Thursday, April 02, 2009

Eternal Objects of Desire

An old article from the Forties, "Techniques of Photographic Art," is frequently sampled from and remixed into an essay on Edward Weston by Hollis Frampton in a new collection of his writings titled On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters, just published by MIT Press. A sample of the sampling:
An intuitive knowledge of composition in terms of capacities of his process enables the photographer to record his subject at the moment of deepest perception; to capture the fleeting instant when the light on a landscape, the form of a cloud, the gesture of a hand, or the expression of a face momentarily presents a profound revelation of life.
The idea of recording a subject seems odd to me. Rather, embodying an experience with a hand-held camera-as-prosthetic capturing not so much "the fleeting of an instant" but the movement (and energy) of an Event seems more appropriate. This "intuitive knowledge of composition" that comes with the artist-medium's operating system is never to be underestimated and can can be employed across all of the arts. Today it feels like it has less to do with seeing or "being in the right place at the right time." It is not a mater of clicking in sync with Nature as it [the creative environment] performs miracles in front of the camera that the photographer just happens to sense is about to "take place" so that they can then capture the moment. The art experience is not camera-ready. The readiness potential of any creative experience is generated by the artist who intuits their next compositional act by simultaneously and continuously generating their ongoing remixological performance wherein they reveal what it means to always become a postproduction medium.

Developing a mobile chorography that aesthetically composes with the camera-as-prosthetic is how an artist synchronizes their body / image making apparatus with the creative process of becoming a postproduction medium. It involves designing a customized inner choreography that can surf-sample-manipulate from the Source Material Everywhere. This is the environment that network culture connects us to. Our D-I-Y inner choreography that converts source material into memory and memory into what Joyce may have referred to as "meme-more-me" (image writing) requires that artists evolve a signature style of their own, one that directly relates to their "capacities" of processing the unconscious generation of aesthetically manipulated source material, particularly as it relates to their capacity to in-form themselves via proprioception, affect, memory banking, image (risk) investment, chora writing, remixological inhabitation, etc. To do this, I set out over the spring break to experiment with a Flip (see below).

Immediately after sampling from the old article above, Frampton writes:
Somewhere in a book whose name I have forgotten, Alfred North Whitehead proposes to correct two items of vulgar terminology. What we call things, he says, we should in fact refer to as Events. A little more or less evanescent than ourselves, things are temporary, chance encounters and collocations between and among particles of matter or quanta of energy, each of which, engaged in a journey through absolute space and relative time, has compiled a history that is not yet finished.

Contrariwise, what we call ideas should, according to Whitehead, be renamed Eternal Objects, since their perpetuation, while owing something to such events in the universal history of matter as this present mind which thinks or deciphers, and this absent hand which writes, are, once formulated, independent of local frailties of matter, standing at once within and without it.
Finally, Frampton ends this short section on Whitehead and the philosophy of an emergent camera arts by writing:
An Eternal Object, furthermore, is more than what is to be inferred from the static description of an Event; it is a behavior conducted by an Event, or, perhaps, it is an Event's notion of how to get other Events.
As artists who play with and against the camera as a prosthetic aesthetic in search of some loose concept of freedom, what is the Eternal Object of Desire and what does it mean to succumb to an engendering Event?

While in Portland this week, I had this idea that I would ride on an old bus and create an almost drill-like visual effect by nestling a Flip HD mino camera into the palm of my hand as I rocked my way through the city streets.

Drill, baby, drill. The image is no longer in my head. Instead, it saturates my nerves until the image itself explodes into the white heat of illumination.

On a different, less rickety bus several hours later, but jamming with a yellow pull cord that, in close-up, breaks or strips the image of any conventionally conceived fluidity or continuity of experience per se and creates an alternative visual rhythm as line in space, one that then has the potential to become painterly or lyrical or conceptual in style, I hit the record button and run with the Event:

Scraps of a life. Herky-jerky embodiment of the experience as vibrating medium. Bulldozing through history every other moment a speed bump a mud puddle a pothole over-trammeled. Twisting to the simultaneous beat of a city performing (its daily ritual -- an act of perpetual recovery).

Crossing the bridge as if in transition into some other life, everything turns black and white or, more appropriately, gray, even though I am capturing everything in color.

My inclination as to what to do with all of this gray matter and philosophical drilling?

To speed up and loop the visual rhythms so that they create a smooth smudge of experience for the rest of the duration.

To create a very listenable soundtrack that turns the digital sputtering into illumination.

To locate the deep interior shot that projects the experience in the first place.

To underwrite the visual with the poetic in subtitled formation.

Is this what it means to intuit a new phase of life?

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