Bois returns to Piranesi to highlight the ‘decentering effect of parallax’. Piranesi’s etchings rupture the central space of the baroque with such force that the spectator is denied a stable point of reference, in spaceas well in time. However, Bois does not discuss how Eisenstein responds to the effects of too radical a crisis of unity. 2

Even in the case of longer exposures, what is assumed is a coincidence between the time of the prise de vue and the pure presentness of what is being photographed. In fact, this assumption continues to characterise even Thierry De Duve’s distinction between snapshot and time exposure. See De Duve (1978).

3

See Doane, Mary Ann (2015).

4 In ‘Reinventing the Medium’, Rosalind Krauss argues that ‘the medium [James] Coleman seems to be elaborating is just this paradoxical collision between stillness and movement’ (Krauss 1999: 297), one that mobilises the adoption of the slide tape as physical support. Here the medium is understood as ‘a set of conventions derived from (but not identical with) the material conditions of a given technical support’ (296) and, as such, open to historical mutation. However, Krauss opposes the reinvention of photography as medium to the affirmation of its status as heterogeneous object. In contrast, I consider such heterogeneity (as it still emerges in Burgin’s post-conceptual practice) the condition for the medium’s renewal. See Krauss (1999).

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References Barthes, Roland (1975) The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang.  Barthes, Roland (1978) Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang.  Barthes, Roland (2013) How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces, trans. Kate Briggs. New York: Columbia University Press.  Bishop, Ryan and Sean Cubitt (2013) ‘Camera as Object and Process: An Interview with Victor Burgin’. Theory, Culture & Society, 30: 7/8, pp. 199–219. Brooks, Gwendolyn (1968) In the Mecca. New York: Harper & Row. Burgin, Victor (2004) The Remembered Film. London: Reaktion Books.   Burgin, Victor (2008) ‘Specificity’, in Components of a Practice. Milan: Skira, pp. 90–5. Burgin, Victor (2010) The Eclipse of Time’, in Time and Photography, ed. Jan Baetens, Alexander Streitberger and Hilde Van Gelder. Leuven: Leuven University Press, pp. 125–40. Burgin, Victor (2017) ‘Uncinematic Time’, in Victor Burgin’s Parzival in Leuven: Reflections on the ‘Uncinematic’, ed. Stéphane Symons and Hilde Van Gelder. Leuven: Leuven University Press, pp. 76–87. De Duve, Thierry (1978) ‘Time Exposure and Snapshot: The Photograph as Paradox’, in October, Vol. 5, pp. 113–25.

Derrida, Jacques (1973) Speech and Phenomena, trans. David B. Allison and Newton Garver. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Doane, Mary Ann (2015) ‘Real Time: Instantaneity and the Photographic Imaginary’, in David Green and Joanna Lowry (eds), Stillness and Time: Photography and the Moving Image, pp. 23–38. Eisenstein, Sergei (1987) ‘Piranesi, or the Fluidity of Forms’, in Manfredo Tafuri, The Sphere and the Labyrinth: Avant-Gardes and Architecture from Piranesi to the 1970s, trans. Pellegrino d’Acierno and Robert Connolly. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 65–90. Eisenstein, Sergei (1989) ‘Montage and Architecture’, trans. Yve-Alain Bois and Michael Glenny. Assemblage, No. 10, pp. 110–31. Eisenstein, Sergei (2010) Towards a Theory of Montage: Sergei Eisenstein Selected Works, Volume 2, ed. Michael Glenny and Richard Taylor, trans. Michael Glenny. London: I. B. Tauris. Krauss, Rosalind (1999) ‘Reinventing the Medium’, in Critical Inquiry 25: 2, pp. 289–305. Lefebvre, Henri (2004) Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time, and Everyday Life, trans. Gerald Moore. New York: Continuum. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1968) The Visible and the Invisible, trans. Alphonso Lingis. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Osborne, Peter (2003) ‘Photography in an Expanding Field: Distributive Unity and Dominant Form’, in Where is the Photograph?, ed. David Green. Maidstone: Photoworks, pp. 63–70.

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Roberts, John (1997) ‘Interview with Victor Burgin’, in The Impossible Document: Photography and Conceptual Art in Britain 1966– 1976, ed. John Roberts. London: Camerawork. Rodowick, D. N. (2014) ‘The Unnameable (In Three Movements)’, in Projective: Essays About the Work of Victor Burgin. Geneva: Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, pp. 9–37. Schor, Naomi (2007) Reading in Detail: Aesthetics and the Feminine. New York: Routledge. Sekula, Allan (2016) Against the Grain. London: Mack Books.  Tafuri, Manfredo (1987) The Sphere and the Labyrinth: Avant-Gardes and Architecture from Piranesi to the 1970s, trans. Pellegrino d’Acierno and Robert Connolly. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.  Virilio, Paul (1989) War and Cinema, trans. Patrick Camiller. New York: Verso. 

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The Work of Death in Burgin’s Belledonne Gordon Hon Watching the sequence in Belledonne (Burgin 2016) of an aerial panorama above the clouds and mountains of what I assumed to be the Chaîne de Belledonne, I was struck by a creeping sense of claustrophobia; of being trapped. It initially seemed a strange reaction given the illusion of infinite space I was standing in front of but understandable in terms of where I actually was; a darkened windowless room in a windowless gallery. It still seemed odd that it was the revolving image of the sky that induced a feeling of being walled in. However this image of the sky is enclosing, as it moves across the screen the pictorial illusion of depth is undone by a flattening anamorphosis. Instead of the mountains and clouds shifting in relation to one another as the point of view turns, the entire scene distorts as it enters and leaves the frame. There is only one point in the middle of the frame at which the image is not distorted. The effect is partly that of a naturalistic image of the sky and land being bent and twisted into obeisance to a tyrannical cyclopic gaze. It is perfectly possible to simulate the parallax effect produced by a moving point of view as, in fact, Burgin does in the following sequence, clearly indicating that this alienating effect is deliberate. He has referred to this physically impossible point of view as theoretical vision (Burgin 2008: 92). Among other things it draws attention to a relationship between the airless bubble of the digital virtual tour and the enclosed rotundas of nineteenth-century panoramas, in which the all-encompassing God’s eye view also becomes an optical prison. It is not surprising that accounts of the invention of the panorama are set in a prison cell, where the idea comes to George Barker as a scopic epiphany (Cook 1963: 32, Friedberg 1993: 21) 1. The place where all views are radically obstructed becomes the scene for the conception of a place that offers vast unobstructed vistas. The story at least reminds us that prison doesn’t just restrict the freedom of movement but the visual field itself as a prospect in to which we can project ourselves. The irony is that in his imprisonment what occurs to Barker is another form of enclosure. The conception of the panorama also coincided with Bentham’s invention of the panoptic prison. The popularity of the panorama and other pre-cinema spectacles such as the diorama were inverse products of the same historical and cultural moment that produced the panopticon (Friedberg, 1993; Burgin, 2008). The subsequent development

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of these impulses in the insatiable desire for technologies of illusion and immersion along side intensifications of surveillance and the penetrating gaze of science and social control are often seen in parallel but they cross and merge throughout visual culture as well as in the obscure realms of fantasy. Burgin’s Belledonne presents a scenario, a scene of fantasy, around the unnamed, unseen figure of a young, consumptive Barthes, in which these impulses intersect and, through its precarious structure, its chain of associations and play of forms, can be felt the invisible operations of the death drive and an uncanny encounter with non-human agency. The stake, as Barthes said of Alexander Gardener’s 1865 photograph of Lewis Payne in his prison cell awaiting execution, is death. Not only of the anterior future of this specific picture a man who is both dead and going to die or the equivalent, unseen, photograph of Barthes’ newly dead mother as a child, but of every photograph no less. A great deal has been made of the special relationship between photography and death and a whole strand of writing has turned it into a mechanical dance macabre in which the great leveller is represented by the ubiquitous camera rather than the scythe. The holy trinity of this quasi-religious tendency was Camera Lucida with Barthes’ unacknowledged debt to Bazin and, between them, Sontag. What they have in common is a determination to mark a radical difference between photography and previous forms of mimetic image making, particularly painting. The basis of this break was a fetishisation of the indexicality of the analogue photograph combined with its mechanical means of production. Despite, or perhaps because of, the purely material basis of this argument they all reach for religious or even messianic analogies; Bazin compares the photograph, in passing, to the Turin Shroud, Sontag to a nail from the true cross and Barthes to St Veronica’s sudarium bearing the miraculous image of Christ. The photograph becomes a secular acheiropoietos for all three writers because it is produced by, in Bazin’s words the instrumentality of a non-living agent. A non-living agent is neither dead nor alive, equivalent perhaps to the undead, with the camera sharing a similar mindless agency to the zombie. There really is, as Barthes claims, something about resurrection in photography. Perhaps it was invented precisely in order to hand over the responsibility of image-making, once and for all, to a non-living agency in an unconscious recognition that the impulse or drive to make them originates in an extant non-human, non-living part of ourselves. In other words it is a job proper to the death drive. This goes beyond photography and the production of images of any kind or for any purpose and to the look itself. Whether it is Orpheus’ irresistible backwards glance, his final, deadly coup d’oeil or the mortifying

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gaze of Medusa, death has done its work through the look. The camera too turns the loved one into a shade or mortifies all those caught in its gaze. However, the camera, of course, does not and cannot see, nor does it matter what Orpheus or Medusa see only what their look does. This look is, in Lacanian terms, the gaze of the scopic drive and has as little to do with seeing as the oral drive has to eating but it operates within scopic scenarios, in the act of taking a picture, entering a video installation, admiring a panoramic view and so on. The optical building-machines of panoramas and panopticons or the digital environments of Google Earth and VR structurally incorporate the scopic drive and offer endless varieties of traps for the gaze. If we add to this Lacan’s understanding of the death drive as operating within or behind all drives including, of course, the scopic drive then Barker’s prison vision of a machine for spectacular unobstructed views returning him to another enclosed space makes more sense. The gaze is never satisfied not because the view is not quite good enough or the video is not HD or 4K or 8K and so on but because the scopic drive does not seek satisfaction at all and is propelled towards excess, destruction and repetition. Throughout Belledonne the viewer is reminded of the act of looking; along with the panorama and the simulated descent into the valley are various scenic views of the sanatorium and in particular an image of a young man looking down from a viewing platform into a spectacular valley. I was a viewer in a gallery looking at a digital representation of a photograph of somebody else looking from another place made for viewing. It is an elaborate trap for the gaze, preventing its termination in an object and instead looped back on itself. The texts also refer repeatedly to looking; to views, to what can or cannot be seen, to prospects, scenes, a screening and so on. These texts or intertitles are not captions; however, they refer explicitly to captions from the reverse of what we assume are the preceding postcard images. Image and text as obverse sides of the same object circled by the meta-captions of the intertitles. As with many of Burgin’s other installations the visual field is divided and shared between image and text and the terms and conditions of their arrangement remain unsettled. As we read pictures and look at writing, images shift from one to the other across different forms of image, used or implied; digital environments, panoramas, cinema, postcards and different forms of writing; inter-titles, captions, novels, a letter, a journal and the haiku. The images evoked by the haikus in particular are striking; striking as of a note on a piano, an analogy Barthes takes from Gide’s journal. We are told this in the same text sequence in which we are informed that his mother brings him music paper.

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This fragment of a scene is accompanied in my mind by the image of a single black note on an otherwise empty music sheet and a picture of a small girl standing in a garden at the turn of the twentieth century. An image of an unseen photograph of a woman I have never seen, as a child in a place I have never been, but it is as strong as a memory. Of course it is a memory of something I have read; the evocative description of the ‘Winter Garden’ photograph of his mother that Barthes refuses to show in Camera Lucida. None of these images are shown or seen but tumble out of a fragment of text. It is partly the sense that there is something that necessarily cannot be seen that snares the gaze as well as producing these involuntary associative images. As in Camera Lucida, which, as a work of mourning, is structured around a search for a picture that is found but not shown, there is a sense in Belledonne that something is being withheld. Not out of choice as it was for Barthes, but because it cannot be shown or seen, even if it is a matter of there not being anything to see. The gaze is deflected, diverted around this missing object and returned to the viewer. Burgin has used the analogy of the film, The Invisible Man (James Whale 1933), and the tactics employed to get around the problem of allowing the cinema audience to ‘see’ him (Bishop and Manghani: 2016), but that is not to say that the object in Burgin’s work is just invisible; it is unseen in the sense that it cannot or must not be seen in order for the work to exist at all. As Freud would put it, the ‘un’ of the unseen is the token of repression; it is absolutely necessary. Unseen here is also a verb, the past tense of unsee. The unseen thing then is something we refuse to see or has already been seen, even if only imagined, and is unseen on its return. The unseen in Burgin’s work is a space around which it is constructed and it should be remembered that Freud’s ‘token of repression’ was actually used in relation to the unheimlich and the return of a repressed place. Although the starting point for Belledonne was the idea of the panorama and the postcard showing a panoramic view from St Hilaire du Touvet, the site of the sanatorium as a building, like the coffee house in A Place to Read (Burgin 2010) and the Mecca apartment block in Prairie (Burgin 2015), is a specific architectural location and organising structure of the piece. In Burgin’s works these sites are, or were, real places but are also places of fantasy and in A Place to Read and Prairie also virtual architectural spaces, but in all cases the architectural spaces and the structure of the work are indivisible. I was intrigued by something Burgin said in a public conversation with Ryan Bishop; that he strongly identified with Alice Munro’s description of short stories as houses (Bishop and Manghani: 2016). She claims that she thinks of a story structurally, not as a road along which

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one travels from A to B, looking at the sights along the way but as a house that can be entered and wandered around from room to room. These structures are built around an ‘indescribable feeling’ often containing a ‘black room’ in which some unspoken or unspeakable event lurks. Burgin describes this as the kernel of affect in relation to his own work and it is easy to see why this architectural model of the story would appeal to him. There is a consistent thread throughout his work both written and visual in different species of spaces and ideas of place constituting the sites at which the psychosocial and the architectural intersect. Munro also says of her stories that they can be entered at any point, that because she thinks of them in spatial terms the reader can begin in any room of her imagined house. The obvious connection to Burgin’s installations is that they actually occupy physical spaces that the perambulating, pensive spectator can enter or leave at will. It should also be remembered that they are rooms constructed inside and in relation to other rooms and just as importantly the installations contain looped projections of other spaces. The projections are made up of sequences that have been edited together specifically as a loop to form a kind of temporal space that can also be entered at any point. The beginning and end is determined by the viewer entering and leaving the space. The structure of the loop in psychoanalytic terms could be understood as generally pathological, indicative of being trapped in compulsive cycles; exactly the kind of behaviour that Freud was trying to account for in Beyond the Pleasure Principle in which he proposed the death drive. However, in the same discussion with Bishop, Burgin says, ‘It’s a mistake to equate the loop with repetition. It can be, but it needn’t be – meaning needn’t come to closure in a circle; it can develop in a spiral and so each turn of the loop can be an unraveling in which new meanings or associations are made’ (Bishop and Manghani 2016: 101). This liberation of the loop from a pathological structure is much like Nabokov’s idea that the circle in its spiral form ‘uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious’ (Nabokov 1975: 115). This is certainly giving the loop a positive spin, so to speak, and is a much more generative way of understanding it.2 However, in my experience of Belledonne its affect is, at least in part, that of an encounter with the death drive. The question is; where, if at all, is the death drive in this loop if it isn’t in the repeated words and images? The repetition does not come from the subject or the subjective experience of the work or of the repeated content but is in the object itself, in its form. In particular, its non-living agency, in the fact that the loop continues whether or not there is anybody in the room to produce meaning or make interpretations. It just keeps turning until

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the gallery closes. On entering the installation I am vaguely aware of this non-living agency and on some level my entrance being an intrusion or interruption of its work. The circle isn’t vicious just utterly indifferent. For me the indescribable feeling or kernel of affect is at least in part dependent or related to this radically unknowable object. I happened to enter the Belledonne installation during the panorama of the sky and so it became the beginning of the piece for me. It is also the longest sequence, making up about a third of the whole thing and it is a loop within the loop therefore reinforcing this sense of a perpetually turning object. It offers no identifiable point of view other than the idea of the virtual eye of a virtual camera. It feels like the impassive and blind position of the hub of a turning machine, as indifferent to the view as it is to the viewer. It has its exact analogy in the stunted column of concrete in the postcard of the panoramic viewing platform, as resolutely indifferent to the prospect of the French Alps as it is to the man who admires the view. At the same time this defiantly unpicturesque stump, the muddy ground on which it squats and the utilitarian fence with its battered chicken wire, dominates the image. The postcard is mainly a picture of the thing that you are meant to look away from not at. The effect is slightly absurd and funny and of course much more interesting than a picture simply taken from the platform. It becomes a blind monument to the gaze and, at least in this picture, a marker of the view that it also obstructs. This object that points to the thing that it obstructs also becomes a monument to the perils of interpretation, standing in for that aspect of the work that simultaneously invites and resists interpretation. I am reminded of the tomb in Poussin’s ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’, that lump of stone in the centre of the painting that obscures the view of the perfect Arcadian landscape, effectively negating the work of art as a landscape. Instead of admiring the view that is denoted on the thing that hides it, we are diverted into the act of reading and interpretation along with the shepherds and art historians such as Panofsky who reenacts this performance of interpretation in his famous essay (Panofsky, 1936). Panofsky’s argument revolved around a clash between what can be read and what can be seen, between good Latin grammar and good iconographic interpretation. He chooses the latter over the former in order to reclaim the painting for humanism and decides that the inscription, which properly means something along the lines of; ‘even in Arcady I, death, hold sway’, in the context of this painting and the rise of humanistic thought at the time, should be understood as an elegiac address from the dead person buried beneath the tomb as in: ‘I too lived and delighted in Arcady’. However, if we think of this tomb in the same terms as the brutalist cairn in the panorama postcard of Belledonne then

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the address could also come from the non-living agency within the work of art; from the ground of Poussin’s negated landscape. The painting is non-human and non-living but speaks and shows nevertheless, offers itself up to interpretation while resisting it and points to the visual delights of the Arcadian landscape while blocking the view. The non-living agency is the property of the death drive, not death. There doesn’t need to be a body in the tomb and the mortality of the shepherds or our mortality is irrelevant and banal. Within the implied narrative of the work the tomb will continue to obstruct the view after the shepherds move on and the painting itself will continue to hang on the wall of the Louvre after we have left and the museum closes. Meanwhile the inscription, with its insistence on an unseen presence will always be in the present tense. The first words I read in Belledonne after the panorama are: ‘He writes:’ The unnamed Barthes writes in the present tense. The author who is writing the words I am reading is going to die and is already dead. The address of the inscription comes from the perpetual present of the loop which, having no beginning or end, has no past or future. What he writes is: ‘A fantasy requires a scene (a scenario) it therefore requires a place.’ What comes to mind again is Munro’s ‘dark room’ and Burgin’s understanding of this in terms of unconscious fantasy, as necessarily hidden. This scene or scenario is what will not be seen in the work but will constitute its kernel and the empty space around which it turns. Burgin describes the point of view in his virtual panoramas as ‘turning upon a mathematical point of zero dimensions’ (Burgin 2008: 92) which Manghani posits as a way of seeking a form of ‘photography degree zero’ (Bishop and Manghani 2016: 87; see also Chapter 4). Whether in terms of a place, a position or point of view this zero degree of theoretical vision is impossible, while at the same time literally central to the work. A non-place around which the work is built. Manghani sees this impossible theoretical place as suggesting ‘an “as if …”, a hypothesis or even an image (or seeing) of a utopia’ (Manghani 2016: 88). The suggestion is some form of equivalent to Barthes’ closing statement in Writing Degree Zero: ‘Literature becomes the utopia of language’, leaving us with the idea of literature as an impossible place. I cannot help but see in the word utopia the negation of the topos, in which the ‘u’ is the token of repression and that the speculative, virtual space of utopia necessarily depends upon its impossibility. Utopias are often described in the negative, in terms of what they are not, as is the case in Burgin’s response; that in accepting the utopian ‘“as if …” as an inevitable precondition’, he makes his work ‘as if commodification and spectacle, the sound bite and the one-liner, were

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not the ruling principles of the society into which they are produced’ (Bishop and Manghani 2016: 88). Utopia will always contain the negative space of the three dots of the ellipsis, which do not indicate what it is but what it is not and this negation is the coiled potential that inhabits the empty centre of the work. The work, therefore, is generated by impossibility and negation as well as the unseen. Impossible points of view and unseeing are already preconditions of cinematic illusion and enjoyment and are enforced through various blind spots. For example, in order not to ruin the illusion by breaking the fourth wall the actors can look anywhere except at a single small point. Like the blind spot of the eye, as described by Merleau–Ponty,3 where the optic nerve joins the retina; the very point at which the eye comes in to being, the lens of the camera is the point at which the scene of the film also comes into being. What makes it possible for the audience to see is the single point that must remain unseen by the actors. Of course there are plenty of examples in which this rule has been deliberately, or more rarely accidentally, ignored but perhaps the most interesting use of this basic law of cinema has been in drawing attention to an almost pathological obedience to it. These conventions of cinema and the necessity of not seeing are exploited, for example, in Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005) in which Haneke’s familiar liberal bourgeois couple, Georges and Anne, receive mysterious video tapes of surveillance footage of their home. At the beginning of the film Haneke has placed the ‘hidden’ camera in plain view, in the middle of the street and at one point, as the couple review the footage in which George is leaving the house, they freeze it on a frame in which he appears to look directly at the camera, to which he comments; ‘How do I not see this guy, it’s a mystery.’ But the key sequence is a prolonged surveillance night shot in which George is seen to return in his car, in whose headlights the shadow of the ‘hidden’ camera is clearly thrown against a tree. It is not the shadow of a small surveillance camera but of a large film rig. As the couple rewind and review the tape, at the moment the shadow appears, which they do not see, the film cuts to a shot of a boy turning to look into the camera as he wipes blood from his mouth. Although this is easily read as an intrusive flashback from George’s point of view triggered by a child’s drawing in which the video tape was wrapped, its place in the sequence indicates that the surveillance footage also belongs to George’s psyche in the form of an eruption of the disavowed ideological and literal apparatus of cinema into the diegesis. The narrative is based around disavowed private and political guilt for hidden or repressed acts of individual cruelty and public atrocity and Haneke uses the necessary unseeing that is involved in making and watching a film as a formal

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and psychic mechanism. George is haunted by his own cruelty as a child as France is haunted by the brutality of its colonial past but the phantom is encrypted in the form, trapping and persecuting him and the audience in a puzzle that has no solution. In this game, agency appears to belong to the characters and the audience as we all try to figure out the mystery of who shot the surveillance footage but the agency, in a sense, has been given to the non-human apparatus itself and it is this that gives the film its uncanny kernel of affect. The psychic content of Burgin’s projection installations are also encrypted in the form but are free of the impositions of narrative or having to address the expectations of a cinema audience, even if to confound them. They offer instead an encounter with an object that embodies the psychic space of its manifest and hidden content, which partly produces the effect of a non-human presence that remains indifferent to the viewer or any affect it may produce. After the encounter the loop continues to run in the same way as museum surveillance cameras continue to record the empty space after the visitors leave. The uncanniness of this unknowable non-human otherness in the work of art is effectively demonstrated in Francis Alÿs’ Nightwatch (2004) in which he arranged for a fox to be released in the National Gallery for a night with its movements recorded by the museum surveillance cameras. The fox was as indifferent to the paintings and the cameras as they were to the fox and to one another. We need not see the footage to know that this would be the case, but it is more than documentation or evidence because its production was immanent in the work and an essential element of it. Surveillance cameras monitoring empty galleries are evocative manifestations of the death drive within the scopic regime, but their excess is also apotropaic, protecting us from the non-human agency in the work of art. I have a strong memory of first experiencing the uncanny effect of this nonhuman encounter between the work of art and the impassive eye of the surveillance camera at Documenta IX in 1992 on finding that my hotel-room TV was streaming live footage from the gallery cameras throughout the night. In a sense I felt that I was witnessing an invisible, unseeable aspect of the artworks; something that had to be kept an eye on in the absence of human viewers. This is what comes to mind standing in the anamorphic panoramic sky of Belledonne, feeling trapped in the position of theoretical vision between spectacle and surveillance. Something like the trapped fox in Alÿs’ Nightwatch or the grainy digital artefactual phantoms produced by the closed circuits of the non-human gaze of surveillance. This prosthetic, apotropaic gaze is meant to protect us from the gaze of the world; to tame the world by turning it into a picture, but it is also persecutory and alienating.

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We are released from the panorama to descend into the digitally rendered mountains and unnaturally flattened valley in the manner of a flight simulator. The mountains and valleys dissolve into the distant mist, somewhere between classical Chinese painting and early gaming environments. These game platforms lacked the processing power to offer up fully rendered worlds and instead the cities and landscapes would emerge from a digital mist, the lower the power the closer the mist. Moving through this kind of environment draws attention to the screen as the mediating surface between us and the world; a world which obligingly forms itself before our eyes out of the white void. This void is the white death of Belledonne, the deadly still clouds in the airless panorama, the dissolving mist and the parcel of snow that falls from a bough. It is also the white death of tuberculosis which is carried on the breath and permeates the thin air of Belledonne with an almost romantic, Gothic sickliness. The breath of the consumptive is the agent of illness and death but is also the life and duration of the haiku. The images invoked by the haikus are suspended on this breath, even the parcel of snow that falls does not land and will always be suddenly falling. Death hangs in the air, suspended in the breath of the sick, while the building floats like ‘an ocean liner in a sea of clouds’ from where letters of condolence are written to ‘down there’. Barthes claimed to have read Mann’s Magic Mountain during his stay at the sanatorium and there must have been a strong element of identification with the young Hans Castorp. Barthes returns to the book towards the end of his life in a series of lectures on how to live together, in which he fantasises about a place in which it is possible to live simultaneously apart and together. This is the scenario or place referred to in the intertitles, specifically the idiorrhythmic monasteries of Athos, and elsewhere in Barthes’ lecture notes the scene of fantasy can be found in the sanatorium of the Magic Mountain. It is difficult not to see the young Barthes in the Castorp of the section headed ‘Research’ in which he reads late into the winter evenings, dressed in furs and covered in rugs on his balcony overlooking the night-time panorama of the Swiss Alps. The recurring question of his research is ‘what is life?’ a question which also recurs in various forms throughout Barthes’ work, not least of course in the question of how to live together. Castorp’s research into the question of life is mostly in the field of biology and its literal origins at which inorganic matter becomes organic. There is a remarkable similarity between this section and Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle in which he looks to biology and the most primitive forms of life for the model of the death drive, arriving at the proposal that it is the original drive located at the origin of life itself; when ‘the attributes of life were

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aroused in non-living matter by the operation upon it of a force we are still incapable of imagining […] The tension generated at that point in previously inanimate matter sought to achieve equilibrium; thus the first drive came into existence: the drive to return to the inanimate’ (Freud 2003: 78). Freud’s primal scene of life presents inorganic matter as resistant to life; as a process of repeated and persistent attempts by this unimaginable force to animate matter that prefers to remain inanimate. Castorp’s research meanwhile leads him to the idea of life as a form of disease: ‘And life? Life itself? Was it perhaps only an infection, a sickening of matter? Was that which one might call the original procreation of matter only a disease, a growth produced by the morbid stimulation of the immaterial?’ Castorp concludes that life was ‘nothing but the automatic blush of matter roused to sensation and become receptive for that which awaked it’ (Mann 1960: 285–6) before falling into an erotic daydream in which life, in the form of a beautiful naked woman embraces and kisses him. His description of awakening matter becomes confused with the effect of the disease in his body; life, death and desire are merged in l’embrasement, an involuntary flaring up or automatic blush of desire in the face of pale death. But this is not a romantic contest between Thanatos and Eros, it is the death drive beyond and before the sexual drive. Mann’s interest in psychoanalysis is well known and the Magic Mountain was published only a few years after Freud’s Uncanny and, a little later, Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Whether or not Mann had read them while completing his novel it is permeated by the uncanniness of the death drive. For example in an exchange with Joachim in which Castorp discusses why he finds his heart palpitations so disquieting; ‘a person ordinarily has palpitation of the heart when he is frightened, or when he is looking forward to some great joy. But when it palpitates all by itself, without any reason, senselessly, of its own accord, so to speak, I feel that’s uncanny, you understand, as if the body was going its own gait without any reference to the soul, like a dead body, only it is not really dead – there isn’t any such thing, of course – but leading a very active existence all on its own account, growing hair and nails and doing a lively business in the physical and chemical line’ (Mann 1960: 70). Castorp’s undead body actively conducts its business independently of his ego; it has its own agency unconnected to the human soul. In fact the description is closer to a Lacanian formulation of the death drive as a kind of excess of life or as an uncanny, inner automaton. It is this un-dead, non-human agency that Castorp recognises in his own body that I recognise in the work of art, which actively conducts its business independently of the artist or the viewer. Confronting a work of art is also an encounter between these non-human

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agencies and our proximity to this encounter is also a brush with the real, which is in turn a constituent of the kernel of affect, that essential part of the experience of a work of art that cannot be accounted for. Burgin’s projected loops in general, and Belledonne in particular, bring us close to this uncanny encounter with the death drive, bringing the part it plays in the ontology of the work of art nearer to the surface. It is tempting but crudely reductive to see the death drive simply in the repetitive, mechanical movement of the loop. Although it is true in part, it is also in the relation between the still and the moving and the various durations and forms of image that appear and disappear; it is in the intervals of the rhythm of the work, in its breath and palpitations.

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Notes 1 The passage by historian Olive Cook and cited by Friedberg describes a revelatory moment in which Barker is astonished by the effect of a shaft of light as it falls on a letter in his hands. 2 This is also very much Homay King’s understanding in her discussion of Burgin’s loops, which she regards not just as a spiral but ‘a four-dimensional one, open at both ends, designed not to return to zero, but to swirl up an ever-expanding range of inter-connected times, places, people and texts’ (King 2014: 71). 3 ‘What [the eye] does not see is what in it prepares the vision of the rest (as the retina is blind at the point where the fibres that will permit the vision spread out into it). What it does not see is what makes it see, is its tie to being, is its corporeity, are the existentials by which the world becomes visible, is the flesh wherein the object is born’ (Merleau-Ponty 1964: 248).

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References Barthes, Roland (1967) Writing Degree Zero, trans. by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. London: Jonathan Cape. Barthes, Roland (1981) Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hall and Wang. Bazin, Andre (1960) ‘The Ontology of the Photographic Image’, Film Quarterly 13: 4, pp. 4–9. Bishop, Ryan and Sunil Manghani (2016) Barthes/ Burgin. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Burgin, Victor (2008) Components of a Practice. Milan: Skira. Burgin, Victor (2009) Situational Aesthetics: Selected Writings by Victor Burgin, ed. Alexander Streitberger. Leuven: Leuven University Press. Cook, Olive (1963) Movement in Two Dimensions. London: Hutchinson & Co. Freud, Sigmund [1920] (2003) Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Other Writings, trans. John Reddick. London: Penguin. Friedberg, Anne (1993) Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. King, Homay (2014) ‘Beyond Repetition: Victor Burgin’s Loops’, in Projective: Essays about the Work of Victor Burgin, ed. Victor Burgin, Gulru Chakmak, David Campany, Homay King, D. N. Rodowick and Anthony Vidler. Geneva: MAMCO.

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Lacan, Jacques (1977) ‘The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis’, in, Écrits A Selection, trans. A. Sheridan. London: Tavistock. Lacan, Jacques [1973] (1981) The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. A. Sheridan. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Mann, Thomas [1924] (1960) The Magic Mountain, trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. London: Penguin. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice [1964] (1968) The Visible and the Invisible, trans. Alphonso Lingis. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Nabokov, Vladimir (1975) Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Panofsky, Erwin (1936) ‘Et in Arcadia ego: On the Conception of Transience in Poussin and Watteau’, in Philosophy and History Essays presented to Ernst Cassirer, ed. R. Klibansky and H. J. Patton. Oxford: Clarenden Press, pp. 223–54. Sontag, Susan (1977) On Photography London: Penguin Books

Notes on Contributors Christine Berthin is Professor of Literature and Translation Studies at the University of Paris Nanterre. She has published extensively on Romantic fiction, art and poetry and is the author of Gothic Hauntings: Melancholy Crypts and Textual Ghosts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). Ryan Bishop is Professor of Global Arts and Politics at the Winchester School of Art, the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, where he co-directs the research group Archaeologies of Media and Technology with Jussi Parikka. In addition to co-editing with John Armitage, Mark Featherstone and Doug Kellner the journal Cultural Politics (Duke University Press), he also coedits the book series ‘Technicities’ (with John Armitage and Joanne Roberts, Edinburgh University Press) and ‘A Cultural Politics’ book series (with John Armitage and Doug Kellner). Bishop’s most recent books include Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics (co-edited with John Beck, Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and Comedy and Cultural Critique in American Film (Edinburgh University Press, 2013). Victor Burgin is an artist and theorist. Over the past thirty years his creative practice and writings have established him as both a highly influential artist and a renowned theorist of the still and moving image. Burgin first came to prominence in the late 1960s and can be considered one of the leading Conceptual artists and theorists from the UK working internationally. Often concerned with architecture, space, the built environment, memory and the means by which memory is physically and technologically constructed, Burgin’s recent digital projection installations can be considered as ‘photographs that move’. These works are not video as such, nor photography, but deliberate, painstaking digital constructions using current technologies. Sean Cubitt is Professor of Film and Television, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the author of several books, most recently Finite Media: Environmental Implications of Digital Technologies and The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technologies from Prints to Pixels. Gordon Hon is a writer, artist and film-maker based in London. He teaches Fine Art and Visual Culture at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. He is the co-author, with Bashir Makhoul, of The Origins of Palestinian Art (Liverpool, 2013), described by W. J. T. Mitchell as ‘the most important point of departure for all future writing on the subject’. He also teaches and writes on film and is involved in the burgeoning field of video essays with a particular interest in the ‘post-cinematic’ and new forms of spectatorship. He is co-founder of the Oktopus Film

427

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Collective for which he has collaborated on a series of short films. Along with Amber Jacobs at Birkbeck college, University of London, he is currently developing an interdisciplinary project on cunning. Kristin Kreider is currently Reader in Poetry & Poetics and Director of the Practice-based PhD Programme across the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London. Kristen’s research is situated at a crossover between poetry, art and architecture where she produces creative, critical and theoretical writing, including a monograph entitled Poetics and Place: The Architecture of Sign, Subjects and Site (I. B. Tauris, January 2014). Sunil Manghani is Professor of Theory, Practice and Critique at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton; and was co-organiser and faculty member for the final Stone Summer Theory Institute, Farewell to Visual Studies (2011, School of the Art Institute, Chicago). He was the co-curator of Barthes/Burgin at the John Hansard Gallery (2016) and co-editor of Farewell to Visual Studies? (Penn State University Press, 2015), India’s Biennale Effect (Routledge, 2017), and Images: A Reader (Sage, 2006). He is also author of Image Studies: Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2013) and Image Critique and the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Intellect, 2008); an Associate Editor for Theory, Culture & Society; and editor of two multi-volume anthologies, Images: Critical and Primary Sources and Painting: Critical and Primary Sources (Bloomsbury, 2013; 2015). James O’Leary is Senior Lecturer in Innovative Technology and Design Realisation at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, where he leads the M. Arch Architecture Design Realisation programme. He was the 2014 recipient of the Irish Arts Council Architecture Bursary Award. He was recently granted a TECHNE doctoral studentship to conduct research into the role of the architect in the transformation of ‘Interface Areas’ in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Domietta Torlasco is a critical theorist, film-maker, and associate professor of Italian and comparative literature at Northwestern University. She is the author of two books, The Time of the Crime: Phenomenology, Psychoanalysis, Italian Film (Stanford University Press, 2008) and The Heretical Archive: Digital Memory at the End of Film (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Her video essays have screened at national and international venues, including the Galerie Campagne Première in Berlin.

428

Index AA files, 260 ablative perspective, 193–7 aerial photography, 407–8 African American community, 13, 355, 362,   368, 400 Alberti, Leon Battista, 120, 122, 123–4, 208 Alexander Nevskyi, 393 Alice ou la derniere fugue, 152 alienation technique, 8–9 Alpers, Svetlana, 121, 122, 123–4,   125, 126 Althusser, Louis, 22, 31, 32, 140 Alÿs, Francis, 421–2 amateur, 170–2 The Ambassadors, 209 Amorim, Marilia, 259 Ancient Greece, 109, 366–7 animation, 269 Antirrhetics, 197 Antonioni, 402 Apelles, 216 apparatus, 246–7 art, 165–8 camera, 163–5 Arbeiter-Fotograf, 241 Architectural Association, 260 Argo, 13, 355–6, 357 Aristotle, 31, 168, 206–7, 207–8 Arnheim, Rudolf, 245 Art & Language, 1 art apparatus, 165–8 Art Language group, 20 Art Monthly, 1–2 The Art of Painting, 122 Artaud, Antonin, 6 Artforum, 143 De Artifiaali Perspectiva, 123–4 aspect, 122–3 Atelier, 125–6 Athens, Still Remains, 137, 151 attention, 33–4

Au-delà du plaisir visuel: Féminisme, énigmes, cinéphilie, 12, 235 automatism, 146 Avendon, Richard, 358–9 avisual images, 200–1 Ayer, A. J., 19–20 Bachelard, Gaston, 404 Baldeshwiler, Eileen, 341 Balzac, Honoré de, 1 Barker, George, 413, 415, 425n barre oblique, 1–2, 223 Barthes, Roland, 1–2 ‘Barthes’ Discretion’, 27, 34–5 Barthes/Burgin exhibition 2016, viii, ix, 1–2, 13,   34, 333–4, 355 Barthes/Burgin: Notes Towards An Exhibition, 1–2 Barthes/Burgin, 17, 26, 159, 223 Bashō, Matsuo, 171 Basualdo, Carlos, 115–17, 119 Batteux, Charles, 181n The Battleship Potemkin, 394 Baudrillard, Jean, 209, 258 Baudry, Jean-Louis, 246–7 Bauhaus, 194, 195, 361 Bayer, Herbert, 139, 225, 226 Bazin, Andre, 12, 414 The Beast and the Sovereign, 144 Beckett, Samuel, 7, 151–2 Being and Nothingness, 169 Belledonne, ix, 1, 11, 43–107 ghosts, 333–4 neutral seeing, 132 panorama, 39, 152–4 psychoanalytic theory, 13 ‘reprise’, 367 work of death in, 413–26 Belting, Hans, 34, 211 Benjamin, Walter, 246, 247, 262 Bentham, Jeremy, 413 Benveniste, Èmile, 372–4, 396, 402–3, 405

429

Index

Bergson, Henri, 148, 262 Berkel, Ben van, 267 Berlin, 7 Berman, Marshall, 114 Berque, Augustin, 173 Berthin, Christine, 13 la bêtise, 169, 182n Beyond the Pleasure Principle, 417, 422–3 Bhabha, Homi, 228 Bible, 157n binary code, 8 Bishop, Ryan, 1, 12, 223, 257–72, 416–17 Black Skin, White Masks, 387 Blanchot, Maurice, 346 Bluestone, Daniel, 362, 377 Bois, Yve-Alain, 410n Boltanski, Luc, 166–7 Bonnard, Pierre, 184n Bonnemaison, Joachim, 250n Borges, Jorge Luis, 216 Bose, Amar, 149–50 brecciation, 334–8 Brecht, Bertolt, 9, 112–13, 114–15, 126, 167, 168 Breton, André, 31 Brick House, 360–361 Broadway Boogie Woogie, 360 Brøndal, Viggo, 9, 162 Brooks, Gwendolyn, 375, 399, 400 Brunelleschi, Filippo, 164, 198 Bryson, Norman, 209 Buñuel, Luis, 220–3, 223–4, 243–4 Buren, Daniel, 8, 116–17 Burgin, Victor, 1–2 interview with, 17–42, 257–72 Burnham, Franklin P., 380 Burnham, Jack, 142–3, 252–3n Caché, 420–1 Cage, John, 3, 11, 176 camera, 265–6 apparatus, 163–5 as object and process, 257–72 and politics, 241–5 techniques, 220–8

430

Camera Lucida critical literature, 14 death, 416 Moten, 378–9 photography, 358–9, 414 ‘remembered film’, 26–7 Sartre, 113 time, 33 camera obscura, 120, 122, 124 Camus, Albert, 122, 160–1, 161–2, 190 Cape series, 18 capitalism, 166–7, 179 Carcere oscura, 393–4 Carter, Angela, 339 Cartesian self-enclosure, 209 Casby, William, 358–9 Caygill, Howard, 119 Ce qui n’a pas de prix, 33 Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS),   142–3 Cézanne, Paul, 241, 405 CGI, 5, 7, 12, 13, 215–16, 356, 370 Chamberlain, Basil Hall, 172–3 Chambers, 150 Chan, Alex, 242 ‘Change the Object Itself’, 21–2, 23–4 Charbol, Claude, 152 Charbonnier, Georges, 18 Charcot, Jean-Martin, 28 The Charterhouse of Parma, 350 Chicago, 13 Un chien andalou, 220–3, 221, 243–4 Chinese painting, 172–4, 208–9, 398 chora, 263 cinema, 235–56 cinemagraphs, 241–2 ‘Cinematic gesture: The ghost in the machine’,   235–6 cinematic heterotopia, 30, 257–8, 266–7 cinematic metaphysics, 220–8 Cinerama technology, 245 Classic Hollywood Cinema, 220, 224 Classicism, 161 Claude, Paul, 205

Index

Cold War, 114–15 Coleman, James, 410n College de France lectures French language, 182n neutral writing, 36 The Preparation of the Novel, 176 the real, 31, 179–80, 244 rhythm, 373 sanatorium, 40 space, 33–4 colour, 118–22, 195 Columbus, Christopher, 385–7, 388 Comment vivre ensemble, 33–4 commodities, 166–7 Components of a Practice, 17–18, 19, 38, 137 Composition Trees II, 360 Compositions in the Square, 360 Conceptual Art, 8, 30 conceptualism, 117 Confessions, 144 Constable, John, 252n Conversations with Claude Levi-Strauss, 18 Cook, Olive, 425n Costa, David J., 381–2 Coste, Claude, 169 Courbet, Gustave, 125–6 Crary, Jonathan, 215 Crown Hall, Chicago, 13, 337, 355, 356–7, 368,   377, 399–400 Cubitt, Sean, 12, 212, 217, 257–72 Culler, Jonathan, 20–1 cutting, 220–8 cybernetic aesthetics, 137–58 ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’ exhibition, 252n Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, 141, 145, 156 da Vinci, Leonardo, 214, 215, 216–217, 386 Dali, Salvador, 220–3, 243–4 Daney, Serge, 112–13 David, 125 Davis, Whitney, 209–10, 213 Dawson, Ian, 201, 229 De la Misere symbolique, 384

De Quincey, Thomas, 334–5, 393 de Vries, Vredeman, 124 Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image, 235, 236, 238, 244–5 Defoe, Daniel, 404–5 degree zero, 5, 160, 162–3, 178 Le degrée zero de l’écriture, 244 déjà-lu, 24 Deleuze, Gilles Bergson, 262 la bêtise, 169 control society, 181n dreams, 26, 178 Klee, 180 narrative, 338–9 painting, 176 repetition, 30, 182n Democritus, 372–3 demotic, 170–2 Derrida, Jacques Artaud, 6 Athens, Still Remains, 151–2 Ayer, 19 iterability, 143–5, 147–8 perspective, 194 photography, 228, 406 technology, 137, 155–6, 180, 193 Text, 24, 111 Deschooling Society, 180 Diagram of 360 Degrees Field of Vision, 139,    226, 333–54, 376 Dictionary of Received Ideas, 169 ‘Diderot, Barthes, Vertigo’, 26–8, 29, 236 ‘Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein’, 26–7, 109, 112,   396–7 Diderot, Denis, 27, 249n, 397 Didi-Huberman, Georges, 119, 263 Difference and Repetition, 169, 182n digital 3D-imaging software, 5 discourse analysis, 23–5 documentary, 31 Dovedale, 334, 337–9, 342, 344, 346–8, 351 Dovedale by Moonlight, 347–8 doxa, 168–170, 264

431

Index

‘The Dressmaker’s Dummy’, 129 Dubois, Philippe, 342 Dubrovnik, 267 Duchamp, Marcel, 116 Dürer, Albrecht, 202, 208, 229 Dutch painting, 10–11, 12, 21, 111, 115,   118–29 dynamis, 206–7, 210 The Eclipse, 402 École pratique des hautes etudes, 9 l’écriture zéro, 160 editing, 220–8 Einstein, Albert, 206 Eisenstein, Sergei M., 126, 220, 223, 393–5, 396,   397–8, 410n El Greco, 393 Eldem, Sedad Hakki, 263 Élements de la sémiologie, 162 Elements of Semiology, 18–19 The Empire of Signs, 18, 170–1, 173 The End of Art Theory, 26 ‘End of History?’, 128 Enrichment. A critique of the commodity, 166–7 The Erasers, 130 l’erciture blanche, 160 Ernst, Max, 220, 222 Ernst, Wolfgang, 145–6 Erté, 162 Espirit, 21–2 Esquerre, Arnaud, 166–7 L’Etranger, 160–1, 161 Euclid, 130, 206, 260, 265, 267 Eurozine, 333 Existences, 160 ‘Experiments in Art and Technology’ (EAT),   252–3n Fanon, Franz, 385–6, 387–8 fascism, 179 feedback, 142 Feuerbach, 22, 269 The Fifth Promenade, 35–6 Figure of Man, 386–7

432

Film as Art, 245 Fincher, David, 157n Finnegans Wake, 147 Five Pieces for Projection, 5–6 Flaubert, Gustave, 127, 169 Florence, 245 Fontaine, Joan, 248 formalism, 143 Forms of Telling exhibition, 334 ‘1492: A New World View’, 385–7 Foucault, Michel apparatus, 164–5, 167 discourse analysis, 23 Las Meninas, 126–7 Nietzsche, 182n optical panopticism, 259 The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 204 Fournié, Georges, 183n frames, 235–56 Frankfurt School, 112 The French Democracy, 242 French language, 182n French Marxism, 159 Freud, Sigmund death drive, 269, 417, 422–3 dreams, 134n, 145, 336 fetishism, 235 Image, 262 neuroscience, 27–8 panorama, 13 ‘Remembering, Repeating and WorkingThrough’, 239, 270 time, 387 unseen, 416 Wunderblock, 193 Friedberg, Anne, 425n ‘From Work to Text’, 23–4, 190–1, 192, 228 Fromentin, Eugène, 120 Fuchs, Catherine, 23 Fukuyama, Francis, 128 GAFA, 241–2 Gagaku, 174

Index

Game Studies: the international journal of computer game research, 251n Gance, Abel, 245 Garcia, Tristan, 28 Gardener, Alexander, 414 Gastineau, Benjamin, 238 gaze Belledonne, 413–16, 421–2 Bryson, 209 End of History, 133 Hon, 13 Image, 343–5 Lacan, 204 neutral seeing, 123, 125–9 painting, 115–16, 347–8 representation, 110, 226, 238 spectatorship, 247 theoretical vision, 10 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 235–6 ‘Geometry and Abjection’, 38, 260 German Pavilion, 361, 365, 369–70 German Zero movement, 8 Germany Year Zero, 7, 29–30 ghosts, 333–54 Giedion, Sigfried, 196 Godard, Jean-Luc, 168, 182n, 247 Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, 252n Gramsci, Antonio, 39 Gravida, 217 Great Depression, 179, 400 Great Migration, 13 Greek drama, 269 Greenberg, Clement, 30, 31, 114, 143, 240,   244–5 grid, 359–64, 364 Guattari, Félix, 338 Guston, Philip, 176 Haacke, Hans, 146 haiku, 37, 132, 153, 171, 339–40, 341–2, 415 Haneke, Michael, 420–1 Hansard, John, 1 Hansard exhibition, 13, 333–4, 335, 355–6 Harman, Graham, 28

Harper’s Magazine, 377 Hawks, Howard, 235–6 Hayakawa, S. I., 196 Heath, Stephen, 401 Heidegger, Martin, 144 Hemingway, Ernest, 160–1 Hiroshima, 7 ‘Historicity of the Avant-Garde: Piranesi and Eisenstein’, 394 History, 127 History of Sexuality, 165 history painting, 249n Holbein, Hans, 209 Holland, 118 Hollywood Cinema, 238 Hon, Gordon, 13 Hong Sang-soo, 240–1, 250n Hoogstraten, 212 hooks, bell, 384–5 Hopper, Edward, 217 ‘Hornpipe’, 150 Hotel D, 335 Hôtel Dieu, Toulouse, 261, 262, 335 How to Live Together, 38–9, 144, 396, 404–5 ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’, 137–58, 157n ICA, 31–2 ideological chora, 260 ideological vigilance, 34–5 idiorrhythmy, 373, 404–5, 409 Illich, Ivan, 180 Illinois, 381–2 Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), 337, 355,    357, 361–2, 368, 377, 399–400 Image, 3–4, 190–1, 197–214, 228–30, 257–72 Image, Icon, Economy, 197 Images malgré tout, 263 imaginal, 197–8 imaging technologies, 197–9 imagism, 223 IMAX, 245 ‘In the Mecca’, 375, 400 indexicality, 261–2, 263 In/Different Spaces, 6, 27, 260

433

Index

In/Different Times, 126 industrial capitalism, 166–7 Infield, Leopold, 206 information theory, 141–3 Institute of Design, 13 Interior of the Church of St. Bavo in Haarlem, 123 Interior of the St. Laurens Church at Alkmaar, 123 International Exposition, Barcelona 1929, 361,   365, 369–70 interstitiality, 172–7 intertextuality, 111, 134n intertitles, 139–40, 153 Invention of the Art of Drawing, 217, 218, 219 invisibility, 199–200 The Invisible Man, 231, 416 iPhotography, 241–2 Isozaki, Arata, 403 Istanbul Archaeological Museum, 261, 262–3 Istanbul Biennale 2010, 5 iterability, 143–4, 147–8 El Jaleo, 218 James, Henry, 119 James, William, 211 Japan, 170–1, 172–4, 182n, 264, 268, 403 Japanese painting, 172–4, 208–9, 398 Jealousy, 129, 132 Jet, 377–9 La Jetée, 29, 179 Jim Crow laws, 13 Jivaro heads, 25–6 Juno Ludovisi, 366–7 Kafka, Franz, 347 Kahn, Doug, 149 Kames, Lord, 401 Kant, Immanuel, 155, 212 Kapoor, Anish, 33 Keathley, Christian, 238 Kepes, György, 142–3, 195–7, 198, 199 Kepler, Johannes, 121, 122–3, 124 King, Homay, 425n Kinnell, Galway, 8 Kittler, Friedrich, 157n, 184n, 252n

434

Klee, Paul, 8, 180, 216 Klyce, Ren, 157n Knausgaard, Karl Ove, 168, 243, 368 Kolbe, Georg, 365, 370 Krapp’s Last Tape, 157n Krauss, Rosalind, 359–60, 410n Kreider, Kristen, 13 Kristeva, Julia, 24, 111, 134n, 175 Kubelka, Peter, 245 Kundera, Milan, 29–30 Lacan, Jacques Bergson, 262 cybernetic theory, 157n The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 204 gaze, 209, 415 geometry, 260 mirror stage, 169 Other, 170 the real, 31, 180 Language, Truth and Logic, 19 Language of Vision, 195–6 Laplanche, Jean, 239, 248, 270, 404 Last Year at Marienbad, 132 layers, 31, 240, 333, 356, 367–8 Le Brun, Annie, 33 ‘Leaving the Movie Theater’, 34 Leclaire, Serge, 239, 270, 404 Lefebvre, Henri, 372, 403–4 Leibnitz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 162 Leroi-Gourhan, André, 252n Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 31 Letter from an Unknown Woman, 237, 248 Levinas, Emmanuel, 260 Lévi-Strauss, Claude, 162, 172–3 liberalism, 128 Libération, 113 Life magazine, 400 Lincoln in the Bardo, 251n Lippit, Akira Mizuta, 199 literature, 19, 161–2, 244 The Lives of Artists, 195 Living-Together, 408–9

Index

logical positivism, 20 The Lonely Metropolitan, 225 ‘Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure...’, 37 loops Belledonne, 417–19 Bible, 157n cybernetic aesthetics, 137–56 King, 425n Prairie, 393–412 Prairie (Argo), 355–92 projection pieces, 6, 12 psychoanalytic theory, 239–40 repetition, 30–1 Loos, Adolf, 380–1 Lorde, Audre, 364 Lubitsche, Ernst, 28 Lucas, George, 260 Lucier, Alvin, 12, 138–40, 142–3, 145–51,   155–6, 157n Lumière, Louis, 237 Lumière brothers, 263 luxury art, 33 Lyotard, Jean-François, 184n, 205 MacCabe, Colin, 242 Macfarlane, Alan, 174 machinima, 242, 250n, 257–8, 261–2 Macy Conferences, 141 The Magic Mountain, 40, 404–5, 422–4 Malerei Fotografie Film, 189 Mallarmé, Stephane, 116–17, 160 Man Drawing a Lute, 202 Manghani, Sunil, 1, 11–12, 419 Mann, Thomas, 40, 404–5, 422–4 Manovich, Lev, 258–9 Marker, Chris, 7, 29, 152, 179, 263 Marty, Éric, 36–7, 173 Marx, Karl, 22, 32, 140 Marxism, 176–7, 183n French, 159 mashups, 242, 257–8 Matter and Memory, 148 May, John, 201

McLuhan, Marshall, 252n Mecca apartment complex, 13, 337, 355, 356–7,    377, 380, 416 ‘Mecca Tenants Fight - 1950’, 377, 400 medial/televisual image, 209 Meisel, Edmund, 394 Méliès, George, 220 memory, 334–5 Las Meninas, 126–7 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 162, 198, 408, 420,   425n Metz, Christian, 250n Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Language Committee, 381–2 ‘Mies in Maurelia’, 365, 369–70 Mies van der Rohe, 13, 337, 355–7, 360–2, 365,    368–70, 377, 399–400 Minimalism, 8 Mirzoeff, Nicholas, 191 MIST (Managerial-Instrumentalist-ScientisticTechnocratic), 29 Mitchell, W. J. T., 4, 192, 210 MJ Unstable RTI, 203 modernism, 30 Moholy-Nagy, L., 189, 189, 194–6, 198–200, 227 Mondrian, Piet, 360 Mondzain, Marie-José, 24–5, 197–8 Monet, Claude, 241 money, 32–3 Monroe, Marilyn, 235–6 montage, 394–5, 397, 398 Moten, Fred, 378–9 Mourning Diary, 350 The Movies, 242 Mulvey, Laura, 20, 235–6, 238–9, 241, 244,   244–5 Mumma, Gordon, 150 Munro, Alice, 341, 416–17, 419 Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Siegen, Germany,    147, 333, 335–6 music, 30, 110, 173–4 My Brother’s Keeper, 251n My Name is Red, 164 Le Mythe de Sysyphe, 162

435

Index

mythoclasm, 22 Mythologies, 20–2, 26, 34–5, 118–19, 175,   176–7, 359 Nabokov, Vladimir, 417 naming, 385–9 Nancy, J. L., 343 Napoléon, 245 narration, 238–41 narrative, 250n Nausée, La, 175, 198 neuroscience, 28 neutral, 20–1, 36–7, 177 The Neutral, 3 neutral seeing, 109–36 neutral writing, 36, 114 Le Neutre, 33–4, 38 New York Times, 251n New Yorker, 265 Newton, Helmut, 25 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 30, 169 Nietzsche’s Paris, 344 Nightwatch, 421–2 Nikephoros, 197 Ninotchka, 28 notation, 339–40 ‘Notes on the Making of Un chien andalou’,   243–4 ‘Notes Towards a Phenomenology of the Narrative’, 250n ‘The Notion of “Rhythm” in its Linguistic Expression’, 372–4 Nottingham School of Art, 18 Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog), 7, 152, 261, 263 Oak Tree in the Snow, 348 object, 129, 131, 143 Objectivism, 178 objects, 162 Occasio, 144–5, 147–8, 152 Oeuvres complètes, 173 Office at Night, 217 ‘The Old Rhetoric’, 169 O’Leary, James, 13

436

‘On Fetishism’, 235 ‘One Always Fails in Speaking of What One Loves’, 350 Ophüls, Max, 236, 237–8, 237, 248 optical panopticism, 259 ornament, 380–1 ‘Ornament and Crime’, 380–1 Osborne, Peter, 407 Other, 170 Oxford, 20 painting, 30–1, 189–234, 236, 240, 347 Painting, Photography, Film, 194–5 palimpsest, 334–8 Pamuk, Orhan, 164 Panofsky, Erwin, 418–19 panopticon, 413 panorama Belledonne, 11, 152–3, 349–50, 413–22 Bose, 149 camera obscura, 120 CGI, 5 digital space, 342 digital technics, 229, 245–8 framing, 10, 137, 224, 227 Kepler, 123 moving, 249n photography, 38–40 psychoanalytic theory, 13 still moving, 230–1 technology, 138 theoretical vision, 190 time, 250n Panorama, 237 panoramic perception, 237–8 paragrammatism, 111 Parent, Claude, 267 Paris, 28, 139, 161, 242 Paris Exposition Universalle 1900, 237 Parzival, 7, 29–30, 38, 140, 189, 201 Payne, Lewis, 414 Pêcheux, Michel, 23 Pedagogical Sketchbook, 216 Pelerin, Jean. see Viator

Index

perception, 335 Le Père Duchêne, 111 perspectival system of representation, 247 perspectivalism, 124–5, 208 perspective ablative, 193–7 and shadow, 214–19 phenomenology, 162 Phillips, John, 223 photocollage, 361–2 photogrammetry, 267 photography, 189–234, 376 aerial, 407–8 camera, 163–5 and death, 414 on Prairie, 393–412 Prairie (Argo), 358–9, 377–9 psychoanalytic theory, 23 as rhythm, 393–412 technology, 265–7 photography degree zero, 38, 419 Photopath, 216 Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 393–4, 395, 396, 398,   408–9, 410n A Place to Read, 1, 5, 333–54 CGI, 215–16 neutral, 35–6 psychical realism, 38 site specificity, 367, 416 time, 132 Plato chora, 260–1 doxa, 168 Image, 211 projection, 228, 263 real, the, 206–7 rhythm, 373–4, 403 technology, 180, 184n, 252n pleasure, 17, 18 The Pleasure of the Text, 115, 174, 177 Pliny, 216, 218 ploughing, 381–3 Poetics, 31 poetics of loss, 344–51

political art, 25, 32, 242, 243 politics, and camera, 241–5 Polyvision system, 245 post-digital aesthetics, 151–5 posthistoire, 128 Pot Luck, 404–5 Pound, Ezra, 223 Poussin, Nicolas, 122, 130, 418–19 Powers, Richard, 218 The Practice of Light, 212 Prairie, 1, 12–13, 132, 273–331, 337, 393–412,   416 Prairie (Argo), 355–92 The Preparation of the Novel, 175, 176, 339–40,   349, 350 prisons, 413–14 prize giving, 165, 167–8, 181n projection, 5–6, 30–1, 130, 212, 189–234, 263 Projection, 406 projection loops, 137–58 projection pieces, 12, 145, 152–3, 270, 333–51,   402, 417 Protekult, 241 Protogenes, 216 Proust, Marcel, 37, 262 psychical cubism, 137 psychical realism, 30, 38 psychical reality, 39 psychoanalytic theory, 26–9, 235–6, 239–40,   270, 417 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 251n punctum, 6, 18, 27, 29, 214, 238, 249n, 379 Quattrocento perspectival tradition, 139 Qu’est-ce que la Littérature?, 244 Racine, Jean, 9 Raigan, Melissa, 141, 154 The Railway Journey, 238 Rancière, Jacques, 243, 366–7 ‘Reading Barthes’, 17, 17–42 Readings, Bill, 183–4n Reagan, Ronald, 33 the real, 31–2, 179–80, 369

437

Index

Realism, 119, 252n ‘Recent Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Communications’, 141 regard, 154–5 ‘Reinventing the Medium’, 410n reiteration, 111, 224, 231, 239, 270 Rembrandt, 125 The Remembered Film, 6, 384–5 3-D modelling, 260 cinematic heterotopia, 257 digital rendering, 27 German Pavilion, 365 loops, 31 sequence-image, 26, 214 ‘Remembering, Repeating and WorkingThrough’, 239, 270 repetition, 30–1, 140–8 representation, 32–3, 109–11 reprise, 30–1, 138, 143, 333–4, 367–8 ‘Réquichot and His Body’, 111 ‘Re-Reading Camera Lucida’, 26 Resnais, Alain, 7, 152, 261, 263 response/abilities of seeing, 1–16 response-abillity, 3, 11 Revolution in Poetic Language, 111 ‘Revolutionary “Renegades”: Native Americans, African Americans, and Black Indians’, 384–5 ‘Rhetoric of the Image’, 24 rhythm, 372–6 photography as, 393–412 on Prairie, 393–412 Rhythmanalysis, 372 Riddles of the Sphinx, 241 Rihanna, 111 Ring Cycle, 269 Robbe-Grillet, Alain, 12, 111, 124–5, 127–32,    162, 190, 230 Robinson Crusoe, 19, 39, 144–5, 404–5 Rodowick, David, 138, 261, 271, 402, 406 Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, 9, 14, 177 Rolfe, Gary, 183–4n Rome, 32 Rossellini, Roberto, 7, 29–30 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 36, 144

438

RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging), 200–1, 229 Rubens, Peter Paul, 145, 335–6 Russell, Bertrand, 174 Russian Formalism, 246 Saarinen, Eero, 400 Sade, 33 Saenredam, Pieter, 10–11, 12, 109–36 Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet Belledonne, 11, 335, 342, 349, 415 The Magic Mountain, 422 Marxism, 183n panorama, 40, 152–4, 416 writing, 160 Samoyault, Tiphanie, 9–10, 113, 350 Sand, Georges, 169 Sargent, John Singer, 218, 218 Sarkozy, Nicolas, 242 Sartre, Jean-Paul bad faith, 169, 182n gaze, 209 Merleau-Ponty, 198 What is Literature? 9, 175, 178, 244 writing, 112–13, 127, 160–2 Saunders, George, 251n Saussure, Ferdinand de, 162 Saussurean concepts, 23 Schiller, Friedrich von, 366 Schivelbusch, Wolfgang, 238 Schklovsky, Viktor, 246 Schmid, Anne-Françoise, 246, 252n Schoenberg, Arnold, 268, 269 Scholasticism, 385–6 Schopenhauer, Arthur, 36, 269 Schor, Naomi, 401 Screen magazine, 20 sculpture, 167–8 Se7en, 157n Second Life, 242, 258 Sekula, Allan, 407–8 Une semaine de bonté, 222 semioclasm, 21–2 semiotics, 23, 111, 134n

Index

sense, 213 sequence-image, 26, 132, 190, 210–11, 214–15,   404 Serres, Michel, 154 The Seven Year Itch, 236 shadow, and perspective, 214–19 The Shadow Dance, 212 Sharpe, Christina, 377–8, 389 Shooting Gallery, 227 Siegen, Germany, 335–6 Siegerlandmuseum, 144–5 Simendon, Gilbert, 252n site specificity, 262, 269–70, 402 situation of practice, 159–87 slash, 223 social media, 241–2 socialist realism, 33 ‘Software, Information Technology: Its New Meanings for Art’ exhibition, 143 Soirées de Paris, 34 Some Cities, 6 Sontag, Susan, 6–7, 160, 235, 414 sound, 394 Soviet Union, 252n Spanish Civil War, 365 spatial containment, 338–44 spatial optic, 368–9 specificity, 29–30, 31, 229 spectatorship, 130, 237–40, 243, 249n, 250n,   264, 367–8 statues, 365–71 Steichen, Edward, 407–8 Steinberg, Saul, 162 Stendhal, 350 Stengers, Isabelle, 36, 177, 178, 179 Stiegler, Bernard, 184n, 252n, 384 still moving, 151–4 stillness, 397 Stirrings Still, 151–2 ‘The Strangest Place in Chicago’, 377 Streitberger, Alexander, 343 subjectile, 6 Suchin, Peter, 1–2 Sundance Festival 2017, 251n

Sunrise, 365, 370 Surrealism, 33 suturing, 220, 224, 245 Suvee, Joseph-Benoît, 217, 219 Systems Esthetics, 143 systems theory, 141–3 S/Z, 1, 19 Szarkowski, John, 23 tableau, 236, 249n, 333, 396–7, 399, 401 Tafuri, Manfredo, 394 Talisk Khave, 337, 344–6 Tangiers, 30 Tanke, Joseph J., 165 Technics and Time 1: The Fault of Epimetheus,   252n technology, 252n television, 230, 258 temporal expansion, 338–44 temporality, 138–9 Text, 110–12, 190, 192, 228 theatre, 109–10, 214 theoretical vision, 10–11, 12, 111, 137, 228–31 Theory Culture & Society, 12, 257–72 Things Japanese, 173 Thinking Photography, 21, 23, 140 ‘The Third Meaning’, 27, 397–8 A Thousand Plateaus, 338 3-D modelling, 30, 125, 164, 211, 216, 260, 261,   263–7 ‘Three Reflected Visions’, 130 throw of a projector, 5, 130 Till, Emmett, 377–9 Till Bradley, Mamie, 377–9 Torlasco, Domietta, 13 Toroni, Niele, 116–17 Totality and Infinity, 260 Tractatus, 251n Tristan und Isolde, 269 Trump, Donald, 33 Twombly, Cy, 195 Uber die asthetische Erziehung des Menshen, 366 Uncanny, 423

439

Index

‘Uncinematic Time’, 403 The University in Dissent, 183–4n The University in Ruins, 183–4n Ut picture, ita visio: neutral seeing, 117–27 utopias, 37–8, 180, 419–20 Vaché, Jacques, 31 Van de Zee, James, 27, 29 Van Gelder, Hilde, 333 VanDerBeek, Stan, 193 Vasari, Giorgio, 195 Velasquez, Diego, 126–7 Vermeer, Johannes, 120, 121, 122 Vertov, Dziga, 220 Viator, 123–4, 124–5, 129 Vico, Giambattisa, 147, 219 video games, 245–8, 251n, 257–8 video loops, 139–40 Vidler, Anthony, 260 Vienna, 28 View of Delft, 120, 121 Virilio, Paul, 408 virtual image, 403 virtual space, 125 ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, 235, 241 Vogue, 25 Voyage to Italy, 344 VR (virtual reality), 245–8, 251n

‘The World As Object’, 118 World War I, 407–8 World War II, 39–40, 145, 153–4, 159 World Wide Web, 258–9 Worms, Frederic, 25 Wotton, Sir Henry, 122–3 Wright, Elizabeth, 31–2 Wright, Joseph, 338, 347–8 writerly readings, 332–426 writing, 3–4, 18, 113–14, 160–3 practice of, 3–4 Writing Degree Zero blank page, 159 Burgin, 18 colourless writing, 230 historical context, 112–13 Image, 4 Kristeva, 111 literature, 6–7 Mythologies, 21 neutral writing, 36 Sartre, 175, 178 utopias, 419 ‘The World As Object’, 118 writing, 14, 160–1 Wunderblock, 193 Wynter, Sylvia, 385–8 Xu, 208–9

Wagner, Richard, 29–30, 268–9 Waiting for Godot, 7, 157n War and Cinema, 408 way of picturing, 12 Weaver, Warren, 141 What is Literature? 113, 175, 178 Wiener, Norbert, 141, 145, 149, 150, 156 Willemen, Paul, 238 Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 25, 251n Wollen, Peter, 20 Wood, Michael, 37 Woolf, Virginia, 339 Wordsworth, William, 347 work of death, in Belledonne, 413–26 World, Finitude and Solitude, 144

440

YouTube, 248, 258–9, 260 Zeki, Semir, 211 Zeno, 131 zero degree art, 112–17 zero degree listening, 148–51 zero degree seeing, 14, 213, 229–30 zero degree writing, 190 zero degrees, 3, 7–11 Zhdanovian doctrine, 114–15 Žižek, Slavoj, 28 Zodiac, 157n Zola, Emile, 404–5