Mediating Uncertainties Pandemic Lectures Series. Text
In 2020, filmmakers, writers, thinkers and artists were invited to respond through lectures and screenings to the core themes and questions of Mediating Uncertainties: Thinking around how ideology is normalized through contemporary images, technologies and moving image culture, how can image and screen materials be used to question and counter dominant versions of recent histories?
Following on from Marshall McLuhan’s observations that form became content in the twentieth century, what modes of aesthetic resistance could be mobilised today, bearing in mind the many different contexts and urgencies we now face? How might we subvert documents of the past and archival materials with the explicit aim of undoing certain subjectivities, to build new political imaginaries? This might require strategies that operate beyond a conception of simply producing an alternate narrative or making a counter move, and rather look to how we can multiply narratives, connections, methods and techniques in order to rethink how knowledges and histories are being produced. In attempting this, Mediating Uncertainties also seeks to explore the apparatuses of circulation we use, and the possibilities of developing new channels of distribution.
#1 SUSAN SCHUPPLI : Denaturalizing Images
Susan Schuppli is a researcher and artist based in the UK whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters and climate change. Current work is focused on the politics of cold and is organised by the provocation of “Learning from Ice”. Creative projects have been exhibited throughout Europe, Asia, Canada, and the US. Recent exhibition contexts included the Toronto Biennial of Art, Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga, Gallery Wellington, New Zealand, and Extra City, Antwerp. Other notable works include Nature Represents Itself, SculptureCenter, New York, which was selected by ARTnews as one the 20 best environmentalists works of the past 50 years. She has published widely within the context of media and politics and is author of the new book, Material Witness: Media, Forensics, Evidence published by MIT Press in February 2020. Schuppli is Director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London and is an affiliate artist-researcher and Board Chair of Forensic Architecture. Previously she was Senior Research Fellow and Project Co-ordinator of Forensic Architecture. Schuppli received her PhD from Goldsmiths and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program after completing her MFA at the University of California San Diego. She is the recipient of the 2016 ICP Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research.
#2 PELIN TAN : De-Archiving of Necropower as Residual Infrastructures
Residual images of violence in territories of conflict may appear as decolonial imaginaries that provide and support collective action. How may the collective of residual images create an archival practice that continuously de-archive the power of necropolitics? How may such methodologies of research and artistic maneuvers function as strategies? Mbembe is describing necropolitics as a “life to the power of death”. Necropolitics is about the reconfiguration between resistance, sacrifice, and terror, and as he claims, all conditions are more blurred under necropolitics. The videos in archives such as bak.ma provide the residuals of each of the subjectivities that create everyday assemblages. These assemblages are videograms of residual waste, as in Mbembe’s words: ”…something distorted, clumsy, debased and unworthy” and a surplus of the image of resistance, future revolution, and attempt of decolonization of the image regime. (Ref.: Mbembe, Achille (2003) “Necropolitics”, Trans.L.Meintjes, Public Culture, 15 (1): 11-40, Duke University Press. P.12 - 40)
Pelin Tan is a researcher based in Mardin/Turkey. Professor in Film at the Fine Arts Academy of Batman University, Turkey. She is a Senior Researcher of the Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research, Boston. Researcher at the Architecture Faculty, Thesally University, Greece; and guest research professor at Filmschool, Kabelvag, Norway. Tan is the 6th recipient of Keith Haring Art & Activism and she was visiting fellow of CCS Bard and the Human Rights Program of Bard College, New York (2020). She co-directed films on the future of art with artist Anton Vidokle. Tan's work has been exhibited in Istanbul Design Biennial (2020), Istanbul Biennial (2007, 2015), Montreal Biennial (2013), Bergen Assembly (2014), and others. She is curating "Urgent Pedagogies" by IASPIS, CAD+SR project “Land, Cultivation and Care". Tan is a member of Arazi Assembly a critical spatial practice research collective in Mardin. She runs "Threshold Infrastructure" at Radio Al-Hara, Palestine.
#3 PASI VÄLIAHO : From Divine Vision to Speculative Sights: Optical Media and the Problem of (Un)certainty circa 1700.
Ephemeral shadowy shapes coming and going, growing and shrinking in flickering light, figures bending and transforming in the dark and mixing with the real into an oneiric form—such was the new kind of visual regime introduced by the magic lantern in Europe during the latter half of the seventeenth century. The magic lantern’s projections did away with perspectival images’ fixity, by introducing temporality into the image, change into structure. Here, the apparatus’s aesthetics associated with a key intellectual development that took place at the turn of the seventeenth century: the world as a household managed by the omniscient and caring God gave way to the projective economy of capital and its contingent and unpredictable dynamics. Probabilities, risks and uncertainties challenged an older theological concept of pre-established design. This talk discusses how, during this point in history, the projected images materialized in the magic lantern’s dark surroundings provided an evocative cognitive frame in which to tackle this epistemic shift toward radical uncertainty accompanied by the rise of financial capitalism.