In Reverse

Anachronism and the Double Visibility of the Photographic Document

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Open Lecture

[…] we might also recall that a tool, when damaged, becomes its image (and sometimes an esthetic object like "those outmoded objects, fragmented, unusable, almost incomprehensible, perverse," which André Breton loved). 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.

Maurice Blanchot, The Two Versions of the Imaginary

The lecture will address the relationship between time and the materiality of images. This question is central to the practises of artists who use photography as an object, and as a medium, in order to create images with a double visibility. Such images question modes of looking at, and interpretations of, historical documents and fragments. They challenge traditional ideas of chronology, in order to perform a visual archeology, in which contradictions and iconic resonances become productive principles. Among many other works, Batia Suter’s Parallel Encyclopedia I, II (2008, 2016) and Attachments (2015) by Sascha Pohle build anarchic constellations of images to solicit our gaze in a labyrinthine travel through time. I will look at concepts of temporality, anachronicity and obsolescence in conjunction with material modes objects can assume - trash, ruin, document. Ultimately, this folding of the past within the present-day art practices is determined by fascination with future modes of circulating and perceiving images. Re-photographing images with archival weight, and their juxtaposition with objects creates a particular mode of visibility, which always splits the image into two. The image is no longer an evidence, or an index of a time past, but an open contemporary ruin. Such ‘ruins in reverse,’ to use Robert Smithson’s phrase, are characterised by opacity of a material presence, which always throws our gaze beyond, to another place or time. This is the visibility of an infrastructure.The lecture will address the relationship between time and the materiality of images. This question is central to the practises of artists who use photography as an object, and as a medium, in order to create images with a double visibility. Such images question modes of looking at, and interpretations of, historical documents and fragments. They challenge traditional ideas of chronology, in order to perform a visual archeology, in which contradictions and iconic resonances become productive principles. Among many other works, Batia Suter’s Parallel Encyclopedia I, II (2008, 2016) and Attachments (2015) by Sascha Pohle build anarchic constellations of images to solicit our gaze in a labyrinthine travel through time. I will look at concepts of temporality, anachronicity and obsolescence in conjunction with material modes objects can assume - trash, ruin, document. Ultimately, this folding of the past within the present-day art practices is determined by fascination with future modes of circulating and perceiving images. Re-photographing images with archival weight, and their juxtaposition with objects creates a particular mode of visibility, which always splits the image into two. The image is no longer an evidence, or an index of a time past, but an open contemporary ruin. Such ‘ruins in reverse,’ to use Robert Smithson’s phrase, are characterised by opacity of a material presence, which always throws our gaze beyond, to another place or time. This is the visibility of an infrastructure.