DARK EDEN CONFERENCE
6 – 8 November 2020
Conference Program and Abstracts
All presenters will be available for live Q&A.
The Dark Eden conference organisers acknowledge the Bidjigal and Gadigal peoples of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend this respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Sovereignty never ceded.
Times according to local Sydney time/ Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC/GMT +11 hours
|DAY 1||Friday 6th November 2020|
|9.00 – 10.30 am||9.00: Introduction Paul Thomas. 9.05: Keynote presentation – Timothy Morton: Disgust Is Life 10.05: Discussion|
|10.30 – 10.45am||Break|
|10.45am – 12.05pm||Session 1 Hallucinatory Visions|
Session Chair: Michael Garbutt
|10.45am||Presentation 1: Stuart Nolan. Edenic Telepathy: From Thought Drawings to Neuroimagery.|
|11.00am||Presentation 2: Jacquelene Drinkall. Imaging in Caves, Confined Spaces, and Orange-to-Black Ganzfelds.|
|11.15am||Presentation 3: Michael Garbutt and Nico Roenpagel. Phosphene Expressionism.|
|11.30am||Presentation 4: Sean Lowry and Ilmar Taimre. Sounds of Unridden Waves.|
|12.05 – 1.00pm||Lunch|
|1.00 – 2.20pm||Session 2 Dark Matters|
Session Chair: Edward Colless
|1.00pm||Presentation 1: Paul Thomas. Meandering in darkness.|
|1.15pm||Presentation 2: Rewa Wright and Simon Howden. Cloaked in this dark vision: plant energies and situated bodies in the Post-Anthroposcene.|
|1:30pm||Presentation 3: Edward Colless. Masque.|
|1.45pm||Presentation 4: Chris Henschke. Dark Knowledge.|
|2.20 – 2.35pm||Break|
|2.35 – 3.55pm||Session 3 Disappearing Acts|
Session Chair: David Eastwood
|2.35pm||Presentation 1: Rex Butler. Only Nothing Lasts.|
|2.50pm||Presentation 2: Elizabeth Pulie. Disappearance as Strategy.|
|3.05pm||Presentation 3: David Eastwood. Out of the Field, into the Dark.|
|3.20pm||Presentation 4: Chelsea Lehmann. Turbid Matter: The Tactile Aesthetics of X-ray.|
|3.55 – 4.10pm||Break|
|4.10 – 5:30pm||Session 4 Expanding Images|
Session Chair: Brogan Bunt
|4.10pm||Presentation 1: Anna Shimshak. Son-ō: Electric Paintings and Vestigial Sounds of the Deep Fake Pornographic Body.|
|4.25pm||Presentation 2: Emmanuel Rodriguez Chaves. A Naïve Faith in Images, Indexicality, Silence and Fabrication in the Construction of Narrative.|
|4.40pm||Presentation 3: Brogan Bunt. Dark Metaphor: Against the Sense of the General Image.|
|4.55pm||Presentation 4: Cameron Edmond and Tomasz Bednarz. Realtime Utopias: Demoscene, creativity driven by limitations.|
|5.30 – 6.30pm||Break|
|6.30 – 7.35pm||Session 5: Cutting Together-Apart: Creative and critical practices as agential cuts within digital economies |
Session Chair: Stephen Loo
|6.30pm||Presentation 1: Stephen Loo. [Image]: blackbird singing in the dead of night /|
|6.45pm||Presentation 2: Warren Parry. Navigating Dark Eden.|
|7.00pm||Presentation 3: Chris Speed. Unexpected Outcomes|
|7.35 – 7.50pm||Break|
|7.50 – 8:55pm||Session 6: Cutting Together-Apart: Creative and critical practices as agential cuts within digital economies |
Session Chair: Chris Speed
|7.50pm||Presentation 1: Mike Phillips. and so ad infinitum.|
|8.05pm||Presentation 2: Pip Thornton and Andrew Dwyer. Data Obscura: cutting through the digital economy|
|8.20pm||Presentation 3: Birgitte Aga and Coral Manton. (re)Claiming the hegemony of technology|
|8.55 pm||End of Day 1|
|DAY 2||Saturday 7th November 2020|
|9.00 – 10.30am||9.00: Introduction: Chelsea Lehmann. 9.05: Keynote presentation: Laura Marks: Seeing in the dark 10.05: Discussion|
|10.30 – 10.45am||Break|
|10.45am – 12.05pm||Session 7 A.I. Netherworlds|
Session Chair: Tomasz Bednarz
|10.45am||Presentation 1: Rosemary Lee. Machine Learning and the Mediating Tendencies of the Image.|
|11.00am||Presentation 2: Mitch Goodwin. Digital Gothic: the techno-cultural narrative of Bruce Sterling’s dark euphoria .|
|11.15am||Presentation 3: Nancy Mauro-Flude. Back Door to Paradise.|
|11.30am||Presentation 4: Cameron Edmond and Tomasz Bednarz. “In that Tyrant’s pow’r”: Artbots and collisions with social crisis.|
|12.05 – 1.00pm||Lunch|
|1.00 – 2.20pm||Session 8 Exhibitions: Contemporary Encounters|
Session Chair: Katherine Moline
|1.00pm||Presentation 1: Katherine Moline, Angela Goddard and Beck Davis. Curating The Data Imaginary: Fears and Fantasies in the middle of a dataverse takeover (like science fiction but weirder).|
|1.15pm||Presentation 2: Julie Louise Bacon. The image beyond the limits of unstable globalisation.|
|1:30pm||Presentation 3: Thomas Moran. A Postcard From Venice: Abandoning the Contemporary so as to Pollinate the Earth.|
|1.45pm||Presentation 4: Victoria Carruthers. The critical posthumanism of Sun Yuan & Peng Yu.|
|2.20 – 2.35pm||Break|
|2.35 – 3.55pm||Session 9 The Beholder’s Eye|
Session Chair: Mark Titmarsh
|2.35pm||Presentation 1: Mark Titmarsh. The Work of Art in the Age of the Australian Misanthropocene.|
|2.50pm||Presentation 2: Scott East. Presumptive subjects: exploring the limits of eye-tracking technologies in image cultures.|
|3.05pm||Presentation 3: Vanessa Bartlett. Persuasive design and the art of resistance: making the dark image visible.|
|3.20pm||Presentation 4: Lisa Andrew. Orange lanterns in the night; from an imperial eye to a decolonised eye.|
|3.55 – 4.10pm||Break|
|4.10 – 5.30pm||Session 10 Temporalities|
Session Chair: Margaret Roberts
|4.10pm||Presentation 1: Julie Vulcan. Dark Deviations and Timely Digressions.|
|4.25pm||Presentation 2: Miska Mandic. Folding Time: Reframing audience relationships to ecological crisis by visualising the multiple temporalities embedded in daily experiences.|
|4.40pm||Presentation 3: David Manley. The Post-Traumatic Urbanist.|
|4.55pm||Presentation 4: Margaret Roberts. Places have histories.|
|5.30 – 6.00pm||Break|
|6.00 – 7.20pm||Session 11 Post-Biological Bodies|
Session Chair: Beverley Hood
|6.00pm||Presentation 1: Julian Stadon. A Journey Through Augmentation Aesthetics.|
|6.15pm||Presentation 2: Louis Mason. Opaque Bodies: The Organisation of Small Group Love .|
|6.30pm||Presentation 3: Ana Peraica. Face-Mockers, Face-Shifters and Face Swappers: agency and personal identity in portrait photography today.|
|6.45pm||Presentation 4: Beverley Hood. Tolerating Uncertainty – We Began as Part of the Body.|
|7.20 – 7.35pm||Break|
|7.35 – 8:55pm||Session 12: Endarkenment Technologies|
Session Chair: Peter Hill
|7.35pm||Presentation 1: Peter Hill. Dark Monuments.|
|7.50pm||Presentation 2: Jon Cattapan. There But Not There.|
|8.05pm||Presentation 3: Lauren Collee. Night Vision: Nature, Technology and Power in Dark Sky Areas.|
|8.20pm||Presentation 4: Andrew Patrizio & Bill Hare. “The Corresponding Sky”*: Reflections on the Scottish Endarkenment.|
|8.55pm||End of Day 2|
|DAY 3||Sunday 8th November 2020|
|9.00 – 10.30am||9.00: Introduction David Eastwood. 9.05: Keynote presentation – Barbara Bolt: Barbara Bolt. Shedding light and “glaring” truths. |
|10.30 – 10.45am||Break|
|10.45am – 12.05pm||Session 13 Posthuman Imaging|
Session Chair: Clea T. Waite
|10.45am||Presentation 1: Clea T. Waite. Apogee.|
|11.00am||Presentation 2: Carolyn Angleton. On Proximal Origins and Aesthetic Signaling.|
|11.15am||Presentation 3: Szilvia Ruszev. Wilderness transcended (poetic capacity of wildlife webcams in time of isolation and social unrest).|
|11.30am||Presentation 4: George Legrady. Point-of-View Aesthetic Explorations in Image-Machine Generation.|
|12.05 – 1.00pm||Lunch|
|1.00 – 2.20pm||Session 14 Paradise Lost|
Session Chair: Elke Reinhuber
|1.00pm||Presentation 1: Deanna Witman and William Hafford. A Guide to Loss & Grieving in the Anthropocene”: A Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration in Art, Psychology and Community-Building.|
|1.15pm||Presentation 2: Elke Reinhuber. Habitat in Control.|
|1:30pm||Presentation 3: Malcolm Johnson. Poetic Carpentry: conducting immersive geography of spectral landscapes.|
|2.05 – 2.20pm||Break|
|2.20 – 3.40pm||Session 15 Living Images, Inert Humans|
Session Chair: Chelsea Lehmann
|2.20pm||Presentation 1: Nobuhiro Masuda. Technological conditions for living images.|
|2.35pm||Presentation 2: Juppo Yokokawa. Chromatophony: An image practice realized by squid chromatophores.|
|2.50pm||Presentation 3: Kazuhiro Jo. A Wave: An image which strips the memories of countless others retrieved from the Internet.|
|3.05pm||Presentation 4: Yosaku Matsutani. Just an image?|
|3.40 – 3.55pm||Break|
|3.55 – 5.00pm||Session 16 Spectral Encounters|
Session Chair: Joel Zika
|3.55pm||Presentation 1: Diego Ramirez. Iconographic Necromancy: Pazuzu and The Statue of Baphomet.|
|4.10pm||Presentation 2: Joel Zika. A Southern Dark Ride.|
|4.25pm||Presentation 3: Katie Paine. Twin spectres, or an unintended doubling.|
|5.00 – 5.15pm||Break|
|5.15 – 5.45pm||Plenary Session|
|5.45pm||End of Day 3|
|Keynote presentation 1|
|Timothy Morton: Disgust Is Life. |
What happens when we take the human, and more specifically the bourgeois human, blinkers off the experience we call beauty? We realize that it is always fringed by disgust. We already have the right emotional chemical for being “scientific”—the mode in which we will care more sincerely for nonhuman beings. It’s called, rather surprisingly, ennui, an oscillation between enjoyment and disgust. This is a twelve-inch remix way of thinking about beauty—expanded for an ecological age in which it is clear that beauty was never a human-only affair. That’s a perfectly logical thing to say about the arguments on beauty of Immanuel Kant. I will be showing how Kantian beauty is far more strange and radical than we have often thought, and why beauty rather than the sublime is the path towards a more ecologically attuned art.
|Session 1 10.45am – 12.05pm Friday 6th November 2020|
|Stuart Nolan. Edenic Telepathy: From Thought Drawings to Neuroimagery. |
Ever since the 19th-century, techniques for performing telepathy and the visualisations of thoughts they produced have shaped our technological imaginaries. Images produced by scientific investigations of stage mindreaders, by theatrical muscle readers, and by thought drawing parlour games all reflect a theological/philosophical tradition that yearns for a tamed, frictionless, Edenic telepathy between pure, transparent, disembodied communicants.
This paper explores the visual unfolding of cultural notions of Edenic telepathy from 19th-century thought drawings to the images of thoughts generated by neurotechnologies such as CTRL-Labs/Facebook’s neural interfaces, Elon Musk’s Neuralink, and Openwater’s mind-reader.
The paper draws on the art/research project One Thousand Mindreaders, during which the author taught a thousand people the skill of thought drawing by muscle reading. By holding another person’s arm while they imagine making a drawing, muscle readers can sense the subconscious micro-muscle movements in that person’s arm and then recreate the drawing being imagined. Participants at 31 venues, including GoogleX, Pervasive Media Studio, Venice Biennale, and Digital Science, explored thought drawing. The project resisted judgment on the facticity of telepathy as either pre-modern superstition or neurotechnological futurity but instead granted the issue free play and cultivated its paradoxes.
Through a comparison of these lo-tech thought drawings with emerging hi-tech thought neuroimagery this paper maps the enchanted gardens and haunted forests of the telepathic sublime and reveals how the mythic idyll of Edenic telepathy became entangled in a thicket of opaque surveillance, untamed contagion, transhumanist escapism, frictive embodiment, and the neuroexistentialism of the cerebral subject.
|Jacquelene Drinkall. Imaging in Caves, Confined Spaces, and Orange-to-Black Ganzfelds. The research explores alien and alienated environments of Xenoworlds and Exo-Worlds and is grounded in discourses of the Anthropocene, Neganthropocene, via Catherine Malabou, Bernard Steigler and Xenofeminism. The exploration of Xenoworlds and Exo-worlds will necessarily examine the ethics of human psychic labouring devoted to imaging, imagining and literal and metaphoric/simulated exploration of the uncanny strangeness of earthly lakes and mountains, magical caverns, and Ganzfeld ‘total field’ environments. Humans are psychically addicted to Xenoworlds and Exo-worlds, and abstraction is key to both aesthetics of Estrangement and Ganzfeld phenomena experienced in these worlds.|
Ganzfeld experiences involve psychic techniques of virtual worlding, hallucination, altered states, visions, ghosts and telepathy as reported by miners trapped in the dark underground as well as arctic explorers exposed to the undifferentiated white field of snowstorms. Climate change and artificial intelligence will end coal mining, yet extreme weather events will continue to create desert and ice blizzards and orange-to-black firestorm Ganzfelds. Climate change and space exploration will drive these new Ganzfeld encounters through extreme weather events and new configurations of particulates, dust, microplastics, chemicals and water to create new Xenoscapes.
Art historical references to work with both telepathy and cavernous and confining spaces that trigger self isolation/disolution, sensory deprivation and Ganzfeld experiences are made via Marina Abramovic, Emma Kunz, James Turrell as well as the cave art of animistic shamans experimenting with becoming animal and becoming telepathic. Cave wall drawings, abstract and figurative, depict human shamanic transformation into animals and telepathic communication with the animal and future worlds.
|Michael Garbutt and Nico Roenpagel. Phosphene Expressionism. |
The shifting forms and colours visible on the inside of our eyelids in a darkened room are produced by phosphenes — particles of light emitted from cells within the retina, which are detected by the optic nerve and imaged by the visual cortex. In this presentation, we briefly review how phosphenes have been the subject of contemporary artworks and are hypothesised to have inspired Palaeolithic cave art. We then introduce “Phosphene Expressionism”, one of the contemplative practices that make up The Playful Eye, an interactive experience designed for art museum visitors, which we have delivered in physical and virtual art museum spaces in the United States, Germany and Australia. Conference participants will be invited to experience the practice for themselves, preparing the ground for the final section, in which we discuss the implications of the phosphene phenomenon for understanding the ontology of the artwork; the roles of artist and art museum visitor; the relationship between interior and exterior space at the margins of the hallucinogenic; and the ways in which the phenomenon illuminates, metaphorically and literally, the supersaturated darkness of the contemporary image.
|Sean Lowry and Ilmar Taimre. Sounds of Unridden Waves.|
Is it possible to make a surf-film without humans? Sounds of Unridden Waves is the world’s first feature length surf film without any human surfers. Its accompanying original soundtrack is produced by The Ghosts of Nothing— a fictional rock band formed in 2014 as a conceptual vehicle through which a diverse range of objects and activities can be produced. Taken together, these different objects and activities are understood to collectively point to, yet do not constitute, the work itself. This new work was developed as a collaboration between The Ghosts of Nothing (aka Sean Lowry and Ilmar Taimre) and over a dozen renowned surf film makers. It also includes contributions from over a dozen renowned surf film makers. The result, we argue, provides an example of contemporary post-conceptual art. Significantly, some forms of post-conceptual art do not manifest as a singular materialisation. Instead, they might be accessed in numerous ways or as an aggregate of medial elements. Presented as an unfolding series of speculative and immersive journeys across time and space, Sounds of Unridden Waves seeks to revive romantic ambitions historically associated with the so-called “total work of art”. Although fragmentary glimpses of recognisable surf breaks are occasionally apparent, the specific time and place at which Sounds of Unridden Waves is located is deliberately fluid. Far more than a straightforward moving image experience, its Dionysian omnivorousness occasionally veers towards the outermost limits of unbounded maximalism and conceptual chaos. In this respect, it is partly reminiscent of the content-saturated psychotropic dream states of early Surrealism, 1960s psychedelia, 1970s surf iconography, together with some recent examples of romantic conceptualism and neo-Baroque currents in contemporary art.
|Session 2 1.00 – 2.20pm Friday 6th November 2020|
|Paul Thomas. Meandering in darkness.|
This paper explores blackness as a provocation, a rupture at the heart of art’s polemic. It does not seek to be a thing, but a resonant force to proclaim a discourse of discovery for a new visual language. The blackness is the expanse that the artist meanders through having neither a compass nor stars to navigate, marks an unheard refrain to try and state their territory.Any tool to measure the darkness implies there is something that can be defined, demarcated or discovered, as though darkness has a scale, size or shape. Darkness is not anything whilst being something, the infinitely smallest perturbation, energy shift, fluctuation that cannot be seen, to cause the disturbance for a recognition to take place.When images become saturated, blended and consumed in an ‘unregulated gluttony’ they produce darkness. It dwells in the collective unconsciousness: a dark, digital Eden ripe with uncertain potential. The search begins through the compression, like an allotrope of carbon, the future for the image world has to be discovered and encountered by moving through the darkness, enabling our senses, our proprioception to be able to accept the unacceptable, to deal with the unknowable. Commissioning our comprehension of position, momentum and equilibrium in the blackest of black forests to find alternative experiential references that channel us into a counter enlightenment.This paper focuses on the artist as a quantum flâneur, a prodigy of Lucretius falling through the vortices and laminar flows of darkness, waiting for the moment of the unpredictable swerve. Specific Artists whose work will be explored are Kasimir Malevich, Frederik de Wilde and Paul Thomas in the search for a new Eden.
|Rewa Wright and Simon Howden. Cloaked in this dark vision: plant energies and situated bodies in the Post-Anthroposcene. |
This ‘pointy end’ of a 300,000-year-old lineage as Homo Sapiens, offers a pertinent opportunity to turn attention from our role as creators of an egregious carbon footprint, to the creators of the carbon: Plants. The artwork Tactile Potentials (2020), by Rewa Wright and Simon Howden, captures plant processes as bioelectrical activity, and visualises those signaletic movements as data. Tracing impulses emanating from plants as sound, and re-situating those to a media environment, we non-invasively investigate the fleshy bodies of plants. Accompanied by a Capitalocene poster child for the supremacy of vision, the Mixed Reality (MR) medium, we upend this narrow Silicon Valley-esque technological framework. Challenging mixed reality methods that privilege a clear window of space, instead plant signals are recursively layered with human vision in real-time. At the same time, human sight is re-figured as grayscale using a corrupted mixed reality headset, to force a re-assessment of the premises behind visual clarity, and its constructions. A performer, cloaked in this dark vision, must navigate through a visual smog that is the true inheritance of the Capitalocene. Feeling through this fog means engaging senses other than the ocular, gesturing toward potentialities that lever tactile responses to (and by) plants through the medium of sound. In the practice discussed here, we analyse various artworks of our own that incorporate the bio-electrical signals, gestural sensors, head mounted and handheld augmented reality, and interactive design. Using these methods, we gesture broadly toward an interspecies approach linking media art with plants, a direction suggested by important precursors including Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, John Cage, Miya Masaoka, Gregory Lasserre and Anais met den Ancxt.
|Edward Colless. Masque. |
CAMILLA: You, sir, should unmask … it’s time. We have all have laid aside disguise but you.
STRANGER: I wear no mask.
CAMILLA (terrified, aside to Cassilda): No mask? No mask!
— Robert Chambers, ‘The King in Yellow’.
The graphic logo of the Coronavirus is a psychedelic, spikey golf ball. But the image that vividly emblematises the dark universal significance of the Covid19 pandemic is the surgical face mask. It is adopted as compliance to social responsibility, to law, or as an item in the armature of PPE. It is publicly defied and defiled by conspiracy theorists who rage against it as an alleged infringement of their liberty. Whether worn or not worn, the mask now casts its shadow across every face, its significations ranging from specialised medical utility to totem object in culture war heraldry.
However, across this spectrum of usage there is also an insoluble equivocation in every contemporary encounter with our masked faces: either the mask is a protection for others (the wearer is possibly infected), or it is a protection from others (the other is possibly infected). That vacillation expresses an ethical dilemma. In a milieu in which “community transmission” and “contact tracing” become the crucial vectors for governmental charting and containment of the contagion, the mask can signify an admission that one might endanger others, or the suspicion that everyone else is a danger and a threat. On one hand duty of care, on the other survivalist accusation.
But that equivocation itself masks a dark ethos, rather than ethic, as the superposition of the images of self and other, of mortality and survival, forges a complexion and ceremony of the undead. The strategy of social distancing emblematised in the public coinage of the mask can be correlated with the new exposure of faces in the quasi-privacy of Instagram selfies and Zoom chat rooms. The face becomes an agent of this contagion, as if the mask as well as its correlate Zoom or Instagram telepresence might be a post-Edenic fig-leaf concealing — by distancing — a contagious and obscene dark matter. Or could this injunction of the masque be analogous to Christ’s gesture of warning against Mary Magdalene that his newly resurrected body was not to be touched, in the Gospel episode known as ‘noli me tangere’? Precisely because that quarantined body — eroticised as well as isolated — is infectiously undead.
|Chris Henschke. Dark Knowledge. |
In this paper, I shall discuss the concept of dark knowledge as a way to enframe scientific insights into the most fundamental forms matter and energy, and how such knowledge has been abused by humanity, epitomised by the “awful extravagance” of the atom bomb. During a decade of my own collaborations with nuclear and particle physicists, I have felt uneasy working near the dark side of such scientific and technological developments. In response to these conflicts, in 2019 I developed a site-specific installation, called “Demon Core”. This work was commissioned by DARK MOFO, and set up in Hobart’s Queen Victoria Powder Magazine, a munitions building that was literally designed to explode. The installation manifested the dangers of nuclear knowledge, inspired by an incident that happened at the Los Alamos laboratory in 1946, when an experimental plutonium orb, called the Demon Core, initially made for a third nuclear attack on Japan, accidently went supercritical causing a fatal nuclear chain reaction.
The “Demon Core” installation used uranium ore and americium (produced in nuclear reactors) to trigger and control the installation, with cymatic luminescent liquids producing ultraviolet “Cherenkov blues” effects, plus hybridised scientific equipment incorporating a 32 channel sound system and finely tuned subwoofers resonating the entire space. Working with radioactive materials brough up both unique OH&S challenges, but also personal ethical dilemas. Such artworks become an interface between us and the fundamental forces of nature; but also they raise questions about the dangers of such knowledge, like the biblical Eve biting into that irresistible forbidden fruit. As Robert Oppenheimer said after the first atomic test, “physicists have known sin ; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose”.
|Session 3 2.35 – 3.55pm Friday 6th November 2020|
|Rex Butler. Only Nothing Lasts. The last work the great New Zealand painter Colin McCahon “completed” was I Considered All the Acts of Oppression (1980-2), one of the four so-called Last Paintings that were found face-down on the floor of his studio after his death in 1987. I Considered All the Acts of Oppression quotes from the Book of Ecclesiastes of the Bible, which discusses both life’s hardships and possible compensations. But what is famous about the work is the seemingly incomplete middle right-hand side of the canvas, in which there is none of McCahon’s distinctive white cursive handwriting transcribing the Biblical text but only an empty black space. It is speculated that this space literally marks the moment when McCahon stops painting forever, unable both because of his depression and the effects of his alcoholism to continue. But we would like to speculate that this empty space, where as it were his life enters the work and the work speaks of his life, is precisely what has allowed the work to live on after McCahon’s death. It is where the work opens itself up to the outside, allowing the spectator or interpreter to enter. In a world in which statues are toppled and the legacies of colonial oppression and exploitation are contested, what lasts of Western culture (and perhaps of any culture)? We would say nothing. Everything that comes out of a particular context, that speaks of a particular time or set of values, will eventually be torn down and replaced. The only works of art that last are not those embodying “eternal human values” – which are always white, male and Western – but those that are able to be made anything of. Why is “black lives matter” right and “All lives matter” wrong? Because only “Black lives matter” is universal. The only lives that will live on today – and have ever lived on – are “black” lives. And all great art – for example, the obviously prophetic I Considered All the Acts of Oppression – understands this.|
|Elizabeth Pulie. Disappearance as Strategy. This paper examines the definition of contemporary art as a postconceptual art in relation to conceptual art’s attempt at dematerialisation. In the conceptual moment, artists aimed to meld art with life, and many conceptual practices involved a sense of invisibility of both artwork and artist. The strategy of giving up art, prefaced by the actions of Duchamp and Warhol, proved intrinsic to art of this time. Here, art attempted to disappear, in line with the self-referential tendency of the modern to reveal its ultimate concept.|
Peter Osborne defines contemporary art in relation to the failure of this attempt to escape the material and aesthetic, finally articulating these qualities as inherent to the concept ‘art’. In his essay On Disappearance (2006), Baudrillard speaks of the strategy of disappearance as potentially evading death; here, conscious disappearance before one dies enables such escape. As a post-conceptual art, the contemporary inherits this movement’s outcomes, the result of its attempt to disappear. This strategy is seen to have failed, the art of the current moment rematerializing both in theory and practice; this paper will consider a definition of contemporary art less in relation to it’s multitude of particularities and instances, and more in relation to strategy. It will define contemporary art relative to conceptual art’s attempt to disappear, in precisely the manner Baudrillard describes. It examines our failure to achieve this, and attempts to historically and ontologically define the art of the current moment.
|David Eastwood. Out of the Field, into the Dark. As institutions pick through “the debris of an image culture” and revive historical exhibitions for contemporary audiences, lost, forgotten and overlooked artefacts become conspicuous in their absence. Common to restaged exhibitions is their status as ultimately incomplete projects with gaps left by missing works. This was the case when the National Gallery of Victoria mounted ‘The Field Revisited’ in 2018. In the fifty years since ‘The Field’ inaugurated the Gallery’s Roy Grounds-designed building in 1968, several works had been lost or destroyed. Some paintings and sculptures were remade for the 2018 exhibition, a process the author participated in when one of the original artists died before the work was completed. Other missing works were represented by black and white reproductions of archival images. The exhibition’s temporal displacement also invited renewed scrutiny of its lack of diversity, highlighted by the under-representation of women, of whom there were only three out of the 40 participating artists, and the absence of indigenous artists. The recent trend of re-enacting exhibitions from the past includes Fondazione Prada’s 2013 reinstallation of Harald Szeemann’s influential exhibition When Attitudes Become Form (1969), and Tate Modern’s 2014 partial reconstruction of ‘The Last Exhibition of Futurist Painting 0.10’ (1915). This paper examines the curatorial compulsion to retrieve cultural artefacts from history. The challenges posed for institutional frameworks when salvaging the past from obscurity or dark oblivion are demonstrated by ‘The Field Revisited’. The author’s role as a “posthumous studio assistant” will inform the consideration of strategies to address these challenges.|
|Chelsea Lehmann. Turbid Matter: The Tactile Aesthetics of X-ray. The visual effect of X-ray as a ghostly document of a painting’s shifting reality evokes a conception of space beyond the flat surface of the picture plane and its associated pictorial and formal conventions. According to historian Linda Dalrymple Henderson, the discovery of X-rays in the late nineteenth century “established unquestionably the relativity of perception and turned the attention of artists away from the visual world towards an invisible, immaterial reality” (1998, 366), prompting highly imaginative and diverse conceptions of space. Scientific imaging techniques such as X-ray do not discriminate between the deliberate and unplanned traces of artistic labour: brushstrokes, accidental stains, erasures, mistakes, and over-painting are equally visible, underscoring the way “interiority and exteriority take place together on the surface” (Lippit, 2013, 260). Using the perceptual model of the ‘tactile gaze,’ this paper explores how X-rays, as representations of the ordinarily imperceptible, elicit a deeper parsing of images, positioning the observer in closer proximity to material and processual trace. This idea is elaborated in relation to the work of contemporary artists Alejandro Guijarro, Robert Longo, and Bernhard Sachs who all employ an ‘aesthetics of X-ray’ as a means to explore the potential meanings and implications of the latent image.|
L. D. Henderson (1988), ‘X Rays and the Quest for Invisible Reality in the Art of Kupka, Duchamp, and the Cubists’, Art Journal, vol. 47, no. 4, Revising Cubism, Winter, College Art Association.
A. M. Lippit, (2013) ‘Modes of Avisuality: Psychoanalysis – X-ray – Cinema’ in M. del Pilar Blanco, and E. Peeren, The Spectralities Reader: Ghosts and Haunting in Contemporary Cultural Theory, New York, London, Bloomsbury.
|Session 4 4.10 – 5:30pm Friday 6th November 2020|
|Anna Shimshak. Son-ō: Electric Paintings and Vestigial Sounds of the Deep Fake Pornographic Body. The fecund oasis of Eden encapsulated a utopian promise. Yet, even in paradise’s origin, there was darkness. Conjured from the rib of Adam, Eve, the biblical first woman, embodied a precedent of female existence for the pleasure of another. This paradigm has been translated to the canon of art and visual culture, where the female body has been crafted, epitomized and gazed upon by lineages of male artists and patrons. Millenia later, in the teeming, ever-evolving digital environment, the advent of AI mediated deep-fake pornography coopts imagery, in a violent, nonconsensual transformation of erotic visual content. In “Seduction”, Baudrillard refers to pornography as “the quadrophonics of sex.” He expounds upon the mirror “as an absence of depth, a superficial abyss, which others find seductive and vertiginous only because they are each the first to be swallowed up in it.”|
In a combined art and research practice, Son-ō engages with the capacity of AI mediated technology to produce deep fake pornography and perpetuate gendered, image-based violence. In an interactive, installation-based art piece predicated on touch, mirrors painted with electricity conducting paint emit elongated, haunting sounds extracted from pornographic content when haptically engaged. Deprived of the traditional visual stimuli of pornography, the viewer experiences auditory vestiges that are felt through physical touch and vibration, while the gaze is a reflection of self and those within the gallery space. Son-ō seeks to recontextualize the representation of the female body in deep fake pornography offering an alternative sensory experience to spur critical engagement.
|Emmanuel Rodriguez Chaves. A Naïve Faith in Images, Indexicality, Silence and Fabrication in the Construction of Narrative. I will explore the veracity of photographic and pictorial documents presented as information in the public realm, that is in the media, public institutional archives and broadly in historical documents. The research examines the role that memory and narrative play within discourses of conflict and the construction of histories. Specifically, the project addresses how contemporary art establishes and negotiates relationships between philosophical aspects around the manipulation of images and socio-political imaginaries (the values, systems and symbols common to a particular social group) to construct new narratives. The research is based on three structural streams of inquiry, that of image interpretation (W. J. T. Mitchell, Hans Belting, Jacques Rancière, Susie Linfield, Vilém Flusser), image collection and archival practices (Georges Didi-Huberman, Hal Foster, Aby Warburg, Peter Osborne) and an expanded notion of painting (Isabelle Graw, Gerhard Richter).|
Two historical cases are used to scrutinise the structural streams of inquiry, as they posed specific problems in regard to the use of images and image interpretation. One instance is factual and delves into the investigation of the murder of Viviana Gallardo, a Costa Rican leftist militant. The second case manufactures the story of Svetoslav S., a fictional painter whose life and work explore the role of art history in the play between politics, identity and the indiscriminate use of images.
|Brogan Bunt. Dark Metaphor: Against the Sense of the General Image. What does it mean to speak generally of ‘the image’, as if the term were somehow preferable to referring to ‘art’ or ‘aesthetics’? The term ‘image’ seems more inclusive, less bound by the constraints of art’s traditional strategies of unconvincing autonomy or failed dissolution. It suggests a wider universe and seems to encompass, at least metaphorically, everything that we may wish to consider – whether the commercial image, or the plethora of inhuman, technically captured images, or the infinite field of social media images, or the residual field of laboriously crafted one-offs (fine art paintings, drawing, photographs, etc.). My aim in this paper is to question this assumption, this sense that the notion of image is general, sufficient and adequate. It aims to question it not only conceptually, but practically in terms of changed circumstances. The notion of image assumes an extravagant relation to space and time that is no longer available to us. It assumes a profligate logic of repetition and loss – spatialisation and delay – that is less universal than profoundly historically and materially circumscribed.|
My argument has its specific basis in a response to French philosopher Jacques Ranciere’s claims about the ‘ethical regime of images’, which he associates with Plato’s condemnation of the truth value of representations and the educative value of poetry. I suggest that this emphasis on ‘images’ neglects the oral cultural character of the ancient world, which have the potential to inform a very different conception of the space, time and potential of contemporary art and aesthetics.
|Cameron Edmond and Tomasz Bednarz. Realtime Utopias: Demoscene, creativity driven by limitations. When observing the role of the digital image in contemporary society, it is easy to become cynical. Advances in computer science that afford image-based discourse are often influenced by nefarious drivers: drone surveillance and facial recognition limit privacy, while AI-driven deepfakes, informed by art and design practice, spread misinformation and often ethically shameful pornography.|
Although this dystopia of codified images threatens to smother us, communities representing a lighter side of image generation, and the collision of art and science, exist. Rather than serving opposing political masters to their counterparts, however, these communities allude to an almost a-political mode of creative and scientific expression. These communities represent a sort of “digital utopia”. To explore this notion, this paper will examine the Demoscene community.
Demoscene emerged from the computing underground of the late 1970s, where “Demosceners” would produce real-time audio-visual productions, aimed at pushing the limitations of coder, artist, and hardware. Demosceners are driven to “achieve the impossible” by pushing machines of the time via creative algorithmic programming, outputting inspiring generative art. Famously, Demosceners create art using machines such as the Commodore 64, Amiga 500/1000, ZX Spectrum, Atari, PC.
In effect, Demoscene exists for “pure” reasons, driven by artistic and algorithmic passion. A global phenomenon, Demoscene represents an alternative to the agenda-driven practices of image manipulation, vision and generation. Although a truly non-political space is impossible, exploring Demoscene from this perspective provides a remedy to the Dark Eden we find ourselves in online. After all, it is the impossible that Demoscene seeks to overcome.
|Session 5: Cutting together-apart (part 1) 6.30 – 7.35pm Friday 6th November 2020 “intra-actions enact agential cuts, which do not produce absolute separations, but rather cut together-apart (one move)” (Barad 2014).|
The global pandemic continues to be the most significant series of ‘cuts’ that we as a networked society have ever experienced. Disrupting social, environmental and economic practices clouding and darkening every part of our lives, Covid-19 has revealed landscapes of the powerful and powerless, beliefs and disbeliefs, and inflicted a dreadful loss of life by forcibly reorganising matter and what matters to people and their communities. This panel brings together a group of artists, designers and academics who are interested in discussing their practices as ‘agential-cuts’ (after Barad) that reveal social, technical and geographic hegemonies, themes and tensions.
Through their intra-actions within the digital economies that have filled the socio-material void as we experienced lockdown, the panel explores how their work performs cuts from relationships with conversational agents, to Zoom calls with friends, families, colleagues and fragmented audiences. Together the panel will make the case that their creative praxis is neither positivistic or representational, but one that speaks to McQuillan’s calls for a “countercultural data science as praxis” (2017).
Karen Barad (2014) Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart, Parallax,20:3, 168-187,
McQuillan, D. (2017) Data Science as Machinic Neoplatonism. Philosophy & Technology, pp. 1-20.
|Stephen Loo. [Image]: blackbird singing in the dead of night /|
Stephen Loo hypothesises the matter of the dark space-time between frames of the cinematic that animate our computational and algorithmic worlds. Through two recent becoming-minoritarian (after Deleuze) sound-food social practice projects Careful Whipsers with the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Orchestra (Melbourne, 2018) and The Butcher of Nang Loeng (Bangkok, 2019), while riffing on Baradian black hole materialism, he will discuss the performing philosophy in dark of night, cut through with gloaming (after Tawa) after-images left by lightning bolts that connect neuropsychology, posthuman agency, rights and justice, and semblances of life. Take these / wings and learn to fly.
|Warren Parry. Navigating Dark Eden. |
In this paper I present insights and imagery from my research that is relevant to both researchers and artists, showing how visualised data, gathered from the darkest human experiences, illuminates what it is like to dwell in Dark Eden. A glimpse of a way in, and of a way out is offered by crossing the boundaries between art and science.
Mapping over 200,000 people’s personality dynamics along with their everyday experiences, I discovered that Aesthetic Experience is extremely high where fear and situational risks are also at their highest, and all aspects of agency – purpose, engagement and resilience – are at their lowest ebb.
How can this be? And what does it tell us about the role of Aesthetic Experience in navigating Dark Eden? Is it a blessing or a curse? A source of inspiration and hope in an almost impossible situation? Or held in the clutches of fear, does it simply drive you crazy?
Informed by the writings of J Dewey, J Drucker and L Manovich, my research uses interactive psychological landscapes to give visibility to experiences that are not normally accessible. Pathways can be found, not by flooding Dark Eden with light, but by becoming accustomed with the darkness itself where the transformational role of Aesthetic Experience plays out.
|Chris Speed. Unexpected Outcomes|
Chris Speed introduces a design research project and trial with Oxfam Australia that places public donors to the charity within an economic relationship with earthquakes (amongst other humans and more than humans) that reveals issues of trust, presence and gambling. The public trial using iOS and Android apps that took place in Autumn 2019 revealed a series of tensions that emerge when personal economic transactions (the act of donating) become entangled within a network of social, environmental and temporal feedback loops. Interested in exploring the role of smart contracts across a blockchain that are sealed according to parameters set by the donor, for example: if there is an earthquake of greater than 5 on the Richter scale, in Asia, Oceania and Africa then release funds to the Oxfam Emergency Disaster Aid Programme, the trial also revealed a series of unexpected outcomes. It is these outcomes that are of interest to the author. The talk will outline the intentions of the design research project before exploring its affect as an ‘agential cut’ within the 86 participants who used the apps. Prof. Chris Speed is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh where he collaborates with a wide variety of partners to explore how design provides methods to adapt, and create products and services within a networked society.
|Session 6: Cutting together-apart (part 2)7.50 – 8:55pm Friday 6th November 2020|
|Mike Phillips. and so ad infinit|
Mike Phillips presents Fulldome work which incorporate transcalar data sets (captured from Atomic Force Microscopy, MRI Scans, audience behaviours and geospatial scans) to create immersive experiences contingent on audience interaction. Mike Phillips is Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts at University of Plymouth and the Director of Research at i-DAT.org. His work explores the ubiquity of data ‘harvested’ from an instrumentalised world and its potential as a material for revealing things that lie outside our normal frames of reference – things so far away, so close, so massive, so small and so ad infinitum.
|Pip Thornton and Andrew Dwyer. Data Obscura: cutting through the digital economy.|
Pip Thornton and Andrew Dwyer are co-collaborators on a series of theoretical and artistic interventions into the exploitation of communication and imagery in an era of digital capitalism. Accelerated by the pandemic-led proliferation of video-conferencing, their latest project Zoom Obscura (with Chris Elsden and Mike Duggan), explores ways in which users of these technologies can regain agency over how their data is represented, controlled and utilised both by technology platforms and by other users.
|Birgitte Aga and Coral Manton. (re)Claiming the hegemony of technology|
The artist-technologist duo, Birgitte Aga and Coral Manton, introduce their design activism work which re-write and re-imagine representation of gender in AI and robotics. By co-designing alternative technology-mediated futures and mythical possibilities, with those excluded from technology development, they (re)claim conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems as a medium for protest. In so doing they insert feminist conversational narratives as mechanisms for challenging and reorganising the power structures implied in the male hegemony of technology. Their most recent work is Women Reclaiming AI, an expanding activist art-work, presented as a feminist AI voice assistant, programmed through workshops by a growing community of self-identifying women.
|DAY 2 Saturday 7th November 2020|
|Keynote presentation – Laura Marks. Seeing in the dark|
This talk will argue in favor of seeing in the dark. To expect that media and other commodities are readily available for consumption ignores their costs, to people and the planet, not calculated in their price. I will argue it is more healthy, for individuals and the planet, to treat media works as precious. I will share my recent findings that streaming media are responsible for an alarming proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. For the majority of platforms that run on fossil fuels, the ethical option is to stream less, and in lower resolution and high compression. Viewers to interpret, or unfold, the media work, at the same time resisting the corporate siren song of high resolution. Such acts of active interpretation have a deep history in medieval Islamic and European arts of encryption and magic, for which magicians developed closely guarded secret practices. Developing similar skills increases our collective powers and can protect us from contemporary surveillance.
|Session 7 10.45am – 12.05pm Saturday 7th November 2020|
|Rosemary Lee. Machine Learning and the Mediating Tendencies of the Image. Images exist at the interstices between human perceptual experience and its technological mediation. This is especially relevant as the development and implementation of technologies offers new possibilities to produce visualisations from data. In so doing, technological mediation tangibly augments relations between how images are produced, experienced, and interpreted.|
The present incorporation of machine learning into various forms of visual media offers insight into this issue by enabling images to be produced as the result of the statistical analysis of datasets. Computational relations which are extracted and inferred between features within images help to construct learned representations which are in turn used to generate images. This results in a form of computationally-determined representation which is informed by the interpretive processes performed by machines.
Existing notions of technically-produced images often prove inadequate for the description of the visual artefacts of machine learning, leaning heavily on historical narratives regarding the technical production of images and even perpetuating inaccuracies. These tend to misconstrue images either as accurate reflections of reality or as the product of artificial perception and genius by virtue of their engagement with technological processes.
Through a media archaeological approach, this paper addresses how current notions of image production remain tied to historical ideas which anthropomorphise and which overestimate the role played by machines, while minimising the role played by humans therein. It seeks to clarify the mediating role played by visual technologies and to demonstrate how images produced using machine learning offer new ways of approaching theories of the image.
|Mitch Goodwin. Digital Gothic: the techno-cultural narrative of Bruce Sterling’s dark euphoria. In 2009 at the Reboot 11 conference in Copenhagen, Bruce Sterling delivered one of his signature “closing rants” in which he characterised the coming decade as being overwhelmed by a sense of dark euphoria. The primary image he conjured was of a generation “afraid of the sky”, a state of endless freefall – between the duality of shiny techno-futurism and its dark gothic underbelly. A black silhouette spiralling out of control is an image imprint that runs from Vertigo to Mad Men to Gravity and of course most explicitly, to the eerie repose of the falling man on 9/11.|
This paper will seek to unpack not only the nature and texture of the fall but the accumulative image bank upon which this this scene is etched. Game worlds, Hollywood cinema and television all prophesize the post-millennial technological catastrophe in a variety of lusty visual forms. What however, does the end actually look like? Down in the weeds as it were; what are the signature tropes of such mediated ecologies – of networks, precious metals, silicon and liquid colour. The tangible stuff that give an aesthetics of darkness its permanent and enduring form?
In this conflicting age of techno-cultural seduction and environmental anxiety – in this Anthropocene of our creation – the desirable sci-fi trope of speculative futurists, “the return to the farm,” is no longer viable. We passed it somewhere on the way down. The image of the Earth, as captured by Apollo 8, co-opted by Stuart Brand, digitised by Google and commodified by Amazon has consolidated its virtual turn. So where does that narrative of affect and virtuality turn next?
The twenty-teens are behind us, 2020 has certainly arrived with a clang, but it doesn’t feel like a “non-twentieth century space”. The darkness from which we seek to emerge persists – the forever war, surveillance architecture, the attention economy and platform capitalism endure, indeed they thrive. Now that the present is no longer rushing up from below, how do we navigate the final Act of Sterling’s gothic moment?
|Nancy Mauro-Flude. Back Door to Paradise. In 1810 Kleist wrote ‘And Paradise is locked and bolted, with the cherub behind us; we must journey around the world and determine if perhaps at the end somewhere there is an opening to be discovered again’. In this presentation I pick the lock to the backdoor, to the place that Kleist calls Paradise. The question which underlies my proposition, whether an exploration of the backdoor – and the ‘en abyme’ within it as distinct artistic phenomenon has anything to offer us when we think about the concept of the Dark Eden. This idea about gaining access to a shadow zone, a spectral zone, a closed system through a ‘backdoor’ is a meta-narrative function of mise en abyme which interests me when considering its uses, a reflection of what is outside the realm, which helps to contextualise and explain what is within it. In the case it nominates a realm which lies under the shadow of, but is still, for the moment, outside of codification. Opened to the possibility of the backdoor entrance which I am speculating is ‘the antipode of the antipodes’ (Flanagan 2002), Kleist informs us to find a method that bypasses normal authentication. To take a journey, find the hidden back door with fellow travelers, elsewhere and leave behind the cherubim, and instead embrace the escutcheoned, the imperiled, the undaunted, the gamblers, and inspired chancers. Revealed concealed processes I am opening us to an archaeology of leaky promiscuous earth simulations and geo-logic filtering, endorsing nascent understandings dark symbolic mirrors.|
|Cameron Edmond and Tomasz Bednarz. “In that Tyrant’s pow’r”: Artbots and collisions with social crisis. In the post-truth era, the term “bot” is used to describe automated social media accounts spreading misinformation, as well as humans acting behind “dummy” accounts. However, the ways that bots intersect with political and social discourse on social media is far more textured. Bots that generate flash fictions, text art or other pieces often intersect with the political and social discourses on Twitter in both uncomfortable and triumphant fashion.|
These “artbots”, unlike misinformation bots, are inherently hypermedial, always reminding the audience of their automatic nature. The ideal artbot is sincere, and the generative patterns they follow are often transparent. Consequently, these bots occupy a different space in the post-truth social media discourse. They are not malicious automations to be shut-down, nor are they human posters engaging intelligently in conversation. Artbots post indiscriminatorily: they innocently follow their patterns of generative art, resulting in poetic timings and uncomfortable collisions with Twitter’s discourse. Examples include the “Emote! at the location” Twitterbot stating “Calm down! At the protest” amid #BlackLivesMatter protests this year, igniting a discourse around emotion and social justice within the tweet’s comments.
To interrogate the functions and meanings that emerge when an automation’s pattern collides with social discourses, this paper presents a visualisation of #BlackLivesMatter tweets, contrasted against artbot posts. By mapping the collisions between moments in the movement with artbot postings, our analysis explores the ethics of botmaking as creative practice, and the role of automated entities in constructing and framing post-truth political discourse as dialogue creators, rather than propogandists.
|Session 8 1.00 – 2.20pm Saturday 7th November 2020|
|Katherine Moline, Angela Goddard and Beck Davis. Curating The Data Imaginary: Fears and Fantasies in the middle of a dataverse takeover (like science fiction but weirder). As our corporeal experiences were catapulted by COVID-19 to an increasingly abstract datascape, the curatorium of Katherine Moline, Angela Goddard, Blaklash (Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey) and Beck Davis postponed the exhibition The Data Imaginary: Fears and Fantasies at Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane to 2021. Our original aim—to explore data experiments in relation to climate change, data security and urban landscapes, many informed and shaped by Indigenous knowledges—had become our reality with the global pandemic. The challenge to the norms and standards of the social imaginary—how data operates and for whom it is operationalised—made by artists, designers and scientists have become a platform for survival – outside of the gallery and in our everyday worlds. The public fears and fantasises regarding data analysis throughout the pandemic now guide our curatorial framework. This paper will explore how the curators and exhibition participants have reformulated The Data Imaginary exhibition for pandemic life in a dark Eden and how we are reviewing the selection of works so that for example, Lola Greeno’s embodied knowledge of how climate change is impacting the materiality of Palawa shell stringing on the shores of the cool waters surrounding Lutruwita (Tasmania), contrasts with Silvio Carta’s dystopian vision of human value in The Machine’s Eye – How machines see our world alongside a workshop on data security by Make or Break now made necessary by a life of ISO.|
|Julie Louise Bacon. The image beyond the limits of unstable globalisation. Technologies of speed, penetration and compression now enable images to be created, stored, mined, circulated and erased in new ways. Discoveries from astronomy to geology and computing expand human horizons while programmes of extractivism are prolonged in material, social and psychic worlds. The regime of data visualization that fuels contemporary science and markets alike naturalizes its authority over the representation of the present and the collective vision of species’ pasts and futures. Restrictions on our physical mobility and social habits in the current conditions of the pandemic confirm the vulnerability of our perceptual systems but also their capacity to transform.|
This paper envisages time beyond the exhausting and entropic image regimes that drive dominant forms of industrial and networked modernity. It does so through a series of studies of visual artworks featured in exhibitions that I have staged as artist-curator and initiator of The Habitat of Time (2018-). This international research project explores rapids shifts in our experience of time produced by the current conditions of unstable globalization. The durational, digital, sculptural and installation artworks explored in this paper have been presented at Arts Catalyst London (2020), Casula Powerhouse, Liverpool NSW (2018) and Artspace Sydney (2017). They demonstrate the ways in which artists conceive of new matterings of the image through their transdisciplinary research and speculative practice at the intersection of art, science and technology. In this expanded field, images show up as entanglements of material, social and perceptual forces, conveying the interdependency of human and more-than-human worlds.
|Victoria Carruthers. The critical posthumanism of Sun Yuan & Peng Yu. In 2008, artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu exhibited Angel, sometimes referred to as Fallen Angel, at the Saatchi gallery. This work, entirely artificial in comparison to some of their previously used materials such as baby cadavers and live dogs, presages their shift in conceptual direction to incisive critiques of power, technology and freedom. Angel, like many of their recent works, with its suggestion of destruction and death can be read as a meditation on the failed promises of utopian modernities. This paper explores the new media installations of the collaborative duo Sun Yuan & Peng Yu in relation to Rosi Braidotti’s critical posthumanism (2018) specifically the way the robotic works demonstrate her analysis of the convergence of “cognitive capitalism” and “post-anthropocentrism.” By also referring to Genevieve Bell’s forecasting (2017) of industrial revolutions through the use of autonomous objects, Yuan and Yu’s work can be read as both a precise diagnosis of the present and prescient forecasting of political and social transformations. Through a close discussion of works such as Old people’s home (2007) Freedom (2009) and Can’t Help Myself (2016), I argue the artists’ explore the contours of the human technological interface in a critical and nomadic way.|
Bell, G., 2017. Boyer Lectures: Fast, smart and connected: What is it to be human, and Australian, in a digital world. Australian Broadcasting Commission http://www. abc. net. au/radionational/programs/boyerlectures/series/2017-boyer-lectures/8869370.
Braidotti, R., 2019. A theoretical framework for the critical posthumanities. Theory, Culture & Society, 36(6), pp.31-61.
|Thomas Moran. A Postcard From Venice: Abandoning the Contemporary so as to Pollinate the Earth. The following paper is based on the text of a postcard sent during the Venice Biennial of 2019 which arrived at my home in the Antipodes a year later at the height of The Virus. On a planet in which technology appears to have completely outstripped the creative capacities of the human being, we must face an important question: is Contemporary Art obsolete? Being stung by a bee would be far more enlightening. This paper will argue that while “Contemporary Art” may disappear, aesthetics understood as a “science of the beautiful”, is well and truly alive. I will begin with an investigation of the term and practise of “New Media Art”, focusing specifically on two works exhibited at the 2019 Venice Biennial. These works, Interesting World(2019) by Fei Jun and I Can’t Help Myself (2019) by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu are emblematic of the spectacular use of digital technologies, namely algorithmic composition and automated intelligence. These works, as enchanting as they are, remain subject to the planned obsolescence built into the ‘contemporary’ blockbuster show. I will then draw on three works in archaic media forms, namely the aphoristic philosophical text Pollen (1798) by Novalis, the painting An Old Bee Farm (1900) by Clara Southern and the speculative science fiction novel The Glass Bees (1957) by Ernst Jünger. All three artworks consider technology and art as co-evolutionary processes which can foster and stimulate creativity. In order to follow Novalis in his call to “scatter seeds…[and] pollinate the Earth” we must finally abandon the dead name of “Contemporary Art” in order for the science of the aesthetic to bloom once more in places we have ceased to look and in a buzzing we have forgotten how to hear.|
|Session 9 2.35 – 3.55pm Saturday 7th November 2020|
|Mark Titmarsh. The Work of Art in the Age of the Australian Misanthropocene. Through metaphors provided by the Covid Safe app we can say that our relations with technology are inseparable from our coming into being, they design and seek to predetermine our socio-communicative (well) being. Yet it is an uncanny kind of (well) being since it is dissociated from any sense of location. Just as the moment of blue tooth handshake is not tied to a specific place, only the fact that there has been a rendezvous of viral proximity. In this way the truth of being has become unbound from place, since place has become an environment of code-space, a world of techno-mediation. In Australia this means that the process of de-localisation that began with the arrival of Cook has culminated in a variety of colonisations that operates at the level of both land and subjectivity.|
In this paper I will argue that the counter-project of decolonisation is a movement of liberation to twist free from the failed Western project of Modernity and its latest emanation in contemporary digital technologies. The former is captured in the single word the Anthropocene, the geographic era when human activity negatively determines the health of the global system. The latter is the latest version of hyper capitalism, masking capitalism’s colonial past with the gloss of techno-mediated connectivity.
Using the writings of David Chandler, Bruno Latour and Martin Heidegger I will show that Australia has become the epicentre for the MisAnthropocene, a colonial nonplace where the failure of the enlightenment project, of modernity itself, is being played out as the failure of colonialism, both the crude legalistic version of terra nullius and the networked variety of data colonisation carried out in the back end of social media.
This will involve a re-examination of the contemporary image and historical modes of visualisation, reaching from 18th century looking-as-possessing carried out by Lieutenant (Captain) Cook, 20th Century postmodern appropriation practices as a kind of hyperactive glancing in the work of Tillers and Johnston, and finally the long stare of digital surveillance in social media of the 21st Century.
|Scott East. Presumptive subjects: exploring the limits of eye-tracking technologies in image cultures. In 2018, I began a series of transdisciplinary collaborations that utilised eye-tracking technologies to explore galleries and museums (Garbutt 2020 and Estrada-Gonzalez 2020). As the research team began to explore these proprietary technologies, I became increasingly aware of the singularity of their purpose as an instrumental marketing tool. Such agendas are premised on the presumption of a unified viewing subject which post-structuralism largely disavows. However what struck me in the images produced by these technologies was the way they also pointed to its opposite, a decentered mobile subject. Drawing on the data outputs from our empirical studies of art and the museum, this paper demonstrates what Erin Manning has described philosophically, “there is no seeing that is divorced from movement.” (2009). In other words, seeing is not singular or static but exists as a complex relational process. Not only is a unified scopic position undermined, the research also raises complex questions regarding the nature of subjectivity in relation to technology, consumption and the use of instrumental rationality.|
Estrada-Gonzalez V; East S; Garbutt M; Spehar B, 2020, ‘Viewing Art in Different Contexts’, Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 11.
Garbutt M; East S; Spehar B; Estrada-Gonzalez V; Carson-Ewart B; Touma J, 2020, ‘The Embodied Gaze: Exploring Applications for Mobile Eye Tracking in the Art Museum’, Visitor Studies, vol. 23, pp. 82 – 100.
Manning, E., 2009. Relationscapes: Movement, art, philosophy. MIT Press.Cambridge, Mass, London, England.
|Vanessa Bartlett. Persuasive design and the art of resistance: making the dark image visible. In his book New Dark Age, artist James Biddle argues that our cultural moment is characterised by obfuscation, where ‘technology itself hides its own agency—through opaque machines and inscrutable code’. As a result, we experience technology less through understanding its functionality and more through the affects it generates as it shapes our day-to-day experience of shopping, dating and socialising. For Berry and Dieter this phenomenon is reflected in contemporary art, where artists are no longer obsessively fascinated with the functional value of computation such as interactivity but grapple instead with a broader set of affectations that emerge from hyper-digital lives. In this sense, artists give technological imaginaries form, as they draw attention to the affective repercussions of a digital world that is defined by the opacity of its digital images.|
This presentation will explore ‘persuasive design’— design techniques that are concealed in social and commercial interfaces to encourage consumption or increase time on device—through recent works of contemporary art. Examples of persuasive design include infinite scroll; information feeds that produce endlessly refreshed content, activating neurological stressors that manipulate users. Recent works by Matt Collishaw and Katriona Beales have both made visible elements of infinite scroll that are concealed in everyday internet use, drawing attention to acts of persuasion that remain obfuscated during online shopping and surfing. The paper will argue that these acts of making visible afford opportunities for resisting persuasive design, in a hyper-digital era that constantly seeks to shape our emotional and affective lives.
|Lisa Andrew. Orange lanterns in the night; from an imperial eye to a decolonised eye. This paper positions the pineapple as a metaphor of a transcultural traveller through revisiting Ortiz’s (1947) neologism of cultural appropriation and linguist Pratt’s (1992) focus on ‘transculturation’ which is through travel writing produced within the space of contact. It extends the definition of transculturation by contextualising it through ideas surrounding authenticity, appropriation and displacement and investigates to what extent transculturation is a process of art-making itself by drawing on the materiality of the subject to address current ideas on new materialism in which the materiality of the world is transformed through physical and digital contact.|
By considering the expanded image through the lens of Art in relation to a definition of Contemporary beyond ‘the West and the rest”, I argue that the power invested in transcultural processes is that the artworld’s constraining structures are largely absent, and images unmoored from artworld preconceptions and as a cultural material formed by an intermeshing of cultures, operate largely in their own space.
One example is the syncretic conflation of indigenous Animism with Christianity is the collapsing of the image of the pineapple into the figure of the Christ Child in the Philippines; similarly, the European merging of the Tupi name ‘Nana’ for the pineapple (Levitt 2014) was due to its resemblance to a pine cone. Such conflations demonstrate that ‘the transcultural dynamic is directly proportional to the limits and opacity of its translation’ (McLean 2014). Contact produces misunderstandings and mistranslations, but these can be fruitful.
|Session 10 4.10 – 5:30pm Saturday 7th November 2020|
|Julie Vulcan. Dark Deviations and Timely Digressions.|
If Dark Eden is a spectral landscape and the material for a new culture, it is not so because of any sense of descent from the grand narrative of enlightened homo. In that story the narrative is working exactly as it is meant to, operating in a space of twenty-four hour illumination and productivity tied up in the visually biased “voraciousness of contemporary capitalism.”(1) Within that saturated landscape the dark has been white-washed and the histogram is leaning a little too heavily to the right. My paper draws from my recent thesis engaging the conceptual practice of ‘going dark’ as a methodology and tool of intervention. The accompanying social media project delivered dark text tiles, images and audio detailing a speculative fiction randomly transmitted via a sequence of hashtags to co-mingle alongside bright images of selfies, food, cats, and news. My project explores the case for dark as a thing with “thing-power”(2) and urges for a reorientation within its sphere of influence rather than separate or outside. To go dark is to engage in steady observation and a slow liveliness, to embrace the unfamiliar and attend to a practice of deviation indifferent to the temporal scales of productivity and possessive individualism. In this paper I offer the inverse and propose any notion of a current dark Eden is not because it is dark but rather because it is blazing. Simultaneously I suggest the bright Eden of paradise was always dark, always a multi-sensory affair entangled in relational and sensorial affects.
1. Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, (London: Verso, 2014), 10.
2. Jane Bennett, “The Force of Things: Steps Toward an Ecology of Matter,” Political Theory 32, no. 3 (June 2004), 347-372.
|Miska Mandic. Folding Time: Reframing audience relationships to ecological crisis by visualising the multiple temporalities embedded in daily experiences. The processes and temporalities of decay, growth, contamination, and more-than-human entanglements are often invisible to the human eye, even when they occur in the intimacy of domestic settings. For example, a bowl of fruit that’s left unconsumed, decays and becomes home to its own complex ecosystem of bacteria; while synthetic chemical environments can spill out from lawns into curbsides, impacting larger ecosystems. To be able to notice these processes humans require the assistance of temporally or spatially translating objects, such as microscopes, cameras and satellites.|
In this paper I present aspects of my practice-based research, suggesting that through experimentation with timelapse photography and compositing, cinematic images can expand and disrupt simple cause and effect relations that unfold in an untroubled temporal manner. By visualising domestic events as folds that can be brought into close proximity with larger systems and ecologies, film-makers, artists and researchers can reframe audience relationships to the ecological crisis of late capitalism’s accelerated and quantitative temporalities.
Alongside this project of temporal visualisation, I reflect on my own actions and entanglements and propose that a situated cinematic practice that prioritises care and noticing can bring the film-maker into contact with more qualitative timescapes.
|David Manley. The Post-Traumatic Urbanist. The Post Traumatic Urbanist is a body of work that interrogates architecture’s relationship with trauma and the saturation of media images. The work links Paul Virilio’s assertion that technology and in particular the speed and accelerative nature of the image has its own inherent violence, to Roger Luckhurst’s thesis on the intersection of trauma and photography. I use the built environment as a conduit to explore these ideas and to develop my thesis that architecture has reasserted its place in our collective conscious as a potential space for violence. On a personal level, The Post Traumatic Urbanist series operates for me as a form of clinical diagnosis and therapy, a decelerative eddy in the torrent of a contemporary media culture.|
|Margaret Roberts. Places have histories. This paper will discuss my exploration of the multiple nature of places in Western culture(s) in the 2020 artwork ‘We went to school here’.(1) I used this work to draw on the gallery floor the footprint of the school building that previously occupied that same place, so that ex-school students could bring together their remembered images of it with the actual place in which it existed. It proposed that both the gallery and the school could briefly co-exist both visibly and actually: the gallery visible in the normal way to sighted people who actually entered it, and the school visible to those actually entering that same space but with remembered images of when they occupied it as a school.|
It will also discuss its optimistic proposal of a conjunction of remembered image and actual place as one way of challenging modernity’s devaluation of place (the latter discussed using accounts by writers as apparently diverse as Jane Bennett and Anthony Giddens).It intends to remind people that places have histories, even if, in the absence of traditional personal recognition, the location of earlier occupations sometimes needs to be confirmed with modern technical data, as is the case with this work. Most importantly, in having histories, places become more than their present occupation.
The paper will also discuss the role of explanatory text that accompanies artwork such as this, because, despite occupying the whole gallery, the work itself is like its intended content in being invisible to most visitors.
|Session 11 6.00 – 7.20pm Saturday 7th November 2020|
|Julian Stadon. A Journey Through Augmentation Aesthetics. This paper will provide an overview of artistic research and practice in the field of Augmentation Aesthetics, beginning with an exploration of post-biological identity, data body economics and mixed realities, shifting to a more ecological focus, with project including a mixed reality organ trade network, video surveillance based real time audiovisual tracking for protozoan cells and people, tele-agricultural cloud/crowd platform, photosynthetic t-shirt and a music machine that uses remote atmospherical data hubs for post-anthropocenic performance.|
In Bleak Joys: Aesthetics of Ecology and Impossibility (2019), Fuller discusses complex entities, processes and ecological damage from human participation in living environments, as a dynamic, polyphonic process of composition. As Fuller suggests, critical discourse in ecology, particularly in relation to agriculture, industry and contemporary society, is risky business, due to this topic being:
“an expansive one that is both hungrily sensual and abstract… about bad things, it discusses conditions such as anguish and devastation which relate to the ecological but are also constitutive of politics, the ethical and the formation of subjectivities and beings. These combine in the present day at multiple scales and in many ways, but they are also too often avoided, considered finite or absolute, rendered indifferent yet totalising, because we do not have the language to speak about them.” (Fuller, 2019)
Through Augmentation Aesthetics and Embodied Bio-Digital Interface Cultures, Art is able to build of languaging Ecological Aesthetics that is both accessible and engaging, using data science to position several difficult topics within day to day activities and scenarios. This paper articulates an approach for artistic practice that focuses on Augmentation Aesthetics as a way to reorientate discourses in innovative and interventional ways, that integrate into every day scenarios.
|Louis Mason. Opaque Bodies: The Organisation of Small Group Love. We are currently witnessing the rapid and violent dissolution of a cultural project of Modernity, which was organised in the twentieth century around a particular individuation best expressed in the body of the citizen. In its place is a strange new social and media landscape, in which individually-identifying bodies are free to formulate, organise, and betray chosen alliances – to other bodies, to the state, to fixed ideological constructs, to militant and activist groupings – in real time. The effects of this shift on culture, politics, media production, and collective myth-making have been profound and probably irreversible, and it is around these critically opaque and radically unpredictable bodies that any future societal map, model, or fiction must be constructed.|
The body of the Modern citizen was organised around, and buttressed by, a set of essentially interior and domestic sureties: privacy, autonomy, social security, health care, and a clear critical vision that facilitated its political sovereignty. By contrast, the ambiguous and betraying bodies that increasingly replace it refuse to engage in projects of universalising clarity, and instead organise into micro-communities based on volatile and changeable interpersonal relationships – communities that privilege a particular image of authenticity in place of criticality, and individual autonomy of identification over responsibility to a humane universalism. They also produce their own anti-critical image cultures, and have manufactured a unique set of relations between image, body, identity, and the logistical organisation of survival in the hostile conditions of global neoliberalism. This paper seeks to catalogue and unpack some of the images, world-building practices, and alliance-forms that characterise these communities of opaque bodies.
|Ana Peraica. Face-Mockers, Face-Shifters and Face Swappers: agency and personal identity in portrait photography today. Until recently, the idea of stealing someone’s face was unheard of outside the realm of cinematic and literary fiction. In films, the idea of stealing a face can include the idea of transferring a character from one subject to another. It may even involve the death of the original face owner. Most often, the protagonist of the movie is a plastic surgeon, a mediator of faces. One of the oldest movies featuring this character is Anthony Mann’s American film noir classic Strange Impersonation (1946). In this film, a woman scientist takes the face of a person blackmailing her. In Stolen Face by Terence Fisher (1952) plastic surgeon Dr. Phillip Ritter attaches the face of a beautiful piano player to the head of a prisoner, Lily Conover, strongly believing that the prisoner might become a better person if she was more visually appealing. Unfortunately, the prisoner doesn’t change, and she persists in committing crimes. In Eyes without a Face, by Georges Franju (1960), a girl named Christine’s face is been damaged in a car accident caused by her father, who is a plastic surgeon. The surgeon and his assistant kidnap a young woman who look like Christine and tries unsuccessfully to transplant her face onto his daughter’s head. In Teshigahara’s Japanese noir Face by Another (1966), based on the novel by Kōbō Abe, the protagonist also takes someone else’s face. Here, like in Fisher’s Stolen Face, the question is whether a person changes his or her own character when donning someone else’s face — that is, whether the face itself has the agency to change the underlying person. Sometimes, when a person’s face is stolen, that person may die. After all, it is integrally related to the agency of another person. Or, the person who took the face may change his behavior. In both cases, this is called changing the personal identity.|
In the real world, facial surgeon Dr. Edward Lewison operated on several hundreds of prisoners on Oakalla Prison Farm in Burnaby, Canada to give them a fresh life.1The idea that the quality of life will change with the change of face, especially if that face looks like someone who serves as a model of success or beauty, is feeding the industry of facial surgery. Among the most frequently “mocked” faces are those of fictional characters like Barbie and Ken (dolls), Jessica Rabbit (an animated character), or celebrities as Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Elvis Presley, David Beckham, Justin Bieber, Katie Price and Kim Kardashian. In addition, some companies use the faces of celebrities, without permission, in their Internet marketing campaigns. The result of these operations is the dismissal of agency in portraiture, in terms of specific and unique existence. As more people have the same face, it is hard to define who is the original and who is the copy using only visual analysis.
With today’s emergent technology has, in a way, made it possible to steal faces in real life. Images of faces, or portraits, are frequently stolen for personal, public, commercial, machine education, and artistic purposes through such means as directly downloading them from image-sharing social networks, recording people without their consent, transferring rights to third-party applications… But what happens when a portrait is stolen in these new systems? While photographic identity theft can justly raise fears of misidentification and misuse of data, the generative photography can support fears of replacement. One resides in the claim that a portrait necessarily presents singular personal identity while the other it is irreplaceable while the other that personal identity cannot be exchanged with someone.
|Beverley Hood. Tolerating Uncertainty – We Began as Part of the Body. We began as part of the body is an artwork exploring complex human and ethical questions about the relationship between the body, science and technology, created by the author in response to an artist in residence post undertaken at Professor Sara Brown’s eczema genetic research lab (University of Dundee) and ASCUS Art & Science in 2017. The artwork is an immersive journey, comprised of a mixed reality experience for the Magic Leap headset, developed from LIDAR and electromagnetic scans, 3D prints created using confocal microscopy and a speech synthesised spoken-word narration, telling the story of organotypic (artificial) skin’s short ‘in-vitro’ life, from the point of view of the cells.|
The poetic, experiential and aesthetic nature of the art work, re-frames the medicalised body, giving the general public, academics and scientists, new ways to experience and think about the human body, as a technologically and scientifically distributed entity. Combining a critical arts based approach with scientifically accurate information, the project gives audiences the opportunity to think and experience these themes and questions, beyond the quantitative limits, structures and systems of science. The project gives audiences access to the practical activities of the genetic bio-medical lab environment and critical insight into the philosophical questions around clinical translational research. The author’s unique position and approach is as an artist and creative researcher, not bio-medical scientist, and interest is not in the science itself, but in its affective potential and implications, and how this adds to the evolving relationship between embodiment, technology and science.
|Session 12: Endarkenment Technologies: Dark Sky Parks, Altered Monuments, and Night Vision Goggles7.35 – 8.55pm Saturday 7th November 2020 This panel involves four presenters and their individual papers responding to Endarkenment Technologies. Its title pays tribute to the 2016 Edinburgh Art Festival’s exhibition The Scottish Endarkenment: Art and unreason from 1945 to the present. A critically successful exhibition of the work of 40 artists, it proposed an obverse side to David Hume’s Enlightenment philosophies through the work of a range of contemporary Scottish artists, including Christine Borland, Douglas Gordon, and Beagles and Ramsay. One curator of this exhibition will give an overview of its themes, including historical references to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) and James Hogg’s The Private Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824). The three other presenters will expand this dark Scottish vision into an international context, looking at a range of phenomena including Dark Sky Parks; Night Vision Goggles; and the after-dark subversion of public monuments through slide projections and politically disruptive interventions, notably in the works of Krzysztof Wodiczko (Polish/Canadian); Michael Candy (South African/Australian); and Janet Cardiff and George Burres Miller (Canadian). Many of the artworks considered in these papers involve different forms of walking, psychogeography, pan-continental air travel, and “adventurism”, including the use of night vision goggles in Timor-Leste, and the translation of their green-tinged spectral auras into paint. Additionally, parallels will be drawn between the mega-narrative of Dark Sky Parks and the recent situation of COVID-19 lockdown with a collective desire for a pause from capitalism by characterising darkness itself as a spatio-temporal zone of pause.|
|Peter Hill. Dark Monuments. This paper will examine how two artists, Krzysztof Wodiczko (Polish/Canadian), and Michael Candy (South African/Australian) working exactly thirty years apart (1986 and 2016) used the current technologies of the day to activate and politicise public monuments in Venice and Paris. It will show how technological developments – SatNav, web-streaming, and jet travel (all of which display dark auras under certain readings) enable Candy to expand the possibilities opened up by early pioneers such as Wodiczko (and to an extent fellow Canadian Janet Cardiff who will also be referenced). Wodiczko’s use of triple 35mm slide projectors to cast a skin of light over some of Venice’s major monuments (referencing both terrorism and tourism) find a dark soul mate in Candy’s Digital Empathy Device which he attached to the Goddess of Liberty Statue at the site of the Bataclan memorial in 2016, at the Place de la Republique, in Paris. A bomb explodes in Syria and the statue starts to weep. This paper will be constructed through interviews, made by the presenter, with Candy, Cardiff, and Wodiczko, between 1986 and 2019. It will argue that New Ideas will find New Hosts, as technologies and communications systems evolve. In the work of all three artists (Candy, Cardiff, and Wodiczko) elements of city planning to enable military marching between monuments; psychogeography; and “adventurism” are present. The work of all three artists is also situated between David Hume’s Enlightenment philosophies and and the counter-response to these as seen in the 2016 Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition The Scottish Endarkenment (curators Bill Hare and Professor Andrew Patrizio).|
|Jon Cattapan. There But Not There. Beginning properly during the First World War, with the Official Artist Scheme, the Australian Government has had a long history of sending artists to theatres of war, conflict zones and peacekeeping missions. In this Artist’s talk, Jon Cattapan will present a selection of images, made as a result of his time deployed in Timor Leste as an Official Artist for the Australian War Memorial. He will elaborate on his forays with defence forces personnel on their night patrols that allowed for a unique psychologically charged view of seemingly deserted town squares and villages. In particular, the use of military night vision technology will be discussed as a creative tool for presenting uncanny interstitial narratives through the creation of digital night vision photographs on-site and the further development of these images through his paintings. Whilst Cattapan’s paintings are known for their vivid colouration, in this particular body of work, with the attenuation of colour to a reduced palette of greens and blues, he will argue that a poetic re-imagining of what was witnessed in Timor Leste has ensued. Meanwhile, the digital photographs will be discussed as a narrative set that whilst a record of the seen, was also very much a spectral interpretation. Whilst looking through the night vision scope the artist has imagined or perhaps even ‘seen’ ghostly personages either about to enter or having just left these liminal spaces. The artist will elaborate on his overwhelming sense that seeing fully kitted defence personnel illuminated through the scope of a night vision goggle and counterpointed against slightly built thinly clad villagers, led to a psychological disorientation. He has described the attendant uncanny visuality he has created as being ‘there but not there’.|
|Lauren Collee. Night Vision: Nature, Technology and Power in Dark Sky Areas. There is hype around the idea of ‘darkness’ as the inverse to capitalism’s ‘daylight’ world: one of relentless activity and glare. One major player in the race to delineate the characteristics of this inverse world is the Dark Sky movement, which harnesses collective desire for a ‘break’ from capitalism by characterizing darkness as a spatio-temporal zone of pause, in which it is possible to reconnect with the ‘universal’ qualities of nature. Charting overlaps in the discussions surrounding ‘darkness’ and the Covid-19 lockdown period (also figured as a space of pause), this presentation will highlight the need to intervene in the Dark Sky movement’s mega-narrative on several grounds. Firstly: it creates a space in which the qualities associated with the capitalist day are perfectly mirrored and inverted. In doing so, it reinforces the existing order, grouping anything that does not ‘fit’ with capitalisms diurnal rhythm into a ‘dark’ realm, and thus entrenching the binaries by which neoliberal capitalism retains its hegemony. Secondly, it figures ‘night’ as a space outside of power, an empty viewing room for the spectacle of the stars, in the face of which spectators ‘dissolve’ and cease to exist as relational beings. Finally, it ignores the fact that the world after dark is in many ways one of heightened surveillance and militarism. This presentation will make a case for a way of ‘seeing’ dark landscapes as no less complex than daytime ones, made up of relational networks and constantly shifting arrangements of power.|
|Andrew Patrizio & Bill Hare. “The Corresponding Sky”*: Reflections on the Scottish Endarkenment. This panel, ‘Endarkenment Technologies’, derives its name from an exhibition called The Scottish Endarkenment. Art and Unreason. 1945 to the Present that Patrizio and Hare co-curated for the Dovecot Gallery, Edinburgh, in 2016 during the International Edinburgh Festival. One measure of its success was its place in the Top Ten UK Exhibitions of that year by The Guardian. It seemed to strike a chord, among both artists and audiences, that Scotland’s visual artists were particularly attuned to the endarkened narratives of modernity and modern experience and that the shadowlands were a place they felt more at home than the sun-drenched landscapes of the Enlightenment. The artists included ranged from iconic post-war figures (John Bellany, Boyle Family, Joyce Cairns, Steven Campbell, Robert Colquhoun, Alan Davie, Joan Eardley, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull) to the wave of internationally acclaimed artists who rose to prominence in the 1990s (John Beagles & Graham Ramsay, Christine Borland, Luke Fowler, Douglas Gordon, Louise Hopkins, Julie Roberts, David Shrigley, Simon Starling and Alison Watt). Even younger artists (Kevin Harman, Georgia Horgan, Shona Macnaughton and Katie Paterson) seemed also to be retelling these counter-Enlightenment narratives in new ways. This paper will discuss the exhibition, reflect on some of the underlying themes that guided its curation in 2016 and, importantly, try to speculate on what its endarkened legacies might really be. (Especially prescient at a time when students successfully lobbied for an Edinburgh University building to abandon its title, David Hume Tower, due to the philosopher’s associations with the slave trade.) We will bring together the ‘unreasonable’ ideas of James Frazier and R. D.Laing, whose The Golden Bough (1922) and The Divided Self (1960) respectively were foundational texts for the exhibition; and acknowledge a number of relevant 20th- and 21st-century reflections on ‘dialectics of Enlightenment (Adorno and Horkheimer), ‘dark epistemologies’ (Weizman), ‘bare life’ (Agamben), indigenous knowledges (Mignolo and Bird Rose), ecological alternatives (Latour and Dark Mountain), and so much more. The Scottish Endarkenment is, then, a modest but shining example in this dark firmament. *From Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, Endarkenment: Selected Poems (2014)|
|DAY 3 Sunday 8th November 2020|
|Keynote presentation – Barbara Bolt. Shedding light and “glaring” truths.|
Western metaphorics since the enlightenment have privileged the plenitude of light. In positing the cornucopia of Dark Eden of the “Contemporary” as a counter-enlightenment, the provocation of this
conference suggests that the plenitude of light has been replaced by a saturation in which light is sucked into the black hole of a networked world. This conceptualisation inverts the terms of the binary light/dark upon which enlightenment thinking was built, marking “dark” the privileged term.
Unpacking terms is important. Even in a counter-enlightenment move, the terms of a Dark Eden remain haunted by the unexamined terms of the European enlightenment. It is these terms that I wish to return to in order to rehearse an alternative model of mapping contemporaneity, one that is grounded in performativity (not performance). I will extend on earlier work to propose that a particular experience of the “glare” of Australian light serves to fracture the assumed nexus between light, form, knowledge, truth,
representation and subjectivity without flipping it into its binary—dark, matter, unknown, post-truth, simulacrum, other. The rupture of the “glare” prompts a move from shedding light ON the matter to shedding light FOR the matter and suggests an emergent embodied imaging rather than representationalism or pure simulacrum.
|Session 13 10.45am – 12.05pm Sunday 8th November 2020|
|Clea T. Waite. Apogee. Since prehistoric times, the oldest “film,” the progression of the stars and planets across the night sky, has engaged humanity as a shared experience and inspired the construction of public viewing spaces. Prehistoric sky monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury merge built space and image space, engaging the audience with a tangible experience of the poetic as inseparable from the real. Collective rituals were embodied within these monuments and experienced by the bodies of the supplicants who traversed them. In the recent past, comparable phenomena were experienced by bodies immersed within the shared and darkened spaces of planetariums, movie theaters, arenas, and temples of all sorts. Our youngest experience in the year 2020 is of common rituals enacted with an unnatural removal of the body, as concerts attended as avatars and gatherings embodied only by photons. Ritual occurs as disembodied immersion, private experiences in the dark, safely removed from the gaseous effusions of our fellow humans. We interact within a shimmering duality of absented presence, a paradox of simultaneous reality and virtuality in which the space-time of the subject is simultaneously shared and immutably separate from the viewer. Is this our new Eden of bodies at apogee, life as cinema connected by the artificial light of monitors and head-mounted displays, removed both from the proprioceptions of our own bodies and the rudimentary experience of shared space? In this dark Eden, the other is only speculative.|
|Carolyn Angleton. On Proximal Origins and Aesthetic Signaling.A legacy of Dark Edens flail within our attempts to synthetically manipulate nature, acting like transport proteins in a cell membrane that allow infiltration of both good and evil to emerge in contemporary imaginings of self and other.|
In trying to trace the steps of how a virus can jump species and achieve word-wide proliferation, we set out to establish both scientific and philosophical phylogenetic trees that will allow us to point backwards to a visualized emergence point. And in our pointing, both cultural and biological lines of transgressions maneuver on tracks within our cellular and granular memories akin to lysosomes traveling along microtubular pathways attempting to dispose of our complicitness.
In striving to determine the proximal origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we examine intersections of geographic location, time points and mutation rates of specimens to elucidating common ancestry and species divergence. But in our origin stories, both moral and aesthetic judgements lurk in the telling.
Speculations are being made as to whether the virus has a known backbone, how cell passaging allows for rapid mutation and adaptation, what circumstances facilitate modifications that enable viral species jumping, and how viral taxonomy defines “novelty” and “species demarkation.”
As culture is pipetted out both “within” and “against” nature, how do we listen to signaling cells and the soft noise of aesthetic markers in ecosystems that allow us to hear when we are too immersed, too close and in need to stepping back?
|Szilvia Ruszev. Wilderness transcended (poetic capacity of wildlife webcams in time of isolation and social unrest).Images produced by video surveillance have long been remediated by artists such as Harun Farocki, Hito Steyerl, or Walid Raad, conceptualizing them in the context of emerging media. As a networked medium, the live video feed has become the cinematic sensorium of the post-human individual, currently trapped in isolation and driven by the experience of deep sadness. Wildlife webcams become screens for the viewer’s mental images; their temporal and semantic stasis allows for a poetic mode of viewing that transcends the material image and turns it into an affective membrane that resonates with the uncertainty of the present moment. From the viewer’s confinement, reality becomes framed by the camera; the wilderness becomes public space negating human existence, amplifying the feeling of loss and grief, yet offering connection. The longing for something to happen in front of our eyes; the sensationalism and poetics of the gaze turn scopophilia into semantophilia. The live feed’s temporal synchronicity offers an unexpected intensity to address the paralyzing and yet aggravating state of the world.|
This paper pairs up with a media artwork (by the same author) which invites the viewer to wander in a dark maze of virtuality reality followed by the auditory and visual echo of several live webcams.
|George Legrady. Point-of-View Aesthetic Explorations in Image-Machine Generation. The presentation addresses photographic point-of-view aesthetic explorations from 20th Century straight photography to possibilities in automated computation-generated image creation. I propose to review my on-going artistic research and production focused on the photographic paradigm’s transformation through the past 30 years, a photographic practice intersected by computation, semiotics, and image analysis.|
Whereas most photographs in the 20th Century have been created and purposed by humans, autonomous image capture machines (Virolio’s Machine Vision) are increasingly stockpiling photographic documentation without human intervention. Additionally software development in machine-learning advance the production of images with reduced human interaction resulting in new aesthetic forms.
The challenge of machine-learning software to generate photographic-looking visualizations as an artistic practice is to consider to what degree can the interface between human intention and machine generation be situated. My approach are guided by a set of aesthetic principles I have explored in my fine arts practice, data visualizations and a National Science Foundation research in developing a platform and software to train multiple cameras to pursue and evaluate visual scenes of interest based on knowledge transfer of rules of human photographic decision-making processes. Results may contribute to two knowledge fields: 1) The fine arts which is dependent on a continuously evolving set of new types of images, and 2) engineering/science, where autonomous generated photographic images, created outside of human intention, require methods for interpretation. Interestingly the social function of photographic and time-based visualizations are still considered to be evidentiary.
|Session 14 1.00 – 2.05pm Sunday 8th November 2020|
|Deanna Witman and William Hafford. A Guide to Loss & Grieving in the Anthropocene”: A Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration in Art, Psychology and Community-Building. The world is experiencing a time of extraordinary ecological loss – of species, habitat, ecological connectivity, and personal connection to the natural world – an “Eden” no more. An increasing number of individuals and communities are experiencing grief and other health effects surrounding these losses. Grief, an often invisible and intangible experience is only recently being addressed as it relates to ecological losses.|
In this session, artist-educator Deanna Witman and Dr. William Hafford, Psy.D. will unpack the framework of climate-related loss and grieving in terms of psychological models and contemporary art. The session will include insight into the collaborative process, the results of community-building dialogue sessions, as well as move participants through the very same community dialogue sessions which were held across the state.
The collaboration resulted in the production of a zine which was distributed to Maine communities and provided to participants in the community sessions. The zine serves as a resource for understanding psychological frameworks for grief and is paired with artwork made specifically as a reaction to Witman’s own processing of loss due to climate disruption.
As individuals and communities deal with the shifts in the physical environment, so too, must we deal with the psychological and existential changes. Through this collaboration, we conducted “community dialogue” sessions with communities across the state on the topic. These sessions sought to provide a platform for individuals and communities to share what they have been experiencing, and provided strategies for dealing with grief in their own lives and building a stronger sense of community.
|Elke Reinhuber. Habitat in Control. Photographer and media artist Elke Reinhuber explores the dark side of a tropical paradise in which almost every aspect of life seems to be too good to be true.|
Living there for more than half a decade, the location came very close to her imagination of Eden. Everything is clean and tidy, people from different ethnicities and cultures live peacefully together in harmony – all compromising to communicate in an acquired language, softly – hardly anyone ever speaks up or expresses a strong opinion.
The city-state’s character is shaped by the very far-reaching intervention in the existence of all of its residents. The full habitat is exposed to a constant revision and optimisation – this encroaching regime begins with the handling of the topography. The metropolis is in an ongoing process of terraforming by extending the coastline into the sea, levelling the hills and then compacting the swamps with the overburden; rivers were relocated, lagoons were turned into inland lakes, in short, nature was brought under complete control.
This total command feels so self-evident that every aspect of surveillance and punishment – if any of the rules are violated – is understood as part of the social contract.
However, looking behind the façade will reveal only what everyone already knows, like on the “Titanic”, the machine deck hides the relevant people in the dark.
The artistic research examines how the comfort and fear of total control, self-censorship and constant surveillance may be observed and expressed in independent artistic projects.
|Malcolm Johnson. Poetic Carpentry: conducting immersive geography of spectral landscapes. There is no landscape, at least not the kind we can gauge with ready-made measuring rods. As Cosgrove observes, landscapes can be all at once pictorial views, ideas that shape understanding, and hybrids that combine process and form, nature and culture, mind and world. Yet, in the face of the certain uncertainty of climate change, the views vanish behind smoke clouds, the ideas tainted with absence, and the hybrids withdrawn and ghastly. Dwelled in places are haunted, being both there and not there, forcing us to ask: where do we end and the landscape begin? Drawing from Heidegger’s concept of “poetic dwelling” and Bogost’s “philosophical carpentry”, this paper explores deep mapping as a form of poetic carpentry, wherein the maps both explain how things make their world and are poetic creations that take measure of the world around them. In particular, this paper argues that traditional mapping is unable to grasp the uncanny realities of landscapes where the environmental manager’s neat biophysical boundary and the climate scientists’ scalar effects are scrambled and obscured. Poetic carpentry instead entails a situated approach full of metaphor and reflection, presence and acceptance, representation and immersion. A liminal methodology where presence and absence exist simultaneously. Inspired by the spatial imagery of geographic information systems and deep mapping experience in the Northern Mariana Islands, this paper develops an immersive approach where the poetic carpentry of mapping allows us to think, feel, and exist differently with (and within) spectral landscapes.|
|Session 15: Living Images, Inert Humans 2.20 – 3.40pm Sunday 8th November 2020 If images are autonomous living organisms, as W.J.T. Michell (2004) and Hans Belting (2011) have claimed, the digital technologies that permeate our lives make these images more animated than the exhausted human beings. In fact, while the vast swarm of online images constitutes the media ecology that accelerates our affective responses and aggravates political conflicts, it makes the control society so much robust that comes to suffocate our bodily senses. To paraphrase Donna Haraway’s words in her “Cyborg Manifesto” (1985), our images are so disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.|
Was the Garden of Eden for the image only a dark world for humans? To reconsider this question, this panel will present four papers by researchers and artists who specialize in media technologies. First, Masuda summarizes recent media theories and bio-media artworks for a historical mapping of the condition the has created living images. Second, as a critical response to this condition, Yokokawa presents the concepts of his work, Chromatophony (2019), that transform a squid’s skin into a visual display device by feeding it an electric tone signal. Then, Jo introduces their work, A Wave (2017, Sine Wave Orchestra), an attempt to deprive the vast amount of video uploaded to the Internet of its meaning and reduce it to abstract light. Finally, Matsutani reviews these projects in a theoretical vein, comparing them with other recent artworks and media ecology. Through these works, we will explore the possibilities of media art in Dark Eden.
|Nobuhiro Masuda. Technological conditions for living images. Since the beginning of this century, several theorists from visual studies as well as the history of art have claimed that the image itself is a living, autonomous organism. For example, W.J.T. Mitchell (2004) argues that the image is a species to biological organisms, of which pictures are a materialized specimen. According to H. Belting (2011), an image that has never been dominated by humans since time immemorial is a living entity that reproduces itself by parasitizing the human body and material media. These points are worth revisiting now, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered such affective reactions as fear and panic. The unseen viruses as quasi-living organisms are transmitted universally via material media as if embodying a habit of the image. However, if we could compensate for these claims, it would be owing to its lack of a technological perspective. While acknowledging the significance of rethinking images on an anthropological scale, it must be asked how media technologies, such as digital devices and the Internet, operate in this situation. While many platforms have been successively launched by global corporations, constituting a media ecology that controls our mental and physical activities intensively, are these media the best breeding grounds for images, or their predicament to be threatened with contamination or extinction? To explore the possibility of media art, including the works presented below, serving as touchstones to examine these questions, this paper will attempt to map a theoretical perspective on the “Dark Eden,” reconsidered from the standpoint of the image.|
|Juppo Yokokawa. Chromatophony: An image practice realized by squid chromatophores. Chromatophony (2019) is a practice of the literal “living” image. Squids can rapidly change their body colour, and this ability is utilized for various purposes, such as mimicry, intimidation, and courtship. This extraordinary ability is realized by small organs called chromatophores that cover the surface of the squid’s body. The chromatophores are contracted in the absence of stimulation, but when action potential is generated in the nerve cells, the muscles stretch and the colour appears. By using this mechanical structure, it is possible to expand the chromatophores artificially, even in a dead squid. The author applied this phenomenon to create an audio-visual work in which the movement of the chromatophores and sound are synchronized by connecting an audio cable to the squid in place of a speaker. The author investigated the signals that are likely to stimulate the chromatophores, and arranged them to compose the music for this work. Alexander Galloway (2009) and Sean Cubitt (2004) provide a unique discussion about pixel from a techno-cultural historical perspective. By positioning Chromatophony in this context, I would like to demonstrate the potential of another type of image, the “living” image, which has been buried in the shadows of digital images. In other words, squid ancestors, which diverged from us around 600 million years ago, acquired sophisticated imagery abilities during their evolution, and before humans evolved. While we are exhausted from the saturation of digital images, Chromatophony suggests a new relationship between life and images.|
|Kazuhiro Jo. A Wave: An image which strips the memories of countless others retrieved from the Internet. A Wave is a work of The SINE WAVE ORCHESTRA (SWO) project, which premiered at the Vanishing Mesh exhibition at The Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM] in 2017. The ‘Vanishing Mesh exhibition’ hints at the various boundaries and defining lines that are gradually becoming invisible due to technological innovation. The exhibition is an attempt to review present informational environments in a ubiquitous society through the innovation of technology-based art. Thanks to the popularization of smartphones and smart devices, it enables us to communicate through networks in any location. SWO (2002) organized by Kazuhiro Jo, Ken Furudate, Daisuke Ishida, and Mizuki Noguchi, present performances and installations that invite the public to create a collective sound representation using sine waves (the most fundamental component of sound) by following a rule that allowed each participant to play a single sine wave. SWO only provide a framework and introduce a possibility of decentralized, participatory art that is defined by the interplay of visitors and the sine waves they perform. A Wave is a re-examination of this rule. An indistinct image is projected onto a screen covering the entire surface of the space. The image composed of a large number of moving images retrieved from the Internet and rearranged to draw a sine curve based on the brightness of each frame. As a series of flickering lights and colours, it strips the memories of countless others, and through the spectrum that is re-examined from a single sine wave, the meaning of each visitor’s participation in this space can be re-examined.|
|Yosaku Matsutani. Just an image? We often define the world based on human beings. However, in recent decades, global environmental changes, innovations in life-related technologies, and the detailed investigations of our increasingly diverse physics have become the driving forces for breaking a rigid anthropocentrism. This situation has been theorized in a clear manner by new trends in the humanities, such as speculative realism and new materialism, but as Katherine Hayles (2007) points out, the new theoretical frameworks spurred by such a trend, with its biased focus on materiality, may make it difficult to break through the political and ethical issues in today’s society. Therefore, Hayles proposes the notion of the cognitive nonconscious between consciousness and the material to observe all life forms and artifacts, (e.g., digital devices that variously act with instantaneous responses), in parallel, and to establish new relationships between these and material processes. She then figures her tripartite framework as a pyramid. However, when we try to map the SWO’s A Wave, Yokokawa’s Chromatophony, or another recent artwork onto this figure, its limitations become apparent. Each work crosses the layers of the pyramid in its own way. It can then be asked: What are the factors of this crossing? In this paper, I would like challenge and flatten the hierarchical mode of existence of the material, artifacts, and life-forms, from the viewpoint of ‘techniques’ (i.e. behaviour in response to the environment), to clarify the role of images in this context, and finally to argue that the living image is the factor of the crossing.|
|Session 16 3.55 – 5:00pm Sunday 8th November 2020|
|Diego Ramirez. Iconographic Necromancy: Pazuzu and The Statue of Baphomet. This text frames two contemporary demonic monuments as zombie monoliths within the area of expanded image, for they resuscitate the iconographic corpse of their idols while leaving a pious entity behind. These are Pazuzu (2008) by artist Roberto Cuoghi, a 5.7-meter reproduction of a small talisman depicting Mesopotamian demon Pazuzu, originally shown at the Castello Di Rivoli. And The Statue of Baphomet (2015) by the non-theistic organisation The Satanic Temple, a 2.6-meter public monument to the occult icon Baphomet rejected by Oklahoma State Capitol and Arkansas State Capitol in the USA. Both statues are post-secular, for Cuoghi conjured the dead image of Pazuzu to meditate on the fall of Empire, while The Satanic Temple devised The Statue of Baphomet as a ploy against a monument to the Ten Commandments sitting on State Capitol; advocating for the separation of church and state. Thus, their cadavers stand erect yet vacant, failing to summon the supernatural beings they represent.|
I draw from Hans Belting Anthropology of Images to argue that Pazuzu and The Statue of Baphomet resuscitate the body, but not the soul, of these idols in a necromancy that typifies Dark Eden. Indeed, Belting separates the anatomy of the image into image, medium and the receptive body—the first of which mirrors the split between soul and body. Teasing out the connotations of this framework, this text touches on practices of resurrection and the figure of the undead to put forth a semiotic necromancy as the darkness of the contemporary image.
|Joel Zika. A Southern Dark Ride. This paper discusses the unique practice-led research which led to the artwork A Southern Dark Ride. The work was created on the site of a historic amusement park dark ride in the small town of Oxford, Alabama. The work combined centuries old techniques with hands on experimentation with the apparatus to create an original light-based artefact.|
Dark rides are a type of media experience that has existed since the early stages of the 20th century, still produced today at major theme parks with well-known themes such as the Ghost Train, Haunted Mansion and Haunted Castle. The Dark Ride format has not been defined in academic discourse, whilst it is a well-known aspect of popular culture its history and impact on other media such as art and cinema has been limited. This paper tracks the development of A Southern Dark Ride; a new media installation which utilises a historic example of the format and shows the potential results for others in examining or using this strange element of media history.
The artwork is the culmination of years of historic and field research examining primary examples of the ‘historic dark ride’ as well as secondary records of early iterations of the format. The practice-led investigation engaged directly with an historic dark ride, exploring and reflecting on how the apparatus was effective for creating an original creative experience.
The results show how a particular set of contemporary processes (projection, digital media, virtual reality) can be interwoven with the characteristics of an indoor, darkened, track based ride.
This research draws on studies of early electric media and their influence on current creative approaches by academics such as Peter Otto and Oliver Grau. New knowledge is created which adds the historic dark ride to the constellation of historic media offerings for practitioners and researchers alike.
|Katie Paine. Twin spectres, or an unintended doubling. I wish to propose a fictocritical text that imagines the spectral afterlife of the destroyed or discarded sign and its capacity to destabilise. The text considers the period after the fall of the Roman Empire thought to have birthed the ‘Dark Ages’. Troops departed the city of Londinium– excavations suggest a rapid exodus of inhabitants. Over time a city known as Lundenwic was developed outside of Londinium’s ruined Roman walls. The old city remained abandoned. This place for the living had become a spectre of itself; the imperialist ‘Eden’ whose conception signified the Empire’s project of civilisation was swallowed back into obscurity. Locals forgot the city’s history: stories abounded that it was built by giants or inhabited with ghouls. People resided beside this forgotten place in an ongoing act of unconscious haunting.|
The text explores how misunderstood signs discarded by the Empire birthed monstrous narratives within subsequent communities. As this material disseminates it becomes dislocated from its original source– adopting whole new interpretations or carrying with it the burden of thousands of simultaneous meanings. The ghost of a person might be separated from the world of the living and yet their very existence is manifest because they cannot let go of the past. An image or text, bereft of its original referent, might be imagined as a ghost. The text discusses ‘the spectral sign’ which sits against linear time, it is not beholden to the same earthly conditions as others and subsequently can subvert the laws of knowledge.