Archived entries for

Trevor Paglen : Limit telephotography

2007 Open Hangar, Cactus Flats, NV, Distance - 18 miles, 10.04 a

2008 Detachment 3, Air Force Flight Test Center #2, Groom Lake, NV, Distance - 26 Miles

2008 Detachment 3, Air Force Flight Test Center, Groom Lake, NV; Distance - 26 miles

A number of classified military bases and installations are located in some of the remotest parts of the United States, hidden deep in western deserts and buffered by dozens of miles of restricted land. Many of these sites are so remote, in fact, that there is nowhere on Earth where a civilian might be able to see them with an unaided eye. In order to produce images of these remote and hidden landscapes, therefore, some unorthodox viewing and imaging techniques are required.

Limit-telephotography involves photographing landscapes that cannot be seen with the unaided eye. The technique employs high powered telescopes whose focal lengths range between 1300mm and 7000mm. At this level of magnification, hidden aspects of the landscape become apparent.

Limit-telephotography most closely resembles astrophotography, a technique that astronomers use to photograph objects that might be trillions of miles from Earth. In some ways, however, it is easier to photograph the depths of the solar system than it is to photograph the recesses of the military industrial complex. Between Earth and Jupiter (500 million miles away), for example, there are about five miles of thick, breathable atmosphere. In contrast, there are upwards of forty miles of thick atmosphere between an observer and the sites depicted in this series.

via Trevor Paglen.

2010 They Watch the Moon



Nuns examine Calder’s mobiles and stabiles at Frank Perls Gallery, 1953. Photo: Ann Rosener. Copyright: Smithsonian Museum v/ e-flux

Every original form is negated, or rather, abolished. Navigating through a network made up of photocopies, prints, screens or photographic reproductions, forms surface as just so many transitory incarnations.

a. Permanent Transcoding: Formal Nomadism

In the works of Kelley Walker, Wade Guyton and Seth Price, forms are displayed in the shape of copies, forever in a transitory state; the images are instable, waiting between two translations, perpetually transcoded. The practice of these three artists dissuades us from giving their works a precise place in the production and processing chain of the image, because the same patterns are repeated with greater or lesser variants in distinct works.

Kelley Walker operates by linking visual objects: he depicts an uprooted reality in works that are only ‘freeze frames’ of an enunciation in a continuous state of development, constantly incorporating earlier stages of his work. As for Wade Guyton, he leaves it to mechanical reproduction techniques to generate form variables that he introduces in his work.

Taken from magazines, television or Google search, they seem ready to return there, instable, spectral. Every original form is negated, or rather, abolished. Navigating through a network made up of photocopies, prints, screens or photographic reproductions, forms surface as just so many transitory incarnations. The visible appears here as a nomad by definition, a collection of iconographic ghosts; the work of art presents itself in the form of a USB-stick that can be plugged into every support.

from Nicolas Bourriaud’s Precarious Constructions
Answer to Jacques Rancière on Art and Politics

Art strike 1977-1980

Artists engaged in political struggle act in two key areas: the use of their art for direct social change; and actions to change the structures of the art world. It needs to be understood that this activity is necessarily of a reformist, rather than revolutionary, character. Indeed this political activity often serves to consolidate the existing order, in the West, and in the East.
The use of art for social change is bedevilled by the close integration of art and society. The state supports art, it needs art as a cosmetic cloak to its horrifying reality, and uses art to confuse, divert and entertain large numbers of people. Even when deployed against the interests of the state, art cannot cut loose the umbilical cord of the state. Art in the service of revolution is unsatisfactory and mistrusted because of the numerous links of art with the state and capitalism. Despite these problems, artists will go on using art to change society.

Throughout the century, artists have attacked the prevailing methods of production, distribution and consumption of art. These attacks on the organisation of the art world have gained momentum in recent years. This struggle, aimed at the destruction of existing commercial and public marketing and patronage systems, can be brought to a successful conclusion in the course of the present decade.

The refusal to labour is the chief weapon of workers fighting the system; artists can use the same weapon. To bring down the art system it is necessary to call for years without art, a period of three years – 1977 to 1980 – when artists will not produce work, sell work, permit work to go on exhibitions, and refuse collaboration with any part of the publicity machinery of the art world. This total withdrawal of labor is the most extreme collective challenge that artists can make to the state. The years without art will see the collapse of many private galleries. Museums and cultural institutions handling contemporary art will be severely hit, suffer loss of funds, and will have to reduce their staff. National and local government institutions will be in serious trouble. Art magazines will fold. The international ramifications of the dealer/museum/publicity complex make for vulnerability; it is a system that is keyed to a continuous juggling of artists, finance, works and information – damage one part, and the effect is felt world-wide.

Three years is the minimum period required to cripple the system, whilst a longer period of time would create difficulties for artists. The very small number of artists who live from the practice of art are sufficiently wealthy to live on their capital for three years. The vast majority of people who produce art have to subsidise their work by other means; they will, in fact, be saving money and time. Most people who practice art never sell their work at a profit, do not get the chance to exhibit their work under proper conditions, and are unmentioned by the publicity organs. Some artist may find it difficult to restrain themselves from producing art. These artist will be invited to enter camps, where making of art works is forbidden, and where any work produced is destroyed at regular intervals. In place of the practice of art, people can spend time on the numerous historical, esthetic and social issues facing art. It will be necessary to construct more equitable forms for marketing, exhibiting and publicising art in the future. As the twentieth century has progressed, capitalism has smothered art – the deep surgery of the years without art will give it a new chance.

Art strike 1977-1980
Gustav Metzger, 1974

an early example of the hacker class grasping its unity as a class, and trying to work out issues of authorship and autonomy outside the constraints of state and market patronage

Ross: “More important than laws the Communards were able to enact was simply the way in which their daily workings inverted entrenched hierarchies and divisions – first and foremost among these the division between manual and artistic labor.” (50) The way I would recode this is to think of the Commune as an early encounter with the problem of the worker and hacker alliance. How can repetitive labor and the art of making new things, be brought together not only politically but practically? My interest in figures such as Alexander Bogdanov and Asger Jorn has to do with their attempts to grapple with the relation between these as different phenomena, not well suited to reduction to assumed common ground as the same kind of thing, as labor.

The [Commune's] Artist’s Federation had an approach to self-organization that to me looks a bit different to that of labor. They were concerned with the independence of artistic work from both the state and the market, and as concerned for the autonomy of the right to create as for their wages and security. Significantly, they tried to break down the division between fine artists, who could sign their work, and applied artisan-artists, who could not, by recognizing the latter also as artists with authorial capacities.

To me this is an early example of the hacker class grasping its unity as a class, and trying to work out issues of authorship and autonomy outside the constraints of state and market patronage. Ross: “This is particularly important since it shifts value away from any market evaluation, and even from the art object itself, and onto the process of making…” (57-58) Unlike so many bourgeois artists attracted to revolution, the urgent matters were not about a style or an aesthetic, but practical matters of autonomy and organization that are much more profoundly conceptual at the same time. This was an original version of proletkult.

McKenzie Wark on Kristin Ross’s Communal Luxury(e-flux conversations)

Martha Rosler: The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems (1974-75)

The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems 01

The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems 02

Contemporary art thus not only reflects, but actively intervenes in the transition towards a new post-Cold War world order…

The Global Guggenheim is a cultural refinery for a set of post-democratic oligarchies, as are the countless international biennials tasked with upgrading and reeducating the surplus population.3 Art thus facilitates the development of a new multipolar distribution of geopolitical power whose predatory economies are often fueled by internal oppression, class war from above, and radical shock and awe policies.

Contemporary art thus not only reflects, but actively intervenes in the transition towards a new post-Cold War world order. It is a major player in unevenly advancing semiocapitalism wherever T-Mobile plants its flag. It is involved in mining for raw materials for dual-core processors. It pollutes, gentrifies, and ravishes. It seduces and consumes, then suddenly walks off, breaking your heart. From the deserts of Mongolia to the high plains of Peru, contemporary art is everywhere. And when it is finally dragged into Gagosian dripping from head to toe with blood and dirt, it triggers off rounds and rounds of rapturous applause.

via Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the
Transition to Post-Democracy | e-flux

ver pasar una aleta muy lejos

Martes 28 de septiembre 1926 “Pero siempre está la cuestión de si deseo evitar estas melancolías. En parte son consecuencia de aislarse y tener un interés psicológico que falta en la situación normal de trabajo y diversión. Estas 9 semanas proporcionan una inmersión en aguas profundas, un poco alarmante pero llena de interés. Todo el resto del año está una (diría que con razón) refrenando y controlando esta extraña e inconmensurable alma. Cuando se expande, aunque una se asusta, se aburre y se entristece, es, como yo me digo, tremendamente singular. Tiene un filo cortante que me parece de gran importancia, una vez de cuando en cuando. Una baja al pozo y nada la protege del asalto de la verdad. Allí abajo no puedo escribir ni leer; existo, sin embargo, soy. Luego me pregunto qué soy, y obtengo una respuesta más aproximada aunque menos halagadora de la que obtendría en la superficie, donde, a decir verdad, recibo más alabanzas de las que merezco. Pero las alabanzas se acabarán; me quedaré sola con este ser singular en la vejez. Me alegro de encontrarle en general tan interesante, aunque profundamente desagradable.”

Jueves 30 de septiembre 1926 “Deseaba añadir algunos comentarios a esto, al lado místico de esta soledad; que no es uno mismo sino algo del universo lo que nos queda al final. Es eso lo que resulta aterrador y excitante en medio de mi profunda melancolía, depresión, aburrimiento, o lo que sea: uno ve pasar una aleta muy lejos. ¿Qué imagen podría encontrar para transmitir lo que quiero decir? Creo que realmente no hay ninguna. Lo interesante es que en todos mis sentimientos y pensamientos nunca había tropezado con esto antes. La vida es, dicho con sobriedad y precisión, lo más extraño; contiene en sí la esencia de la realidad. (…) Lo único que me propongo hacer es tomar nota de un curioso estado mental. Me arriesgo a suponer que quizás sea el impulso de un nuevo libro. En la actualidad mi mente está totalmente vacía y virgen de libros. Quiero observar para ver cómo surge la idea al principio. Quiero seguir el rastro de mi propio proceso.”

Virginia Woolf, Diarios

conquérir un élément: la composition des rapports

“Au contraire, je sais nager : ça ne veut pas dire forcément que j’ai une connaissance mathématique ou physique, scientifique, du mouvement de la vague ; ça veut dire que j’ai un savoir faire, un savoir faire étonnant, c’est-à-dire que j’ai une espèce de sens du rythme, la rythmicité. Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire, le rythme ? ça veut dire que mes rapports caractéristiques je sais les composer directement avec les rapports de la vague. ça ne se passe plus entre la vague et moi, c’est-à-dire que ça ne se passe plus entre les parties extensives, les parties mouillées de la vague et les parties de mon corps ; ça se passe entre les rapports. Les rapports qui composent la vague, les rapports qui composent mon corps et mon habileté lorsque je sais nager, à présenter mon corps sous des rapports qui se composent directement avec le rapport de la vague. Je plonge au bon moment, je ressors au bon moment. J’évite la vague qui approche, ou, au contraire je m’en sers, etc… Tout cet art de la composition des rapports.”

via Les genres de connaissance,
extrait du cours de Gilles Deleuze sur Spinoza

Decir algo en nombre propio es muy curioso…

“Decir algo en nombre propio es muy curioso; porque no es en absoluto en el momento en que uno se toma por un yo, una persona o un sujeto cuando se habla en su nombre. Al contrario, un individuo adquiere un verdadero nombre propio como consecuencia del más severo ejercicio de despersonalización, cuando se abre a las multiplicidades que le atraviesan de parte a parte, a las intensidades que le recorren.”

Gilles Deleuze, carta a M. Cressole
(citado por Miguel Morey en Lógica del sentido)

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