Cem/annotated bibliography

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defining collective memory

Microcosm vs Macrocosm by Jeanette Zwingenberger

The article takes at hand the macrocosm/microcosm duality in a number of artworks, starting from the year of 1431, Fra Angelo’s representation of the judgement day, bearing traces of symbolisms of heaven, hell, the Holy Spirit and resurrection- and its relevancy to the idea of micro/macrocosm comes from a totally religious/political approach, whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son or if it proceeds from Father through the Son (Double Procession of the Holy Spirit). Here the macrocosm/microcosm duality is based on the biblical knowledge and theology. The second example of this duality on a naturalist perspective is the Anthropomorphic Landscape, which constitutes of a hilly landscape that morphs into a human face in rest when we turn our heads, possibly signifying peace that cometh with death, and how humanity is part of the nature, nature being the macrocosm and humans being the microcosm. Later on, there is the introduction of time to this landscape by Claude Francois Fortier with the inscription under the painting that says:

"Time, which destroys everything, gives existence to everything: I come from the debris which you see."

Other works of art visited in the text take the idea of debris as the microcosm that creates the macrocosm of humanity. The contemporary sculpture-like work of Sue Webster and Tim Noble constitutes of artists 6 months’ worth of garbage, two seagulls and a light source, which at a certain point creates the artists’ shadows, in which they seem to be having each other’s back while enjoying the ephemeral life. This work tackles the idea that humanity is consisting of the elements of nature, and instead enounce that humanity is consisting of its self made objects, the debris. The work of Vik Muniz is quite similar to the same idea, but the final work that is mentioned, “Beer Bottle after the Atomic Bomb Explosion” makes a controversial claim, as it shows the debris, and the humankind’s effect on its mutation.

(in progress)

Collage as Jokework by Charlotte Stokes

The article takes at hand the collage works of the surrealist artist Max Ernst, and how he made use of Freud’s writings such as ‘Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious’ not only as an inspiration in terms of the subject, but as a method in creation. Ernst was inspired by the way Freud deconstructed the mechanics of the joke making, the methods such as ‘juxtaposition’ ‘condensation’ ‘unexpected recognition of the familiar’ ‘double entendre’ Ernst transformed language and images, derived from one to the other and vice versa, as a method of creative making process.

On Contingency by Mary Ann Doane

Doane states that the desire to represent contingency is in a way revolting against the linear/regular time and take heed of the unpredictable. The artists can get pass the intention and use the qualities of their medium that can result in the reveal of the unexpected. She believes that with the emergence of photographic technologies initiated the idea of an autonomous recording eventually, and she uses the example of a surveillance camera, highlighting the fact that they result with a huge amount of footage that is useless until the time comes for a person with an intention to take a look at them, in search of something specific, to help their cause: this is where the contingent changes into something concrete, an ‘event’. So when contingency results in a ‘frame’ that is chosen and represented, it loses the qualities of the contingent and becomes a fixed object.

Etymologically speaking, the word contingency possesses in its roots the ‘touch’ (contact). There is a relation between the touching and the happening. Our sense of touch is seen as the most trusted amongst other senses, it is the one that is the most trustworthy and directly tied to the realm of the real. As we know how the photographic technology works, a photographic image that we see instantly supports it’s reality. Not reality of the meaning, but the reality of existence. The contingent should be seen as what is real, as the unexpected, the unplanned and more real than anything else just because of these attributes. A perfect image (in the sense that its relation to mimicking of reality) seen on the television would be less trustworthy (in terms of its authenticity) than the shaky, flawed image that we might see. Contingency is most present in the image when their technologies fail.

(in progress)

On Memory (digital or otherwise) by Vilem Flusser

Flusser’s definition of memory;

Memory should not just be thought as ‘information storage’

With what we call ‘evolution’ there is a change and a progress but on the way there are information that are eliminated, the biomass ‘does not preserve memory but processes it’

Genetic memory and cultural memory

The general tendency of the universe towards an entropic state affects the genetic and cultural memory as well, especially when we think about the cultural memory, in terms of artifacts we can easily say that a substantial amount has been lost in the past, never had the chance to reach daylight.

Two types of memory supports humankind uses preservation of cultural memory:

1) airwaves in vocalization 2) stones bones other hard objects

1) Airwaves in vocalization is basically speaking, the way we ‘transform air into phonemes’ with our given structure (organs) -there is a duality as we have this inate ability to create sound waves but still need to learn language to be able to interact. (inherited information and acquired information) as a feature that is open to noise and therefore to the loss of information, the info should be acquired almost instantly by a receiver, when it’s the case that the receiver is another person, it should be recorded in the brain, but there is still the possibility of deformation during or after the recording of the information. (F: thinking of history as a continuous line, oral culture is not particularly an historical one) 2) Hard objects contain information and are more durable in a sense, but they are also used for the action itself, and they also suffer from entropy as they loose their function (a knife going blind) (this creates the problem of ‘waste’) That is the reason humankind also created objects that are used just for information storing. (a monument as an example, but more importantly ‘text’ transcribing the oral information onto hard objects, as a unification of the advantages of oral and material cultures, that is have cultural memory was established)

Oral -> written -> libraries ->

Flusser believes the linear nature of writing changed the way we think and started the progressive way of thinking.

“The library was not construed as a store of acquired information into which we feed information acquired by ourselves (through writing), and from which we can recover information acquired by others (through reading). Rather, it was considered a superhuman memory that transcends individuals, hovers over them, and to which they must aspire. Thus the role for cultural memory was inverted: instead of serving humanity as storage for acquired information for future generations, it demanded that people serve it. This had a profound effect on all systems of cultural values” (Flusser)

We see the ‘spirit’ or the ‘soul’ as a part of as that is excluded from entropy.

“...concepts like 'soul', 'spirit' or even 'ego' acquire an occidental mean- ing, namely, the part of ourselves that is not subject to entropy but to eternal information storage. As 'bodies' we are part of the biological world, but as 'spir- its' we are opposed to it; we may know it, manipulate it and submit it to our desires...” (Flusser)

F: we are on the edge of a change of our problems related to ‘existential identification’, with ELECTRONIC MEMORY

ELECTRONIC MEMORY: simulation of the memory functions of human brain. (simulation in the sense that it feeds from a single function and put forward that specific function in an extensive way and disregards the others)

"...Still, electronic memories provide us with a critical distance from a simulation of our ability to store acquired information; a distance that will permit us, in the long run, to emancipate ourselves from the ideological belief that we are 'spiritual beings', subjects that face an objective world..." (Flusser)