Andreas methods 05-12-18

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Version 2 from 11-01-19

Synopsis on Life, Once more: Forms of reenactment in contemporary art by Sven Lütticken and The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles by Hillel Schwartz

Introduction

I am working on a project that deals with the question of original work. Where does inspiration end and where does copying start? As a first step I would like to summarize and analyze the act of reliving the past. Staging various events in reality seems to have appealed to a lot of people, as depicted by Sven Lütticken and Hillel Schwartz.

Synopsis on Life, Once More: Forms of reenactment in contemporary art by Sven Lütticken

In the chapter „An Arena in Which to Reenact“ Sven Lütticken is specifying, that performative art tries to fight repetition with repetition, ultimately recharging the past by duplicating the events. The writer is expressing that history is coming from authors, who are also actors and spectators at the same time. Taking the 1960s as an example, he is saying that people should submit themselves as commodities rather than consuming commodities passively. The labor crowd shall step out of being interchangeable and rather become, or perform – as Lütticken is calling it – as a unique commodity-person. Later on he is telling, that representation is happening in every society „(…) with people presenting themselves in ways that seem favorable and suited themselves (…)“. (Lütticken, 2005, p. 17) He is depicting how Festzüge turned into the more narrative form of pageants, where they tried to break out from the limitations of the stage and is also showing the downside of reenactments: He states, that they can also be a denial than a real engagement with history and underlines this with the example of the Jonestown Re-enactment. The author compares it to the nineteenth-century culture, „in which the French Revolution had revived, relived, reenacted ancient Rome.“ (Lütticken, 2005, p. 43) Referring to the „Storming of the Winter Palace“, Lütticken is pointing out that reenactments can also be over-dramatised and proves this with research done by Slavoj Žižek. Instead of being played by a small group of Bolsheviks, it became a participatory mass theater. Furthermore Lütticken is stating that in Contemporary Art reenactment has the freedom to be an extremely literal repetition, or on the other hand, very free in variation. Finally he is describing, that historical reenactment may help people escaping daily life, but may also be an archaic challenge to the now. Ultimately he is displaying, that everything is open to appropriation and mainstream historical reenactment may provide impulses eventually creating new spaces for possible, extraordinary work.

Synopsis on The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles by Hillel Schwartz

In the Chapter „Once More, With Feeling“ Hillel Schwartz is talking about reenactments and replications. Schwartz begins with the game Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books. by H.G. Wells and compares its strategic values to the tactics of chess. The author goes on with depicting the importance of drill in-between strategy and tactics on parade grounds and killing grounds. Maurice, Prince of Orange, captain-general of Holland introduced drill during the 1950s to gain flexibility and speed, ultimately gaining the decisive advantage in battles. He states that the repetition of exercising with tabletop wargames „would be the equivalent drill for officers.“ (Schwartz, 2000, p. 260) Over decades this has played an important role at war, but in another form: the form of a green table. Either Napoleon or even German coastal commanders on D-Day. „The kriegspiel had to consist of attacks whose repetition led to unintended results.“ (Schwartz, 2000, p. 263) Further on the author is writing about computer programs supporting war games or even instigating nuclear alerts, like the NORAD war game in 1979. He also brings up Peter Youngs idea, that war games can also be a mode of denial, saying „One has yet to see an enjoyable evening’s play based on the destruction of Nagasaki.“ (Schwartz, 2000, p. 268) Schwartz is then talking about museums opening to the pageantry and public education around 1900. He is stating that history must outlive the past and puts up the famous epigram „Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“ (Schwartz, 2000, p. 271) by the philosopher George Santayana. The writer states, that the illusion of reversibility can also be a reason for reenactments, like the Battle of Bull Run, in which the North and South joined in the end to sing „God Bless America“. Or American veterans who return to Vietnam to „find peace“ of their trauma. He sums it up perfectly in this sentence: „What’s done, if it can’t be undone, can be redone, once more, with feeling.“ (Schwartz, 2000, p. 280)

Conclusion

According to Schwartz wargames had the initial idea of being practice for parties involved in the real act of war. Having its roots in the tactics of drill in the 1590s (Schwartz, 2000, p. 260) it became an essential tool to lay out various, potential sceneries, eventually gaining the vital advantage. Contrary to that Lütticken sees the origins much later – in the first pageant called Kaiser-Huldigungs-Festzug, organized in Vienna in 1908 (Lütticken, 2005, p. 35). Sven Lütticken therefore sees its roots more as a celebration ritual. Finding its true origin therefore is strongly connected to the definition of reenactment either as a Kriegsspiel aka wargame, or Festzug aka pageant. After all, both agree on the fact that reenactments took further shape in the form of historicism, either as a „Living museum“ (Schwartz, 2000, p. 271) as Hillel Schwartz is calling it, or as „re-use of various old or “exotic” styles and models in nineteenth-century art and culture.“ (Lütticken, 2005, p. 29). This helped in the identification and seperation with the past and present. It can also solely serve the purpose of entertainment. Both authors are showing the up- and downsides of reliving, or reenacting the past. They both agree on the possibility of an reenactment being an act of denial. Lütticken underlining this hypothesis with the Jonestown Re-enactment and Schwartz making an example with relationship simulators that try to digitally emulate the thrill of love, or explaining the denial in the real setting of war with the words of the Brigadier Paul Young. (Schwartz, 2000, p. 268)

Final thoughts:

Overall it is interesting to see where reenactments are coming from and how different its purpose can be. After all this is showing that „copying“ in the form of acting can serve as a way to identify with the „original“, or to pass wisdom along history. Very interesting is the illusion of reversibility, by reenacting but changing minor details or the whole outcome. On one hand being a dangerous concept of faking the past, but also as a possibility to create new, original work.

Bibliography:

Lütticken, S., 2005. Life, once more. Witte De With, Rotterdam., pp. 17, 43

Schwartz, H., 2000. The Culture of the Copy, 4th ed. MIT Press, New York, NY., pp. 260, 263, 268, 271, 280

Version 1 from 05-12-18

The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles By Hillel Schwartz (MIT/Zone books)

In the Chapter „Once More, With Feeling“ Hillel Schwartz is talking about reenactments and replications. Schwartz begins with the game Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books. by H.G. Wells and compares its strategic values to the tactics of chess. The author goes on with depicting the importance of drill in-between strategy and tactics on parade grounds and killing grounds. Maurice, Prince of Orange, captain-general of Holland introduced drill during the 1950s to gain flexibility and speed, ultimately gaining the decisive advantage in battles. He states that the repetition of exercising with tabletop wargames „would be the equivalent drill for officers.“ (Schwartz, 2000) Over decades this has played an important role at war, but in another form: the form of a green table. Either Napoleon or even German coastal commanders on D-Day. „The kriegspiel had to consist of attacks whose repetition led to unintended results.“ (Schwartz, 2000) Further on the author is writing about computer programs supporting war games or even instigating nuclear alerts, like the NORAD war game in 1979. He also brings up Peter Youngs idea, that war games can also be a mode of denial, saying „One has yet to see an enjoyable evening’s play based on the destruction of Nagasaki.“ (Schwartz, 2000)

Schwartz is then talking about museums opening to the pageantry and public education around 1900. He is stating that history must outlive the past and puts up the famous epigram „Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“ (Schwartz, 2000) by the philosopher George Santayana. (Schwartz, 2000)

The writer states, that the illusion of reversibility can also be a reason for reenactments, like the Battle of Bull Run, in which the North and South joined in the end to sing „God Bless America“. Or American veterans who return to Vietnam to „find peace“ of their trauma. He sums it up perfectly in this sentence: „What’s done, if it can’t be undone, can be redone, once more, with feeling.“ (Schwartz, 2000)


Bibliography

Schwartz, H., 2000. The Culture of the Copy, 4th ed. MIT Press, New York, NY., pp. 260, 263, 268, 271, 280