Image Infrastructures

Apparatus, Code, Corpse

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Lecture and Seminar

The lecture will focus on a somewhat strange, polychronic constellation at the heart of which is Maurice Blanchot’s famous essay TheTwo Versions of the Imaginary. We will discuss the double visibility which characterises the apparatus, images of the figure of Death, but also the more contemporary object of digital code. Next to Blanchot we will read two texts, very different from each other, but focusing on a conceptual question which is at the heart of our understanding of images. Alexander Galloway’s discussion of digital infrastructure, and the closing pages of an important and beautifully written article by Joseph Koerner discussing the complex visibility of the the fictional character of Death in the painting of Hans Baldung Grien (1484-1545). Considering those images together, we will discuss the question of what kind of visibility emerges when we put together the apparatus, the medium, the code, and yes, Death, all of them being figures of self-referentiality. They emerge as images which refer to the operations of their own making and their own material, and media. This allegorical visibility is characterised by opacity  of a material presence which splits itself in two. It is the visibility of an infrastructure. As Blanchot puts it: “we might also recall that a tool, when damaged, becomes its image …In this case the tool, no longer disappearing into its use, appears. This appearance of the object is that of resemblance and reflection: the object's double, if you will. The category of art is linked to this possibility for objects to "appear," to surrender, that is, to the pure and simple resemblance behind which there is nothing -- but being. Only that which is abandoned to the image appears, and everything that appears is, in this sense, imaginary.”

 

Maurice Blanchot, “Two Versions of the Imaginary” In: The Space of Literature, trans. Ann Smock (Lincoln University of Nebraska Press, 1982), pp. 254-263 (pages 169-177 in the PDF file)

Alexander R. Galloway, “Jodi’s Infrastructure” e-flux journal #74 June 2016

Joseph Leo Koerner, “The Mortification of the Image: Death as a Hermeneutic in Hans Baldung Grien” Representations, 1985:10, pp. 93-94 (pages 43, 44 in the PDF file)