Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. New York: Hill and Wang, 1981. Print.
Part investigation into the nature and essence of photography, part eulogy to his late mother Henriette, Camera Lucida is Barthes’s only book dedicated to photography ironically published a mere two months before his own untimely death. In it, Barthes’s discloses his strategy of the “studium” and “punctum”, terms that act as metaphors for what is visible and signified in an image. Crucial to my methodology is the paradoxical notion of the simultaneously readable and unreadable, the image as site of both death and resurrection as well as its power to affect the viewer.
Draney, Brenda. WATERMARKS: Resonant Absences in Painting and Memory. MAA thesis. Emily Carr University of Art and Design, 2009. Print.
Having just recently discovered Canadian contemporary artist Draney whose paintings are engaged with creating moments that mimic how it is that we remember, I am delighted for the opportunity to be able to reference a body of work with which my practice has so much in common. Draney’s images offer up fragmented bits of information, referencing the non-linear and tangental qualities of memory. It is, however, her treatment of what is not there, the emphasis on absence, that is of special interest to me as my practice delves deeper into its own use of voids and what that might look like as a way of speaking to the act of remembering. Also of note is the emphasis in Draney’s work on the ambiguous and the obscure.
South African born artist Dumas (1953) has worked in a variety of mediums throughout her career, limiting herself to oil on canvas and ink on paper only in recent years. Her focus however, has remained relatively constant, drawing on topical and contentious materials for her figurative work, she combines the personal with the political. Her subjects range from famous figures to family, friends and anonymous persons and her works have been described as capturing a “discomforting intimacy” and are often suffused with a strong psychological presence – dark, disturbing and poignant. Eerily odd, Dumas’ work functions to draw attention to both irretrievable indifference as well as to shifts in perceptions.
Haverkamp, Anselm. “The Memory of Pictures: Roland Barthes and Augustine on Photography.” Comparative Literature. 45, 3 (1993): 258-279. Print.
Haverkamp’s essay “The Memory of Pictures: Roland Barthes and Augustine on Photography” examines how the photograph supersedes what it is supposed to be in service of, namely lived experience and our remembrances thereof. He executes this by firmly situating Barthes’s theory of the “studium” and the “punctum” within the larger discourse of the image and its dialectical properties of “trace” and “aura” (273) as well as by juxtaposing Barthes’s The Winter Garden photograph with Augustine’s “vision of Ostia” (269) in Confessions. Not unlike Rancière’s proposition of a third meaning that sits on top of an image, this re-contextualization is salient for my practice because it expands on Barthes’s ideas.
Howe, Susan. Sorting Facts: or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2013. Print.
Like Chris Marker’s films, this written tribute to the late director is in essence an inquiry into the specifics of facts, what constitutes, how we make note of them and their ability to make or unmake us. Similar to Roland’s Barthes’s Camera Lucida in so far as the essay is also a way for Howe to make meaning out of as well as celebrate a personal loss, its importance for my practice is its exploration of the veracity of lived experience through artistic works invested in this thematic concern. In its dealing with truths and time’s inevitable impact on them, this essay dovetails nicely with my own investigation into what it means to remember, the dependability of our personal and collective memories and the representation thereof.
La Jetée / Sans Soleil. Writ. / Dir. Chris Marker. Argos Films, 1983.
Pushing the boundaries its genre, this 1983 French documentary film immerses the viewer in a montage of images and scenes primarily from Japan and Guinea-Bissau while the female narrator reads letters of questionable authenticity that she received from Sandor Krasna, her fictional cameraman. These fabricated elements do not, however, detract from the film as record but rather function to underscore its investigation into the authenticity of facts and the role that ritual plays in the creation of understanding and identity. This questioning of how meaning is made and unmade is also an exploration into how that meaning is passed on, sustained and destroyed, all of which is essential for my own inquiry into memory’s intangibility and the authority with which it is invested despite its tendency for disintegration.
Pasolini, Pier Pablo. Heretical Empiricism. Washington: New Academia Publishing LLC, 2005. Print. (Section entitled Observations on the Sequence Shot)
While barely five pages long and devoted entirely to the medium of cinema, this reading provides some observations on the nature and power of editing and its semblance to death that is instrumental in grounding my work within the framework of montage. Written by Pier Pablo Pasolini, one of Italy’s premier scholars of the semiotics of film, it isolates the discussion around the sequence shot and connects it to the subjective point of view. Alone, it cannot provide much meaning, argues Pasolini, but when juxtaposed with other sequence shots and, crucially, when thoughtfully edited or “coordinated”, it functions as a montage that liberates both its temporality and its meaning.
Polanyi, Michael. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. USA: University of Chicago Press, 1958. Print. (Chapter entitled Two Kinds of Awareness)
In Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy Michael Polanyi describes “subsidiary” and “focal” (55) awareness as distinct yet integrated focusses by which we establish our understanding of all things. Subsidiary awareness Polanyi credits for the knowledge that is arrived at through “a process of unconscious trial and error” (62), goes beyond “assured capacity” (63), does not necessarily have a predetermined purpose and may be understood as embodied. This is very useful for my practice as it provides an understanding of how a work’s visual cues can provide the viewer with entry points that are situated in intuitive awareness.
Rancière, Jaques. The Future of the Image. London and New York: Verso, 2007. Print.
According to Jaques Rancière, the future of the artistic image can be understood through a strategy that is closely aligned with what Michel Foucault called the ‘seeable and the sayable’. In The Future of the Image, he calls this paratactic image a “sentence-image,” (citation) and defines his method as an integral tethering and untethering of the sentence that gives the image flesh, linking it to something greater than what is merely visible, and the power of rupture contained within that image (46). This double metamorphosis, ad-infinitum (31), provides for my practice a theoretical context for exploring how the conflation of images from the private and public archive can function in montages and the liberation of additional meaning that this potentially affords those images.
Stewart, Susan. Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader. UK: Berg Publishers, 2004. Print. (Part II The Shifting Sensorium, Chapter 3, Remembering the Senses)
Susan Stewart’s Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader offers insight into how we come to know the world around us through an examination of the senses and “the ways in which aesthetic forms both produce sense experience and result from it,” (59). Stewart’s chapter is important in terms of thinking through how art can operate as both a vehicle for sensory experience and a starting point for understanding aspects of sense experience and its relationship to memory. Furthermore, her proclamation that works of art that create a sensory experience hold in them the potential for the sublime, the simultaneously experienced and unknowable, reflect my own thinking and the aspirations I hold for my work.
Born in Belgium in 1958, Tuymans work offers my painting painting practice a significant strategy for disruption between the represented image and the historical event from which it is taken by reducing the extraordinary to the mundane. In so doing, he is at once accessing and authenticating a connection to a historical context while simultaneously denying it through its alteration and the creation of a new way of understanding it from a contemporary point of view. Also of interest to my practice is his use of the photograph as source material, its translation into the painting and specifically his selection and integration of images from both the personal and the public spheres.
Wall, Jeff. “Depiction, Object, Event.” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry. 16 (Autumn / Winter 2007): 5-17. Print.
In his essay “Depiction, Object, Event”, Wall maps out the trajectory of Western art beginning in 1875, through to the present and projected into the near future, where, according to him, “events”, such as biennales, will emerge as the ultimate art form, “inherently a synthesis, [and] a hybrid.” (15) Of specific interest to my practice and its grounding in an aesthetic and theoretical discourse that borrows heavily from photography and cinema, is the blurring of boundaries between what Wall calls the “depictive” and the “movement” arts that occurred in the 1950’s and ’60’s. This cross-fertilization spawned a proliferation of hybrid art “dimensions” (5) and set in motion a methodology that, in part, makes possible the connections I propose in my research and artistic practice.