[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: <eyebeam><blast> Astronomical Hindsight

Martin, some starlight reveries from your essay.

It's interesting to consider the role of visual technologies in
generating the astronomical hindsight.  Because we would never know that
stars have been long dead by the time their light reaches us, or that
light is also a complex of diverse temporal relationships, if we weren't
able to invent formats for seeing - augmenting the unaided eye somehow;
compiling data into shared representations; developing formats for
communication.  What might a 'history of light' entail?  It would have
to be indissolubly mixed with a history of technology.  Would technology
be the mode of processing, producing, and circulating spatial and
temporal relationships that have long since been detached from anything
astronomical?  Is it even the same light at all, this light that hits us
through the cathode ray tube?  A celestial body long since vanished, and
perhaps a stargazer too, who has changed many times over in the history
of the processing of light.

The night sky as a complex of temporal relations, somehow frozen on a
chemical plane, then remobilized along a filmic strip.  In each case its
viewer is fixed in place in order to be sensitized to these reformatted
spatial and temporal relationships (which combined via Bergson become
movements).  Subject-image-technology relationships brought on by the
processing of light.  It seems a complex dance - frozen in a ray of
light; captured by light; mobilized by the representation of movement. 
Light serially divided and recomposed, broken into rational segments and
projected in syncronization with a particular technology; light +
technology at 24 frames a second = movement, but only at the expense of
an immobile viewer, who somehow 'moves with' it.  Technology/Light as a
kind of carrier, sweeping one along in conjunction with it, or somehow
moving one along with it by just sitting still.  Light forming an
exposure-horizon of tranport via transmission, movement shifting from
transfer of weight over land to series of stimuli produced within the
visual field.  A new relationship to the ground, an augmentation of
gravity, which pulls the earth out from under the stargazer.  This
vertigo also happens if you try to look at the stars while moving too
fast.  A great feeling on summer nights, to fall dizzily back in

Perhaps then the history of the processing of Technology/Light would be
one bound up in the sensitizing of a viewer to motion, entailing a
mobilizing or immobilizing of this viewer, a viewer launched along or
stimulated to accept motion via sensory inputs; a viewer aligned along
the horizontal axis (from chair to TV or monitor) or tipped backwards,
astronaut-like, in vertical alignment, as when someone kicks back your
chair and you are suddenly looking up at the stars. (Or you are seeing
stars - how strange we use that expression when we get dizzy or
disoriented from an impacting force, as if the weight of the earth
suddenly enforces itself again, rises up to hit you in the head, after
its having been forgotten, virtualized.)

I think of the subject standing before the long-exposure camera that
Benjamin so liked, its product the curious time-image, the open window
on accumulating duration.  The aura, the temporal relations woven
through representation, etched onto the plate as a direct consequence of
the length of the exposure interval.  As this interval is condensed, via
technology, from several hours to only fractions of a second, the aura
gradually evacuates, seeps out of the image.  So here is where the
technological conditions and their necessary time of exposure, on the
one hand, meet the time and space conjuncture that is registered in the
image, on the other.  As if the image slices through the
technological-light field, or operates as a kind of analog cam itself,
shinking and expanding.  From slow to fast exposure times, the imaged
space changes in light sensitivity, focus, depth of field, and the kind
of movement it encodes and produces.  Benjamin thought the photo lost
its anchoring in duration, but then it also gained its capacity to
manipulate duration.  Because instantaneous photography needed to be
fixed before it could be re-presented as a mobilized continuum - frozen,
dissected, and re-mobilized in conjunction with a new technological
apparatus. The movements of this image only perceived because people
were locked into theaters and immobilized before the screen, taught how
to behave and see.  Technological and representational conditions joined
bodily enactments in a circuit that defined 'movement' as such:  a
movement defined in relation to the earth's horizon, but broken up and
intertwined with the staccado of the cinematic 'speech.'  I think of the
way Charlie Chaplin internalized the jerky pace of silent movies in his
walking style, and the rapid speech patterns of early films.  Here we
get from Charlie Chaplin, to Kate Hayles' posthuman.
a critical forum for artistic practice in the network
texts are the property of individual authors
to unsubscribe, send email to eyebeam@list.thing.net
with the following single line in the message body:
unsubscribe eyebeam-list
information and archive at http://www.eyebeam.org
Eyebeam Atelier/X Art Foundation http://www.blast.org